England vs Italy much more than Mario vs Rooney
Rivals back in the English Premier League, Wayne Rooney and Mario Balotelli clash against each other as England face Italy in the last Euro 2012 quarter-finals match played at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. Two prolific strikers, known for their hot temper on and off the field, have grabbed all the attention prior to the thrilling encounter between the Three Lions and the Azzurri. The Manchester United ace, Rooney, however, admitted he is a changed man after being sidelined in the first two matches of England's Euro 2012 campaign due to suspension.
Having scored a stunning goal in the 2-0 victory over the Irish, 'Super Mario' will be itching to score against his Manchester City team-mate Joleon Lescott and stopper Joe Hart. But an England-Italy clash cannot be reduced to a Rooney-Balotelli face-off given the stream of stars filled in both squads. Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo, veterans in their respective clubs and country have been some of the most impressive players in creating goal-scoring opportunities.
The England and Liverpool skipper delivers inch-perfect crosses while the Italian ace splits the defence with his amazing through passes. Meanwhile, both teams with rich footballing history have similar tactics and approach to the game. Long diagonal balls are key while defending to the core is the common tactic witnessed in their games. The Azzurri are known for their organised and structural defensive back-line have conceded two goals against the reigning champions Spain and underdogs Croatia.
But Cesar Prandelli's side fancy a wealth of attacking options with Antonio Cassano, Antonio Di Natale and Balotelli, each scoring one goal apiece. With the never-ending presence of Italian managers in the Premier League, English players have been accustomed to their style. The Three lions have also followed the Italians style under new manager Roy Hodgson, thanks to his stint with Inter Milan and Udinese in Italy's top-division Serie A and former manager Fabio Capello.
In terms of history, Italy have never lost to England in a competitive fixture, but a lot has changed over the years. Hodgson's playing XI are a blend of youth and experience while Prandelli's men are well-experienced and clinical in their approach. Both teams will aim or a place in the last-four to face an unbeaten German side as England look to reach their third semi-final following third places in 1968 and 1996 at home while Italy would reach the semis for the fourth time after winning the title in 1968, fourth place in 1980 and runners-up in 2000.