Predictably the first 0-0 draw of the entire tournament was played out by the 2 most defensive sides in Europe. Italy and England failed to score in 120 minutes and their fate was decided by the dreaded penalty shoot out. Whilst high hopes were there and the team reported to have been practising penalties in training all tournament, the 'flip of a coin' penalty shoot out ended what many have reported as a 'successful' 2012 Euro campaign by the England camp. Last night was a victory for football, as while goals win matches, aside from the first 20 minutes or so, England simply failed to create any chances, notably due to the severe lack of possession of the ball. The Italians could not however find their way past what was in fact a very good display of 'last ditch' tackles by the England rearguard.
On reflection however, England may consider themselves lucky to receive sympathetic applause from football pundits by the manner of their exit, as opposed to what was surely going to be a drubbing at the hands of the old enemy, Germany. A score line that somewhat flattered Greece, managing to squeeze 2 past the Germans, however a dominant display was merely a formality and 4 goals in the quarter final, albeit against a poor 'punching above their weight' Greek side. As predicted, the Germans were not so generous on the pitch to the Greeks as they have been of late with the Euro bail outs!
So, Italy take on Germany on Wednesday night in the second semi-final and after 120 minutes and 2 days less recovery time, the Germans, as if they needed it, have a significant advantage over what will surely be a tired Italian side. As for the other semi final, Spain take on their neighbours Portugal, following a 2-0 Victory to France and 1-0 victory against the Czech Republic respectively. In Ronaldo they trust and on this occasion he delivered, scoring the only goal of the game after a dominant display, despite hitting the wood work a number of times. Spain are yet to set the tournament alight with the football that we expect from them, however brushing aside France in the manner they did when 'off colour' sends worrying signs to the rest. The question is, now we are at the business end of the tournament, can they up their game, as against Portugal and Ronaldo, boy they will need to.
So, another story of heartbreak for England at a major tournament and I can't help but think that lack of adventure, fitness and at the end of the day quality flattered a spot in the quarter final!