European heavyweights England and Italy will grapple with each other at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev for the final semi-final spot of Euro 2012. This is the first meeting between the tw0 teams in ten years and their first competitive clash in fifteen years.Though they haven’t met each other for so long , many Italian players claim that they are familiar with England’s style of play, and some like Bonucci have gone to the extent of saying that England adopt more or less the same approach as them. He might have a point as the former England manager Fabio Capello’s Latin style might have rubbed off on the Three Lions.
For the Azzurri, Daniele De Rossi, who considers the current England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard as his idol, is likely to undertake the onerous task of marking Wayne Rooney, who is back from suspension. His Italian counterpart Antonio Cassano has been in fine touch lately and could cause lot of troubles to John Terry and Joe Lescott.
Route to quarters
Italy, members of group C alongside Spain, Croatia and Ireland, weathered a stiff challenge from the current champions Spain to hold on to a 1-1 draw. They were made to dig deep by a well organised Croatian team for their second 1-1 draw in as many games. With qualification hopes hanging n the balance, Italy comfortably saw off the Irish challenge with a 2-0 win to finish in second in their group, two points behind Spain.
England, blighted by a spate of injuries at the started of the tournament, started their campaign in Group D with a 1-1 draw against arch-rivals France. A late Danny Welbeck goal secured them a 3-2 victory against Sweden, in what was one of the most entertaining games of the group stage. Despite being outplayed by hosts Ukraine for large parts of the game, England held their nerves to secure a hard-fought 1-0 draw, Rooney scoring the only goal of the game. The win propelled them past France to the summit of the group.
Five England players Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young, James Milner, Alex Chamberlain and Ashley Cole have received cautions during the group stage, and should any of them receive another yellow card and England defeat Italy, they would miss the semi-final.
Cesare Prandelli, who was forced to adopt a 3-5-2 formation for his first two games owing to Barzagli’s absence through injury, will use the 4-1-3-2 approach that he effected against Ireland.
England’s probable eleven (4-4-1-1): Hart, Johnson, Terry, Lesctt, Cole, Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Young, Wellbeck, Rooney.
Italy’s probable lineup (4-1-3-2): Buffon, Balzaretti, Chiellini, Barzagli, Abate, Pirlo, De Rossi, Motta, Marchisio, Cassano, Di Natale.
Match time 21:45 UTC +3 on June 24, 2012.
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Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.