Euro 2012 QF England v Italy – An Impossibly Tight Game To Call
Kick Off: Sunday 24th June
Live on BBC1 7.45pm
Following Fabio Capello’s largely unsuccessful time at the helm, the 3 lions have been revamped in double quick time by new head coach Roy Hodgson. And the ex-Bristol City, Blackburn, Internazionale, Copenhagen, Udinese, Liverpool, West Brom, Switzerland, UAE and Finland (to name just a fraction) boss wasted no time in getting his game plan across loud and clear: DEFEND, DEFEND, DEFEND!
The master tactician set about installing a new England who would frustrate Europe’s top teams and it’s gone rather well thus far it must be said.
There have been some extremely shaky moments at times but to top the group would have been the very first wish of both the players and the fans alike. And with the likes of Walcott, The Ox and Jermain Defoe available from the bench for if we need to resort to Plan B and inject some pace into the side, can we actually make it all the way? Maybe.
However, first we must match an Italian side who have looked not too dissimilar to ourselves in the few games that have been played.
They matched a technically-better and more adventurous side and ground out a 1-1 draw in their opening game against Spain, much like the 3 lions did of course.
My main concern if I were an Italian fan would be the absence of Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of their defence for the Quarter Final. He’s been in fine form of late and the fact of the matter is they are a better unit with him as the backbone.
England’s forward line must use this to their advantage and look to expose the Italians for whom their defensive leader will be a huge miss.
Despite the absence of Chiellini, Paddy Power make the Azzurri slight-favourites at 17/10, with Woy’s boys 15/8 and 21/10 for honours even at The Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
The Italians do however possess the wildcard that is the enigmatic, hugely talented but often compared to a ticking time bomb, Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli. He missed out on a starting role in their last match but came off the bench to fire a sensational, acrobatic strike to give head coach Cesare Prandelli somewhat of a selection headache ahead of the fourth quarter final.
In terms of tips, it’s always tough to predict a game that seems so finely balanced, especially when you’re own nation is involved as there is always an element of bias. For that reason, I prefer to back both teams to score at Paddy Power’s 11/10. Both England and Italy had a 66% success record of both teams to score in their group stage games and goals could be served up here once more.
Both teams to score 11/10 – Paddy Power
England to win 1-0 – 6/1
Italy to win 1-0 – 6/1
England to win on penalties – 10/1
Rooney to score first – 5/1
England to win either half – 10/11
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Tags: Euro 2012