Euro 2012: England Vs Italy 0 – 0 (Live Match)
England take on Italy in the final q-final match.Italy could be without Thiago Motta, who is struggling with a tweaked hamstring and will most likely be replaced by Montolivo , and Bonucci in for Chiellini , England has no injury worries. Will Balotteli upset the three lions or will the three lions go on to win this match?
Possible starting XIs
England: Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Young, Rooney, Welbeck.
Italy: Buffon, Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Balzaretti, Marchisio, Pirlo, De Rossi, Motta, Cassano, Balotelli.
England player to watch: Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard has been England’s best player at Euro 2012. At 32 years of age, it is possible the steely determination with which he is playing is in part down to an awareness that this could be his last major tournament – certainly as a regular starter. In each of his nation’s matches he has recorded an assist, via the means of whipped balls from the right channel. Reduce this supply and Italy just might reduce England’s attacking threat. His battle with Daniele De Rossi will be one worth keeping an eye on, the latter saying of the former: "Gerrard has been my idol for ten years and is one of the best players in the world. He is the example of what all midfield players aspire to."
Italy player to watch: Mario Balotelli.
An obvious choice indeed, but it would have been scandalous to not mention Mario. Even more attention than usual is being directed the forward’s way, such are his Premier League links. With his Manchester City team-mates Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner all expected to start, it has been proposed they will know which buttons to push, so as to release the red mist, and, hence, a red card. Prandelli will be wishing his player keeps a lid on the ugly side of his game, letting the beauty – as demonstrated via the goal against the Irish – instead make the headlines. "He will be very difficult to play against," warned England coach Gary Neville.
Andrea Pirlo v Steven Gerrard
Both of these men act as the midfield pivots for their respective teams. Andrea Pirlo has been in fine form during the tournament with his metronomic passing ability and the calmness he exudes. The Italian midfield maestro managed to standout even amidst the class of the Spanish midfield but his best performance so far came against Croatia when he scored a perfect free-kick. Steven Gerrard has led England by example so far. In a less advanced role than he is used to, the Liverpool man has shown a dogged tenacity in defence but has also got forward and demonstrated his superb passing ability by getting three assists. The result of this game could very well come down to which of these two men put in a better performance.
Wayne Rooney v Daniele De Rossi
Daniele De Rossi is primarily a defensive midfielder but has been deployed as a centre-back for much of this tournament and excelled there. Whether he starts at centre-back or in his more familiar defensive midfield role he will have to deal with Wayne Rooney’s guile. The Manchester United frontman does not play as an out-and-out striker but likes to drop into the space between the opposition’s defence and midfield, meaning that if De Rossi starts in defence he will have to find a balance between not being sucked out of position and not allowing Rooney too much space. If he starts in midfield he will have to be alert to the Englishman and make sure that he tracks him when he drops deep. Rooney is one of England’s few world class players but looked rusty against Ukraine. However, his goal will have boosted his confidence and he will no doubt return to the field sharper and fitter.
John Terry v Antonio Cassano
According to Uefa’s official Castrol player ratings, John Terry has been England’s best player in this tournament with an average rating of 8.85 per game, and he will have to be on his toes to keep out Italy’s key striker Antonio Cassano. The forward earned the Carlsberg man of the match award against Ireland and could use his speed to get in behind the England defence. Terry’s pace isn’t his strong point, and the Italian attack spearheaded by Cassano, may target this weakness. Terry is highly experienced though, and with a Champions league medal in his back pocket, should know how to deal with the Italian.
Joe Hart v Gianluigi Buffon
Many people expect tonight’s game to be decided by a penalty shoot-out. This eventuality fills both country’s fans with trepidation since England’s penalty history is as well documented as it is poor and the last two times Italy were knocked out of a competition in the quarter finals were after penalties. However, there is hope for both sides in the form of their keepers. England’s Joe Hart has, in his short career, established himself as one of the world’s best keepers and carries no scars from previous England shootouts. Fans will however hope that he has learnt from his mistake in an England U-21 shootout when after excelling himself – saving one and scoring one – he was booked for goading the opposition and missed the subsequent final. Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon was part of the Italian team that lost on penalties to Spain in Euro 2008 but the veteran brings with him huge experience and will surely fancy his chances between the sticks against England.
Mario Balotelli v his demons
Is he worth it? Mario Balotelli is undoubtedly an exceptional talent and one of the most exciting players at the tournament. The impulsive Italian striker is capable of magical moments on the field, as seen against Ireland with his spectacular overhead volley. However he is well known for his erratic behaviour both on and off the field. After scoring his impressive goal against Ireland his teammate Leonardo Bonucci had to cover up Balotelli’s mouth preventing him from an arrogant and unnecessary outburst targeted at the Italian coach. It is unknown whether the Manchester City front man will start against England, but there is every chance that he may be the decisive factor in the game. One thing for sure is that Balotelli is a game changer. He may lose his cool in the heat of the moment and be shown red, or he may pull something out of the top draw and stun the English players who know him (Scott Parker might say too well). The question is which Balotelli will arrive at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Sunday, the hero or the villain?