There is no doubt that England and Italy are regarded as two of the largest football nations in the world. However, ahead of this tournament, expectations for both were exceptionally modest, with both countries completely out of sorts in terms of recent form. Bearing that in mind, Roy Hodgson and Cesare Prandelli both know that they have an excellent chance to completely bamboozle everyone and guide their nation to the semi-finals of Euro 2012.
It is rare for an England side to approach a major tournament with low expectations, yet that is exactly what happened this year as the Three Lions arrived in Poland and Ukraine without any hope at all. However, that may have been exactly what the country needed, as far too often they have flattered to deceive at these competitions. It would be fair to say that in all three of their group games against France, Sweden and Ukraine, no performance was too easy on the eye. In fact, the Three Lions were aided by huge chunks of luck, but that’s not to say they don’t deserve their place in this stage of the competition. However, it is certainly going to be difficult to progress to the next round of the competition, with Roy Hodgson’s side losing seven of their last ten matches at quarter final level. To make things more concerning, the English are renowned for having a poor competitive record against all of the major nations.
Italy on the other hand approach this game having similarly stuttered through the group stages. While there was plenty of optimism following a 1-1 draw with Spain in the opening game, they only managed to pick up four more points which meant that qualification was anything but simple. However, the one thing that the Italians do have on their side is history. The nation are renowned for performing in the latter stages of major tournaments and the fact they have four World Cup trophies to their name speaks volumes. Moreover, having lost just two knock out games in the last twenty four years, it would certainly be foolish to not take the Italians seriously.
England are in the fortunate position of having no fresh injury issues for this clash, meaning that Roy Hodgson is tipped to keep changes to a minimum. It’s a different story for the Italians meanwhile, with Cesare Prandelli set to be without Giorgio Chiellini as he struggles with a thigh issue. However, that is Italy’s only concern and with the nation having a readymade replacement in Leonardo Bonucci, Chiellini’s absence is not a huge problem.
This is one of the most difficult games of the tournament to predict, with both of these nations being extremely similar in stature and style at the moment. We certainly don’t think there will be a lot of goals, with our tip being a 1-0 win for England in extra time.