Euro 2012 Quarter Finals Betting Preview – England v Italy

June 22nd, 2012 | Posted by in Euro 2012

Last of the Euro 2012 quarter finals being played on Sunday night between England and Italy GMorgan from Sportingbet Australia. Check out all the Euro 2012 betting odds from a number of European, Australian and International online sports books.

England v Italy – Olympic Stadium, Kiev –  Sunday 24th June 2012

England vs Italy  – Betting Odds from leading bookmakers and Online Sportsbooks

It certainly won’t be as pleasing on the eye as the Spain– Francegame that precedes it, but the EnglandItaly Quarter-Final may nevertheless prove equally absorbing in its own way.

Both sides have, to an extent, employed a tactical approach at this tournament that is at odds with their traditional style and given that neither squad is exactly overflowing with genuine world-class talent, each would also regard a Semi-Final place as a fine achievement.

The Azzurri came through what was a tricky Group C with relative ease, picking up draws with both Spain and Croatia before comfortably accounting for hapless Ireland and impressing many observers in the process.

Coach Cesare Prandelli has drifted away from the age-old Italian style of employing a deep-lying, rigidly-organised defence and striking on the break, instead aiming to dominate possession Spain-style and open opponents up with sharp transition and high mobility in the final third.

He has already showcased his tactical versatility too, opting for a surprise 3-5-2 formation that proved very effective against Spain and slightly less so against Croatia,  before reverting to 4-4-2 for the game against a demoralised Ireland side which he clearly felt was there for the taking in the final group game.

With England sticking rigidly to Roy Hodgson’s preferred 4-4-1-1 line-up in each of their three games to date, Prandelli would almost certainly be tempted to go back to 3-5-2 to reap the benefits of having an extra man in midfield, but his decision will inevitably be affected by the unavailability of Giorgio Chiellini. The Juventus man has been a cornerstone of the Italian defence in recent times and his absence due to a thigh injury is undoubtedly a major blow. Should Prandelli still opt for three central defenders, converted midfielder Daniele De Rossi will presumably continue in the sweeper role that he filled to good effect against both Spain and Croatia, with Leonardo Bonucci and possibly Andrea Barzagli alongside him, leaving Ignazio Abate, Christian Maggio, Federico Balzaretti and Emanuele Giaccherini to battle it out for the wing-back spots.

The Azzurri coach also has an interesting selection decision to make up front where Antonio Cassano, Antonio Di Natale and Mario Balotelli are all vying for starting berths. In a game of this magnitude, starting Balotelli would represent a major risk given his track record for indiscipline and the fact that the English players will know exactly which of the Manchester City man’s buttons to press in order to gain a reaction. Yet he is also one of those rarest of players with the able to turn a game on its head with a piece of magic and in a game which is likely to be extremely tight, such ability could well prove priceless.

One man certain to start is Andrea Pirlo who has been one of Italy’s stand-outs at this tournament to date, suggesting that those of us who feel his best years are behind him are off the mark. If England grant the Juventus man the space and time to weave his magic in midfield, he will make them pay and finding a way to limit his influence will surely be one of the priorities of Roy Hodgson’s gameplan.

Italy’s other talisman is of course Gianluigi Buffon who remains arguably the world’s best goalkeeper, exudes authority and, refreshingly, still plays the game with a smile on his face as he has always done.

There have also been plenty of smiling faces to be found in the England camp over the last couple of weeks, in sharp contrast to the sense of doom and gloom that rapidly engulfed the Fabio Capello-led squad at the 2010 World Cup.

Certain sections of both the media and the supporters may continue to grumble about Roy Hodgson’s defensive tactical approach being hard to watch, but those complaints will continue to get quieter and quieter the further the Three Lions progress in this tournament.

There is no doubt that England are less than riveting to watch and have ridden their luck to reach the last eight. Relying on two solid banks of four and playing in a very reactive style, the men in white have turned in performances not entirely dissimilar to those of Greece at Euro 2004. And so far, it’s worked.

Only Sweden have really managed to open them up completely, notably at set-pieces, while France failed to turn their massively dominant level of possession into more than a handful of clear-cut chances.

And in the final game against Ukraine, although the co-hosts were denied a clear-cut goal by a shameful moment of ineptitude from the goal-line assistant-referee,England just about deserved to claim the three points and would have topped the group even if they had been held to a draw.

In essence, Hodgson has done exactly what his track record suggested he would do. He has made England organised, hard to break down and highly-motivated and given the limited resources available to him in terms of both personnel and time to prepare for the tournament, it was always unlikely that he would be able to do any more.

Capello’s legacy was an England side lacking identity, spirit and unity and while some observers may not like the identity that Hodgson has introduced, by topping Group D he has already done enough to buy himself some time in which to develop the side and hopefully make them a little easier on the eye in the coming months.

The England coach will certainly be well-versed in what to expect from the Italians given his previous experience in Serie A with both Inter Milan and Udinese, but is unlikely to make too many changes to the side that beat Ukraine in their final group outing.

The right flank has been something of a problem area for England in their three games so far, essentially due to the fact that Glen Johnson still looks some way short of international quality in terms of his defensive capabilities.

Yet the Liverpoolman’s inadequacies have been good news for James Milner as he seemingly continues to get the nod ahead of the more gifted Theo Walcott simply because he provides more in the way of defensive cover for his vulnerable right-back.

Danny Wellbeck’s work-rate up front, meanwhile, will almost certainly ensure that he gets the nod ahead of Andy Carroll, although the pony-tailed target-man could well be introduced from the bench and would doubtless ruffle some Italian feathers with his abrasive approach. And England will be desperately hoping that Wayne Rooney will return to his magnificent best having looked understandably short of match sharpness after returning from suspension againstUkraine.

These two old foes have been locking horns since the early 1930s and there has been precious little to choose between them during the intervening years, with Italy claiming nine wins to England’s eight and the other six games ending as draws.

England look set to lag well behind the Italians in terms of both possession and territory and Joe Hart is likely to be the busier of the two ‘keepers, but don’t be surprised if the Azzurri have to rely on penalties to progress to the last four.

Prediction: England 1-1 Italy – Italy to win on penalties

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