It comes with a heavy heart that we bring you our final instalment of ‘England at the Euros’. It was very much a case of ‘Same Old England’ as the three lions once again crashed out on penalties to a far superior Italian side. We’ll keep this brief as the hollow feeling of another two years trophy-less is still very much on our minds.
England 0 - 0 Italy
(Italy win 4-2 on penalties)
After a positive start to the match that had many claiming “We haven’t look this good in years” it all went a bit pear shaped. Glen Johnson, having one of his better games from the tournament, scooped a shot into the arms of the grateful Buffon early on but it would be the only stand out attempt in an otherwise defensive shut-out.
It was definitely all the defensive cliches rolled into one - Backs against the wall / Park the bus etc. but in truth the Italians, spearheaded by Balotelli up front, absolutely battered us from the 40th minute right the way up to the 120th minute. After missing a slew of chances you just felt that this might be one of those nights, one of those nights where the luck is with us and England sheepishly roll through to the semi-finals.
When the final whistle went and penalties was to be the deciding factor i don’t think we as a nation have ever been as excited to settle it through penalties. Despite some interesting faces from Joe Hart to try and falter the Italians it was the two Ashleys in England that fluffed their lines and sent the Italians through.
Its usually a case of England head out the competition amidst some incident or event that we can all look back on and complain about but the truth of the matter this time was that we where simply outplayed and outclassed - specifically by a 33 year old named Andrea Pirlo. It was still tough to take given the somewhat confidence that was flowing through this new look England set-up. Even so, it’s time for Roy to re-group and start getting some young blood ready for Brazil 2014, which we’ll probably win with ease right?
Key Man : John Terry - Love him or hate him but when he puts his body on the line to defend for his country you can’t help but admire him. Made a number of important tackles and interception to keep the game goalless.
Weak Link : Wayne Rooney - Maybe a controversial choice but you can’t help but feel that his fitness let him down here, there was a severe lack of closing down from the front two which allowed Italy to build from the back in their own time. His touch was weak and he gave away possession countless times - Took his penalty well though.
Well that’s it, we’re done. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed writing it. See you in 2014.