United Rant Live! England v Italy

England versus Italy hardly recalls memories of iconic past games. After all these two venerable nations have met just twice in tournament football; Italy winning both in the 1980 European Championships, and at the 1990 World Cup, third place play-off. Indeed, the Azzurri has the edge in recent meetings, having lost just once to England in the past 35 years. That loss came at the height of Glenn Hodle’s ‘chic’ England side at Le Tournoi, Nantes, in 1997, when Ian Wright and Paul Scholes scored.

Neither side was much fancied to make an impact on Euro 2012, but one will certainly reach the semi-finals after tonight’s fixture in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. However, it is, perhaps, Italy that has caught the eye to date – looking impressive against Spain in the opening fixture. But Roy Hodgson’s functional England side has warmed into the tournament – few expect anything other than an even match tonight.

Join United Rant Live for more comment, chat and analysis on this Euro 2012 quarter-final. We’ll be with you live with team news from around 7pm, with preamble, updates and quotes throughout the day.


 

Ed - Sunday 22:32

Wrap up

Well that’s it for England and Roy Hodgson’s men deserved the loss. Italy out passed, out moved and out thought England for almost the entire game. Pirlo was masterful. England’s midfield woeful. United’s men – Welbeck, Rooney and Young didn’t have the best of games. But in truth England are so far behind Italy technically that this was hardly the same sport, let along the same game. Embarrassingly one-sided. Italy superior in every department, expect for the scoresheet. And that’s what almost counted.

In the end though the right side won.

Will there be a scapegoat? There’s normally a scapegoat. This time it may well be Ashley Young.

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Paul - Sunday 22:31

Night folks

Well, England were good for 20 minutes, and the rest of it a complete shambles. Getting to penalties is a huge over achievement given how awful they were. Italy lucky not to be punished for missing all those chances.

The semi final line ups of this tournament are absolutely fantastic. Italy Germany, Spain Portugal. Promises some wonderful football. The THREE DAY wait will seem long!

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:27

Cruel My dogs Pants…..

One out of Seven penalty shoot out wins prevents England being totally embarrassed by the might of Germany……

Terrible, Terrible Team…

Terrible, Terrible Tactics…

Terrible, Terrible, Terrible, Terrible Reliance on the Three Lions Passion…..

Basically Just Terrible!!!

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Ed - Sunday 22:25

And ITALY win it on pens

England 3 – 4 Italy on penalties….

Balloteli scores
Gerrard scores
Montolivo misses
Rooney scores
Pirlo scores
Young misses
Nocerino scores
Cole misses
Diamanti scores

… and you can’t say Italy didn’t deserve it

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Paul - Sunday 22:24

Bad day for Ashleys. 

Doesn’t look like Germany get to beat England. Can’t say they didn’t deserve it.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:23

Nocerino…

The best Euro beard scores………

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:19

Paul’s Dad…

Hope he’s had his Glucosamine for all this sudden bending…..

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Paul - Sunday 22:18

Just had a chat with my dad…

He said “At least Buffon will have something to do now”.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:18

England Win

I’m still backing England to win…..  Or John Terry to be seen Donning a Italian Shirt!!!

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:17

Full TIme Stats….

for those who care….

Shots: England  1/9  -  Italy 8/36

Possession: Eng 32%  -  68%

Passes: Eng 269/364 [74%]  -  744/833 [89%]

Attacking Third: Eng 96/147  -  208/264

Tackles: Eng 18/24  -  Ita 16/22

Blocks: Eng 13  -  Ita 3

 

Embarrassed………….

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Ed - Sunday 22:15

Who’ll be the scapegoat then?

It’s normally a Manchester United player. Wayne Rooney doesn’t take a good penalty.

My money’s on Rooney to be the fall guy.

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Paul - Sunday 22:14

Pens 

Would be stunned if England win these. Stunned.

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Paul - Sunday 22:13

Rooney

Spectacularly poor.

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Ed - Sunday 22:13

One minute to go

Will anybody create the chance to win this game?

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:10

Carroll’s passing Talent…

Since coming on Andy Carroll has completed 7 out of 17 final third passes at an awe inspiring 41% completion percentage….

 

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Ed - Sunday 22:08

Somewhere Gary Neville is talking about the stars

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:07

Carroll Lumbering….

Andy Carroll has now given away more freekicks than any other England Player

4 out of 15 fouls committed… 26% of the fouls….

 

 

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Paul - Sunday 22:06

Oh my goodness

How did Mario convince Pirlo to let him have that?

Italian fans must be driven to despair by their inability to put this away. Once again, England’s last ditch defending has been their only redeeming feature, but as Ed said, Italy’s finishing has been so wasteful.

Also, “False Big Man” has made my evening.

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Ed - Sunday 22:02

Italy so wasteful in the final third

There’ll some strikers thrown the the lions after this if Italy don’t win. Have been materially superior in every department except goals scored. That, of course, is the only one that counts.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 22:02

INGUR-LANnnnndddd…

Really lost for words….. Exactly how bad can England be…… VERY… simples…

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Ed - Sunday 22:00

False big man

Andy Carroll’s new position! © @sgevans on Twitter.

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Ed - Sunday 21:57

Half time in extra time

It’s dire, isn’t it? We’re up to 31 chances for Italy (8 on target). England 9 attempts (1 on target).

England need to play for penalties now. England’s players look shot. Too much running without the ball.

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Paul - Sunday 21:53

How are Italy not winning this? 

They have missed so many chances, hit the woodwork when they weren’t trying, and just generally should have scored. But they haven’t. Does this mean England are destined to nick a late winner, or is it all a great cosmic joke to enable Italy to win on pens? ONLY TIME WILL TELL!

(Starting to get a bit delirious from fever and boredom).

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Ed - Sunday 21:51

Pens

Definitely England’s best chance!

Although Italy hasn’t created a good chance for a while. It’s petering out. England’s ‘breaks’ generally non-threatening. The tactic, surely, for England has to be – get a free kick.

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Ed - Sunday 21:48

Carroll

Trying to pass it. England haven’t quite worked out Roy’s gameplan here. Needs to go LONG. Very LONG. You know, onto Carroll’s head.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:47

Midfield Options….

Just as Ed and Paul have debated the poor midfield options for United….. England are really suffering….

No Carrick…

No Scholes….

No Lampard….

But great we’ve Got Jordan Henderson from England’s 8th best team….

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Paul - Sunday 21:46

So, how’s everyone doing? 

Been up to anything interesting? (Struggling to find interesting things to say about this.) (Rooney looks so tired).

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Ed - Sunday 21:43

JORDAN HENDERSON IS ON

The saviour is here.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:40

Penalties…??

England have won one of their six previous penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments – beating Spain in the quarter-finals of Euro 1996 after a 0-0 draw.
Italy have lost five of seven penalty shoot-outs at major tournaments, and two of three at European Championships; they beat the Dutch in the semi-finals of Euro 2000, but lost to Spain in the quarter-finals four years ago and to Czechoslovakia in a third-place play-off in 1980.
#Just Saying#

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Paul - Sunday 21:38

The first nil-nil

That’s sounds like a Christmas carol. But it’s an Andy Carroll. This is the first 0-0 after 90 in this tournament. Well done England and Italy! It’s a tremendous achievement!

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Ed - Sunday 21:36

Full time stats

ENG – ITA
Possession: 35% – 65%
Passing: 214/290 (74%) – 511/589 (87%)
Att third: 79/118 – 121/171
Chances: 9 – 27
On target: 1 – 6

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:33

Carroll Can Not Jump…

Finally A ball for Carroll to feed off and he entirely and utterly fails to get up of the turf!!!

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Paul - Sunday 21:33

In a parallel universe…

A magical thing just happened. Not in this game, sadly, where mostly it’s been hoofs and that.

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Ed - Sunday 21:31

Park Life

Ok, so this game isn’t quite as bad as a park kickabout but the level of quality has dropped markedly. Even if Italy was outpassing England in the first half, at least England were *trying* to break. Hodgson’s men have now given up on that altogether…

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:28

If This was Football Manager…

I’d of turned this game off and gone back to <Load Last Game>…..

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Paul - Sunday 21:26

If this was Football Manager…

Young would be orange at ML, and bright green at AML. Playing him at ML is a miserable experience for him and everyone watching.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:26

Jokers Unite…

On behalf of all ‘Jokes’ I declare that latest attack a disgrace Paul…. Jokes and Lawrenson have nothing in common!!!

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Ed - Sunday 21:25

There’s three options in this game

Italy actually put one of the many chances away

England score from a set piece

Penalties

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Paul - Sunday 21:23

Hoof

Since Welbeck was replaced by Carroll England have been an absolute joke. They were quite fun to watch in the first half, but they’ve become a launch it parody of themselves.

Also. Mark Lawrenson is a joke.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:22

No Support

The rest of the England team left Rooney & Young completely alone to try to get out the corner against 6 Italians!!!

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Paul - Sunday 21:18

Gerrard picks the wrong head to aim at. 

Rooney’s “hair” didn’t do the job. England look hopeless. Italy haven’t looked all that much better, and Prandelli takes off Cassano and brings on Diamanti.

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Ed - Sunday 21:17

Set pieces

I did say about nine hours ago that the pattern in this game would be Italy dominating possession, England hoping for free kicks. I wasn’t being sarcastic. It’s how it was always going to be.

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Ed - Sunday 21:14

I think it was Napoleon, rather than poker… #just saying#

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Paul - Sunday 21:11

To use a poker analogy 

England would clearly rather be lucky than good. They’re going to have to be.

Oh good. The national anthem.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:10

So far so Expected….

Possession 35.5% : Italy 64.5%

Passing 173/229 [76%] : Italy 392/452 [87%]

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Jony Ball - Sunday 21:07

Henderson And Downing

The hostility towards Welbeck and Young from Mark Lawrenson makes me wonder when he’s going to question why Downing, Henderson and Adams aren’t in the team…… Err

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Ed - Sunday 21:06

Young

Much being made of his passing.. 76% passes accurate. About the same as the England average (77%). Young’s real problem – he’s getting the ball way deeper than he would at United and having to run and find the (very few) England men in space. Easy enough to blame him – he’s not playing that well in the system. But it’s arguable the system isn’t helping him either.

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Ed - Sunday 21:00

Route One

England’s new tactic. Danny Welbeck off for the Liverpool man. England players just can’t help themselves but hit the big man early. Will it work?

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Ed - Sunday 20:59

Pirlo

43/51 passes – 84% completed. Actually not as high as normal from Pirlo …. a few ‘longer balls’ gone astray. Mind you he’s passed the ball as many times as Gerrard (20/23) and Parker (26/28) combined.

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Paul - Sunday 20:58

He’s coming on, he’s coming on, he’s coming..

Carroll’s coming on. HOOOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFF (This post broke the formatting, like Carroll will break up England’s counter attacks).

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Paul - Sunday 20:57

Hey, Gaz! 

Where’s it written? In the stars you say? Ok. Well..maybe you’re right.

Of course a higher power is what it’s going to take for England getting through this game, so if it is destiny, it’s a good job, because if it’s football, it’s Italy all the way.

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Ed - Sunday 20:56

John Terry

I’ve said it time and again – HE’S JUST NOT VERY GOOD. I know this is a controversial opinion. But he’s not. When parking the bus, when there’s no space, when the game isn’t end to end England’s Brave and Loyal John Terry (© The Guardian) excels. When the game opens up and players attack space Terry falls to pieces. Not literally, unfortunately.

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Ed - Sunday 20:53

How many chances do Italy need?

That is 16 chances and counting for the Italians. Very few of them actually on target. It can’t remain that way. Can it?

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:50

Gerrardo…..

I really did just hear the commentator compare Stevie-ME to Pirlo didn’t I???

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Ed - Sunday 20:49

Extraordinary De Rossi Miss

Daniele De Rossi misses from no more than 4 yards out… unbelievable miss. He had nobody around him, no challenge and loads of time.

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Paul - Sunday 20:49

“Milner”

“Good to hear him demanding the ball. Shame he couldn’t keep it”. Writes itself.

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Ed - Sunday 20:48

Rooney, Welbeck, Young

None of the United men having ‘great’ games, although in their defence they have very little support at times and too many long balls going forward. The issue isn’t really with Young, and Welbeck (Rooney doesn’t look fit)… but with the nature of the service.

Of course if Andy Carroll comes on it’ll only get longer…

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:45

The Possession Problem…

Most people who know me know my total aversion to John Terry…. but for me he epitomises everything that is wrong in England’s attitude, aptitude and talent….

All International teams have central defenders who can assist in ball retention and have a passing ability… Its why I argued long and hard that Rio should of been preferred on talent alone… John Terry with a ball is a sad, sad experience…

Bonucci shows Terry whose boss!!

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Paul - Sunday 20:37

Italy’s weaknesses

Full backs, and the misfiring Cassano Ballotelli partership.

England’s weaknesses

The right flank, bizarre aversion to possession.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:35

Half time

Hart and Johnson seen most of the ball, in a team that finds it so difficult to maintain possession is it hardly surprising Young and Milner have seen so little…

Comparing Player Influence…..

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Paul - Sunday 20:34

Montolivo

I think a moment of magic from Montolivo might be what settles this.

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Ed - Sunday 20:31

Half time stats

ENG – ITA

Possession: 37% – 63%
Passes: 131/170 (77%) – 281/321 (88%)
Territory: 50.5% – 49.5%
Shots (all): 4 – 13
On target: 1 – 3

Italy dominating in almost all categories, and would have made it count but for Balloteli’s wastefulness.

But of course if you’re Hodgson you’ll point to the only stat that counts. It’s 0-0.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:28

England confusion…

the normal reliable banks of four being well manouvered around by the italians…

 

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Paul - Sunday 20:27

All that early England pressure

It’s all evaporated. Like us against Barca in the Champions League final, the first 20 minutes, England were making it look a contest. Italy have taken over as the half has continued and look much the better side. England clinging on to get in at 0-0.


They just had a break from a shocking mistake from a free kick, but Rooney is having an absolute mare and makes nothing of the cross. Doesn’t look fit.

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Ed - Sunday 20:25

Rooney

Absolutely clattered twice in the space of a similar number of minutes. Neither given as a foul to the England man. Those sly old Italians etc etc cliché cliché

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Paul - Sunday 20:24

The right flank.

Milner and Johnson. Dream team.

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Ed - Sunday 20:23

It’s all coming down England’s right

Johnson the weak link, which of course is why Milner is in the side to protect the Liverpool man. Cole secure as ever on the left.

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Ed - Sunday 20:21

Prandelli

He’s quite dapper really. Just to go off on a tangent…

 Cesare Prandelli

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:20

Welbz Finishing….

I suspect he’s feeling a bit rusty, that was only his third shot of the tournament!!!

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Paul - Sunday 20:19

UNITED!

That’s England’s only hope really. Young, Rooney and the boy Welbz combining so well. Gorgeous lay off from Young to Welbeck in that build up – such a delicate touch which changed the momentum of the move. Welbeck let down by his finishing.

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Ed - Sunday 20:17

Two Balloteli chances… and then one from Welbeck

In the past 10 minutes. Hart has managed to save from the Manchester City front-man twice. But then a lovely bit of inter-play between Rooney and Welbeck, with the former flicking to the later who skied the shot. Should have done much much better Danny.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:16

Montolivo…

The Milan bound attacking midfielder cost them …. Absolutely Nothing…… No Value in the market????

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Paul - Sunday 20:14

Last 10 minutes

England looked a lot less good. But pretty solid defensively. Montolivo looks a huge threat for Italy.

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Ed - Sunday 20:14

Possession versus Territory

Italy enjoying 62% possession at the moment, but England a similar advantage in territory. The lesson isn’t quite that England’s playing like a rugby team… but not that far off. Ball goes from back-to-front much more quickly with England than Italy. Hence the skewed stats…

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Jony Ball - Sunday 20:13

Attacking England….

In the group games the ‘effective’ English Attackers…

Danny Welbeck Final 1/3 passes 34/36 [94%]  /   chances created 2 (none scored)   /  Goals 1

Gerrard Final 1/3 passes 38 /45 [84.4%]  /  chances created 7 (2 scored from)

Ashley Young Final 1/3 passes 18 /22 [81.81%]  /  chances created 0 (none scored)

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Ed - Sunday 20:11

HOOOOF!

I know Paul thinks England’s playing well, but simply launching it out of defence at Danny Welbeck’s head is a tad agricultural isn’t it? It’s going to keep coming back at England. Just 73% of England passes reaching their man at the moment. That’s definitely a problem. But both team’s very wasteful in the final third, which is why there’s not a lot of saves being made at the moment.

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Paul - Sunday 20:11

Rooney

He’s having a stinker. Didn’t even look to see Ashley Young in acres of space on the left. His decision making and touch both look really poor.

Nailed on to score then, obviously.

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Paul - Sunday 20:10

My favourite thing about this game so far? 

Ukraine fans starting to chant “Italia” when England fans don’t join in the Mexican wave. Sometimes crowds are funny.

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Ed - Sunday 20:07

Whistles!

When England have the ball… locals not supporting John Terry’s Brave English lions then?! I thought they were all down with racism in Ukraine.

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Paul - Sunday 20:04

First 20 minutes

I am surprised by how good England have looked. So far.

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Ed - Sunday 20:04

England could really do with keeping the ball!

No surprise there of course, but at the moment it’s too much like a basketball game, with Italy having twice as many attacks. England all about shape, but the shape in attack is very predictable meaning deep balls will be hit towards Rooney and Welbeck. They’re not sticking and the ball is coming straight back at England.

Fortunately for Hodgson’s men Italy not showing a lot of penetration with their 60% possession.

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Paul - Sunday 20:00

Making the pressure count…

We’re United fans. We know what it’s like when you don’t make the periods of pressure count, and in spite of the promise of the opening exchanges, England may well regret not making their chances count.

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Paul - Sunday 19:57

Italy under pressure

England heaping the pressure on Italy here. Is it sustainable? I don’t know, but whether you’re a neutral or an England fan, the game will be more enjoyable if England chose to maintain this kind of attacking intent.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 19:57

first 10 mins….

Italy v England

61.9%  v  38.1%

Passes 71/85 v 34/49

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Ed - Sunday 19:56

First 10

Pretty even to date and just the two clear chances… Johnson’s scoop, and De Rossi’s slice.

Possession: 38% – 62%. England completed just 68% of passes to 87%.

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Paul - Sunday 19:54

Men forward

England are actually sending men up in their attacks. Will this madness never end?

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Ed - Sunday 19:53

England – Italy pattern already clear

Italy will keep the ball whenever possible. England will break, but there’s few chances being taken with the breaks. In the most recent drive forward only Welbeck and Rooney were ahead of the Parker. That’s all about security and the concern that Pirlo can turn defence into attack with one pass.

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Paul - Sunday 19:51

Attacking purpose

After last night I’d forgotten what that was like! I’ll take a technically inferior clash of two teams over the purrfest of Spain sending their opposition to sleep.

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Ed - Sunday 19:50

England’s first chance

Falls to Glenn Johnson who couldn’t get enough power on the shot from six yards out to score… could rue that one later. Very very good chance for the Liverpool defender.

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Paul - Sunday 19:49

HOW IS THAT NOT IN!!!!!

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Ed - Sunday 19:49

Predictions

2-1 Italy is my prediction!

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Paul - Sunday 19:49

What. A. Hit. 

Powered up as only a man with different length sleeves can be, De Rossi slices a shot which hits the upright. Absolute belter and Joe Hart was beaten all ends up. England very lucky not to be behind. They’ve not really had the ball much, but that’s no surprise. As I type this they’ve got it.

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Ed - Sunday 19:49

HOOOOOOOF!

And the prize for first England player to aimlessly launch one forward goes to….. JOHN TERRY. Who else?

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Jony Ball - Sunday 19:48

prediction:

just as De Rossi rattles the post…I just think Hodgson may bore the Italians into submission….

I’m Going 2-1 England……

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Ed - Sunday 19:48

Pirlo

Welbeck and Rooney are not going man-to-man on Pirlo, but it’s obvious already that the pair are going to zonal mark the Juve midfielder. Whoever is nearest is expected the block the path between ball and Pirlo.

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Ed - Sunday 19:46

We’re away!

And Mario Balloteli has the first ‘shot’ … it wasn’t much of a shot to be fair, but one for the statistics book!

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Paul - Sunday 19:45

Predictions

Come on chaps, get your predictions in black and white. 2-1 Italy is mine.

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Ed - Sunday 19:43

The Anthems

Proudly sung by the Italians. A solid 7/10 – up to a 9/10 for Gigi Buffon who looked very much like he might be getting a semi. Even Balloteli mouthed the words. No there’s a turn up for the books.

No surprised that John Terry belts it out. For Harry, for the country … you can hear it now…

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

Mind you Terry IS so vile…

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Jony Ball - Sunday 19:41

Comparing the Group progression….

ITALY GROUP GAMES….

Possession: 54.73%

Goals (For / Against): 4 / 2

Shots (On Target / Total ): 18 / 52 [34.61%]

Goals:Shot percentage: 7.68%

Total Passes: (Completed / Total): 1078 / 1317

Percentage Completed: 81.85%

Final 1/3rd Passes (Completed / Total): 235 / 356 [66.01%]

Tackles (Successful / Total attempted): 31/38 [81.57%]

Blocks:10

Fouls (committed / suffered) 49 / 57

 

ENGLAND GROUP GAMES….

Possession: 42.6%

Goals (For / Against): 5 / 3

Shots (On Target / Total ): 10 / 31 [32.25%]

Goals:Shot percentage: 16.1%

Total Passes: (Completed / Total): 929 / 1124

Percentage Completed: 82.65%

Final 1/3rd Passes (Completed / Total): 234 / 324 [72.22%]

Tackles (Successful / Total attempted): 45/62 [72.58%]

Blocks:17

Fouls (committed / suffered) 29 / 35

 

So as We know England have played all their games with less possession, reliant on being more clinical in front of Goal…

As such we’ve passed less and been more actively defensively…..

We have more Blocks than any other team….

England didn’t register ONE single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes against Ukraine!!!

The last time that happened to England in a European Championship game was in the 1-0 loss to Italy in 1980.

Lest hope history does not repeat itself!!!

 

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Paul - Sunday 19:38

As I suspected

All the pundits on the Beeb go for an England win. Hype, expectations, it’s all back.

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Ed - Sunday 19:25

The Stadium

The Olympic National Sports Complex in Kiev, Wikipedia tells us, was built in 1932, fully renovated for these championships and holds just over 70,000 spectators. We’re pretty sure the OLympics has never been held in Kiev though…

Olympic Stadium Kiev

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Ed - Sunday 19:17

The Dressing Rooms

The usual peek inside the dressing rooms…

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Paul - Sunday 19:16

The coverage

England’s “success” so far this tournament has been built on understatement and reduced expectation. Winning the group in fairly spawny fashion thanks to the collapse of France and a couple of fairly scrappy wins has turned Hodgson’s side into world beaters, according to the coverage. England are surely second favourites here – not insurmountable odds, but not as good as their opponents. You wouldn’t know it by watching the BBC though – Hansen’s speculating on a knighthood for Hodgson if he wins the thing. The fleeting glimpse of self awareness about the relative merits of our national team has vanished as soon as it arrived.

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Ed - Sunday 19:12

Tactics

Strictly speaking it’s 4-4-2 versus 4-4-2, but that’s where the similarity ends. Italy will play much, much narrower with Andrea Pirlo sitting deep and dictating play, and Ricardo Montolivio* pushing forward from midfield.

England will deploy the now very familiar ‘two banks of four™’ behind Wayne Rooney, who presumably will augment midfield, ahead of Danny Welbeck as the attacking pivot.

Each side’s style is very different too. This is a fairly conservative Italian side, but not a cattenacio Italian side. They pass the ball neatly from the back. As one observer put it this week: ‘Italy play with a rhythm’. England doesn’t need rhythm… for the most part Roy Hodgson’s side will look to pick up goals from set pieces, using when possible Welbeck to hold the ball, bringing Rooney and Young into open-play attacks where possible.

England’s problem though is keeping the ball and ensuring midfield is close enough to Welbeck to spring a counter. pr twp./

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Paul - Sunday 19:04

The Axis of Ashley

England’s left flank could be a source of some attacking joy for England. Italy’s best options on the ball come through the middle, and their midfield is very compact (which will make it super difficult for Parker and Gerard when England have the ball), but that does mean that Cole will be able to offer that dangerous overlap for our Ash. Young’s attacking effectiveness was neutralised against Ukraine because of his role in the bank of four, and no doubt that will happen again tonight, but perhaps Italy’s attacking narrowness will mean there are more options for him. Worth pointing out that Jim Milner on the other flank won’t be doing too much attacking, or at least, too much attacking which does any good.

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Jony Ball - Sunday 18:58

Line Ups

What do you think? no real surprises….

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Jony Ball - Sunday 18:51

Head-2-Head

Italy won the last meeting, at Elland Road in March 2002.

Robbie Fowler put England ahead before Vincenzo Montella netted twice.

Gianluigi Buffon is the only survivor from that game!

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Paul - Sunday 18:34

Wanting England to Win is Weird

By and large, all the arguments against wanting England to win, in spite of having been born here and that, make sense to me. Their “proper” fans are idiots. They’ve always treated United players poorly. John Terry.

But when England threaten their opponents goal, I want them to score. Not rationally, not because of some carefully thought out position where I have decided that it’s right to do so, it just happens. I think mostly I want England to win now, because I did in 1986, when I was 9, and they seemed so cool and exciting. They’re neither of those things now, but some of that sensation lingers, and at least they play Danny up front, so I can feel unconflicted about it when he scores.

Come on England. (sort of).

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Jony Ball - Sunday 17:46

Head-2-Head

The Azzurri have dominated these games in last 35yrs

They have lost just once against the Three Lions in 35 years (W6, D2, L1).

Their only loss in that time was a 2-0 reverse at Le Tournoi in Nantes in 1997, when Ian Wright and Paul Scholes got the goals.

History is not our Friend…….

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Jony Ball - Sunday 13:56

Italy v England : Head 2 Head

The 22 previous meetings have produced 9 wins for Italy, 7 for England and 6 draws.

Hodgson & Gerrard Ponder the Italian Job!?

Italy won the two previous meetings at major tournaments… Marco Tardelli got the only goal in Turin to give the hosts victory in a group game at the Euro’s in 1980

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Ed - Sunday 13:03

Hodgson

England coach Roy Hodgson is calling on the spirit of Denmark ’92 and Greece in ’04 as England head into the knock-out stages:

“You’ve got to believe you’ve got a chance. You’ve got to believe that if you can perform to the best of your ability, with a little bit of luck you can go all the way. We’ve got good examples from the past. If we look into our history books we see Denmark in ’92, we saw Greece in Portugal in 2004. I don’t know how the media was in Greece, but I know Denmark were written off because they only came into the competition at the very last minute. So we’ve got good precedents for us to believe ‘Why not us?’.

“But we’re also very realistic and we know that if we’re going to have a chance of getting through this game [against Italy], we’ve got to continue to perform at the level we’ve been performing at, lose nothing of the good things we’ve been doing, and keep working on the aspects of our game where improvements could be made.”

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Ed - Sunday 12:25

Preamble

Despite the hype this is unlikely to be a classic, with two sides more adept at defending than attacking. England, all shape and function, is likely to concede possession, as Hodgson’s side has in all three matches to date, ensuring at the same time that it remains fundamentally ‘hard to beat’. Italy, meanwhile, is a cautious side, if deploying none of the catennacio tactics of previous years. Indeed, the emphasis is surely on the Azzurri to force the issue in Kiev on Sunday night, with England keen to exploit the Italians’ lack of width and propensity to give away cheap free kicks.

The odds favour Italy, who should control possession in midfield, where Andrea Pirlo has been superb in the past fortnight dictating play from deep. Can Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard remain disciplined enough to cut off Pirlo’s oxygen? Can England retain enough possession to get on to the front foot? History suggests otherwise.

But if Italy do control the game’s tempo, then England will remain dangerous in set piece situations, and from wide areas, where Gerrard has already supplied three assists during Euro 2012. None of this will make for a classic match, but it should be a fascinating tactical battle.

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Comments

  1. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Ed said:
    Alf – ?

    United Rant Live… U.R.L.

    Sorry Mate…

    I have absolutely no idea why I felt the need to post that.

  2. Sidsidney says

    England have never beaten a top nation in the knock out stages of a tournament away from home

    We’re just not very good at football

  3. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    England have never beaten a top nation in the knock out stages of a tournament away from home

    We’re just not very good at football

    Yeah, but we’re hell at drinking.

  4. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Watching that lead in to the game… it’s true… England have actually had some brutal bad luck over the past 20 years, or so…

    Never mind the 66, “goal, or not”… that’s been cancelled out, many times over.

    COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. sheesh says

    Milner is the most pointless England player in the team. All he’s good at is giving the ball away. I really wish Hodgson would fuck the useless cunt off.
    We need to play the ball quicker and stop giving the ball away so much.
    I’d like to see Welbeck get into the game more. Our wide men need to provide some actual service. Young has done very little in terms of creating an attacking threat.
    In terms of worst players for England, Milner and Young have been shittest this tournament, although at least Young created that chance for Rooney against Ukraine that he should have buried.

  6. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    he’s been given the park job on pirlo

    they’re not even playing wingers and johnson still needs help

  7. Sidsidney says

    They were alright in the first half Sheesh, apart from the defence

    The attacking play is non existent second half though

  8. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Rooney has been Englands worst player… and England have played some good football.

    I take that back… Young has been worse.

    Gash…

  9. sheesh says

    sidney said:
    They were alright in the first half Sheesh, apart from the defence

    The attacking play is non existent second half though

    England had a decent 15 to 20 mins but Italy took over after that. England are hanging on. Painful to watch. De Rossi off at least.

  10. sheesh says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I take that back… Young has been worse.

    Gash…

    If we go out tonight, Young will be scapegoat. The media will rip him to pieces.

  11. Sidsidney says

    People older than me… Have you ever seen a worst 45 minutes from England?

    They just can’t keep the ball

  12. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    People older than me… Have you ever seen a worst 45 minutes from England?

    They just can’t keep the ball

    The problem with England, is they’re so fuckin impatient.

    The first 20 minutes, England played excellent football… that’s what they’re capable of… but then, when it doesn’t happen right away, and the Italians start passing it around, England lose their passing discipline, and try to force it… get the ball, and can’t wait to get it back up the pitch… fuck the slick passing, just lump it up there, and let’s get on with it…

  13. Sidsidney says

    I was wrong… Justice has been done
    Hanson’s comments were spot on, the gulf in class was embarrassing
    The English game is in a critical condition. We’re shit.
    There will be the inevitable debate about how to fix it, but will anything change?

  14. squigs says

    From an outside viewpoint I would look towards some positives.

    I think Hodgson is the right man, preparation was spot on, the players were organised well enough defensively and most of that team gave it their all. With players like Wilshire to come back and players like Walker coming through England will be able to play a more expansive attacking game in tournaments to come. This was a massive improvement in all depts to the disaster that was the World Cup and fans and the media should not forget this.

    Italy were good, Pirlo is an ace of a player. I could say he rolled back the years with that performance but he has been doing that for Juve all season and he was somehow a free transfer. That penalty took admirable bollocks. Italy gave Spain a great game in the group stage and I think them and Germany might be close enough.

  15. Sidsidney says

    Look at Pirlo running Parker in a circle… What a player

    Scholes could have done a similar job for England

  16. sheesh says

    Agree about Woy. Exceeded expectations with the little time he had with preparing the side. Made brave decisions in picking the squad.

    There are positives. We had a lot of character and played well in spells.

  17. sheesh says

    sidney said:
    Look at Pirlo running Parker in a circle… What a player

    Scholes could have done a similar job for England

    We would also have held the ball better with Carrick in the team but ultimately Italy had too much.

  18. sheesh says

    madredmonkey said:
    Embarrassing, this Italy side are not that good, but shamed us.

    This is the same Italian side that gave Spain a game so they’re not bad. Their midfield is outstanding. Their only real problem was up front.

  19. Sidsidney says

    Imagine if Italy left Pirlo at home and took Parker instead

    Shows you the difference in approach both nations have towards football

  20. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    sheesh said:
    This is the same Italian side that gave Spain a game so they’re not bad. Their midfield is outstanding. Their only real problem was up front.

    Spain had a poor game that day, Germany will chew them up and spit them out.

  21. Sidsidney says

    So what happens now… This team was only a temporary bodge in order to try and come up with a respectable finish.
    Is Hodgson going to get them passing the ball like most of our good players do for their clubs (United, Chelsea, City), and like the rest of the world have been doing for 5 or 6 years now (even North Korea knock it about at ease nowadays and they are virtually closed off from the world FFS. They matched Brazil at times during the last World Cup.)
    Or are we going to continue to celebrate lionheart cunts like Parker over gifted ball players like Carrick and Scholes who we left at home. Because if that mentality continues, and we continue to boo our players when they pass the ball between defence and midfield, then fuck all is going to change.
    This St Georges Park football centre has to yield technically able footballers who are encouraged to pass the ball. But it also has to change our approach to the game… And, well good luck with that.

  22. chocolatteballs says

    sheesh said:
    We would also have held the ball better with Carrick in the team but ultimately Italy had too much.

    Carrick is fine against Norwich and Bolton but unfortunately he can’t do it against the big European teams as he has shown countless times in the Cl.

    I know people compare him to Pirlo but its blasphemy and baseless.Pirlo is World class ,he drifts all over the pitch demanding the ball and controling it under pressure (like it’s stuck to his feet).

    Wilshire and Scholes for me are the only English players who have that class.

    Both badly needed against Italy tonight but in fairness the culture of Football in the Premier league of impatient get it forward quick dosn’t help.

    How Chelsea for eg won the Cl is baffling.

    No emphasis on ball control, improvisation or general tackling . But it’s the same in Ireland , Scotland Wales for eg. In general that is.

  23. squigs says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    since when does cole miss pens, he never misses

    Yeah was shocked, he has balls and can be relied on under pressure.

  24. han says

    tbf, the germans would have murdered england
    so all in all a better tournament than expected getting to the quarters but the failings and weaknesses were pretty well exposed last night

  25. says

    sidney said:
    Look at Pirlo running Parker in a circle… What a player

    Scholes could have done a similar job for England

    I didn’t think Parker was bad at all. The problem is that you have Gerrard and Milner who do the same thing. Three combative midfielders is shit. By the same token, three Pirlo’s would have been shit too (Arsenal). De Rossi, Balzaretti and Machisio were excellent – the showed the grit to get the ball back and keep it.

    Italians had 60% plus possession.

    Scholes would have been fucked after 30 mins. Scholes has not played like Pirlo did last night for at least four years. Also Scholes can’t do shit if he surrounded by
    people who can’t control the ball.

    Parker, Gezza and Milner can pass – Milner and Gezza are excellent passers but when it comes to close ball control and fending of the player to create space and a worthwhile pass – not some side shifting crap, they fail. they are just incapable. we just don;t have the players.

    Wilshere and Oxbridge are the closest things engurland have for a future that does not involved chasing shadowns. both can pass, both are very skilful in close control and both have bollocks.

    Wilshere, Oxbridge

  26. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Am I the only person in England who sees what the problem is?
    English football has a losers complex.
    They simply do not have the mentality to win the big games.
    And it’s the whole nations fault… we accept defeat, like it’s expected.
    Maybe it’s because I grew up in Canada, raised on American sports, and their “in your face” mentality, that I feel I see something, that to me is so obvious… Australians see it, so do the Germans… they take the piss out of England for it.
    Read the papers this morning, or the various forums,(like this one) and you see a nation that feels England were taught a footballing lesson by the better team… Bollocks!… this Italian team are ordinary at best, and I fully expect them to be put in their proper place by Germany… so how did they make England look so bad?
    They didn’t… England did that all by themselves.
    Now that it’s over, the press, the pundits, the population are all singing the same song… England just aren’t good enough, can’t pass the ball, can’t keep possession… again, this is all bullshit…. just because we DON’T do these things, doesn’t mean we can’t… so what’s the problem?
    For the first 20 minutes last night, England showed their real ability… we passed incisively, and played some very good attacking football… sure, it’s direct at times, but that’s OK… that’s the English game… it doesn’t have to be “tippy-tappy”, 20 passes to get the ball up the pitch… but it wasn’t the desperate, long punt up the pitch rubbish either… then it all turned to shit… and the press would have you believe that Italy took hold of the game, and England had no answer… bollocks!
    Before the game started… the entire BBC punditry bench was saying the same thing… don’t allow Pirlo to dictate the game! Everyone knew this… so, deal with Pirlo! Don’t allow him time and space… simple!
    He didn’t have to do a fuckin thing to find time and space… it was ridiculous… he literally walked around the pitch, and had all the time and space in the world to control the game… and after 20 minutes, England just stopped playing football… retreated into their shell and let him run the show… what was that all about?
    Italy played well… they should… they’re one of the great footballing nations… but this is not a very good Italian side, and if we’d done a proper job on Pirlo, they wouldn’t have created much at all.
    But anyway… this is all beside the point… now that it’s over… the whole nations attitude is very predictably defeatist… “”come back down to earth and acknowledge that we’re just not good enough”.
    Where’s the anger??? because that’s what Americans, Australians, Germans would be feeling now…
    They’d all be seething at the failure to deal with Pirlo… and how we stopped playing proper football after only 20 minutes.
    England just says, “well done lads, you tried your best”…
    Fuck off!… that was rubbish… England could have, and should have beaten this Italian team… but after 20 minutes, we completely stopped trying to win, and just resorted to hanging on in pathetic desperation… how does that mentality creep in?
    That’s where the inquest should start!

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  27. squigs says

    I don’t know, teams know England play 4-4-2 with wingers who don’t come inside. Italians just clog the middle and England can’t get wide men involved unless they come inside which they never do.

  28. DamnedUnited says

    The fact that there is no backlash is the surprising thing. Usually any exit for England from a major comp is treated like Brazil got knocked out in the group stage.

  29. says

    I don’t understand this shit that “there was great team spirit” “the fans were excellent” “we showed character”

    We got our arses handed out to us. We try hard but are crap.

    Yesterday, we ran out of gas after 60 mins partly because we chase the ball for most of the game but also because we are unfit.

    we just can’t handle the pace because we it comes to managing space and time, and position to get the ball back, we have no brains. our efficiency of movement is diabolical.

    barca, bayern, real, sporting batter teams because of economy and intelligent of movement on and off the ball, as well as supreme physical conditioning.

  30. Sidsidney says

    Better physical conditioning, aye. That’s supposed to be one of our strengths. But the Italians didn’t look knackered after 120 minutes. Pirlo didn’t tire at all.
    So that’s another one of the myths debunked; that they won’t be able to handle our physicality and our supreme fitness… along with the usual ‘they won’t be able to handle our pace & power’ bullshit.
    Remember this for next time.

  31. says

    sidney said:
    Better physical conditioning, aye. That’s supposed to be one of our strengths. But the Italians didn’t look knackered after 120 minutes. Pirlo didn’t tire at all.

    So that’s another one of the myths debunked; that they won’t be able to handle our physicality and our supreme fitness… along with the usual ‘they won’t be able to handle our pace & power’ bullshit.

    Remember this for next time.

    absolutely Sid.

    i am completely perplexed about this Wodgson and England squad wanking off on the basis that they had spirit, courage, character.

    now what does that exactly mean? can anyone put anything tangiable on that? in what way did this england squad have more spirit, courage and character then Bobby Robson’s, Capello’s, Hoddle’s or SGE’s squad? How did Gazza, Shearer, Sheringham, Waddle and Lineker show less courage?

    it’s the standard smokescreen behind which failure and delusion is covered up.

    until an England player is taught that football is as much about technique, artistry and physical conditioning, in addition to he-man power and guts, we will collectively fail as a nation, generation after generation.

    i actually feel honoured to see Italy last night. It was by far the best display of artistry and combative mix at an international level. for them to have sustained that level of performance is nothing short of phenomenal.

    i really have a lot of respect of them now.

  32. DamnedUnited says

    lol, Italy were crap, and I’m not even British. Pirlo should not have been afforded that much space. Even Fergie with the technical mastermind Phelan at his side could see that when United played Milan in 09/10.

    Admittedly, Rooney should have harried him more, but he looks tired/disinterested (good job with the penalty though, top class).

  33. Sidsidney says

    danniitronix said:
    absolutely Sid.
    i am completely perplexed about this Wodgson and England squad wanking off on the basis that they had spirit, courage, character.
    now what does that exactly mean? can anyone put anything tangiable on that? in what way did this england squad have more spirit, courage and character then Bobby Robson’s, Capello’s, Hoddle’s or SGE’s squad? How did Gazza, Shearer, Sheringham, Waddle and Lineker show less courage?
    it’s the standard smokescreen behind which failure and delusion is covered up.
    until an England player is taught that football is as much about technique, artistry and physical conditioning, in addition to he-man power and guts, we will collectively fail as a nation, generation after generation.
    i actually feel honoured to see Italy last night. It was by far the best display of artistry and combative mix at an international level. for them to have sustained that level of performance is nothing short of phenomenal.
    i really have a lot of respect of them now.

    “Spirit, courage, character” – Hodgson is just coming out with the usual post-match English rhetoric to satisfy a disappointed nation. If he came out and said “We’re shit now but we’re going to start passing the ball” I’d hit the roof with fucking joy.
    The push to create England players who appreciate “technique, artistry and physical conditioning” should get under way now. England has been embarrased by a gulf in class – again. Expectations are so low that now is the time to make radical changes. Hodgson was given the job because he’s a ‘hands on’ manager who gets involved in all aspects of the squad from training to the youth set up (unlike Redknapp), so presumably he’s going to be involved in the St George’s Park football centre that is designed to create players who are technically as good as anything on the continent, and who pass the ball.
    But these players have to be allowed to play, and that includes the FA, the manager and the fans. No more booing when they’re comfortably passing the ball between defence and midfielder because that kind of simple ball retention is what gives you control of a 90 minute knock out game. It’s how United, Chelsea, Arsenal, City beat teams every week.
    I don’t want to see us hog the ball like Spain. But I do want to see a generation of players who are allowed to express themselves, who can pass & move, play one touch, play from back to front quickly, sharply, or slow & methodically if they want – basically like United do.

  34. Sidsidney says

    Btw what the fuck was Hart doing grunting and roaring on the goal line during the penalty shoot out?

  35. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    “i actually feel honoured to see Italy last night. It was by far the best display of artistry and combative mix at an international level. for them to have sustained that level of performance is nothing short of phenomenal.”
    They were so good in fact, that they couldn’t score a goal in a 120 minutes… against easily the worst opposition left in the tournament.
    Italy would do well to count themselves lucky… they would have lost against any of the other teams.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  36. says

    sidney said:
    “Spirit, courage, character” – Hodgson is just coming out with the usual post-match English rhetoric to satisfy a disappointed nation. If he came out and said “We’re shit now but we’re going to start passing the ball” I’d hit the roof with fucking joy.

    The push to create England players who appreciate “technique, artistry and physical conditioning” should get under way now. England has been embarrased by a gulf in class – again. Expectations are so low that now is the time to make radical changes. Hodgson was given the job because he’s a ‘hands on’ manager who gets involved in all aspects of the squad from training to the youth set up (unlike Redknapp), so presumably he’s going to be involved in the St George’s Park football centre that is designed to create players who are technically as good as anything on the continent, and who pass the ball.

    But these players have to be allowed to play, and that includes the FA, the manager and the fans. No more booing when they’re comfortably passing the ball between defence and midfielder because that kind of simple ball retention is what gives you control of a 90 minute knock out game. It’s how United, Chelsea, Arsenal, City beat teams every week.

    I don’t want to see us hog the ball like Spain. But I do want to see a generation of players who are allowed to express themselves, who can pass & move, play one touch, play from back to front quickly, sharply, or slow & methodically if they want – basically like United do.

    sidney said:
    Btw what the fuck was Hart doing grunting and roaring on the goal line during the penalty shoot out?

    that was sad. he was supposed to do a grobbelar. ended up looking like a cunt.

  37. sheesh says

    Other nations are better technically than we are. This has all to do with the way players learn how to play as youngsters. We’re still getting used to the idea of teaching kids to be comfortable with the ball than cover as many acres of space as possible. We’re still getting used to the idea of using smaller pitches. The Germans and the Spaniards had this stuff figured out ages ago.
    That’s why expectations are so low in respect of the current batch of England players. We are moving towards the more technical side albeit relatively slowly. It is all very well bemoaning people accepting defeat but the Italian midfield is ahead of ours. I would have liked to have seen Scholes and Carrick picked but maybe Hodgson wanted to make a break with the past with Scholes. Carrick didn’t even want to come to be considered for selection.
    I thought we would be lucky to get out of the group so my expectations were surpassed.

  38. Sidsidney says

    sheesh said:
    Other nations are better technically than we are. This has all to do with the way players learn how to play as youngsters. We’re still getting used to the idea of teaching kids to be comfortable with the ball than cover as many acres of space as possible. We’re still getting used to the idea of using smaller pitches. The Germans and the Spaniards had this stuff figured out ages ago.

    Aye. We’re still turning people away for being too small… It beggars belief… 3 of the 4 best players in the world are small FFS. But beause it’s assumed they won’t be able to ‘hold their own’ in the Premier League, they’re dumped.
    In the era of the best club team that ever existed, that made its name passing and moving, what were the English doing? Hoofing it, and turning kids away for being too small. Embarrassing.
    My concern is that unless more Premier League teams start adapting their game to incorporate a style that is based around knocking the ball about on the deck, there won’t be a call for technically adept English players and talent will continue to be squandered like it is now, where young English kids spend too much time in the gym and not enough time with a football on the training pitch. Also, all too often English players are brought in for grit and strength, and it’s the foreign players who do all the skillful stuff. In an ideal world United wouldn’t be looking abroad for a skillful creative midfielder with bags of tricks to replace Scholes. We should be able to produce one ourselves.
    One plus is that clubs like United are allowed to work with kids for longer than 90 minutes a day. So long as they’re training the right thing we might see some results.

  39. Sidsidney says

    Rewatching the penalty shoot out… Pirlo’s penalty won it for Italy
    England were in the ascendency at that point, it was 2-1 England, Montolivo had missed, Rooney had scored, Hart was looking beasty… Then Pirlo steps up and takes the piss; total confidence, composure and skill, and from that moment the momentum swung back in Italy’s favour… England didn’t score after that
    And this bullshit about penalties being a “lottery” that English pundits bang on about… Are they fuck, they’re a skill. Practice them and you’ll score more. To say they’re based on luck is pure defeatism.
    Or you could just try getting your cock out to put the opposition off http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/england-fan-drops-his-pants-and-flashes-939669

  40. says

    sidney said:
    Aye. We’re still turning people away for being too small… It beggars belief… 3 of the 4 best players in the world are small FFS. But beause it’s assumed they won’t be able to ‘hold their own’ in the Premier League, they’re dumped.

    In the era of the best club team that ever existed, that made its name passing and moving, what were the English doing? Hoofing it, and turning kids away for being too small. Embarrassing.

    My concern is that unless more Premier League teams start adapting their game to incorporate a style that is based around knocking the ball about on the deck, there won’t be a call for technically adept English players and talent will continue to be squandered like it is now, where young English kids spend too much time in the gym and not enough time with a football on the training pitch. Also, all too often English players are brought in for grit and strength, and it’s the foreign players who do all the skillful stuff. In an ideal world United wouldn’t be looking abroad for a skillful creative midfielder with bags of tricks to replace Scholes. We should be able to produce one ourselves.

    One plus is that clubs like United are allowed to work with kids for longer than 90 minutes a day. So long as they’re training the right thing we might see some results.

    agree with both of you that it’s cultural. there is also a misconception that side passing and long passing makes a player “technical”. it doesn’t when you consider european players. it’s close control and being to control the ball for more than 3-4 seconds and then releasing it forward and positively.

    the difference between scholes and gerrard, veira, keane and robson is that scholes can do everything the box-to-box players can do but can control with a man on him – and distribute it positively.

    this is not to say that gerrard, keane, viera and robson have no technique. Gerrard has a fantastic passing range and shot, keane and viera had a fantastic command of space and launching a counter.

    xabi alonso is a brilliant example of the modern midfielder. he can do everything agains any team in any scenario. wonderful in close control, fantastically combative and suberb freekick and shot. basically a larger version of scholes in his prime.

    brooking said it right about five years ago (although has done fuck all about it) – that English players when they get the ball just want to pass it, i.e., shit their pants.

    gone are the days when you dribble with the ball to pass players, draw players in and win space elsewhere on the pitch, it’s just a slow painful laborious build-up with no consistent end-product, with the hope that a lump upfront can get a goal. watch how we play, we shuffle the ball across the pitch, play it down the wing and hope for a cross. fine once or twice but for a whole campaign? we simply don’t know how to play through the middle anymore.

    “Woy – let’s get behind them lads and get some crosses in”. Right.

  41. says

    sheesh said:
    Other nations are better technically than we are. This has all to do with the way players learn how to play as youngsters. We’re still getting used to the idea of teaching kids to be comfortable with the ball than cover as many acres of space as possible. We’re still getting used to the idea of using smaller pitches. The Germans and the Spaniards had this stuff figured out ages ago.

    That’s why expectations are so low in respect of the current batch of England players. We are moving towards the more technical side albeit relatively slowly. It is all very well bemoaning people accepting defeat but the Italian midfield is ahead of ours. I would have liked to have seen Scholes and Carrick picked but maybe Hodgson wanted to make a break with the past with Scholes. Carrick didn’t even want to come to be considered for selection.

    I thought we would be lucky to get out of the group so my expectations were surpassed.

    the thing is that we have been going backwards – Bobby Robson had Gazza, Beardsley, Barnes, Lineker and Waddle. We should be producing shit loads of players like these who could actually fucking keep the ball – and God forbid, dribble past someone without shitting it.

  42. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    This whole, “worship at the shrine of Spanish football”, is wearing very thin for me…

    I’ll admit that England are being left behind somewhat in the more technical aspects of the game… but this whole, “pass it about till the opposition falls asleep”, is doing the same thing for the game… boring the shit out of many people.

    Against the more gung-ho style, it works well, and at times makes the opposition look amateurish… and so everyone wets themselves and claims, “that’s the way the game should be played”.

    Bollocks.

    What would the game be like if two teams of equal ability, played that way?

    It would be a complete joke of a spectacle… no tackling, endless falling down and feigning injury, tippy-tappy around the half way line, back to the keeper-to the defender-to the midfield-to the defender, etc… occasionally the impressive 12 pass move that results in walking the ball into the net… but mostly, two sides so desperate to retain possession that they risk nothing with the ball… and when possession becomes the ultimate aim of the game, then coaching starts with eliminating anything that risks losing possession.

    Effective passing and control of the ball is obviously key to good football… and I would love to see more technical coaching brought into the English youth system… but if this Barcelona/Spanish style becomes the be-all and end-all of the game, then football will lose a lot more fans than it gains.

  43. sheesh says

    I have to admit that I’m getting a bit bored of the Spain/Barca style of football. It’s watchable when played at great pace and Barca move into the opposition box in a flash – but when all we’re seeing is passing for the sake of passing, it is pretty tedious.

    The Spain v France game was an utter abomination.

  44. Bill says

    That just about sums up the problem. It’s too boring for the general British public to sit and watch a slow build up, so they would start booing. No patience, no appreciation of a long term plan to develop a move or a philosophy just get the ball forward now or win now! For lots of things England want to dominate and bully in the quickest way possible. No class, no thought.

  45. says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    “i actually feel honoured to see Italy last night. It was by far the best display of artistry and combative mix at an international level. for them to have sustained that level of performance is nothing short of phenomenal.”

    They were so good in fact, that they couldn’t score a goal in a 120 minutes… against easily the worst opposition left in the tournament.
    Italy would do well to count themselves lucky… they would have lost against any of the other teams.

    How do you do it? You are brilliant at embarrassing yourself.

    You have proved once again that you know fuck all about football. If it’s not Mourinho, Mancini, Anderson, Glazers, I have to spank you for the stupid twat you are again.

    For the record that lucky team just battered Germany.

  46. Just1n says

    Italy in the final. Wonder what the geniuses in this thread who proclaimed that Italy are shit have had a change of heart.

  47. Just1n says

    danniitronix said:
    How do you do it? You are brilliant at embarrassing yourself.

    You have proved once again that you know fuck all about football. If it’s not Mourinho, Mancini, Anderson, Glazers, I have to spank you for the stupid twat you are again.

    For the record that lucky team just battered Germany.

    You alright mate? Italy showing there class. Not bad for a shit team…

  48. says

    Not bad J, in London today back in The Dam tmr, just love slapping Bonehead Alf around these pages.

    I bet Alf blames the Glazers for Germany being outplayed. Lol.

  49. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    danniitronix said:
    How do you do it? You are brilliant at embarrassing yourself.
    You have proved once again that you know fuck all about football. If it’s not Mourinho, Mancini, Anderson, Glazers, I have to spank you for the stupid twat you are again.
    For the record that lucky team just battered Germany.

    The whole world had Germany favourite to win the tournament… even Gianluca Vialli expected Italy to get spanked… but hey… what do they know… fuck all… Right?
    You really should be working for the telly, seen as how you know it all… but wait a minute… Sid was here a while back asking if he and Keane were the only ones who rated Italy… where were you then?
    Oh yeah that’s right… you’re the gutless one, who never sticks your neck out until after the results are in aren’t you… then you come out, full of piss and vinegar, spouting shit, and looking to pick fights…
    The day you can slap me down Mate will be the day, that you actually grow a proper set of balls and quit riding on the shoulders of your betters.
    Nope… can’t see it…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  50. sheesh says

    Gutted for the Germans, almost as much as I was for England. I can’t see a European side winning the World Cup in Brazil so I wonder if they will manage to win a tournament in 4 years time.

    Italy were incredible in defence in the second half, to be fair. Balotelli’s second goal was probably goal of the tournament for me. What a finish.

  51. Sidsidney says

    I told you Italy were good
    Carragher said its “50/50″ when comparing Italy’s squad and their style of football to ours… I wonder if he still thinks that

  52. says

    Well done Italy not one “CUNT” was driving through the streets honking there horns and waving flags last night and work today I just cant wait.

  53. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    After Italy’s relatively insipid display against England, I honestly thought they were gonna get their arses handed to them by a seemingly-far superior German side, but I must admit, after seeing this, I’m really glad the Germans lost!

  54. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    I’m still not convinced about Italy… the Germans looked a bit out of sorts… maybe going behind early threw their game into chaos… but that wasn’t a very good German performance… at least, not based on their previous games.

    Italys first goal was well worked, but their second was from a long punt, that really should have been dealt with.

    Then there’s Pirlo… again, why was he given so much freedom?… bloody hell… if Scholes was always given that much time and space, he could play till he’s 50.

    Typical Italian defending… but I still don’t see them as the best team in Europe, not by a long way.

  55. Sidsidney says

    Italy will play much the same way against Spain in the final. Spain will dominate possession, Italy will defend and look to hit them on the counter. If they convert a couple of half chances then they might just win the lot

  56. squigs says

    Balotelli showed why people persevere with him. Semi Final and he was unplayable, the second goal was incredible.

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