So-far Euro 2012 has been one of the most memorable tournaments of recent times and Sunday sees what could be another classic encounter as England take on Italy in the quarter-finals.
After a difficult build-up to the championships, both sides have impressed at the competition and will be confident of booking their place in the last four where they’ll meet Germany on Thursday.
England go into the game full of confidence after surprisingly winning Group D and are still unbeaten in a tournament after a draw with France and victories over Sweden and Ukraine.
Unlike previous years, the Three Lions came into the Euros with very little expectation placed on them but due to their recent results, there seems to be a newfound confidence surrounding the camp.
The embodiment of this optimism appears to be captain Steven Gerrard who after years of being shunted around, has led the team brilliantly from the centre of midfield and will be looking for another big game in Kiev.
[one_half first][iconbox title="England" icon="info.png"]England have won 65%, drawn 25% and lost 10% of their last 20 games.
– England have kept a clean sheet in 10 of their last 20 games, going on to win 9 and draw 1 of these matches.
– England have found the net in 95% of their last 20 games.[/iconbox][/one_half]
[iconbox title="Italy Stats" icon="info.png"]Italy have won 50%, drawn 30% and lost 20% of their last 20 games.
Italy have kept a clean sheet in 10 of their last 20 games, going on to win 9 and draw 1 of these matches.
Italy have scored no more than 1 goal in 65% of their last 20 games.[/iconbox]
Italy have been perhaps the surprise of the tournament, not due to their results but by the manner of how they’ve gone about their business.
Traditionally known for being extremely defensive, Cesare Prandelli has injected flair into the Azzurri and they seem to be relishing the extra freedom being given to them.
However, if they do need to slow the game down, they have the perfect man to control the tempo in Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
While Gerrard’s strength is in his pace and dynamism, Pirlo’s is in his almost constant composure and the pair’s duel will certainly have a huge bearing on the outcome of the match.
Of all the quarter-finals, this one looks as if it will be the cagiest as both sides are so evenly matched and it may even require penalties.
However, the confidence surrounding the England camp may just see them sneak it and the script almost seems written for Wayne Rooney to score the winner following his recent return to the side.
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