It was Italy vs England in tonight’s Euro 2012 quarter-final. Italy went through to the semi’s deservedly in the end on penalties, after 120 minutes of football could not separate two teams for the first time at this summer’s Euros.
Well I’m going to keep these verdicts short and get to the main tactical battle later on.
Through to the semis, the Italians definitely deserved it on the night after dominating proceedings throughout.
- Cesare Prandelli made 3 changes to his side bringing in Balotelli, Bonucci and Montolivo for Di Natalie, Chiellini and Motta respectively.
- The Italians came out of the blocks fired up and looking to end the match early but could never find a way through a resolute English defense.
- Andrea Pirlo was creator in chief yet again as the ball time and again found itself at the feet of 1 of the Italian front-men in behind the English but they could never compose themselves enough to beat an impressive Joe Hart.
- Mario Balotelli in particular had stacks of space at times running through on goal but the Man City striker seemed to have left his finishing boots at home as he missed chance after chance.
- 35 shots to 9, 20 on target to 4 and 68% of the possession on any day of the week would be telltale signs of a team that dominated, and should have scored at least 4, but the Italians were forced into shots from outside the box mostly with the odd ball getting through but never being finished throughout the game.
A night of despair for the English as they yet again went out of a major international tournament on penalties. Lacking quality in the final third, forced to defend for most of the game, England were lucky enough to get to penalties in the first place.
- It was the same team as last match from Roy Hodgson as he hoped to catch out the Italian defense with the pace available upfront.
- England started well enough looking to go at the Italians from the off and with both teams looking to attack, it made for a very exciting first half.
- They were soon forced on the defensive though with Italy Dominating possession and all the chances. England had 9-10 times behind the ball at most times and crowded out the Italian attacks very well not allowing anything to get through.
- There was some excellent last ditch defending from the English when the ball did get through on occasion as both full backs made goal saving tackles. John Terry as well played exceptionally well especially in the second half of normal time as he gave his body to the cause and made block after block.
- Up front, Rooney and Welbeck connected well and the wingers provided good support but that final ball was always lacking and it was a night of poor crosses and missed chances from England’s POV.
This was 1 of the most interesting tactically at this summers tournament. With a potential 4-1-2-1-2 vs 4-2-3-1 formation battle, it was always going to be very interesting to see who would come on top in a crowded midfield.
As can be seen, the center of the park was very crowded, more so with Italian center backs coming out as soon England got on the ball in their half. This led to England being forced to get the ball out to the flanks from where the delivery was never quite good enough.
Likewise this was true at the other end as England packing their defense in the center meant very little space for Cassano and Balotelli to operate in and both were forced wide most of the match in an attempt to get on the ball.
Pirlo playing very deep meant he could be on the ball unchallenged most of the times as the England 2 banks of 4 concerned themselves with containing the movement of Italy’s attackers. The first half was very open with both sides looking to go for it but in the second and in extra time most of the actions was on the flanks.
Abate vs Cole became a very prominent battle and the Italian tried to use all his pace and skill to get past the Chelsea but on most occasions was unsuccessful.
By the hour mark a very set pattern had emerged. Italy tried going down the sides mostly to no avail. When that didn’t work a pass was lobbed over the English defense that was usually dealt with or was met with poor finishing from the Italian strikers, Balotelli in particular. England were left to play on the counter and as soon as they got the ball it was lobbed forward to Carroll (on for Welbeck) who brought it down comfortably enough but had no support or the quality was just completely lacking the build up that followed.
So after 120 minutes of football could not separate the sides, it was down to Penalties which were by extra time an expected thing.
Mario Balotelli stepped up to take the first, scored in the bottom left corner. Steven Gerrard did the same for England’s first. Montolivo missed Italys second giving the English some hope but Hodgson’s men couldn’t capitalize as after Rooney scored his,
and this cheeky world class chip from Andrea Pirlo (EDIT: video deleted), both Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missed their spot kicks and Norcerino scored in between the 2 to put the Italians through to the Semis to face an in form Germany.
Man of the match:
A very tough decision to make given the scoreline but it would have to go to Andrea Pirlo. Although he couldn’t manage an assist or goal, the Juventus play maker did manage to get an astonishing 155 touches on the ball, 23 accurate long passes out of an attempted 30 and had a pass accuracy of 87% that any midfielder playing at the highest level would be proud of. “L’architetto” yet again controlled the tempo of the match excellently and was unlucky to not have one of his 6 key passes turned into a goal.
Latest posts by Rafey (see all)
- Manchester City Vs. Manchester United: Post Match Thoughts - December 9, 2012
- Why The Signing Of Robin Van Persie Is So Significant For Manchester United - August 17, 2012
- EPL Top 4: 2012-2013 Season Preview - August 7, 2012
- Manchester United – Transfer Rumors And Possibilites - July 24, 2012