England will attempt to reach the last-four of a major tournament for the first time in 16 years as they face Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter-final tonight.
The burgeoning confidence within Roy Hodgson’s youthful squad is tempered by the knowledge that England have rarely progressed beyond the last-eight of major tournaments, with three quarter-final exits in the past 10 years. But after winning Group D ahead of highly rated France and extending their unbeaten run to five games under Hodgson, England head into tonight’s game in Kiev with a mounting sense of belief that they can prolong their stay in the tournament.
“If we can go about the job in the way we’re doing at the moment, we’ll make a game of it and who knows what will happen,” said Hodgson. “It will be another even encounter, another game that will swing either way.”
Five on caution for England
A potential headache for Hodgson is that no fewer than five key players are walking a disciplinary tightrope heading into the match. Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Ashley Young, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all just one booking away from missing a potential semi-final against Germany.
Prandelli vary of English threat
Meanwhile, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has been forced to reshuffle his defence following the injury to rugged centre-back Giorgio Chiellini, who is likely to be replaced by Leonardo Bonucci.
Prandelli is wary of an England side which he believes have found the ‘right equilibrium’ while maintaining the Azzurri have nothing to fear.
“We all know the English character, they never hold anything back but they also have some good creative players,” said Prandelli.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.
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