Tag: Italy

Hopes, Dreams & Reality: On England At Euro 2012

The St George flags will be hanging limply this afternoon. It was after midnight in Kiev last night when the final kick hit the back of the net and confirmed what we all probably already knew – that this England side wasn’t good enough to reach the semi-finals of the 2012 European Championships – but there is little sense of recrimination in the air this morning, rather an acceptance that the “lottery” of the penalty shoot-out – and whether this is true or not is a matter for conjecture in itself – merely served to see that justice was done. We had seen the evidence of this with our own eyes over the preceding agonising one hundred and twenty minutes. Yet there they were, in the shoot-out itself in the first place, and thus in itself says something about the spirit of a team that has won a few friends back over the last couple of weeks, which had already played beyond what many of us assumed would be their capability in getting that far, and which had contrived to undo some of the badwill generated by the entitled, incompetent performance – or lack thereof – of two years ago in South Africa. England provided a little drama, occasional flashes of unexpected skill and a more positive headlines than negative this summer, and this is all the more surprising when we consider what...

Read More

Euro 2012: The Quarter-Finals – England 0-0 Italy (Italy Win 4-2 On Penalty Kicks)

So, then, to Kiev and to the quarter-finals of the European Championships. It’s the final match of the round this evening, featuring an Italian side that is something of a curates egg, excellent against Spain in matching them every inch of the way before being slightly underwhelming against Croatia and The Republic of Ireland, whilst England remain somewhat enigmatic, decent enough in fits and starts but also a little lucky in places and, for fifteen minutes against Sweden nine days ago, almost apocalyptically disorganised. The history books say Italy, who have a considerably better record against England than many realise due to the infrequency with which the two sides have played each other over the years, but England have showed considerable character over the last few weeks and this match felt, prior to kick-off, difficult to call. After three largely uninspiring quarter-final matches, though, this one gets off to a flying start when, with less than three minutes played, Daniele De Rossi allows a cross-field pass across his body and delivers a magnificent, swerving twenty-five yard volley which thids off the inside of the post and out. Italy fail, initially at least, to take advantage of this strong start and within a couple of minutes England create a chance of their own at the other end of the pitch when James Milner crosses from the right and Glen Johnson,...

Read More

Euro 2012: Group C – The Final Day

Despite Group C containing three of its best teams, the tension of the final games nearly unravelled the quality with which Spain, Italy and Croatia have sprinkled this tournament to date. Spain’s light blue kit was, dare I say it, a bit scruffy, i.e. it suited players such as the Sergios Ramos and Busquets. They produced, for them anyway, a performance to match. And this made for one of the flattest games of the tournament to date. It was well-documented that a 2-2 draw would have knocked Italy out regardless of their result, just as it did in 2004 when Giovanni Trapattoni’s team went home despite being unbeaten with five points. But if Croatia and Spain had finished 2-2 after that first-half the fix would all-too obviously have been in. Among Spain’s best first-half efforts were long-range strikes by Ramos and his centre-back partner Gerard Pique, which spoke volumes. And Croatia would have gone into the break thinking “job well done,” especially with the shock news that Ireland were still 0-0 with Italy after five minutes. Indeed, Slaven Bilic’s side should have been ahead. The tournament hasn’t overly-suffered from officious officials. But their mistakes have been doozies. And Ramos’s studs-up leap at Mario Mandzukic was one of those tackles which “would have been a free-kick anywhere else on the pitch”, as ITV’s Craig Burley dutifully noted. Actually, Burley’s first...

Read More

Euro 2012: Croatia 1-1 Italy

A good result, this for Croatia. Italy’s midfield trio of Pirlo, Purlo and Pairlo, combined with the rugged centre-back pairing of Chiellini and Collini, would have presented a challenge to Spain at their best. But Croatia overcame the odds – themselves helped by defensive duo Caluka and Corluka – and, after being second best for much of the first half, were worth their point in what was yet another quite entertaining encounter in a quite enjoyable tournament. Of course, Italy’s greater numbers were entirely a product of the BBC commentary team’s David Pleat-like pronunciation skills. Both Simon Brotherton and Mark Bright had difficult afternoons. But it didn’t detract from an excellent exposition of the “game of two halves” theory. In the first 45 minutes, Italy were every bit as good as they were in their sumptuous opening draw with Spain. After the break, Croatia did enough to justify studio pundit Alan Pardew’s view that “a very good side will go missing from this group.” He was thought not to be referring to Ireland. Whilst never quite being on the sort of “same wavelength” as football’s best strike partnerships, Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano have been a joy to watch. Balotelli has got his head down for the right reasons and has worked hard for the team. Cassano has shown the sort of form he’s threatened for years with a...

Read More

Euro 2012: The Runners & Riders – Italy

Those that do not learn from history are destined to repeat its mistakes. Italian football has been gripped by scandal before and the events of the last couple of weeks have been the culmination of a story that has been bubbling under for some months now, but those writing Italy off on account of the distraction that the recent match-fixing allegations may bring with them should, perhaps, proceed with caution. In 1980 the Italian game was gripped by the Totonero scandal, which led to points deductions or relegation for seven clubs and bans for twenty players and two club presidents. Two years later, they won the tournament with Paolo Rossi, one of those banned two years earlier, ending the tournament as its top scorer. In 2006, the Italian game was again engulfed in crisis as the ramifications of the Calciopoli scandal became apparent. That very summer, they won the World Cup again. Italian supporters, therefore, might even be forgiven wondering whether the one positive that they can take from this dismal story is the potential omen that comes with it. The History: Italy have, considering their record in the World Cup, a surprisingly patchy record in the European Championships. Between the beginning of the tournament in 1960 and its expansion to take in sixteen nations in 1996, they only qualified for the finals of the competition on three occasions,...

Read More