This is the toughest quarterfinal to predict of all of them, because there is no clear favorite in this one. It’s been easy to just take the chalk pick so far, but there’s nothing chalk about these two teams. On any given day, both are capable of knocking off the likes of Brazil or Spain, but they also can shrink on the big stage. Which teams will we see tomorrow.
How England can Win: Despite coming in with little to no expectations for their past standards, the Brits took care of business in their group. They started off with a tie to France, then beat Sweden and the Ukraine, the former match won without their star Wayne Rooney, who scored the pivotal goal against the Ukrain. Obviously Rooney will have to have a big game, but Steven Gerrard seems to me to be the key guy. gerrard has notched three assists in three games, meaning that the offense is running through him. He will have to keep making good decisions to keep his team in control and out front. Also, the English defense has the tendency to give up goals in big games. If the Italians put two on the board, they will be tough to beat.
How Italy can Win: Just like England, Italy has spread their scoring around evenly, with no one on the team notching multiple goals. This is both good and bad for Italy. They have a good amount of weapons out there, and the English defense will need eyes on the back of their head. However, if Italy needs a clutch goal at the end of the game, or a critical PK to be taken, who do they look for? Daniele De Rossi is one of their top veterans, but he has yet to find the net so far this tournament. And what do you do with the head case that is Mario Balotelli. Against Ireland, he notched a brilliant goal in the 90th minute to send his team through to the next round, but he made a gesture during his celebration that his teammates stopped. Will we see Super Mario against England, or will he fall flat on his face once again.
Our Prediction: This one is really hard for me. I’ve been going back and forth on it literally as I’ve been typing this preview up. I’d be shocked if this game wasn’t decided by a goal. It has extra time written all over it, and if it went to PK, a Buffon vs. Hart goalie matchup would be pretty sick. I think that Italy has the slightly better team overall, but Wayne Rooney will be the best player on the field. I think he’s ready to notch another big goal for his home country, and England wins 2-1 in extra time.
Who do you think will win? Let us know in the comments!