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England V Italy Euro 2012 QF Preview.

K Updated
Steven Gerrard Finds Form for England.

Lady Luck shines her light on England.

A repeat performance of last night's display against Ukraine in the upcoming Quarter final against Italy will see England unceremoniously dumped out of the competition and packing their bags for the flight home on Monday morning.

Don't be fooled by the result. This was one of England's worst performances and ranks up there with the group games at the last world cup. They stank the place out.

Ukraine played a neat and tidy passing game finding blue shirts in space time after time whereas England played a neat and tidy passing game finding blue shirts in space again and again.

During one particularly wretched passage of play England gave the ball away four times in quick succession with simple passes failing to find their target. England gave the ball away more times than all of the other teams in the tournament combined.

Well that may have been an exaggeration but it was excruciating viewing with only a minor improvement in the second half to alleviate the pervading depression.

England are mediocre at best and the inclusion of Milner instead of Walcott underlines Roy Hodgson's defensive way of playing – but it is definitely not pretty to watch.

Now you can see why Liverpool fans revolted at his style of football and forced him out. It is ugly football built on defensive heroics.

There are several glimmers of hope for England fans but if you haven't bet on England to win when I tipped them along with Portugal before the tournament started then don't get your wallet out now.

Firstly Steven Gerrard had one of his finest games in a white shirt. His long ball distribution was crucial to relieving defensive pressure and if Ashley Young had brought his A game things could have shaped up much differently.

Oxade Chamberlain should start for England on the left with Walcott on the right against Italy but it will be Young and Milner who keep their places in Roy's cautious England approach.

This is no time to sit back and let the workers bear the brunt.

Release the Lions! Give the Italians some serious pace to cope with on the wings and let Gerrard rake the ball out to them.

Going out timidly now would be worse than going out trying to take the game to the defensive minded Italians.

Joe Hart, Terry and Lescott were superb in the heart of the defence and the indefatigable Scott Parker cleaned up and distributed well. Johnson misplaced too many passes. Cole was effective but not dynamic.

Wellbeck, Rooney, Milner and Young were the weak links with some atrocious passing and failure to distribute. Rooney can be excused on the grounds of ring rust but he won't have that luxury in the next game.

Carroll will be much more of a threat to the Italians than Wellbeck and England should play to their strengths. Trying to play passing football is clearly beyond them and Portugal should be the team that England try to emulate playing fast counter attacking football.

If England continue to give the ball away as cheaply as they did last night against Italy then they will find no amount of last ditch heroics will stop the Italians from scoring. They have far too much quality for that.

All that said this Italy team is bereft of pace and injury ridden. Their persistence with Mario Balotelli is likely to bite them in the ass as playing the sulky wayward striker is gambling that you are going to finish the game with eleven men.

The bookies have these teams very evenly priced and so there is no value to be found here but putting a small bet on Steven Gerrard to score first will give you 14/1 at Ladbrokes. Given the rich seam of form he is mining it is definitely worth a shot.

Steven Gerrard to score first will give you 14/1 at Ladbrokes

England v Italy Free Bet Offer with bet365

bet365 has a fantastic free bet offer to add to the excitement as England take on Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Place a pre-match bet on this thrilling quarter-final on Sunday 24th June and you will receive a free In-Play bet to the same stake on the big match.

To qualify for your free In-Play bet, simply place a bet before kick-off, then once the game starts place another bet on any In-Play market. If your FIRST In-Play bet loses bet365 will refund this stake, up to the same value as your largest pre-match bet.

As always, there'll be plenty to choose from with over 70 In-Play markets available throughout the game including Next Goal, Match Goals, Total Corners, Half-Time Result, Full-Time Result and much more.

With an extensive range of pre-match and In-Play markets and a fantastic free bet offer, bet365 is the number one place for all your Soccer betting during Euro 2012.

Click here to open an account with Bet365 but before you do why not read my bet365 review?


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