- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On June 24, 2012
- 0 Comments
- 2012 Euro, England, Italy
By Geoff Reid
Put pure and simply, this will be a battle. Don’t expect anything like pretty soccer pass and move. Who wants this more is the more likely to win today’s match. Going into the tournament, both teams didn’t have the same expectations as they would usually do. Before every major tournament, England always have the unrealistic expectations that they are good enough to win the whole thing and they should. Each time it lets them down, and everyone overanalyzes the situation. The Italians are usually good enough to be considered contenders amongst every tournament and rightly so, but this time it feels a little different. Why nobody can seem to put their foot on it is anyone’s guess, maybe it’s passing the torch onto the next generation of players coming through, or the system is different to how the Azzurri usually play. Either way, both teams came through their respective groups not so much with style and flash, but by doing the simple things correctly. England came out on top of Group D surprisingly, but after France’s collapse yesterday it’s not that much of a surprise. The Italians finished second in Group C behind the favored Spanish, and ultimately did what they had to do.
For England, the lineup basically picks itself. The same goalkeeper and back four will be in place, and the midfield will consist of captain Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker, James Milner, and Ashley Young on the left, with Wayne Rooney, and Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck up front. The good thing for manager Roy Hodgson has is pace and youth off the bench with the Arsenal pair Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who can cause tremendous damage. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart will be called upon to keep the Italian attack at bay, and it’s safe to say after England’s bad luck with goalkeepers the last 15 years or so, he’s by far the best English goalkeeper since David Seaman.
The Azzurri have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Juventus stopper Gianluigi Buffon, who’s been at the helm for 10 years. The spine of the team is the Juventus Scudetto winning side from this past season. The key for the Italians is in the midfield. Holding midfielder Andrea Pirlo had a magnificent season for the old lady in Turin, a rejuvenation if you will after being let go by AC Milan. Roma destroyer Daniele Di Rossi will provide the bite to the flair the rest of the midfield. Up front, two bad boys of Italian football, Manchester City’s own Mario Balotelli, and Milan’s Antonio Cassano. These two are very unpredictable, and one point that needs highlighting in this match that nobody has talked about is who will lose their head first: Balotelli, Cassano, or Rooney? That could be the key to this game.
Prediction: England 2-1 Italy