England face a daunting task against Italy when they meet in the last quarter final match of Euro 2012 in Kyiv on Sunday. They are meeting only for the second tie at a UEFA European Championship. This match would decide who will face Germany in the semi final. In other semi final it would be Spain against Portugal.
England’s captain has this realization that they cannot afford to underestimate the Italian side coached by Cesare Prandelli. Enland coach Roy Hodgson too have warned his side that if they let the Azzurri play on Sunday they “could be in for a long night’. That is why he believes that if England win it would give ‘a bit of an extra glow’.
Hodgson’s side have finished a bit unexpectedly as the winners of Group D though they had started with a 1-1 draw againt France. They beat Sweden and Ukraine in the subsequent matches.
Though it is quite early to expect a penalty shoot-out situation but there are talks of both team’s failure in this department in the recent years. In the 1990 World Cup both Italy and England lost their semi final match in penalty shootout. England had lost to Germany when Chris Waddle’s shot went over the cross bar. Similarly Roberto Donadoni missed the net against Argentina. Four years later in 1994 World Cup the famous pony tail player Roberto Baggio kicked the ball well above the cross bar against Brazil in the final.
England had lost in the only previous encounter at the Euro back in 1980 and they had lost by 0-1.
Italy had a tough time in Group C with a draw against the defending champion Spain and the Croatians. They defeated Ireland by 2-0 to get full points.
The Italians will be missing the services of Giorgio Chiellini because of a thigh injury but they would be heavily relying on Andrea Pirlo. The 33 year old Pirlo is now playing for Juventus. Chiellin may be replace with another Jeventus player Leonardo Bonucci.
Football analysts say that both teams play with a slow build up approach keeping the ball possession in their own half though the Italian side is being considered a bit less defensive. In this match England is expected to come up with some strategy to contain Pirlo.
Apart from Pirlo Mario Balotelli is also expected to excel in the Italian forward line.
For England Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is the star who scored the winner that enabled England to get into the quarter final.
Though England is expected to stick to their 4-4-2 defensive approach but it is their back line which failed against Sweden when they conceded two goals in a span of ten minutes with concentration lapses. Though England won that game by 3-2.
Apart from football on ground the Italians are being haunted by an ongoing police investigation into alleged match fixing. Interestingly the Italians had won the World Cup in 2006 when there was an infamous soccer scandal. And Italy’s midfielder Daniele De Rossi thinks that it is in their DNA to overcome difficulties.