Did you know that there as never been an England – Italy match up at a top-level meet such as the UEFA or FIFA finals since the origins of modern football which dates back to the second half 19th century – at senior level squad? Surprising isn’t it?
Come Sunday evening , there will be a historical match-up when England take on Italy in what promises to be an intriguing encounter. Both Teams play styles opposite to what they are accustomed to. England under Roy Hodgeson’s have been tight in defence and in offense, disciplined, rarely straying forward without ample cover. Ceasare Prandelli’s Italy in contrast, have lit up the tournament with their free-flowing football. The fact that Michael Platini the magician himself described their play as beautiful is an accolade in itself!
Italy have played with three centre backs and two very adventurous wing backs giving them great width and allowing a well protected Pirlo to pull the strings in midfield. This style of play is likely to pin back England’s wide players stilling their already limited attacks and I feel ultimately tipping the tie in the Italians favour.
Then there is the enigma that is Mario Balotelli, who has had a poor tournament with a well taken volley in their last group game being his main contribution. Italy look much more cohesive without him, Cassano and Di Natale forging a good relationship with each other. England must be hoping that Balotelli does start in Sunday’s game and prove the weak link in the Azzuri attack.
England unconvincingly topped the Group D, but the spectacular return of Rooney in their last league game will fill them with more bluster and confidence when they take on Italy in the last quarterfinal game of Euro 2012. England against Italy feels as though it should be one of football’s classic fixtures, a meeting between the motherland of the game and a country that has won the World Cup four times.
England Vs Italy Previous Meetings
No of matches: 22.
Italy won: 9
So what’s likely to happen in today’s game?
As neither of the team is favorite among those standing squads, both teams have nothing to lose. This could make for one of those thrillers with a last-minute gasp-goal that could make it the talking point for years to come. In the blue corner it’s Italian striker Balotelli, whose petulance is rivalled only by his talent. And in the white corner is Rooney, who the nation prays has curbed his red-mist temper. All eyes on Balotelli and Rooney then!
Prediction: England 1-2 Italy.