Euro’12 in HC!! Post #4June 24th, 2012 by IT Director
Hola everybody! Here are our latest updates about the Euro Cup! In yesterday’s match against France, Spain triumphed 2-0. Surprisingly, it was a relatively one-sided match with Spain dominating possession while France struggled to establish themselves in the game. Spain’s Xabi Alonso bagged a brace with a brilliant header and a well taken spot kick.
Spanish manager Vincente del Bosque reverted to his controversial 4-6-0 formation with 6 midfielders with Cesc Fabregas playing in the place of Fernando Torres. France meanwhile started with two right backs, and with Mexes suspended, Laurent Koscielny replaced him at the centre of defence.
Spain started the match brightly and established their possession of the ball in the midfield under the brilliance of Xavi and Iniesta.
In the 19th minute, Spain’s Jordi Alba crossed in from the left flank and an unmarked Xabi Alonso raced towards the ball and dived to smash the ball past the goalkeeper with a downward header.
France did not recover and withered under the dominance of the Spanish who missed several good chances to score. Then in the 91th minute Xabi Alonso secured the victory with a spotkick which sent Hugo Lloris diving the wrong way after Pedro had been fouled in the box by Anthony Reveillere.
With this dominant victory in the quarter-final match, Spain sent a strong message to Portugal, whom they will face in the semi-final, that they still have that mastery of football that led them to victories in Euro’08 and the World Cup in 2010.
It has now come down to the 4th and last quarter final between England and Italy. The winner of this evenly matched contest between the Azurri and the Three Lions will face on-form Germany in the semi-finals. Moving on to the match analysis…
England secured top place in their group after gaining 7 points from three games .They put in good performances against France and Sweden but put in their last game against Ukraine they were unconvincing and were fortunate to have won that match 1-0. Under newly arrived manager Roy Hodgson, England has adopted a defensive 4-4-2 formation with two organised lines of defenders and the midfielders, with the forwards free to roam in front.
The heart of the England defence is led by John Terry and Joleon Lescott, with Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson at the flanks. Steven Gerrard, England’s talismanic skipper and Scott Parker are almost expected to start at the centre of the midfield having formed a solid partnership in their past three games. What is interesting would be who Hodgson would start with in the other two midfield positions. He has Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, James Milner, Theo Walcott and Ashley Young to choose from. James Milner has always been starting at the right but his performances have not been good and Hodgson may consider replacing him. In Theo Walcott he has a speedster who was a super substitute against Sweden scoring a goal and assisting another. Ashley Young is the favourite to start at the left flank as his deadly crosses can be devastating for the Italians. Alex Oxlade would most likely be a substitute later on in the game and he can inject some creativity into England’s offense.
England has a couple of attacking options in Welbeck, Rooney and Carroll. Rooney is an excellent finisher but his touch seemed to have deserted him in England’s game against Ukraine when he spurned a few good opportunities. However, it is still widely expected that Welbeck and Rooney would start for the match as they already have a strong striking partnership from playing together at Manchester United. Carroll would most likely come on as a substitute and with his powerful aerial presence, he would threaten from set pieces and crosses.
The England team:
Players To Watch: Steven Gerrard ( Joint top assister in the competition with three assists) Wayne Rooney ( One of the best strikers’ in the world, high chance conversion rate when on form) John Terry ( England’s defensive rock, who put in a superb performance against Ukraine)
Italy finished second in their group with one win and two draws. Their last performance against Ireland where they won 2-0 was average but they could have performed better. Prandelli used a 3-5-2 formation for the first two games and a 4-4-2 formation against Ireland.
Italy’s defence is a problem with their experienced central defender Giorgio Chiellini unable to play. He would be replaced by Leonardo Bonucci who is not as powerful as Chiellini in defence. He is joined in defence by Federico Balzaretti, Ignazio Abate and Andrea Barzagli.
In the midfield, Italy have a reliable defensive midfielder in Daniele De Rossi who has been performing very well in the Euros. He has been playing the roles of both a midfielder an defender shutting out attacks effectively, putting in an exceptional performance against Spain in the group stages. Thiago Motta is also a doubt. Motta had formed a good partnership with Pirlo in the midfield and they have created many chances together. His absence would therefore have a significant impact on the supply to the forwards. Lastly, Italy have a veteran midfield maestro in Andrea Pirlo who has 1 goal and 2 assists in the competition. Andrea Pirlo is expected to be at the heart of the Italian’s attack and his distribution of the ball is likely to cause the England defence problems. Andrea Pirlo is also a set pieces expert and can score goals and create chances from freekicks.
In attack they have Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale. Antonio Cassasno is expected to start as he has been dangerous upfront making most of the chances presented to him. He scored against Ireland in his last mach. Mario Balotelli at his best can be a world class poacher scoring goals from out of nowhere but at his worst he can be a liability and burden to the Italian team. He has a short fuse and has a penchant for getting sent off from matches. Whether or not Balotelli plays would be difficult decision for the Italian coach, Prandellli, to make. Italy also have a talented striker in Di Natale. Di Natale has a lots of finesse in his striking as can be seenby his goal against Spain. However the 34 year old does not have the stamina to sustain throughout an entire match. Therefore he would most likely be on the bench.
Players to watch: Andrea Pirlo (Italy’s playmaker and top performer at the Euros), Mario Balotelli ( world class talent who can ravage England’s defence if he keeps his cool and focuses on the game), Gianluigi Buffon ( The most experienced goal keeper at the Euros)
England is expected to play an organised game while Italy is likely to play a more neutral game and circulate the ball around the midfield while waiting for the forwards to get into good positions.Both sides are equally matched in terms of talent, and it will be a very close fight.
Match Prediction: 1-1 draw in regulation time with the match going down to the penalties, whereby England would banish the penalty demons of their past tournaments and win Italy.
Your ITDs cum Match Predictors
Suhas, Patrick and Leslie