David Beckham likes England's chances against Italy in Sunday's Euro 2012 match. A berth in the continental tournament semifinals is at stake as the two world powers meet in Krakow, Poland.
"I think we have done well," Beckham told reporters. "In certain games, even when they [England] have not played so well, they are battling. They are playing exceptionally well.
"They are showing a togetherness which is obviously important, a lot of character. We've got a lot of young kids in the team with a lot of pace.
"They are all performing, and the manager is making the right changes at the right times."
A legend in England and Europe, Beckham now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. Having performed with and against standout players from both sides, including a stint with AC Milan, Beckham has rare insight.
His take: This will be one difficult match between two loaded national teams.
Example: midfield, where England and Italy have elite talent. England has Steven Gerrard; Italy brings Andrea Pirlo.
"I have obviously played with him and he is one of the most exceptional passers I have ever seen," Beckham said of Pirlo.
"But then we've got Stevie G who again is one of the best midfielders I have ever played with."
Pirlo and Gerrard "have got a huge amount of respect for each other," Beckham said. "They are two of the best midfielders in the world. Whoever plays well is going to set up the team to win the game. But I think there is more than those two players."
To that end, Beckham mentioned Italy's budding superstar striker, Mario Balotelli. Talented but petulant, Balotelli can be a game-breaker — good or bad, especially if his short-fuse temper gets the best of him.
"He is what he is. He's a goal scorer for them. He has been exceptional for Manchester City and he scored a great goal in the last game," Beckham said of Balotelli.
"But we've got Wayne [Rooney] and other players who have been playing well. [Danny] Welbeck, the two wingers. So it is going to be a good game."
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