Unfair dismissal?

Less than objective Euro 2012 coverage by Lee Hugh McGowan

QTR final 4

England 0 – 0 Italy (Italy 4-2 on penalties)

The score puts off those whose sympathies lie with other codes, but this was a compelling viewing for football fans. A game of skill and wits matched, of expectations met and, in the penalty shoot-out, a dramatic conclusion. The Italians almost passed England off the park; England for their part gave very little away.

It was a culmination of everything Roy Hodgson has brought to his England side. Resilience, robust defensiveness and making the most of limited resources. It’s dull, but it’s effective. Liverpool fans will wonder where it was during his disastrous tenure. The EPL might be the biggest, brightest league in the world but, apart from some obvious exceptions, local talent is being stifled. The same thing happened in Scotland in the 90s and look where we are as a result. During Bertie’s stint we dropped as low as 154 in the World rankings. This joke headlined a national paper – what’s the difference between Scotland and Burkina Faso? One’s a football waste land, the other is a small country in Central Africa. The influx of talented imports made it spectacular, while it lasted. It’s taking a long time to recover. It’s already cost Rangers supporters their club. I can’t help wondering if the same thing is happening all over again.

Back to this morning’s game…this is England’s fifth exit from six tournaments on a penalty shoot out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the FA mount a campaign to abolish them, the way they fought for goal line technology, all the while instituting the penalty kick as part of the national school curriculum. Yes, it’s a hideous and cruel way to lose a game, but it’s football; the ball is round. If you don’t take your chances this is what you get. If you let less than ready players take penalties this is what you get.

Italy always looked the stronger. Despite Scott Parker’s honest and industrious shift, ably assisted by Montolivo, Pirlo majestically bossed the game from the middle of the park. In Ballotelli and the sparkling Diamanti (apologies, couldn’t resist), Italy have a useful strike force, but a slow-footed Terry and his peers blunted their teeth. I have no doubt the German’s will do the same.

Thursday Morning?: Spain will beat Portugal

Friday Morning?: Germany will do the same to Italy

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    Love your pithy insightful summaries, Lee.
    But those tips?? The last time I heard such certainty from you was Russia over the Greeks, and Poland over the Czechs.
    Hmmm. Think I’ll hang on to the rent money. I hear that the ball is round.
    Can you do anything about those 3am starts in WA??
    Cheers.

  2. Hah!
    Yer right Peter B. My predictions have been rubbish.
    I’ve never won money from a bookmaker and you’ve seen why.
    Thanks for reading!

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