England vs Italy, Euro 2012 Quarterfinal: Open Thread

England vs Italy 2:45pm ET
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England team: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Parker, Gerrard, Young, Rooney and Welbeck.

Two titans of international football will square off on Sunday as the redemptive Three Lions take on the experienced Italians. With a date with Germany in the semifinals, both teams are going to want to continue improbable runs through the European Championship.

For Italy, manager Cesare Prandelli has done a fantastic job making Italy fluent with passing and possession. Considering the match-fixing scandal back home, the Azzuri have seamlessly put it aside just like in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

What’s even more surprising is how Prandelli has made Italy not depend on traditional catenaccio tactics but rather more aggressive, free-flowing football. The most important player in Italy’s midfield has undoubtedly been the resurgent Andrea Pirlo. After looking like age had caught up with him in Italy’s disappointing run in South Africa, Pirlo’s time with Juventus has rejuvenated his abilities to maintain possession and rack up clinical assists. If England continues to play defensive, expect Pirlo to be the Three Lions’ greatest threat as he’ll spearhead attacks on England’s defenders. England must also be wary of Antonio Cassano whose pace and creativity has benefited from the chemistry he has with Pirlo and the rest of Italy’s midfield.

Italy has also shown that they have plenty of pace as they build chances against opponents. Against an England team which values shape and solidity, Italy could quicken their tempo to unlock their opponent’s defense. England has been lucky that the number of chances they’ve given up haven’t lead to more goals so Italy’s strikers must be clinical with the opportunities given to them. Whether it’s the erratic Mario Balotelli or the less explosive veteran Antonio di Natale up front is a major decision that can determine the outcome of the match.

For England, optimism is high as the expectations were lower heading into the Euro than they’ve been in the past. Manager Roy Hodgson has stuck to his trademark defensive tactics where England has defended in numbers and exposed opponents on the counter. Yet, despite the simple tactics, England look like they have more belief as the players seem to have responded well with having a quality English manager.

In terms of standout players, England have particularly benefited from goalie Joe Hart who was spectacular against Ukraine. Unlike prior English goalies, Hart hasn’t made any dreadful mistakes and has made stunning saves which have saved the Three Lions on numerous occasions.

Steven Gerrard also deserves praise as being England’s chief play-maker from central midfield which was a concern heading into the tournament. While not having Frank Lampard is a bad loss, Gerrard has benefited from having Scott Parker stay back defensively which allows the Liverpool star to stay up front and become a joint leader in assists for the Euro.

Yet, England’s forwards need to be less wasteful with their chances which were evident against Ukraine. The return of Wayne Rooney is a major boost to the team and his first goal was much needed considering all of his struggles. His strong rapport with Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck will be essential in breaking down a fallible Italian defense that will be missing the imposing presence of Giorgio Chiellini.  Center halves Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci are going to have their hands full trying to stifle the pressure and speed of Rooney, Welbeck, Ashley Young and subs like Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Overall, Italy should be expected to dominate possession and create numerous chances against a conservative English team who has shown resiliency in absorbing opposing chances. Yet Prandelli won’t throw caution away either with an Italian team that has always relied on their steadfast defensive roots. Therefore, an even deadlock may form between two teams who will focus on avoiding any costly mistakes.

As the match draws near, two teams which carried many doubts heading into Poland will square off with everything on the line. While Italy’s midfield will largely dictate the match, Rooney and the rest of England’s attacking options may give the Three Lions a crucial advantage on the counter. In the end, it may likely take one moment of brilliance or collapse to determine the difference between the Azzuri and the Three Lions.

Before, during or after today’s England match, post your rants, raves, observations and questions in the comments section below.

132 thoughts on “England vs Italy, Euro 2012 Quarterfinal: Open Thread”

    1. Congrats you picked Portugal to beat the Czech Republic, Germany to beat Greece, and Spain to beat France. Really took some chances there.

  1. Guy
    I will be happy to select my wife today over Woy. Please excuse my selection yesterday it must have been a out of body experience to think France would attack what was i thinking. Today it will be McLaren 2 Ferrari 1.

    1. Dismaying to see Roy’s picture as the lead. The change in scheme will either be a jinx or the magic potion for England. The Gaffer is on the line for this one. :-)

      I’d settle for your final score quite happily, but England will have to cross midfield twice for it to happen. I hope Roy has given them permission to do so.

  2. Well we’re all ready to go! The streets are quiet, everybody is crammed into the bars, pubs and clubs or huddled around the TV at home… let’s just hope we’ve got something good to shout about later! Hope we win it in 90 minutes but something is niggling at me saying penalties are on the cards… hope I’m very wrong though!

  3. I think for the betterment of the US viewership England must win and I hope they do. I think this will be a good game to watch, of the better matches of the tourney.

    1. I think you are wrong…what about the Italian-American community? Italy, in the past few tournaments always are one of the more highly watched teams in the US

  4. I love joe hart’s attitude, expresses his pride to play for england very well, just what I want to hear as a fan. just awesome! he sounds like a captain, one day.

    1. That guy is just a class act off the field and a warrior on it. I hope he wears the Three Lions (and the MCFC goalkeeper strip) for many years to come!

  5. Well, England have already spent more time in the opposition half of the pitch than they did the entire first half of the Ukraine match, so good thing.

  6. Parker has played well, Young needs to wake up, Johnson needs to stop impersonating a defender and actually defend, Gerrard is super quiet

  7. The game is crying out for Andy Carroll. I haven’t been impressed by Welbeck in the first half. Most of the balls to Welbeck have been in the air, and there were several crosses into the box in the first 20 minutes.

    The Gaffer

  8. yes gaffer, we know you a carroll fanboy. Strength is not everything. You need skills and technique too which i’m afraid carroll lacks.

    on ESPN
    Anybody else laughing at how Lalas cannot control his hate(disgust, hate probably too strong a word) for Balotelli.

    1. Lalas: I’d take him off after 60mins.

      Balotelli has been bright today he’s really just a hater. Yes he shoulda scored the first chance but hes been very dangerous.

  9. Ashley young has scored turning in on his right from that that exact position on the field, what the hell. Someone shoot at the goal.!

  10. Which substitution should Roy Hodgson make next? Who do you think should come on?

    Personally I’d like to see Jermain Defoe, who is clinical near goal and create something out of nothing. The Ox would be good but only if he’s going to attack the Italian defense. Disappointed with Walcott so far. He looks too timid, but there’s still 30 minutes for him to make a difference.

    The Gaffer

  11. God did save the Queen 3 games already in the group stage.

    4 would be one too many.

    Italians dominating and missing glorious chances.

    What a travesty if Lumberjack Unuited somehow goes though, and it could happen.

    Master class from Pirlo. England won’t have a quality player like him in another 200 years…

    1. The game is about putting the ball in the net, if you can’t do that you don’t deserve to go through.

      I’d take Rooney off, for Defoe but then again might need a pen from him

  12. WTF, Henderson are you kidding me! This is like watching a wounded animal limp towards a predator….you have to be kidding me.

  13. Im a neutral, In 2 yrs England will be way better with Ox & Wilshire. Wenger will make sure Englands midfield can actually pass the ball.

    1. But this is the first time ive ever seen England play for the penalties. Without a player sent off, to be honest, in my opinion it kinda kills the sprit of the game.

  14. Well what I like about Hodgson is that he keeps things simple. He didn’t hide that his tactics against Italy was to win it on penalties and he executed it. In OT England stopped even pretending that they were going to score. Italy on the other hand would have only themselves to blame. They had plenty of chances to win the game but they didn’t take them.

  15. Of course Italy bossed the match, but England did have some legitimate chances to score. Hoping for the best in the shootout. :-)

  16. Bye bye England, weren’t good enough. I don’t know why we were trying to take it to pens, I think we’ve won 1 out of 13 in national comps, lol

  17. The only way for England to win this one was on penalties. It was their only hope, in my opinion. So close, so so close.

    Commiserations to England. Congratulations to Italy. The better side won.

    The Gaffer

  18. Macca said it best. The English usually feel hard done by, losing via penalties but it would have been unfair for Italy to crash out on penalties. Italy deserved to win… well done Italy.

  19. Italy really started dominating the game once Welbeck came off and nobody picked up Pirlo. I understand Roy’s sub though, he couldn’t take off Rooney.

  20. Now we need to rid of Spain another negative team. Germany vs Portugal would be a perfect final. Germany vs Italy semifinal looks juicy as well.

    1. Spain>>>>>negative?. Andrei, surely you are having a laugh. Yesterday’s game was a stinker but – please blame France for 90% of that.

      1. 1. Spain plays with no strikers
        2. Spanish tactics are based on preventing opposition to play their game. In other words it is about negating opposition efforts to create chances instead of creating your own chances.
        3. Spain scoring comes from patiently waiting for opposition to make a mistake and capitalizing on opportunity.

        If this is not a definition of negative tactics I don’t know what it is.

        1. Spain doesn’t deserve the entertainer of year award just yet – I agree. But:

          Spain can afford to play (for most of a match) without a striker – their midfield is that good.

          It may have looked negative versus France but Spain passed the French off the pitch.

          As for your 3rd point – that’s rather brilliant I would say.

          1. It is not really about entertainment. Italy didn’t play particularly entertaining brand of football against England. But they were positive (in fact the most positive performance in the recent history) and by far the more creative side on the field. As a result most neutral observers subconsciously sided with them and felt that it was a deserved win despite the fact they won in a penalty shootout lottery. On the other hand, though Spain had brilliant near perfect performance against France on Saturday because of very negative way they played there was quite a bit of backlash directed at Spain. The only thing that France was guilty of is that they were not good enough or motivated enough to break Spain’s negative hold on the game.

  21. deserved winners, England looked pathetic for most of the match, I wonder if they completed 10 passes in a row once in this game

    At least we don’t have to hear Darke and Macca cheerlead during the games, thank God

  22. With midfielders like Gerrad (no disrespect), Parker and Milner, 1/4 final means that this England team exceeded this team’s potential. The talent and player pool is just not there. With Ox, Wellbeck and Henderson billed as “the future”, the future is really bleak.

    Outplayed by both France and Ukraine, neither a particularly good side, lucky comeback v. Sweden, totally outplayed by Italia…

    You look at Pirlo and you realize that England has never had a maestro like him.

    And the pundits on this board love knocking Spain for their style (I am not particularly happy that they play w/ no strikers at the moment), but XXI century football has totally rejected “honest”, kick and run football that is being played in England. Look at who has won the major titles in recent memory: Italia, Spain, France, Brazil…do we see a pattern here?

    The best 4 teams in Europe deservedly go through to the semi-finals. The first knockout round separated the contenders from the pretenders.

    1. “but XXI century football has totally rejected “honest”, kick and run football that is being played in England…”

      I wish this England team played kick and run football. It would actually give them a better chance to beat Italy.

      1. Whoa, whoa, easy tiger just because Roy plays a crap brand off football it doesn’t mean England’s plays kick and run footbal. the EPL is England’s football. Harry would have done a far better job.

        Don’t hate on the entire nation because Roy sucks and russia couldn’t make it out of the poorest group at the tourney.

        1. Actually my point is that England didn’t play kick and run and if they did they would have a better chance compared to what Roy made them play today. I didn’t mean that kick and run is the only way they play. I’ve seen much much better English sides and their style had nothing to do with kick and run nor with Roy’s tactics. Roy’s approach is only good for a mid-table EPL side trying to make some splash in Europa League.

          Btw what’s up with that reference to Russia’s performance at Euro?

    2. I disagree, im not from England and have no preference in the Euros but i think that England have a future. And they owe it to Wenger. He will make sure that Ox & Wilshiere can pass the f-ing ball. They will be way better in the 2014 WC, thanks to those two. Hopefully for them Rooney will finally show up, like Ronaldo did this tourny. They have a good keeper, solid defence with Jones & Walker coming up. It will be up to the new arsenal midfielders to stay healthy and get better, those two can be the best midfielders in a generation.

  23. England had their chances in the first half, they seemed to be dead on their feet in the second half and by the end, they were walking around like zombies

    1. I’m wondering about fitness level of some of the players. I noticed that just after first 25 minutes Rooney was dripping with sweat.

  24. There is a God. God, what a pathetic display from England. Why bother if you’re going to play such rubbish football. Playing defensively is one thing but today England were just spectators and if Italy were more clinical it could have been embarrassing.

    If you’re going to lose why not lose the Redknapp way. Not looking forward to England in the World Cup with Hodgson at the helm.

  25. “Let’s send the team out to play for penalties, since we never win at penalties,” says Roy Hodgson in a masterful bit of strategizing.

  26. What a master class from Pirlo. He did whatever he wanted and made Gerard and Parker look like schoolboys. This Italian side is considered one of the weaker sides in a while yet they made England look less than ordinary. English players just lack technical skills the other European players seem to have in abundance. England needs a better youth system.

  27. Thank goodness that is over, now reality should kick in…transfer market, premier league build up…the real action begins… If England continue to play that brand of football, they will NOT qualify for the world cup, plain and simple. Unfortunately I think that is what it will take for England to see the light and fire Roy.

    He now has a spiradic schedule with the squad he picks, not the 5 weeks he has has to date. if he couldn’t get them playing a better way now then it just won’t happen.

    it’s one thing to say you play that way to win, but when you play that way, embarrass a nation and DONT win, then it is time to change. Capello did much better

    An absolute embarrassment, for squad selection and substitutions on through to tactics.

    A draw with an awful performing France team
    A win against Sweden before they hit their stride and destroyed France.
    And a poor poor performance that lead to a lucky 1-0 win against the Ukraine, hardly a powerhouse.

    Ugh I can’t wait for new manager and a new season.

  28. Hard to see where England go from here short term. Just crushed all over midfield. Unlike the Gaffer, I’m NOT a Carroll fanboy, but it’s hard to see why they’d play such a defensive shell on not leave the biggest guy on the pitch out there to hold the ball and provide a big target for set pieces and deep crosses – clearly the only way England were going to score today. Also Andy does know how to track back and defend, so why not put him out there? Grit players like Milner and Parker and even Gerrard are never going to be able to take England past the point they are now. Funny how after all the talk about how Wenger hates English players everybody here has the future of England riding on Arsene’s English midfield trio. But even at Arsenal, the flair midfielder is Arteta, not any of the English guys…

  29. England simply are not good enough. We can all complain about Roy Hodgson and injuries but we simply don’t have the talent. Italy did us a favour from serious embarrassment against Germany. We couldn’t attack because let’s face it we couldn’t string a couple of passes together. So the second half (and extra time) became an effort in trying to get to penalties. At one stage in the first half Danny Wellbeck was our best defender winning headers and cleaning up around the box! I suppose we can also argue why even take young exciting speed merchants such as Walcott and Oxley Chamberlain to play bit parts when the objective was to out and out defend?

    Since the last dismal showing in South Africa the FA stated they would perform a “root and branch” review of the English football system in an attempt to change the way kids are taught the game and enable England to seriously compete in the future at international level. Nothing has happened so far yet it will take a generation to change and produce the type of footballers we need. Therefore, with the current crop forget Brazil WC and look towards Russia. Let’s hope by then we have a half way decent team.

    1. They are all 31-32, I suppose they could hang around until the World cup, depends whether they want to. Plus I don’t think those 3 are the problem, I’m more worried about A Young, Milner, Rooney and Carroll who all sucked throughout this tournament

      1. I picked those three because of their age and i agree they were not the problem.I would like to see K Walker,M Richards,P Jones,Wilshire, Milner and Young were awful.

        1. I think we’ll see a lot of P Jones, Smalling, Wilshere, Walker. I’m not sure about Richards, from what I heard he decided he wasn’t going because he was going to be on the bench, and I have no time for people with that attitude when it comes to playing for your country. If he can’t be assed he doesn’t deserve to play.
          England career ended before it even started

          1. did not know that about Richards so much talent but a bad attitude.how much do you use the old guard for WC 14 or do you go all in with youth. I say go with the youth give them as much time to jell and gain experience.

  30. I hope so. I cannot imagine England progressing with the old guard still in place. Make way for the youngsters now.

  31. Kinda funny how when England loses this penalty shootout, it’s “justice” and a “poor performance”, yet when Chelsea bumble their way to the Champions League title in the exact same fashion, it’s “bravery” and “perseverance”.

    On another note, did Pirlo seem to have the ball longer than all the England players combined? Seemed like it.

    1. Pirlo had more passes than the 4 starting English midfielders combined.

      England were a joke, do they know how to counter without tripping over themselves, poorly dribbling into opposition players or passing backwards? hahaha

      They made Stoke City watchable

  32. This is not an original thought, because I remember reading it in a post a few days ago. I don’t think the problem is that England doesn’t have the talent, only that the talent we’re talking about is never chosen for the squad.

    You want technically gifted passers? Take Swansea’s midfield….Britton, Dyer, Sinclair, Routledge, Gower….all English.

    I am not suggesting they should all have been chosen, only that the technical ability that some say England lacks is available. Not just on Swansea, but other teams, as well. You can take any position you like and find technically talented English players. However, they were not chosen for the squad and given the mindset of recent coaches (and the FA) never will be.

    The conventional wisdom seems to be: Pick the big names and play it safe. I don’t see how England ever breaks out of the cycle short of a total revolution in the FA and a willingness by all, including the fans, to undergo some growing pains along the way. Failing that, “What’s past is prologue.”

  33. Any news on who would have been the fifth penalty taker for England has Diamanti missed? Tough one to figure… probably Terry or Hart? Maybe Johnson? I would be shocked to see Carroll/Walcott/Henderson/Lescott to take the fifth…

  34. At least young stepped up, Liverpool bought a £35 million chicken.

    Am I worth £35 million Absolutely, I will not take a penalty tho, are we clear? Especially in crunch time for my country.

    What a joke and waste of space.

  35. England is the only team in the tournament that has all its players playing in the EPL. Most of the squad members are from Manchester United and Liverpool who also have the most homegrown players in their squads. We all know how poor the Liverpool squad is and United’s is better but compared to the other European clubs they’re OK but not great.

    Send the young English players abroad to learn their trade. Even the Germans have Ozil and Khedira playing outside Germany despite the German system being quite good at developing players. Italy, also known to have all Italian-based players, now has Balotelli playing abroad.

    The EPL may be one of the best leagues in the world but that’s only because of the influence of foreign players. Take them out and we would see crap like we saw from England yesterday on a weekly basis. By the way, yesterday’s England performance made Stoke watchable. Unfortunately the foreign players are not helping the domestic players improve technically. That’s why i think they should be sent abroad so at least they can learn to string a couple of passes together and can hold on to the ball for more than 5 seconds.

    It’s not the fault of Hodgson that he has to choose from technically challenged players.

    1. Some “love” for Stoke! Alright!! 😉

      “It’s not the fault of Hodgson that he has to choose from technically challenged players.”

      Actually, as I stated above, I don’t think that is the case. He chose not to take technically talented players that were available to him, which simply seems to be the current English modus operandi when it comes to selecting players for international duty.

      It will be interesting to see if he now alters his team in a positive fashion leading up to the World Cup.

  36. England and Ireland were 14th and 16th place respectively in terms of possession (Greece was 15th). Squads made up of mostly EPL players….

    1. Possession doesn’t mean anything. If possession equaled points, Arsenal would have won the league last year.

      The Gaffer

  37. I think England did pretty well, all in all. They had a number of injuries, a new manager, no time to really get together between manager and team, and alot of pressure. They have some good young players and things should be better by the World Cup. As for the game against Italy, they did good but the Italians were better that night. I’m sort of glad England lost because they’d have to play Germany next if they won. The Germans will destroy Italy.

  38. One sentence sums the whole tournament up.

    Roy Hodgson’s negative, passive tactics.

    The writing was on the wall when we held on against France. We let Ukraine dominate us – a team ranked 52 in world football. For those of us that are Liverpool fans, this is deja vu.

    If Capello had set the team up like that, the press would be all over him. At least under Capello we made chances in games.

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