Euro 2012 Prediction: England to scrape past Italy


Tonight’s Euro 2012 quarter-final clash sees Roy Hodgson’s men meet a stubborn Italian side who play in a similar fashion to England.


By Robin Jellis

Tonight’s Euro 2012 quarter-final clash sees Roy Hodgson’s men meet a stubborn Italian side who play in a similar fashion to England, making the result very tough to predict.

Italy were drawn in a competitive group containing current World and European champions Spain, as well as a tricky Croatia outfit.

After claiming 1-1 draws with both of them, the Italians beat the Republic of Ireland in their final group stage game to secure a place in the quarter-finals against England.

The Irish did however pose some difficulties to the Italian defence, and that will give Hodgson and his men belief that they can book a spot in the semi-finals of a competitive tournament for the first time since 1996.

Cesare Prandelli’s lost three successive friendlies before the tournament started, against Uruguay, the USA and Russia, suggesting there are weaknesses that England can exploit.

Although Antonio di Natale and Mario Balotelli present a serious goal threat to England’s defence, their other main worry will be the quality of set-piece delivery provided by 33-year-old Andrea Pirlo.

Pirlo has been at his best so far, setting up two and scoring one of Italy’s four goals – he must be dealt with if England are to qualify for the semi-finals, where they would meet rivals Germany.

England, meanwhile, have performed solidly if not spectacularly in topping their group, beginning with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against a strong French side.

A 3-2 victory over Sweden in their next match after being 2-1 down showed how resilient the side has become under Hodgson’s stewardship – more resilience will certainly be required if England are to win tonight.

Ukraine were brushed aside 1-0 in a relatively lacklustre performance that was epitomised by a strong defence, but proved that England are able to grind out results.

Steven Gerrard has proved England’s talisman in the first three games, setting up three of the five goals scored so far, and driving his side on.

If Gerrard can replicate his recent performances, and Wayne Rooney can improve on his showing against Ukraine, his return to the first-team, then England will worry the Italians.

Rooney and Danny Welbeck will be hoping to rekindle their Manchester United partnership at international level, and the Italian back-line may struggle to deal with their pace.

The match will be tightly-contested and close-fought, but if England show the desire and commitment that has been evident since Hodgson took over, then anything is possible.

I think England will just edge it, although it may need extra-time to decide a winner.

Score prediction: England 2-1 Italy


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