England squares off against Italy in the knockout stage on June 24 at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium.
After a controversial 1-0 win against Ukraine on the 19th, England heads off to join the Quarterfinals squaring off against Italy. The English did fairly well during the qualifying stage with 5 wins and 3 draws. They finished the Group stage at the top of Group D with an overall score of 7 followed by France with a score of 4. Now, with Wayne Rooney back in action from a two game suspension, the Three Lions look ready for battle.
The seemingly smooth ride to the Quarters is not all it seemed. England had just lost the midfield duo, Gareth Barry whose cover had always been a valuable asset to the team’s defense and Frank Lampard with his goal making skills to injuries. England’s already less than satisfactory offense may have been weakened further. Wayne Rooney may have scored the winning goal against Ukraine on the closing Group match, but that was all it was, one point. He looked a bit rusty on the field during that last match. Their defense may need a little bit of fine tuning against the strong Italian offensive as well.
The Group C Runners-Up and four time World Cup winners, Italy has been one of the favorites to win the Delauney Cup next to Spain of course. Their brilliance in attack has taken them to heights in tournaments that most teams aren’t capable of reaching. Although of course their performance and aggressive nature was less then apparent during the Group stage finishing second to the top which is Spain with a score of 5, Spain finished with 7, the Italians are still, by far, a strong team. CesarePrandelli isn’t just another good coach, he is known as an excellent tactician moving Italy forward despite constant problems.
One problem the Italians are facing is the fact that they don’t have enough top players that guarantee a top-level performance and rely almost solely on Prandelli’s intuition. Prandelli too often, prefers unusual formations but one man’s choice cannot always be suitable to seal a win against the opposing team.
England vs Italy Predictions: Italy wins 2-1
The win for this upcoming match has to be more inclined to Italy. The Italians have used brilliant attack formations that have guaranteed victory and although England has excellent defense, the Italians have a good chance of exploiting whatever chink they may have in their armor.
Alessandro Diamanti scored the decisive penalty kick Sunday to send Italy through to the European Championship semifinals with a 4-2 win in the shootout following a 0-0 tie with England and a spot.
Ashley Young hit the crossbar with England's third, and Ashley Cole's attempt was saved by Gianluigi Buffon.
Italy will next play Germany in the semifinals on Thursday in Warsaw, Poland. Defending champion Spain plays Portugal on Wednesday in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo - with an audacious slow chip-shot down the middle of the goal - and Antonio Nocerino also scored for Italy. Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney scored England's penalties.
The match ended 0-0 after 120 minutes of play. The Italians twice hit the post, but were also let down by poor composure in front of goal. Diamanti clipped the post with a curling cross in the 101st minute, and swept a clear shot wide in the clearest chance of the second period of extra time.
Nocerino, another substitute, thought he had scored from Diamanti's cross in the 115th but was offside.
Daniele De Rossi hit the post in the third minute, and Buffon saved a shot from Glen Johnson in the fifth.
For England, it was yet another exit from a major tournament in the quarterfinals after a penalty shootout. England lost to Portugal in the same manner at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
"We have done the country proud but again we go home with heartbreak and it's difficult to take," said Gerrard, who played in both those previous shootout losses.
Italy dominated the match, which ended 0-0 after 120 minutes of play. The Italians twice hit the post, but were also let down by poor composure in front of goal. Diamanti clipped the post with a curling cross in the 101st minute, and swept a clear shot wide.
The first scoreless match at Euro 2012 was neither dull nor lacking good soccer.
Italy's attacking desire and creativity under coach Cesare Prandelli had playmaker Andrea Pirlo at its heart. Italy had 35 shots, compared to only nine for England.
England had briefly led the shootout after Riccardo Montolivo missed Italy's second penalty. His shot went wide of Joe Hart's right post as the England goalkeeper guessed correctly.
Rooney then sent Buffon the wrong way, firing in his spot kick to the keeper's right to give England a 2-1 lead.
The momentum shifted after Pirlo's bold piece of skill leveled at 2-2.
It had been perhaps the toughest Euro 2012 quarterfinal match to predict, and Italy and England set the tone by both coming close within five minutes.
De Rossi hit the post with a spinning left-foot shot from 25 yards, then Johnson's scooped shot from close range was swatted away by Buffon.
An intriguing match almost demanded that Balotelli take center stage. The Italy forward ran clear in the 25th, but hesitated and allowed John Terry to block his chipped shot.
Balotelli forced Hart, his teammate at Manchester City, to save an acrobatic shot, then surged between England's central defenders before putting a half-volley over the crossbar. He kicked the goal post in frustration.
Italy continued surging in the second half and De Rossi, taking a ball over his shoulder, scuffed his shot wide. De Rossi sank to his knees in obvious exasperation, and more Italian frustration quickly followed.
Three rapid-fire chances in the 52nd saw Hart beat away De Rossi's long-range shot, block Balotelli's follow-up and watch Montolivo lash the loose ball high.
EURO 2012: England vs Italy Timeline
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