Nitin Malik says: England
There are always heavy expectations from English sides and its maybe because we are so familiar with their players. England has played a lot like traditional Italian teams in this EURO with heavy emphasis on defensive shape. Hodgson has instilled a much needed discipline in team, they are much better organized. The critical thing for England is gaining possession. They haven’t seen much of the ball in last three games. Their possession % in last three games has been 42, 52 and 40. And 52% possession was against an aging Sweden side. To win against Italy their forward trilogy of Young , Wellback and Rooney has to click as they all play for Manchester united and already familiar with each other’s playing style.
Italians are always resolute in defense and to break them will require something special from England especially from their inspirational captain Steven Gerrard. He has been exceptional so far with pitch perfect assists. A good game from him will augur well for England’s chances to reach semis. Other key player for England is Theo Walcott, His introduction in the mid way as an impact substitute can alter the complexion of any game. He has the speed to quickly outrun the defenders.
Key players: Rooney, Gerrard
They play unattractive football sometimes, they are facing fixing scandals at home , they are almost always underrated but Italians teams have that unique ability to win big tournaments. Four times world champions might not have many stars among their side but they are a strong unit. Andre pirlo , the play maker has been brilliant and can always create that one defense breaking pass. Marchisio ,is the other key midfielder ,whose work ethic has been very high ,moving from box to box with ease and assisting both attack and defense. Cassano has been clever in forward line and he is due a goal. And well Balotelli is Balotelli , he can score a wondergoal and get a red card after 5 minutes. You are never sure with him
Italians played against Spain in Group stages without any fear, and were able to break the world champions’ momentum. So they will be confident against an untested English side. They have played so far in a 3-5-2 formation which sometimes changes 4-4-2.They are one of the few sides playing with two forwards which shows the attacking mindset of coach Cesare Prandelli.
Key Players:Pirlo, Cassano
It should be 1-1 in the normal time with Italians scoring in extra time to make it 2-1. Let’s hope for an exciting encounter. Happy Viewing!!!