UEFA EURO 2012 Sunday Quarterfinal – England vs Italy
ENGLAND VS ITALY
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: England +175, Italy +175, Draw +200 & 2.5 Goals (Over +150, Under -222)
The final quarterfinal of EURO 2012 will be played on Sunday, as England takes on Italy. The English, surprisingly at top of their group, have found a way of grinding out results despite not playing their best. The Italians have been graced with the presence of in-form playmaker Andrea Pirlo, and have looked a side on the rise since their dreadful World Cup campaign only two years ago. Both sides have undergone a resurgence, with England receiving an influx of youthful talent as well as newly appointed manager Roy Hodgson, and Italy’s squad coming into complete harmony and playing well with a combination of youth and experience. While both of these sides may not be the most technically gifted, their direct passing game has found them success in recent times.
Much emphasis will once again lie upon the midfield. Both sides’ strengths include the central midfielders supplying the strikers. England plays a traditional 4-4-2 formation, which can prove to be static at times, while Italy utilizes the 3-5-2 or the 4-1-3-2. England captain Steven Gerrard has three assists to his name already, while Pirlo has two for Italy. An advantage the Italians may possess over their opponents is what they do off the ball. As shown in the Italy versus Croatia game, the Italians’ pressure off the ball is key to their success. England has shown to be indecisive about its system off the ball, as seen in the Ukraine game, in which the club was poor whilst pressuring the opposition. Both sides have some problems in defense, as recent news has revealed that Italian central defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss the quarterfinal, while England always seems to struggle to keep a clean sheet. Although health isn’t a question, uncertainty remains over the lack of pace in the English back line.
Both sides are capable of scoring goals, but the game will be decided on which midfield operates most efficiently. As it stands, Pirlo is set to dictate play once again, unless England closes down passing lanes and presses the opposition adequately. Steven Gerrard must find pockets of space in between the Italian defensive third in order to supply his teammates, something that may be a challenge. However, with the arrival of Wayne Rooney, the British have an extra dimension in their attack and can cause the Italians some problems.
Expect the game to be extremely close, as each side will play cautiously and try to retain possession. England will be a threat on set pieces, and Italy will use their energetic midfield to their advantage. Expect this game to end as a 1-1 DRAW after regulation, with both sides having plenty half-chances to score. The most logical pick here is the UNDER, with each team not boasting the most prolific scoring record. The English will end their horrific penalty shoot-out record, and succeed over the Italians.