UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine
Quarter-Final
England vs Italy-  Match Preview

 

 


Quarter-Finals
                    Euro 2012                       Fourth round of fixtures 

Thursday 21st June-         Czech Republic vs Portugal             KO 7:45pm                 BBC1/HD

Friday 22nd June-                Germany vs Greece                     KO 7:45pm                  ITV1/HD

Saturday 23rd June-                Spain vs France                       KO 7:45pm                  ITV1/HD

Sunday 24th June-                 England vs Italy                      KO 7:45pm                 BBC1/HD


England's other matches so far:     France 1-1 England            Sweden 2-3 England               England 1-0 Ukraine

Italy's other matches so far:            Spain 1-1 Italy                  Italy 1-1 Croatia               Italy 2-0 Rep of Ireland

 

 

England's James Milner says he does not know which version of Manchester City team-mate Mario Balotelli will turn up in Kiev for the Euro 2012 quarter-final with Italy.

Roy Hodgson's England face Balotelli's Italy side in the last eight of the tournament in Poland & Ukraine on Sunday night and Milner said ahead of the game about his Manchester City colleague: "There are two Marios. There is the one who turns up sometimes in training when it is a bit cold and he is not too interested. The other one is when he really wants it and he is a special talent."

Milner was one of three City players that featured in the 1-0 win over Ukraine to secure a place in the last eight. Goalkeeper Joe Hart and defender Joleon Lescott will be in close proximity to Balotelli, with Milner confident they can keep the 21-year old's unpredictably under wraps. "We know that Mario is a top player but the lads at the back have been brilliant. We might give him a bit of banter before the game. It was good to see him score for Italy but our defenders have been fantastic," Milner said. "Joleon has been playing like that all season for City but now he is doing it for England as well. He knows Mario well, trains with him every day so I'm sure he will keep him quiet. Mario is a different player and he is going to cause you problems. He is very strong and tricky and he is a clever player as well. He is a danger for Italy but he is one of many. They have a lot of good players. We have to make sure we don't just concentrate on him. We will do our homework and try to perform well."

Lescott will be setting club allegiances aside and there will be no contact with Balotelli as there is business to attend to. He said: "There won't be texts. We are here for different teams. We play together at club level but international level is totally different. Coming up against Mario is obviously going to be a tough task. I know the quality he possesses. At any time he can create something out of nothing. I am sure there will be strengths and weaknesses we will be looking to exploit against each other."

Wayne Rooney, who returned from suspension to score the winner against Ukraine, believes Sunday's quarter-final is an even match. The Manchester United striker sees similarities between the two sides and thinks Andrea Pirlo will be a major threat. Rooney said ahead of the game: "Italy will be a tough game. We will have to be at our best to win it. They are quite similar to us in the way they play and have match-winners in Balotelli and [Antonio] Cassano. Pirlo is also great player. I would say it is 50-50 going into the game."

Hodgson admits he was expecting to be facing world and European champions Spain in the last eight. But the England coach is anticipating a difficult challenge when his team face Cesare Prandelli's side. The boss explained: "Our preparation for Italy started on Wednesday. I watched the game between Spain and Croatia rather than Italy and Ireland [on Monday] partly thinking that if we were to do well, Spain would be a possible opponent. I have seen Italy play but I haven't studied them and how good they are, but they have been good enough to get out of a very tough group." Joe Hart says England cannot be satisfied with merely reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Roy Hodgson's side have exceeded expectations by progressing to the knockout stage as group winners to set up a last-eight clash. The 25-year old says he and his England team-mates believe they can go even further. "The whole point in coming here is not to keep people happy and off our backs," the goalkeeper said. "We are here to win. We are not those guys [who settle for reaching the quarter-finals] - we are winners. We want to be successful for ourselves and make English people proud of their team. We would like to leave here having given everything. Whether that makes people happy, or keeps people off our backs, whatever. Just as long [as] we know we have given everything."

Hodgson has fashioned a side that is proving hard to beat, with England battling to a well-earned draw against France in their Group C opener before seeing off Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine to top the standings.

Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final against England with a thigh injury. The 27-year old Juventus centre-back picked up the injury in Monday's 2-0 group stage win over Ireland. He was replaced in the 57th minute by club-mate Leonardo Bonucci, who is likely to take his place against England.

Team doctor Enrico Castellacci said: "The scan he underwent confirmed it's a strain. He will certainly miss the game on Sunday. Obviously in a competition like this you have to try everything to have him back as quickly as possible but we will not take any unnecessary risks with his muscles." He also dismissed concerns that Chiellini's injury was a recurrence of the problem that had made him doubtful for the tournament.

Elsewhere, Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi says he is relishing his clash with "idol" Steven Gerrard when they face England on Sunday. The AS Roma midfielder, who will line up against Gerrard in the Euro 2012 quarter-final, has not been surprised by England's impact in the tournament. "It's not like we're discovering England now," he said. "Gerrard has always been my idol and he's a player who's been at the top level of the game for 10 years. You see Gerrard defending and attacking. I would like to be able to play more like that. But they've also got many interesting young players, especially on the wings. And (England coach Roy) Hodgson has experience in Italy, so they know how to defend, too."

De Rossi is set to win his 76th international cap in the Kiev quarter-final. After eight years in the Italy team, who won the World Cup in 2006, De Rossi is full of anticipation for his first meeting with England. He added: "When I think about, I've never really made an impact against an English squad. But I've never faced England's national team - not even at the junior level. "It's an honour to play against such a great squad. I've played in a lot of matches with the national team, so this gives me a new reason to get excited. It's an honour to play against such a great squad. I've played in a lot of matches with the national team, so this gives me a new reason to get excited."

Ashley Cole says he has "unfinished business" with England and is targeting his 100th appearance for his country in the final of Euro 2012.

The 31-year old left-back has played in every major tournament for England for the last decade, but has never progressed beyond the quarter-finals. He said: "There is unfinished business. I have been lucky enough to play 97 times for England and hopefully I will get 100 in the final. I have never had the joy of winning for my country and I am not getting too far ahead of myself or the team but so far it is going well." England will first have to overcome Italy in Sunday's quarter-final in Kiev.

Cole, who is England's most capped full-back, was in the side that last bowed out at this stage of a European Championship in 2004, when they lost to Portugal on penalties, and he has also experienced last eight disappointment in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. The Chelsea man continued: "This is my fourth quarter-final now and I have bad memories of the others, so I want to look back at those and think about what I did and what could help me for this one. It [Sunday's game] is a different game against a great team but the spirits are high and the lads are buzzing for the game, I am confident. We know it will be a tough game on Sunday but they say dreams come true and hopefully this can be one of my dreams."

England manager Roy Hodgson has praised centre-back John Terry for the way he has performed following the controversy over his selection. Terry was picked despite facing a charge of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, whose brother Rio was left out of the England squad. Hodgson said: "He has brought his good form, from the end of the season, with him into the tournament. It is nice that he has formed such a good partnership with Joleon Lescott."

The England manager says that the Terry-Lescott partnership has been a key factor in his team's progression and knows how important they will be against Italy in Sunday's quarter-final. He explained: "Obviously Gary Cahill getting injured decreased the competition for places and really, from the first minute, he and Joleon have hit things off and their play together is very, very important to us."

Italy striker Mario Balotelli says he has nothing to prove as he prepares for the Euro 2012 quarter-final against England. The Manchester City striker was dropped for the Republic of Ireland game before coming on to score his first goal at the tournament in a 2-0 victory. 

Balotelli said: "I don't have to show anything to anyone, not to England, not to Italy and not to anyone. I'm not a Super Mario or a Stupid Mario, I'm just Mario. It was important for me to score because I had been trying to do that in the previous two games but hadn't managed it. But it's not a case of the handbrake being off now, I scored a goal and that can happen."

Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola described the 21-year-old as Peter Pan, while his international team-mate Daniele De Rossi said the forward was maturing.

"I think these are metaphors for Mario the person, not Mario the footballer. I think I'm a man- I don't think I need to say it, but I am. I could be Peter Pan in that I do things my own way and I'm very free, but I think I'm more of a man than Peter Pan," Balotelli said.

Balotelli could return to the starting line-up at the expense of Antonio Di Natale, which would pit him against several of his Manchester City team-mates in Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner. He added: "I hope it's going to be a good match and I think it will be fun to play against my team-mates. They know me and I know them, I just hope it's going to be nice and fun. I don't expect anything, I hope we win because I want to win and even though they're team-mates, I hope they lose."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli was giving no clues to his starting line-up but knows his side will have to break down the organisation of the England team under Roy Hodgson to win. He said: "We're prepared, we've studied England and discovered that they're one of the most organised European teams, more so than others who have this reputation. They average 38-39 metres between the lines [the distance from defenders to attackers] so we'll have to break up their rhythm. We'll have to match their intensity but I'm convinced that if we can play with tempo then we can play a great match."


Click here to listen to pre-match thoughts of England's Glen Johnson

Click here to listen to pre-match thoughts of England's Scott Parker

Click here to listen to pre-match thoughts of England's Joe Hart

England's belief and confidence impresses ex-manager Terry Venables

Click here for latest report from England camp on Thursday

Click here for latest report from England camp on matchday

Click here for latest report from Italy camp on matchday


 


Prediction:-

With neither attack really clicking in the tournament so far in terms of what they are truly capable of, as well as both having a penchant for keeping a tight backline and not leaking goals left, right and centre, expect a small number of goals in this one and possibly even extra time or penalties as being the outcome that decides who gets that coveted semi-final place. We all know that there will not be many England fans at the game but that has been the case for all three group stage games and they haven't let that affect them in terms of the atmosphere and reception they receive. England have looked mediocre at best so far, their own results in an ordinary situation would have earned them second place in the table and ultimately Spain- France took their foot off the pedal in the final match against Sweden otherwise they would have comfortably topped the group. It wasn't the best performance again from England who have never really shown attacking intent so far in the Euros- Rooney's return is a big boost and to see him upfront again in an England shirt is great for every fan. He is world-class and he will not give the defence of Italy a moment's rest on Sunday. Hodgson's men have looked the more of a fit and healthy squad balanced well with youth and experiene, so the longer the game goes without a goal the more confident they should become, but the Azzurri seemingly have a bit more quality and that could be a telling factor in such an important match with the likes of Pirlo, Chiellini, Buffon and Di Natale winning before on the international stage in 2006 in the World Cup final. Italy have found a 3-5-2 system that has worked really well and has allowed them to flood the midfield, work better as a unit and still have that offensive nature to their play. They haven't looked vulnerable or found wanting at the back and if Balotelli starts to score goals, then they can be one of the darkhorses in the competition like France. The Italians shouldn't be taken lightly even though their record in the two major tournaments since then has been poor. I think we will get a score draw after ninety minutes and indeed extra-time with England, who have been practising penalties this week a lot in training, getting it right in the shoot-out and edging through on penalties.

Adam predicts England 1-1 Italy (England to win 4-3 on penalties)

Alex predicts England 0-0 Italy (Italy to win 5-4 on penalties)

Ben predicts England 2-1 Italy

 

 

 

 


Last meeting:-

Saturday 27th March 2002                                                      International Friendly                  England (Fowler 63) 1-2 Italy (Montella 67, 90 (pen)
Venue-  Elland Road, Leeds (South Yorkshire, England)


England lost the friendly to Italy back in March 2002 with boss Sven-Goran Eriksson using two different line-ups for each half including 22 different players as they slumped to defeat in their warm-up match before the 2002 World Cup tournament in Japan. It did little more than prove how crucial the form and fitness of Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes will be in Japan as in their absence, England's midfield struggled to find balance and rhythm and, although Joe Cole's performance in the second half was an improvement on the collective efforts of Nicky Butt and Frank Lampard in the first, the manner in which an Italian substitute, the experienced Demetrio Albertini, took command for the last 25 minutes put this small comfort firmly into perspective. England could take some credit for reminding the Elland Road crowd that they had paid to see an international contest, not a coaching seminar. Ledley King roused the game into life by bringing Gianluigi Buffon, the only current survivor of the team from this game, into action after 58 minutes with a save from a header. Five minutes later, Joe Cole's persistence led to England going in front. Although heavily surrounded by blue shirts, the then-West Ham United man simply refused to give up on the ball before finally prodding it past Mark Iuliano's lunge to send the ball through to Robbie Fowler for a sharp shot past Buffon. Then Albertini, who had only been on for five minutes, took over for the Italians. In the 64th minute, Joe Cole lost possession to Zambrotta whose pass found a well-placed Albertini to set up Fulham forward Montella for a superb shot past James from just beyond the penalty arc. As the match entered stoppage time, Tommasi intercepted an underhit pass from Hargreaves and slipped the ball to Montella who in turn freed Massimo Maccarone, scorer of Italy's goal in their 1-1 draw with England Under-21s the previous evening, who was brought down by James. Montella sent the keeper the wrong way as England made it seven months without a win.


 

 

ENGLAND

Manager-  Roy Hodgson 

 

 

Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Hart, Green, Butland

Defenders-   G Johnson, Kelly, Lescott, Terry, Jagielka, Jones, A Cole, 
                   Baines

Midfielders-  Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Parker, Gerrard (C),
                   Henderson, Milner, Young, Downing

Forwards-  Rooney, Carroll, Defoe, Welbeck

Likely starting line-up:

(4-4-1-1)


Hart
G Johnson
Terry
Lescott
A Cole
Milner
Gerrard (captain)
Parker
Young
Rooney
Welbeck

 

 

ITALY

Manager-  Cesare Prandelli 

 

 

Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Buffon (C), Sirigu, De Sanctis

Defenders-  Bonucci, Chiellini, Maggio, Balzaretti, Balzaghi, Abate,
                  Ogbonna

Midfielders-  De Rossi, Marchisio, Montolivo, Giaccherini, Pirlo, Thiago
                   Motta, Diamanti, Nocerino

Forwards-  Balotelli, Cassano, Di Natale, Giovinco, Borini

Likely starting line-up:

(3-5-2)


Buffon (captain)
Bonucci
Balzaretti
De Rossi
Maggio
Marchisio
Pirlo
Thiago Motta
Giaccherini
Di Natale
Cassano

 

 

 


KEY BATTLE:

Wayne Rooney (England) vs Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)


Adam's comment:
  "In what will be an extremely tight affair played between two teams who generally prioritise defending and hard-work it has to be said, the game will be crying out for some attacking. Step forward Wayne Rooney. The main man for England in terms of scoring goals was back with the winner against Ukraine although that was his only measly contribution to a rather boring game. He can still get the team over the line as he has done so often for Manchester United, when the team are not playing well and just need a bit of luck or something special, Wayne is normally the man who provides it to get the side out of jail which is certainly what he did in the previous game. Watch out for him dropping deep, letting Welbeck be the man furthest forward and possibly linking up more with Steven Gerrard who will be asked once more to sit a little deeper in midfield. Wayne is great at dispersing the ball to his team-mates especially the wingers when receiving the ball in between the lines. He has natural ability, is world class and does everything that you want a footballer to do. He didn't have much of an impact against the Ukranians but he knows the importance of this game for the country and he will be put in extra effort- his work-rate is good while he is deadly in front of goal- if Bonucci and co cannot contain him it will be a recipe for disaster as far as Italy are concerned. Chiellini will be missing from the Italy defence although they have an able deputy in Leonardo Bonucci who has his strengths and weaknesses like any player. He is good in the air and is great at reading and intercepting passes which we have seen already in the tournament- however setpieces is his achilles heel in terms of the marking side of the equation where the person he is marking has a tendency to get free of him which can be worrying when you have the likes of Terry, Lescott and Rooney to look after. Bonucci is an experienced defender and knows that Wayne and England will be well prepared and ready for the battle- Wayne has got one goal, he will want more. It will certainly be an interesting dual between the two with Rooney probably winning this particular war on the pitch."
 
 

 

 

KEY MATCH FACTS:-


England have only won one of their last nine meetings with Italy and have an overall record of won six, drawn seven and lost nine against them. Their meeting in Kiev will be the 23rd occasion they will play against each other.

Rooney's winner against Ukraine was his 29th for the national team and he needs just one more to become the country's joint-fifth top scorer of all-time level with Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer.

Left-back Cole holds the England record for number of appearances without a goal, currently at 97 caps.

The Three Lions were one of only two teams (the other being Greece) in the group stage not to have an opponent waved offside. They did not register a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes against Ukraine - the last time that happened to England in a European Championship game was in the 1-0 loss to Italy in 1980.

Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard are all a yellow card away from a suspension.

England and Italy have only clashed in one previous European Championship match and that was 32 years ago. Italy, hosting the 1980 Finals, beat England 1-0 with current Republic of Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli’s goal in Turin at the Group stage.

England have won just eight of the sixteen European Championship games when they have scored first while they had the best chance conversion rate (21.7%) in the group stages of Euro 2012.

England have won one of their six previous penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments-  beating Spain in the quarter-finals of Euro 1996 after a 0-0 draw. Their defeat to Portugal on penalties at Euro 2004 in Lisbon was also played on 24th June.

Italy defeated England 2-1 at World Cup 1990 in the third-place play-off match while the Azzurri had the best defensive record in Euro 2012 qualifying, conceding just twice.

Italy won the two previous meetings at major tournaments; Marco Tardelli got the only goal in Turin to give the hosts victory in a group game at the European Championship in 1980. And Italy beat England 2-1 in the third-place play-off at the 1990 World Cup, with goals from Roberto Baggio and Toto Schillachi. David Platt got England's reply in Bari.

The Azzurri were five games without a win before beating the Republic of Ireland last time out while 2-0 win over the Irish also ended a national-record run of six games without a victory in major final tournaments for Italy. Coach Cesare Prandelli is unbeaten in competitive internationals, recording nine wins and four draws to date.

Christian Maggio, Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Balotelli, Leonardo Bonucci, Thiago Motta, Riccardo Montolivo, Gianluigi Buffon, Federico Balzaretti and Daniele De Rossi are all within a booking of a suspension.

Just two of the last six winners of the European Championship have finished top of their group - Spain (2008) and Germany (1996).

Antonio Di Natale is the Italy player with the highest number of goals (11) for the national team in the squad. Antonio Cassano, Daniele De Rossi, and Andrea Pirlo are all on ten goals each. At the quarter-final stage in major tournaments, Italy have only been eliminated on two occasions out of nine, both times on penalty kicks.

Manager Cesare Prandelli has yet to lose a competitive match while in charge of Italy, recording nine wins and four draws since taking over in 2010.

 

 

REFWATCH

 

 

Pedro Proenca (Portugal)


Pedro Proenca is a financial advisor as well as a FIFA and UEFA referee. The 41-year old, born in Lisbon, has been officiating in the top-flight Portuguese Liga since the beginning of the 1998-1999 season while being promoted to FIFA's elite international list in 2003. Pedro was named Portuguese referee of the season for 2006-07 as voted by his fellow colleagues after a string of excellent performances which was rewarded with the appointment to a Portuguese cup semi-final. Another accolade picked up was best referee of 2010-11 as spotted by the Portuguese Football Federation in which he oversaw five Champions League games during that campaign including Manchester United's semi-final second leg victory over Schalke at Old Trafford. He has taken charge of two Portuguese cup finals and three super cups in his career. Last season, he officiated in 42 games in total brandishing 114 yellow cards while handing out nine red cards. He took charge of five Champions League games during the campaign including three group stage matches: Marseille's 1-0 defeat of Olympiakos in September where he dismissed French defender Rod Fanni, Manchester City's 3-0 victory over La Liga side Villarreal in November and a goalless draw between Lille and Trabzonspor in December. In March, he was the man in black for the last 16 second leg between Inter Milan against Marseille at the San Siro where he awarded the Italian outfit a last-minute penalty whilst sending off Marseille's goalkeeper Steve Mandanda but the French side went through on the away goals. Proenca was presitigiously selected as man in the middle for last season's 2011-12 UEFA Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea at the Allianz Arena, awarding the Bundesliga runners-up a penalty in extra-time for Didier Drogba's foul on Franck Ribery which was saved by Petr Cech from Arjen Robben. The Premier League side went on to lift the trophy for the first time in their history after being victorious on penalties. This will be his third game of the Euro 2012 tournament after taking charge of Spain's 4-0 win over Republic of Ireland in Group C in Poznan and Sweden's 2-0 victory over France in Group D in Kiev.



? DID YOU KNOW ?

Pedro refereed his first Champions League match in September 2007- overseeing PSV Eindhoven's 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in the group stages.

Match Officials:

Referee-  Pedro Proenca (Portugal)

Assistant Referees-  Ricardo Santos (Portugal) & Bertino Miranda (Portugal)

Fourth Official-  Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)

Additional Assistant Referees-  Manuel De Sousa (Portugal) & Duarte Gomes (Portugal)

Reserve Assistant Referee-  Bahattin Duran (Turkey)


 

Venue:

Olympic Stadium, Kiev (Ukraine)
(picture taken during the warm-up ahead of a Ukrainian league match in December 2011)
 

 

Fixture Details:

Sunday 24th June 2012                KO 7:45pm (BST)                Coverage- Live on BBC1/HD, BBC Radio 5Live & match highlights on ITV1 at 10:15pm

 

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