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England boss Hodgson out to lift burden of history

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Phil McNulty | 23:00 UK time, Saturday, 23 June 2012

Euro 2012: Kiev

Roy Hodgson confessed to feeling the weight of history when England's Euro 2012 campaign began. It is a burden he has carried with increasing comfort throughout the last three weeks in Poland and Ukraine.

And the 64-year-old manager was receiving regular reminders of England's past failings - "nasty statistics" as he called them - as he stood in Kiev's Olympic Stadium, venue for Sunday's quarter-final with Italy.

England go in search of their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup having become regular fallers at this hurdle, undermined by an inability to beat football's superpowers in the knockout stages.

Hodgson must change that pattern over the next week, with an increasingly ominous Germany lying in wait even if England can overcome Italy to extend a campaign that has been conducted almost under the radar.

And yet as small groups of England fans gathered late on Saturday near the banks of the Dnieper river that sweeps through Kiev, the optimism that accompanied Hodgson's squad through a draw with France and wins against Sweden and Ukraine continued its upward curve.

Hodgson himself is revelling in the experience. He took part in what is becoming the customary pre-match stadium walkabout with his players, looking relaxed in sunglasses before giving a reminder that England have a manager with a cosmopolitan touch by answering questions from the Italian media fluently in their native tongue.

How he and his players - and indeed England's supporters - would love to return to this exciting, edgy, undulating city next Sunday to contest their first major final since 1966 and move the agenda away from hard-luck stories.

England must overcome two formidable obstacles if they are to come back to Kiev. And the manager's past as coach of Inter Milan makes him well aware of the threat presented by Cesare Prandelli's side, and by Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, who made an unscheduled media appearance shortly after Hodgson.

Manager and captain have forged a mutual understanding for the national side. Photo: Reuters

Hodgson swept aside unflattering remarks likening England to Italy teams of the past, the obvious subtext of which was that his team was not in the entertainment business at Euro 2012. He was impressively dismissive of the notion.

There is plenty Hodgson admires about Italy, however, and he said: "We have similar qualities such as technical prowess and we have quality players. What they have over us is that they have produced those qualities to win a major tournament.

"One of the Italian qualities is finding a way to win even when, at times, they have looked anything but winners. Take the 1982 World Cup in Spain when, up until the last couple of games, they looked anything other than winners and yet ended up taking the cup home. That was because their players seemed to find a way to get the job done when it's necessary."

England have demonstrated this trait themselves in coming from behind to beat Sweden and surviving an early siege to send out co-hosts Ukraine with victory in Donetsk.

Hodgson added: "What we have got to try and do is break the hoodoo. Italy have been lucky enough to break the hoodoo a lot more recently than we have been able to do - 1966 is a long time ago whereas they can lay claim to a lot more recent successes."
Hodgson's confidence in his squad is obvious, with a unity of spirit and tactical organisation that has seen England exceed some expectations by topping their group.

A greater test awaits in Kiev on Sunday but Hodgson knows what he has at his disposal and is happy with it. He said: "I've found out that the players have got tremendous resilience and a tremendous appetite for playing for their country, and that they are very much together.

"We have seen in training sessions and around the hotel that there is a very good interaction among the players. I think that the players are ready for Sunday night. There is a lot of pressure on them but there is a lot of pressure on the Italians as well.

"So far we have succeeded in showing those qualities and now we have to show those qualities again in a game which is that little bit bigger than the three we've played up to now."

Both Hodgson and captain Steven Gerrard have stressed the closeness of the entire England party - and one man perceived by some as a potentially disruptive influence has played his full part on and off the field.

Chelsea's John Terry may have been stripped of England's captaincy, but here he has buried himself in the heart of the squad after being reduced to the ranks once more.

Hodgson said: "John Terry has been very good off the field as well as on it. As a coach you have to be very careful taking on board these rumours, these fears, these suggestions. It is important you choose the players you think are the right players.

"You work with them and you get the experience for yourself. I can only talk about John Terry in the four or five weeks I have been working with him and he has been excellent in every respect.

"He's been a top-class professional, he's been excellent around the place and he's done a good job helping me and my coaching staff get our messages across to the other players. He is also one that cottoned on very quickly to what we want to do."

Gerrard echoed the sentiments, saying: "The reason we're doing so well is that everybody is pulling in the right direction and leading by example. John Terry has been a big part of that. His performances have been superb and we are going to need him against Italy, that's for sure."

If England's squad can pull together one more time they can dream about that return to Kiev, erasing disappointments of the past and creating a new chapter in their history.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Gerrard echoed the sentiments, saying: "The reason we're doing so well......
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Expectations must be really low.....

  • Comment number 4.

    Great to see a full England article and no mention of Wayne Rooney. As a big Rooney fan, it's good to see the expectations and mounting pressure at a minimum and hopefully we will benefit from it.

    Close game, 1-1 England to win on penalties largely due to Hart.

  • Comment number 5.

    Usual rubbish from Phil. England can't win every game with 40% possesion.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Is it me or were France really poor tonight!?....

    Get the feeling if we played Spain instead we may have even played better than the effort france mustered tonight!

    Anyway tomorrows game is a real test for England's recent "progression" and will be interesting to see Hodgsons starting xi. Common the lions

  • Comment number 8.

    #1 and #2

    No-one cares... it's not as if it's an achievement is it?

    Hodgson has done an excellent job. The England team are finally conducting themselves in the way I'd want them to, and engaging the public with things like singing the anthem together.

    Looking forward to the next couple of years with England.

  • Comment number 9.

    as an italian having lived in London most of my life, im very excited about the match tomorrow. No idea who is going to win, but would like to see both teams come out with pride unscathed.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog. Plenty of positives for England from this tournament. I truly believe that this match against Italy is virtually a 50/50. Germany will be a far more difficult hurdle should we get to that stage.

    What continues to disappoint me though are negative comments from many England fans. England are rubbish, England are negative, blah blah blah.

    They have got this far by being disciplined and knowing the system Roy wants them to play. Enjoy the progress rather than looking for reasons to be downbeat. England do not have the best players or team in this tournament, but at last the players are playing with pride and togetherness. They are amongst the last 5 teams left at the Euros (albeit becuase we're the last QF), but come on chaps, lets get behind them!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    #8

    possibly more than england will achieve though............

  • Comment number 12.

    7.At 23:29 23rd Jun 2012, lukey2981 wrote:
    Is it me or were France really poor tonight!?....


    Agree that france were really poor. Can't believe that in a quarter final match being a goal down, there wasn't more urgency. But perhaps some credit for that must go to Spain. They are very difficult to play against, as possesion is at a premium.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a huge England fan I am disappointed at the negative comments some people make about England. The manager has only recently taken on the role and has exceeded expectations by a million miles. The team is organised, difficult to break down and despite conceding a greater deal of possession has created the most chances in every game they have played. Most shots against have been from crazy distances and were not just hopeful but no hopers. Anyone can shoot from 30 yards and miss the target!
    Remember the Milner miss v France and Rooney's missed header v Ukraine? England have created good chances apart from scoring the 5 goals so far. More goals than most teams in the group stages.
    People questioned if, England fell behind whether the team could raise their game and overcome a deficit. Sweden was the answer to that one. Few expected England to go past the group stages never mind win the group by 3 points.
    England have answered all critics to date.
    Yes the odds are still stacked against a team missing Kyle Walker, Lampard, Wiltshire and Cayhill (all first team choices I suspect); but England remain focussed, organised, defensively sound and dangerous in attack.
    We should all be enthusiastically behind the team. If we lose then those that enjoy crowing in an England defeat and exit will once again rise to the surface and say 'I told you so.'
    But let us hope us REAL England fans don't hear from them again this year!
    Chelsea won the Champions League by great tactics, guts, determination and desire. England can do the same. "I still believe.'
    RIP Alan McDonald - a determined, 100% footballer who was a QPR and Northern Ireland legend. Very sad news today!

  • Comment number 14.

    Question for you all. Would you play Carroll or Welbeck in this game?

    I personally would pick Carroll in this one, for his physical presence and aerial threat. Carroll has looked very good in the last few weeks of the premiership and also played well against Sweden. He could upset/unsettle the Italian defence. And I say this as a United fan!

  • Comment number 15.

    Relax people...! I think that we should just see the Euro2012 as a scratch-pad to see what Roy Hodgson can work with and what needs changing, especially in terms of the World Cup. So we shouldn't expect to much from this tournament - Hodgson is a good progressive manager and I think that as long as he's given the chance to observe and try a few things out, the squad will be stronger going into the World Cup.

  • Comment number 16.

    My prediction:
    Italy to pinch it on penaties following a 0-0 boredraw, with Balotelli scoring the wining penalty.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 14 UNITED19woohoo

    I would actually stick with the same team that played against Ukraine - and I suspect Hodgson will too. I don't think the Italians will like playing against a pacy striker like Welbeck. If we are struggling to break down their defence then Chamberlain or Walcott for Milner early in the second half would be my suggestion.

  • Comment number 18.

    We have beaten the world champions this year, we have beaten Sweden for the first time in a competition. We CAN beat ANY team on the day. With a bit of luck this could be our best tournament since 1996. I believe we do the Azzuri!

  • Comment number 19.

    what will all the trolls do if england go out anyway?

    personally i think the game against italy will be less nervy than people think, i can see us getting it right tactically and winning the game 3 nil, rooney gerrard terry on score sheet, even if we look in danger i think come the hour mark and we bring on pace and pressure the tiring italians we'll cane them.

    this will definately be the italians hardest game of the tourney, i dont think the same could be said of england. now and then you see a champions league italian side get spanked by an english club, i got visions of the same thing happening in 19 hours time!

  • Comment number 20.

    And for people who always say 'let's use this tournament to build for the next World Cup'' Why? We are 3 games from lifting the trophy, the last 8 teams. We should always be looking to win the tournament. ALWAYS.

  • Comment number 21.

    Are Italy being grossly underestimated?

  • Comment number 22.

    OK the team have done well rode their luck and pulled together, but it is I who is responsible for them getting this far. I live in the Dominican republic, Two years ago I wore the shirt, joined the guys in the bars and shouted for England only to be embarresed, in front of the Dutch and Spanish and German expats. I threw the shirt to the bottom of the wardrobe and haven't looked at since. So for the Euros I have kept low profile watched alone in a bar where I am not known and silently urged England on, So do I now get the shirt out and join the guys in the regular bar????. I think not my task is to remain low profile untill the Trophy is held high by our gallant captain, so come on guys I am doing my bit.

  • Comment number 23.

    Italy. Shouldn't be too much of a problem. Contain Pirlo, frustrate Balotelli.

    Germany. Defend with our backs to the walls as if the wall is pasted with the cure for back cancer. Don't let idiots like Johnson and Cole ruin it for us by running forward like they did in the world cup of 2010. The Germans are very keen on getting into the gaps that these full backs like to leave and that's largely why we lost in 2010.

    Spain. Same as Germany except send the full backs forward, they are pitiful or just too arrogant with their play style to even consider using the wings. We've defeated them once, we know their weaknesses, they don't know ours... This will be our reward match if we manage to make it past Germany.

    However if we back to our 'Algeria' worst then I don't think we'll go past Italy.

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh and if by the 15% possession chance that Portugal somehow manage to beat Spain in the semi final and we face Portugal instead...

    Contain Ronaldo. GG!

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    England will have to be a lot better than in previous three games. I think they are lucky to be here. I think we have the right players on the field but Young, Milner , Rooney need to do better. We still don't have a Paul Scholes type player who can make the telling pass from midfield. If the Italians play high up the field we may have problems bringing the ball out of the back field. Hart has been great ans Gerrard had a great game against Ukraine.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tommorow will be the true test of this england team. If they can get past the italians i think they will look forward to the challenge of germany then probably spain.

    It is the england players v the world or thats how at least how i see there team spirit at the moment. I said at the start of the tournament i thought we had the best defence and with their "you shall not pass" attitude currently(similar to chelsea in CL) and i have confidence we will defend well but its just wheter we can attack well and keep possesion that will be the test.

    Come on lads,lets av em

  • Comment number 28.

    It is 50/50 between England and Italy for sure and I look forward to the big game. I just don't understand why certain players are representing England and other countries in Euro 2012 when others are not. My point is that only players with reasonable disciplinary records should be picked for any team at a major tournament. Time and time again I see footballers show acts of aggression which would get a regular person arrested and if said regular person elbowed someone in the face or back on purpose in their place of work they would lose their job without question. Too much testosterone not enough using of the brain!!!! I also think only nice people should be selected and that I should win the lottery but hey life is the way it is!!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    @14
    I would start with welbeck and hope to pick the lock of the italian defence. If thats a no go,send in the battering ram :)
    Oh and this is a outsider shot but i would start with the ox in for milner to get at that italian defence and if we manage to get ahead then milner on to shore things up later in the game when the ox tires. We would lose abit of defensive stability but i think he could frighten that italian defence which like england is what they rely on to get them through games. If both teams get past the defence there is still hart and buffon to beat.

    Since france v spain was meant to be a good match up but was awful im hoping the England v italy game although at first thought would be a close tight encounter will actually be a very entertaining spectacle :)

  • Comment number 30.

    As a Scottish and Dundee United supporter may i endorse everything that Anthony on comment 13 made and as i live in England i will be shouting for them to win tomorrow not because of where i live but because i am British and proud,come on believe just once.If the players play with pride that's all that matters if they give it there all win or lose that's what counts and hey i think they will win(will now revert back to being Scottish) would love to see the big yin Carroll playing i think he would scare the hell out of even the Spanish (average height 5:6) skip the midfield 1000 passing rubbish just whack it up and watch him create havoc ok back to reality just believe people,just believe

  • Comment number 31.

    I have a feeling it will be an exciting match and not at all like predicted following the dour match that was France Spain. What I can't get over is that in every tournament you need a bit of luck, only one team is going home with the trophy and there will be three or four that would have a valid claim for it to be them! If we are building a team for 2014 then we'll still need a fair old slice of luck then too as again there will be six or seven teams by then who feel they are in shape to lift the title. Really think people should get behind the team as they are displaying so many of the traits that have been lacking for a long time. Predicting a 3-2 roller coaster thriller!

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Can someone tell Lawrenson that Italy haven't employed Catenaccio tactics since the 60s. Honestly, and these people get paid to put these views across. The Italian nation team has been playing quite an attacking brand of football for about the last 10 years now, and Serie A has more goals per game than the EPL does now even if the quality has gone downhill.

  • Comment number 34.

    Its finally so encouraging to see an england side playing to our strengths. If were set up to be frustrating and difficult to break down then with patience and of course alot of luck the opposition will always overload with pressure. Counter attack football with ox,walcott and young could be devistating. It may not be pretty but who cares if its effective. The italians will be very wary of england.
    Still very unsure about johnsons ability as a defender, dissapointed to see Richards left out.
    Carroll is doing great but i think the club partnership between rooney, welbeck and young could be key in a hostile atmosphere.
    A solid performance tonight regardless of the result will be great for the national team to put the haters at bay for a few months.
    On a last note, congrats to alonso on a memorable 100th cap night.

  • Comment number 35.

    I am no doubt an minority, but hope E ngland fail. Terry has proven to be a disgrace and an liar in the past, his participation should not have been allowed, or at least the gutless FA should have cleared up the Racism allegation first. Any success with him playing will sour the acchievments

  • Comment number 36.

    Today it's a big day for England. Italy are a good, experienced side, with players good on the ball, with technical knowledge and ability, all over the field. I can't understand why so many people forget, so easily, that Italy are a side that have won a number of world cups and other significant trophies, both at national and club level.

    In my opinion, it's going to be a 50-50 match and this is, by default, a compliment to Roy Hodgson and his team.

    The laughable news of the day - as a valid sequence of the other blog on how the F.A. helped the so-far-success-story by choosing a base that's remote to where the matches are being played - is that chef who makes peanut balls(?) for the England stars, to help them with regard to energy on the field. Reminds me of grandma-silly-talk.

  • Comment number 37.

    Best players for England so far have been Gerrard, Parker (who else tries to tackle with their head) and I hate to say it but Terry. I am not a Terry fan but he was selected and I think he has played a fantastic role at keeping the defence tight, bit slow at times, but full of determination.
    I would play Rooney first but get him off at half time if he still is struggling to find his form and bring on Carroll to play with Wellbeck. The problem area I think is Milner/Woolcott. Woollcott is hugely overrated and Lennon should have been in for him. I would start with Ox, but I think his limited performances so far have not been brilliant either. Still he can inject the pace needed. Turn to Milner when/if we need to bolster the defence.

    I never expected England to get beyond the group stage and I think a lot of that has been down to the determination of the players that has always seemed to be lacking in the past. Our football hasn't been great but who has been great at this tournament?. Germany have been good, but great....I think not and Spain - dire at times.

    Anyway prediction England 2 Italy 0 and I think a red card for Balotelli.

  • Comment number 38.

    #33, SleepingSpur,

    What I can't understand is why you pay attention to what pundits say. However, you've uncovered one more pundit diamond of the tournament. Myself, I discovered two more diamonds:

    a) Gordon Strachan telling us that a goal scored by Greece against Czechs was offside because the scorer's hand was offside;
    b) Pat Nevin(?) putting all his football know-how at work to tell us that, for Greece to change something in the Germany match, they had to replace Salpingidis with Gkekas, because supposedly Gkekas was adding more presence on the field, as Salpingidis is a short player in height. Just, Gkekas is as short if not shorter, while the other one is a better scorer, faster in speed and with better assist ratio.

    Still though Greece is Greece and Italy is Italy. Lawrenson's diamond is a runner for silly, pundit observation of the tournament, so far.

  • Comment number 39.

    #37 Not sure whether you were trying to be "funny" but it's Walcott not Woollcott. It also seems you have a very short memory as we would have lost to Sweden in the group stage without him so he was the right choice.

    Take Rooney off at half time? This isn't a friendly. It's a knockout game that could go into extra time so I think it's wise to save the substitutions for later in the game.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think both teams will cancel each other out. If one team scores I can see the other team equalising with the match going to penalties. Joe Hart to be the hero before we get thrashed again by Germany once again in the semis.

    In regards to the team tomorrow I'd put Carroll in for Welbeck as I think the latter was quite poor against Ukraine. I'd like to see Young dropped as well with the Ox taking his place although it maybe a risk considering his inexperience.

    Good luck England!

  • Comment number 41.

    You say he answered questions from Italian journalists in Italian, Link please!

  • Comment number 42.

    I never like to write comments that a Fifa-Football-manager (or however that pc game is called) would write, as I can understand that a paid manager who is with his players for most of 24 hours every day knows better. Putting my opinion as a football fan with regard to the England team facing Italy, I'd say:

    a) Terry is whatever he is in his personal life but, as a footballer, he's an exceptional professional, one of the best England has in defense, capable to score from corners and one more leader on the field, leading his line by example.

    b) Rooney's first involvement in the tournament was on its 3rd match for England. Expect more from him in the subsequent matches England is involved. He's the attacker others are scared from, most. Plus, he's fresh.

    c) I like the way Carroll gets long balls from Hart or defenders and keeps opponents at arm's length, managing to start play for England, in matches. He shows ability in starting England attacks. He's also much better than Welbeck in headers. I think he's much slower than Welbeck though. Each of the two has his own merits and being both in the tournament allow Roy Hodgson to look at different approaches in attack. Why don't we leave it to the manager? He knows better what's required because it's him who decides the approach to the match.

    c) Milner was never a goal scorer but he adds to the team defensively, while he has the stamina to run up and down for 90' and add mobility to England. He's a team player and teams need players like him. To me, he's a plus to the England team.

    d) Like him or not, Walcott is extra-quick, can score, has scored and can add headaches to the Italy defenders. Perhaps he's underachieved so far in his career but people tend to forget that, perhaps, the targets set by the normal suspects on tabloid backpages were higher than realistic. Still, he scored against Sweden with one of his first touches when he came on, he's scored a hat-trick not so long ago and he's been lethal for Arsenal in Europe, in difficult matches, also not long ago.

    e) Oxlade is a lad I love to watch: so young and yet so good on the ball for his age, such a good temperament, low personal profile, ability and unpredictability. I wish he had a little more experience but he has a whole career ahead.

    f) Matches are rarely "won" by individuals. To win, it requires the whole team to perform. I believe every single player involved in England, in Euro 2012, has added something positive for England, so far.

    It isn't time for moaning. I think it's time for all to get stuck behind England and enjoy the ride. Good luck England!

  • Comment number 43.

    @42 couldnt have said it better myself

    Just watched the highlights of last nights game on iplayer without knowing the score. The most annoying thing was the fact that the BBC remove the clock on highlights so the viewer has no idea of the level of urgency to get an equaliser. Only when the score came up after the penalty could I see that it was 90+1 and that it was over. Why do they do that?

  • Comment number 44.

    Waldowski wrote

    Words cannot contain how much I hate this blog. It is without doubt the worst Euro 2012 blog in the entire universe. How the hell can someone say so little in so many words?

    If, in your view, the above is correct then surely commenting on it in such a manner is pretty puerile as well. Heaven help us as this comment comes before all the usual trolls hijacking the comments page. Bring back the real Soul_Patch. At least you knew he was a WUM. Some of the others you wonder if they actually believe what they write. I know they can't really be that stupid but......

  • Comment number 45.

    I am absolutely no football expert but having just watched Spain v. France I would like to know the point of this walking possession game ?

    Both sides played it.

    When the side playing possession get the ball taken off them, it is quite likely to be with most of their players on the other team's side of the ball, so there's a rush to get defenders back.

    It gives the other side time to set up their defence so if the side in possession attack it will be with distinctly limited possibilities. Spain frequently lost the ball with a pass that went over the French goal line or into touch at the end of their spells of possession.

    It crossed my mind that it was to conserve energy by making the other side run around - but the side in possession's front players have to keep running around to try and get into space to take a pass in case somebody wants to move it forward. Anyway, the side that plays it least is Germany - they seem to manage ok for energy.

    The main characteristic of it is sideways and backward passing. I believe that probably has a negative psychological effect on the players playing it. It indicates that there's no need to go forward and it puts a lot of pressure on the player with the ball to think of something unchallenging to do with it.

    I believe most (but not the best) footballers are at their worst when they have time to think. Much better to play on instinct.

    On the England match tonight I think Pirlo is the best player I've seen in the tournament so far. I hope we mark him tightly but without the usual yellow / red cards.

  • Comment number 46.

    Part of the key to Englands success (or shall we say achieving above some peoples expectations) undoubtedly is Hogsons approach to coaching.
    He asks his players to do simple things well. The whole approach starts with maintaining shape a basic 442 which is pretty rigid in defence but a bit more fluid in attack. You will notice for example, that if a fullback goes forward the wide player will drop, or if he his further forward, one of the midfielders moves across to cover. This maintains the general postions so that when they need to return to defending, 442 is acheived rapidly - personel sorting themselves out once the shape is set.
    Other elements of the game, like getting the ball forward quickly, means that players do not necessarily have to worry about getting close to the player with the ball, to support, as the Spainish do, so shape again is easiliy maintained.
    All this is pretty easy to achieve even with junior players, with the highly skilled guys at his disposal, and with their experience, its no wonder we are doing it pretty well.
    Hodgson isn't concerned with possession or the number of chances his teams create or the such like. The only stat he's interested in is the scoreline.
    This approach keeping things simple, not asking players to do, or attempt to do, things they may not understand, or be capable of, is all part of the reason why I, and many others, thought Roy was a better option than 'Arry.
    On the downside, this tactical rigidity will inevitably come unstuck sometime, and he hasn't the flexibilty in his thinking to repair it.

  • Comment number 47.

    I cannot believe anyone really believes Chelski won the CL with "Great Tactics." 10 men behind the ball doesn't take much imagination, but an awful lot of luck won the day.
    Thankfully England are not quite playing in that manner but do seem to be getting their share of the luck. Why not just get behind the team and see what happens? The Chelsea fans don't care about the way they played against Barca and Bayern, just happy to gloat that their team won - England fans can do the same!

  • Comment number 48.

    Couldnt believe some of the comments I read in the press on Wednesday morning after the Ukraine game, many saying England had been lucky to get through, even a comment on this blog says the same. The focus on the press was that Ukraine goal that was not given, and this was why England are lucky. Its obvious that many in the English press want England to fail and when they don't want to find reasons to pick fault.

    In no way have England been lucky, even if the Ukraine goal had been given England would have topped the group. Yes the goal would have changed the match but we have shown against Sweden we can respond and have the pace and the quality to press and score again if we really need to. I didn't hear any of our press mention France were lucky to go through even though they finished 3 points behind us and lost to Sweden. Teams that have already benn sent packing like Denmark and Croatia have had nice things said about them by our press, but if England had gone out in the group stages playing like Craotia nice things would not have been said about England.

    So elements in the English press are and have been for a long while part of the problem. Thankfully in this tournament with this manager and these players their comments are irrelevant, and the tactics of making England difficult to beat while using pace and power up front when opportunity arrises are perfect and make winning the tournament a possibility. Come on England.

  • Comment number 49.

    # 45 OldPerson
    Part of the reason for playing the type of game the Spainish play is cultural.
    You mention a psychological effect on players moving the ball sideways and backwards.
    Actually if you look carefully it is nearly always a diagonal ball, rarely sideways, which actually has a greater psychological affect on the opposition.
    What you are considering to be of concern is because we, particularly in Britain, have a fan base who wish to see lots of goal mouth action. Thus the players themselves become agitated by the fans booing and groaning. This rarely happens on the continent where the fans are happy to see individual players caressing and playing the ball. Its also takes a lot more skill, and certainly confidence, than many would imagine.
    It was once explained to me that we prefer all action and no foreplay, where the continentals and South Americans are happy with a lot more foreplay!

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    #34 SirQig

    Give a dog a bad name. Like many you seem to hang on to the illusion, because it was once uttered, that Johnson is a bad defender despite the evidence to the contrary. He is actually a very able defender with great attacking instincts. Sure, he will occasionally make the odd mistake but who doesn't. Richards, Terry, Lescott certainly do as has Ferdinand (remember against Ukraine in 2009). Much more mistake prone is Kyle Walker, but because he is a wonderful athlete, and bombs forward, and has struck two wonder goals is considered by many to be the best fullback in England. If you want any evidence for this witness Liverpool Spurs at Anfield were Walker struggled and was largely anonymous against Johnson who played out of position at left back that day.

  • Comment number 52.

    For punditry that has no place in the game how about the BBC's very own Alan green ?

    "Germany need to do the competition a favour and knock out Greece."

    ( RE - 2012 here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17875837 )

    He is paid to commentate, not declare a team should be knocked out because of their brand of football.

    Sure its not my cup of tea, and for that matter neither is the football England are playing, however he has no right to start with comments like that and it is showing a huge disrespect to teams like Greece who got through their group on credit.

    As to the game tonight, I cant get optimistic. However I thought getting out of the group would be a good result and winning it would be fantastic. So no matter what happens tonight I think its been a great tournament.

    with that being said.

    Come on England~!

  • Comment number 53.

    This makes me laugh my socks off.........

    Question whether Hodgson really is the man for the England job.
    Say how low expectations are.
    Build up the usual frenzy after a couple of uninspiring (not to say fortunate) wins against mediocre opposition.
    Get Red Card Rooney to blurt out: "We can win it". Wasn't hard, was it?
    Start presenting Hodgson as a master tactician. (While stressing that he will have to change this a little for later rounds, to cover your own back if things go wrong.)
    Then trot out cheap jingoisms like: " erasing disappointments of the past and creating a new chapter in their history".

    Hyperbole at maximum levels: Check
    Hysteria on: Check
    Expectations ludicrously high: Check

    One wonders if the "Knock 'em down" blog is already partly assembled. The English press is always the same. Build 'em up, Build 'em up, Build 'em up, Knock 'em down.

    I'm laughing and my socks are---------------------------------------> Here!

  • Comment number 54.

    Charlie Cheesecake wrote that our wins have been against mediocre opposition, but England had never beaten Sweden in a tournament or knocked out a host country before. England haven't lost a competetive match since June 2010, why do people have to knock a decent side. I think people are aware some nations play the game in a prettier way, and a lot of hype is made about the Netherlands and England should learn from nations like this. This is the great Netherlands who have never won the World Cup and have 1 European Championship to their name. Until 2010 Spain had never won the World Cup. The hype over foreign nations is ludicrous. Historically Italy have been far more succesful than the Dutch so which type of football is more succesful ?

  • Comment number 55.

    Good luck to England tonight!

    Enough said and I will take my leave for now and leave you lot to it.

  • Comment number 56.

    England's Players have generally over performed, we have four strong strikers, with a hunger for a place, which is a healthy situation. Gerrard and terry have played with emotion and passion and are leading the team with their experience. Hart looks strong in goal. We are as good as any other team left in tournament. In a tournament situation you need a mix of luck and talent with a good ethos and belief. I think we have all that. I am sure we will win tonight and meet the Germany's on Thursday.
    Good luck.

  • Comment number 57.

    We're certainly not the best team left in the competition (in fact we're possibly the worst) but that bodes well.

    Think Greece 04 and the one Roy mentions, Italy 82. Or something still box-fresh in the memory: Chelsea 2012.

    Yes, I can see us winning this.

    Really hope we do too. It's time to stop wallowing in 'xyz years of hurt'. It's time to lift a trophy.

  • Comment number 58.

    One thing this tournament has brought home is how much the Beeb need to change their pundits. I loved Hansen and Lawrenson as players (I'm not a Red!) but they've been around for far too long. You know in advance everything they're going to say and frankly they're boring! As for Shearer ....

    As for England, they are the worst team left in the competition as far as skill goes, but as far as playing to their strengths and having a will to win possibly only Germany can better them. Let's see how far they can go!

  • Comment number 59.

    57.At 09:11 24th Jun 2012, sagamix wrote:
    "We're certainly not the best team left in the competition (in fact we're possibly the worst). I can see us winning this."
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Sorry Sagamix, I dont want to pick on you but the illustrates exactly how realism seems to have gone out the window. The English press have got to you and your expectations are through the roof BECAUSE we are possibly "the worst side left".

    Just as a further aside, I wonder what the press's thoughts would be if we actaully managed to beat Italy and were due to face Germany without Gerrard after he picked up his second card of the tournament....

  • Comment number 60.

    #52, Jesus the Teddy Bear,

    You're spot on with regard to Alan Green.
    That guy is a piece of work and it's sad that constitutions like the BBC employ guys like him because it could be translated as justification for the garbage they're feeding us day in, day out.

    It isn't only the style of football he was crucifying, as played by Greece who haven't the ability to play a better brand of football anyway. It is though that a similar style of football (defend for your lives and counter attack when safe and possible) has been employed by his beloved Liverpool in Europe but he was giving his soul in praise, at the time.

    When I'd made my judgment on Alan Green was a few years back. He was commentating a Stoke City match and, while he was filling us with his normal garbage he'd stated that, once, he had a meal at Stoke and he was glad that the wheels of his car were not stolen (!!!!).

    Knowing the Potteries, I'm well aware that the people who live in that part of England are good people, with pride of their culture and their inheritance, etc., etc. However, how is it possible for someone to talk like that about Stoke, when Merseyside has a huge share of crime, due to the unemployment in the area and whatever else coming with it.

    If there is an expression I'd use about Alan Green, I can't type it here because the comment would be removed and rightly so. I don't need to feed readers with expressions that are of bad taste. So, all I can say about him is that he's a silly, old man who's lost it long ago.

  • Comment number 61.

    I truly hope England can win tonight and progress to the semi-finals of the tournament; however, I just can't see it happening.
    England have been very poor in possession in all three group games where even Ukraine dominated possession for long periods.
    England could easily have lost to France, Sweden and Ukraine and there is a sense England have been very lucky to progress as far as they have.
    I believe the Italians will win 2-0 or 2-1.
    England need better players with greater technical abilities in possession before we can ever compete for a major trophy.
    Sorry to say this but England are going to be found out tonight.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think the problem with England now is mental, rather than skill or managerial, etc. I can't remember who said it (I think I read it in Agassi's bio) but it goes along the lines of "The first trophy is the hardest once you get that then the rest will follow" If we look at Man United and Chelsea and now Man City, once they got their first trophy (major trophy) then others followed. The same could be said of Liverpool and England now. They haven't won for a long time and now its getting to bother the teams and players mentally. Every time England got into a position to push on in a tournament the mental side seems to affect the players in a negative way and they imploded. I am defo getting the impression that this time they seem very relaxed and blase about the whole thing. I wouldn't be surprised if Hodgson has the head doctors in trying to get past this problem.

    I believe we can beat Italy, this is by far the best match up in the quarters. We shouldn't blame Greece/Czech/France for playing the way they did, they had absolutely no choice in the matter as the teams they were playing were far, far superior.

    I'd stick with the same team we started with against Ukraine. there is no doubt that wlacott and Andy Carroll have been great impact players.

  • Comment number 63.

    @19

    "what will all the trolls do if england go out anyway?

    personally i think the game against italy will be less nervy than people think, i can see us getting it right tactically and winning the game 3 nil, rooney gerrard terry on score sheet, even if we look in danger i think come the hour mark and we bring on pace and pressure the tiring italians we'll cane them.

    this will definately be the italians hardest game of the tourney, i dont think the same could be said of england. now and then you see a champions league italian side get spanked by an english club, i got visions of the same thing happening in 19 hours time!"

    Common misconceptions about the italian national team.
    1) They are old and they will tire at 60 minutes
    2) They play negative cantenaccio football
    3) They have no pace
    4) They struggle to deal with an aerial threat

    Just about everything said by 19 in incorrect.

    If anyone is going to make the game bitty and unexciting it will be England. Why is it when a foreign team plays defensively they are lamented and called negative but when England play defensively they are called determined and promtly assigned qualities of courage?

    "This will be the Italians hardest game of the tourney, the same can't be said for England". Italy have played Spain and Croatia (Who haven't left the top 10 in the rankings for years), England have played a poor France, and struggled against a very poor Ukraine and Sweden.

    "England will win 3-0". No, this will be close. I would not want to try and predict this game; whoever wins will win by a really small margin and it'll probably go to pens.

    I hate it when English people / media comment on foreign teams without doing their research and by default assign the teams outdated clichès. Germany are efficient / Holland play total football / Italy play negative cantenaccio style football. None of it is true anymore!

  • Comment number 64.

    Italy's blue shirts aren't classically dark enough. Any psychological advantage completely evaporated. England to win in 90.

  • Comment number 65.

    It is a very tight game this evening. England and Italy are similar both in the standard of their players but also the tactics they employ. England can certainly win but they will need to 'step it up' and simply play better than they have previously.

    For all the defensive tactics so far, England's defence has actually been quite porous which would be a concern. However they have a good back four and a top class goalkeeper so if they can gel, it will be extremely hard for the Italians to penetrate this evening.

    The biggest concern is that England will not be able to open the Italians up. Hodgson should consider doing something completely different to surprise everyone. Perhaps Rooney playing much deeper and playing two strikers in front of him would be an aggressive alternative. The Italians certainly wouldn't be expecting that from Roy's boys.

    The one thing England MUST NOT do this evening is what France did last night. Leaving the field having got the tactics hideously wrong and not really making an impact on the game must be hard to live with.

    Most want to see England go for it more and perhaps that is the way to spring a surprise on the tournament. People are making England favourites tonight but that is a rather odd notion given where we were before the competition started.

    Just play well lads and give everything. The rest will take care of itself.

  • Comment number 66.

    Time to go 4-3-3.

    Drop Young and move Milner to the left to give a midfield of Gerrard(R), Parker(Cen), Milner(L).

    Caroll, Rooney and Wellbeck swapping positions in a triangle up front.

    Cole and Johnson to sit slightly forward of the centre backs when England attack, or for them to overlap and allow Gerrard and Milner to sit a bit deeper à la Alonso and Busquets. Parker holds the centre - he gets a nose bleed if he goes too far into the opponent's half.

    Defoe and Walcott to appear as subs when legs get tired.

    We need to respect the Italians but not fear them.

  • Comment number 67.

    When will we read the real reason are doing so well from an English journo? i.e. Lampard and Barry getting crocked has been a godsend.

  • Comment number 68.

    I can't understand all this negativity about England, as expressed by so many fans. We shouldn't forget that Euro 2012 should not be about winning it but, in my opinion, as a tournament where a new direction could be given about the English game of the years to come.

    In England there are managers who play the passing game. Martinez played it at Swansea. Rodgers carried on the same style at Swansea. Arsenal play that style of football for years now. It's not news.

    Looking at the young generation of Premier League footballers, you can see Hart, Gibbs, Smalling, Richards, Simpson, Jones, Kelly, Flanagan, Wilshere, Cleverley, Spearing, McEachran, Welbeck, Carroll, Oxlade, Sturridge, Campbell and many many more young players who can improve their skills in a better brand of football. People who would say England doesn't have a future are not serious, really.

    The point isn't about winning the tournament. The benefit to English football is to get an anchor in order to change the mentality. It isn't about running around at top speed anymore. Neither it is about dribbling. Big teams nowadays leave the dribbling when it comes to the last defender before trying to score.

    England have already won in this tournament. The spirit of the national side is high. It would be a mistake to aim high, then feel low and go back to the same vicious circle of negativity. In any case, England are in the quarter finals of Euro 2012 today and they could be in the semi final by the conclusion of the match. If they lose to Italy it wouldn't be a disaster. If they beat Italy it would be nice. The important thing though is to look at the future, starting from the next world cup.

  • Comment number 69.

    I think all England fans should be pleased and encouraged by Roy Hodgson's team. Mainly due to their togetherness, determination and effort. Which is what we have always asked for. England are playing like a club team, it is great to see them so united as a group.
    Stevie G is playing like he does for Liverpool, leading as a captain should but against Italy and hopefully Germany I don't think he can do it all by himself?
    THE MIDFIELD IS THE KEY TO WINNING THIS TOURNAMENT!
    Some how we need to get more players in the middle to protect the lack of pace at the back (centre.) I would play Rooney a bit deeper with Caroll up-front to hold-up or knock-down for Rooney.
    Playing deeper Rooney can bring the two wide men in to play.
    GOOD LUCK ENGLAND!! COME ON WAYNE ROONEY - TIME TO SHOW YOUR QUALITIES!!

  • Comment number 70.

    No doubting today is a big day. A real opportunity to not only break a big hoodoo, in taking a semi-final place and beating a genuine international 'big gun' on foreign soil.
    The team seems happy and relaxed and yet totally determined. Hogson has done a terrific job in next to no time and his experience in international competition is showing, win or lose for me he's the right man for the job, he's brought dignity, pride, tenacity, courage, honesty, joy and the will to succeed. And yes we haven't played wonderful free flowing football, however, it's all about winning, soild at the back, nick a goal up front, just ask the Italian teams of the past, although make no mistake this is an English football team, from the manager right through to the tactics. It would be truly beautiful if we could win tonight, but it will be very difficult, and if we do lose it's no shame, or disgrace, our time will come, if not tonight then another time, we know we're not the best technically and that honesty shows though. The Italians are good, but they are beatable, the only real difference is they know how to win q-f's and sm-f's and of course finals, although English clubs often do this year in year out in the Champions league, this should be no different apart from from wearing the 3 lions on our chest. So the stage it set, every player knows his duty, knows what must done. Try hard boys, I'm right behind you win or lose and i'm sure all true England supporters are too!

    KING HENRY V:
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember'd;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

  • Comment number 71.

    We need to have Wallcott and Oxy-Chamb on wings to worry the Italians. Milner and Young don't cut the mustard.

  • Comment number 72.

    come on lads... i firmly believe we gonna have an awesome match tonight.. 4-2 to England... then its gonna be an amazing ping pong of a match between Germany... an then a tense final with them cocky spaniards... cant wait to knock them spaniards off their perch and bring them back down to Earth... COME ON ENGLAND....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    yous lot need to appreciate and recognize the efforts that the lads put in...
    Come on ENGLAND...!!!! If not nyone else.. I shall be your 12th player AND your 13 player... COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!
    LETS AVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    I think England are playing as bad as they did against Algeria but they can win now with these (tactics), that's the only difference for me.

    I can't believe the Media over-reaction from "oh no, we are going to do so badly" to "oh my god, we are going to win it" Is it like this in other countries with their Media ?

    I like Roy Hodgson and I was displeased at all the negative attention he was getting from the Press after 5 minutes in the job. I wanted him to do well just to stop the negative comments. Now it has been replaced with an unbelievable reverse tactic by the Press that Roy will be Knighted in a few weeks for services to football. (If England win)
    The papers seem to have forgotten all the muck they have spread about Roy's selection policy a couple of weeks ago. And there was no footballing reasons why Rio Ferdinand wasn't picked, it's just because him and Terry couldn't play together.

    If England win, I will renounce my British Citizenship and become a citizen of the David Villa Soul Patch Island.

    I think Spain Vs Germany Final with Germany winning this time.

    PS - I think England are a terrible side at the moment and don't deserve to win from their performances. Cos if they do, we will never here the end of it.

  • Comment number 74.

    spike... u need to get out a bit more... and smile a bit more... and stick behind your team.. irrespective of how they play... thats what it means to be from england... smile at your neighbour... give a few words of encouragement... if u wanna put nyone down it should be the italians coz our football is much better than theirs... like i said earlier you need to recognize and appreciate the effort that our lads put in...

  • Comment number 75.

    oh anticipation
    whether it be cheers or tears ahead
    the day is vibrant and blood charges
    mind of memories, heart of hope
    go ahead boys and sing for us
    for we are England, and England is with you

  • Comment number 76.

    May I jump on the poor punditing bandwagon? I didn't actually hear Alan Green's comments about the Greeks, but it seems the BBC really didn't like the Greeks either way - witness Colin Murray's patronising dismissal of them saying it could've been 14-2 and that Group A was poor in hindsight if Greece managed to get out, before declaring at the end with them out the way there would be 'no boring games' left. I actually really enjoyed the Greeks, their fans went in with an Ireland-esque mentality of expecting to go out early so enjoy it while it lasts, and their victory over Russia was tremendous and you could see how much it meant to them. Other teams would take that for granted - not Greece.

    Speaking of Ireland, wasn't all the BBC pundits also praising Ireland and the 'messiah' Trappatoni for his ultra-defensive, ultra-rigid disciplined tactics that were the 'only way' to contain Spain/Italy, and yet at the same time they slag off Greece and actively declare that they hope they get knocked out for playing the same tactics? (Bar a few differences). Same to a degree with England - they hype up England's organisation and battling spirit to win 1-0 without ever saying it's 'bad for the competition' or other such non-arguements. Also, wasn't Green commentating on the CL final? Don't remember hearing him saying he hoped Bayern won for the good of the tournament.

    Greece might be boring, but how they play is within the rules, they are entitled to do that, and if it gets them massive shock victories over the big teams then good on them. Does this mean Alan Green thinks Euro 2004 was the worst Euros of all time if 'boring boring' Greece managed to win it?

    I really dislike the level of punditing anyway, which is so cliche-riddled and basic level, with no real tactical insight (surprisingly Jamie Carragher has been quite insightful on ITV), but when it starts getting bitter, snide and openly biased, it crosses a different line altogether.

  • Comment number 77.

    Looking forward to the Italy game and sense that we have a real chance against the not so impressive Italians this time. England are in the resurgent phase, Italy are well, floundering really. I just hope that England find that extra spark that will dazzle their opponents, as they have in some games in the past, when we over-performed! Come on boys, you can do it! An impressive win v Itally and even the Germans won't be looking forward to meeting us....

  • Comment number 78.

    I'm intrigued to see what the media reaction will be if we go out tonight!

    Will Hodgson still be the saviour of English football?

    Or will we be a useless overrated bunch of misfits who's luck finally ran out after a poor tournament?

    Hopefully we won't get to find out as we'll win, but we all know how quick the media can change their tune

  • Comment number 79.

    Good spike get lost we won't miss you join the rrrrr soul of villas crotch.

    No to business

    This will be close tonight, the claim that England can't win with 40% possession is just the usual garbage from people who do not understand there is more than one way to skin the cat!
    Chelsea beat Barcelona and Bayern with less than 40% possesion and the Greeks won this tournament doing it.
    Possesion means nothing without end product. Buffon is weak on crosses he is a great shot stopper! We do not want it to got to penalties for that reason. Their system is a tough one to break down 3-5-2 but is definately something we can do! TOnight will be very close!!!! Come on England get behind the boys and enjoy the game it will no doubt be the usual mixture of painful fingernail chewing with some great moments.
    Oh and rrrrr soul your claim that Spain are the greatest team in international history is about the dumbest comment you have ever made crawl back into you hutch son your a traitor to your nation!!

  • Comment number 80.

    No mention of Rio Ferdinand being left out, tension in the camp due to John Terry or the sickening racism exposed by Panorama, the moral conscience of the world.

    Its amazing how short the media's memory is. Where has the large scale racism that we were promised by Panorama gone? Where are the coffins foreseen by Sol Campbell? Where is the debate about Rio Ferdinand being left out?

    All nonsense driven by the parasites in the media, if they had any class they would apologise for lying. But the leveson inquiry highlights the workings of the media in this country, they are a disgrace and i would love to see more responses like Nasri's last night.

    Good luck England, keep battling. Whatever the result tonight, we still need a revolution in English football - youth development has to be the main priority, we need to produce highly technical players.

  • Comment number 81.

    #76, Adam WBF,

    What I enjoyed most in the Germany v Greece match was the change in the tone of voice in the commentating when Greeks equalised. I'm certain that a few pundits and a few big talking mouths wet their pants from worry in case they end up with egg on face, yet again. As Germans carried on scoring some wonderful goals I have to say, they looked almost relieved.

  • Comment number 82.

    74.

    I'd rather Italy win if they played better. England are sponsored by Jammy Dodgers at the moment :o)
    I'm not an England supporter, more of an observer. I would rather the best team win than an average dull side, even If I didn't like them.
    England don't deserve to win, nothing more to say really.

  • Comment number 83.

    79

    Spain are really dull ZZzzzzzzzZzZzz, worse than England to watch.

    Soul Patch is the Balotelli of BBC FOOTBALL comments pages !

  • Comment number 84.

    #22

    As you've clearly played an instrumental part in our success so far, I believe you should wear your England shirt discreetly underneath a suit at a local bar should we reach the final, and remove said suit as we lift the trophy. If you want to see this idea in practice, obtain a recorded version of this years Champions League final and skip to the last ten minutes.

  • Comment number 85.

    I feel sick, I feel nervous, I feel a wave of excitement anticipation that sense of usual foreboding for this is what it’s like being an England fan. You cheer them and jeer them ‘I could have scored that…… the money he’s on…etc’.. So here we are again Quarter Finals of a major championship, will the usual happen??? Bad luck? Bad refereeing? Or just choke when push comes to shove? I for one hope not, In Roy Hodgeson we have a pragmatist, a guy who knows the game and how to get the best from the players he’s got (take the Liverpool situation out and as a Liverpool fan think it was all against him from the start), a gentleman with English stoicism and class to boot. How fitting would it be for the Man and the team so derided by the media and the fickle plastic fans come to the fore and return English football back to winning ways? But wait this is boring England, a defensive England with not much flair and attacking spirit!!! And how has that worked out for us??.... IT HASN’T. We only remember winners and if this is what it takes to be a winner sign me up I’d rather have a shiny trophy on the mantel piece than a bitter taste and a sense of regret any day. And I’m sure if you ask any true England fan they will say the same. So ‘COME ON’ Roys boys and do us and yourselves proud. Rant over

  • Comment number 86.

    Having read all the comments here, it is obvious that this is going to be one very close match if both teams perform to their capabilities.....I'd really like to see Carroll up front instead of Welbeck, as I think the Man U youngster just hasn't shown that cutting edge, that experience and guile to unlock defences. At least Carroll will bully the Italian defenders. I have also enjoyed the attacking approach that Ox brings to the midfield and I think he has the capability to scare the Italians and peg them back. But Roy is conservative, so i don't see him playing either in the starting line up, though they may get on later in the game along with Walcott. Given how close it will all be, I think it may come down to the performances of the two goalkeepers. And I think Buffon has looked the more assured in this tournament and seems to to be more switched on and has that knack of getting the luck when it matters. We shall see if I am right later tonight....BUT.....If Rooney is on form the goalkeepers will be irrelevant and England will surely triumph!!

  • Comment number 87.

    I honestly think a lot of the english media and commentators are underestimating italy a bit.I think roy keane was spot on last night when he said that he felt england had beeen so relieved to avoid spain and draw italy that they were now underestimating this italian team.

    Whilst i agree this italian bunch are not as good as some of their past teams they will be extremely tough to beat and unlike england they are what i call a knockout tournament team in the scence that once they freach the knock out stages they tend to do very well.

    Don't get me wrong i think england have a decent shot tonight but i would still say that i think italy have the edge and i can see them just shading it.

  • Comment number 88.

    All these negative comments really baffle me given how organised and disciplined the England team have been in comparison to previous tournaments. Their fight, spirit and determination has never been present before, and it's made me stand up and take notice that's for sure. Even conceding the second goal against Sweden, England showed their resilience and managed to grind out a win against our "bogey" team in past tournaments.

    Tonight's game is too close to call, and I genuinely think it could be settled in a shootout. Joe Hart is a fantastic young keeper and I firmly believe he will become the best in the world, but his distribution needs to improve first. I've seen Hart save some penalties, as well as take one, and I was very impressed.

    I think RH will persist with the same line-up, and as long as they can contain Pirlo I think England could snatch a win. I'm indifferent when it comes to Balotelli, but I appreciate he can produce something special at times so the defenders must close him down and not give him any time on the ball.

    England must play better against Italy than they did against Ukraine, that's for sure. I wish RH would alter the formation to a more attacking one though. Seeing 4-4-2 just frustrates me to no end. I would love to see a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation to really bring our wingers into play more...wishful thinking I suspect though.

    Let's get behind the boys and really show our support. England CAN do this - they have the ability. It's just a case of their mentality and whether they can break that 'quarter-final curse'.

    As for those downplaying England's efforts, I think they must either be fans of tiki-taka with the boring Spaniards conjure up, or are Welsh/Scottish (in which case your views will never be taken seriously until you qualify for a major tournament which, let's face it, will never happen).

    Come on ENGLAND!

  • Comment number 89.

    81. At 11:11 24th Jun 2012, Mind the gap wrote:

    As Germans carried on scoring some wonderful goals I have to say, they looked almost relieved.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    And you could see their facial expressions while this was going on?

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree with an earlier post(sorry,forgot who)that we MUST change tactics and some personnel if we are to progress.The Italians won't expect it,and we'd surprise them.Young MUST be replaced.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think Italy will win in normal time and I've seen nothing from this England team to suggest otherwise. The low expectations in the group stage have been slowly replaced by the usual media hysteria about going all the way, based on nothing whatsoever except statistics. Winning matches when you play badly isn't a style of football, it's something good teams occasionally do when absolutely necessary. England seem only capable of playing this way and frankly Italy will be the first strong team they have faced and they will be punished for having such little control of the match. We can all praise heroic defensive blocks and "effort" but the fact of the matter is that a great team doesn't need those heroic blocks and makes their opponents put in the effort by controlling the tempo of play.

    I've been an England fan since the 80's by the way. Personally I have more pride in performances than results. the '98 team that only reached the 2nd round will be remembered far better than the 2002 or 2006 team that reached the quarters, because they played real football.

  • Comment number 92.

    England cannot rely on luck tonight. First true test for Hodgson and his men. Win it and make it through to the semis and that will be something to shout about. But beat the Germans though? Forget about it.

  • Comment number 93.

    91.

    I agree with your comments, too many hysterical fan-boys on here with no sense of reality.

    England's best performances since 86

    2nd half against Cameroon WC90 QF
    Germany SF WC90
    Holland Euro 96
    Germany Euro 96 SF
    Germany 5-1 01

    That's about it, short change then.

  • Comment number 94.

    Well, yes Spike, if you want to ignore perfectly creitable performances like

    England 2 - 0 Colombia France '98
    England 1 - 0 Argentina WC 2002
    England 4 - 2 Croatia Euro 2004

    And if you ant to go into qualifiers like the 5-1 2001 there's plenty more (until last 3-4 years!) We are, like we have been for last 20-30 years, a good-solid Top 10 side. We just need that buit of extra quality to make finals and win things

  • Comment number 95.

    Phil - As Roy Hodgson has said "talking about it won't change the statistics"; however what else can we to do until the game comes around?

    It will be a test of nerves tonight, who blinks first! IMO opinion England have to be 'in the groove' as a top premiership side, from the off, going for the throat!
    Oh yes England can defend alot better than we did before, hard to beat (by average sides) but we are not as consistent in defence as the Italians are, we are prone to 'wobble' at times. However we can attack with much more devistating speed and power than they can, a constant battering of the Italian defences, is whats needed, give them no time to breathe, spread panic and alarm, through the channels in particular. Most of all we must not let the Italians settle (as France did with Spain last night) chase and close down, but with skill and precision, no barging in and giving away free kicks, or worse still losing out to a red card! No 'red mists' only 'white hot' speed and determination and where possible as much skill as we can muster!

    Com'on England!

  • Comment number 96.

    England know their own limitations. Just a shame they've chosen to play to them instead of at least trying to play to their capabilities.

    My prediction is that at some point Parker will in fact cross the halfway line, in the 8th minute Gerrard will nail a pin-point 60 yard crossfield pass and spend the rest pfthe game hopelessly and pointlessly trying to repeat it. Rooney will get hit early doors by a defender unpunished and will spend the rest of the game jumping out of similar challenges until finally getting booked for tripping someone up. Walcott will fall over the ball. Young will get hacked down and even the ABU's will be calling it a penalty. Terry will spend the game falling over. And Hart will drop a shot at an attackers feet again for the only goal.

  • Comment number 97.

    94

    I'll give you -

    England 4 - 2 Croatia Euro 2004

    But Argentina was result not performance and Columbia, I didn't see as I was at Glastonbury 98 which was like Isle of Wight 2012 ! WET

    Maybe solid but not winners.

  • Comment number 98.

    Predicting a tense game which might turn out to be a classic if an early goal arrives. England must simply try & remember to enjoy themselves & understand that Joe public is happy with their tournament thus far & failure here, knowing they gave it a good shot, is acceptable.

    Hoping for no red mist moments from England! And a good ref too!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Spike Isle Of Wight 2012 is more than wet its saturated Trust me I live here!!

    Premiership pace will never transform to the international stage during tournaments maybe in one off qualifiers because unfortunately the english media and some fans will Vilify any short comings so the team will always play within themselves as unlike the EPL you dont have the opportunity to correct things 3-4 days later it rumbles on for months

  • Comment number 100.

    99.

    Glastonbury 98 was like God threw a big water balloon down everyday for a weekend !

 

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