Italy (4) 0-0 (2) England
Let the recriminations begin; England are out of the Euros in the quarterfinals after losing in a penalty shootout. Let’s take a look back, shall we?
1990. World Cup. Semifinal. Germany.
1996. Euro. Quarterfinal. Spain.
1998. World Cup. Round Of 16. Argentina
2004. Euro. Quarterfinal. Portugal.
2006. World Cup. Quarterfinal. Portugal.
That is five losses on penalty shootouts at major international tournaments in 22 years. No wins. Was there ever any doubt?
Make it 6 in 22.
Even though this match went to penalties, Italy were clearly the top team on the pitch, absolutely battering the English. Italy put in 35 shots, England nine. Italy had 64% of possession to England’s 36%. Andrea Pirlo ran the show in a world class performance, England couldn’t muster an ounce of creativity. Absolutely dire stuff; the word of football has left the inventors of the game behind, and like the creaking old boys who sit in oak-paneled rooms and run the English FA as if it were a 19th century aristocratic social club, there are no indications that England are en route to the revolution they so desperately require. I mean, the hopes of the nation are riding on Jack Wilshire to overcome injury and disappointment and provide some sort of creative spark to get this team moving in the right direction. That cannot be good.
I believe the children are our future/ teach them well and — oh, be quiet already…
In my opinion, though, what they really need is an overhaul of the English youth system, which sees technically poor players with pace and power rise to prominence to suit the Premier League, a league whose top players are, for the most part, from other countries (Aguero, Silva, Van Persie, Modric, Bale, Drogba* all spring to mind from this past season). This team going out on penalties was both inevitable and flattering.
For all of England’s problems, hey, look at Italy! Pirlo is rivaling Iniesta for the player of the Tournament; he has taken this team on his
aged shoulders and carried them to the semifinal. And while they struggled in front of goal in this match, their prowess in defense continues to grow and grow; they are going to be tough to break down now. I am not sure if I fancy them against Germany, but Germany are far from clinical and have been leaking shit goals, so I think they have a real fighting chance. My main worry for Italy in the semifinal is how they will stop Özil and Khedira, who have been fantastic so far. Still, with Gomez running hot and cold and with Balotelli and Cassano getting into dangerous positions, they could just do it. Maybe.
*Yes, I know. He’s off to China.