England V Italy
By Dean Farley
Another penalty shoot-out dismay hovered over the heads of the England team as Roy Hodgson's men crashed out of the competition.
It seems that penalties are a curse for our national side. England have yet to win a penalty shoot-out on foreign soil ever, and have only won one shoot-out!
Overall, England's constant struggle to keep the ball ended up being their downfall. Throughout the tournament, England have not been able to keep the ball for long periods of time. In the second half of extra time against Italy, england managed 15 passes; that's one pass per minute. I'm afraid to say that simply is not good enough.
Yes, England defended well against Italy and in the tournament, but is that not because we had to? If we had kept the ball, we wouldn't have needed to defend as much. Honestly, I do not believe that Hodgson has the players to be able to go forward. Far too much expectation was put on Wayne Rooney's head. Sir Alex always plays down Rooney at club level, and it always works. The media and the management definitely got that one wrong.
Many chances cropped up during the game. Both England and Italy had chances to win the game during the 90 minutes. Headers from Rooney went wide and Glen Johnson had a golden chance to put England ahead. Johnson received the ball seven yards out, however, he could only fire a weak shot straight at Buffon.
I was very surprised at the amount of chances that cropped up during the game; it was like a club match. Them sort of chances rarely ever come about that often in international football.
England were made to be punished for their misses during the game, as penalties popped their head above the parapet.
After Ashley young and namesake Cole missed their penalties, Italy kept cool heads and fired themselves into the semi-finals where Germany await them.
Roy Hodgson has claimed that he knows that England have problems. Obviously, a lot of tweaking is needed before England can call themselves a top international team.
So, was it a success? At the start of the tournament, I would have took quarter-finals. Of course it would have been brilliant to get further, but England's quarter-final voodoo continues.
Many English men and women didn't expect England to get out of the group stages, never mind to top the group.
With increasingly good young talent coming through, international friendlies will not become vital. The old guard needs to be moved on, with the likes of Jack Wilshire being brought back in.
I would like to say a special mention to Steven Gerrard. Throughout the years, Gerrard has been vice captain, only wearing the armband when there was an injury or a shambolic inquest. In my opinion, Gerrard has totally proven to everyone that he fully deserves the captaincy. He has been superb. During the tournament, he has been England's best player. Gerrard has also stated that he his available as long as he is wanted, and I expect him to be wanted for a couple of years.
Of course, in two years comes the World Cup in Brazil. Maybe we will do well, maybe we won't. One thing is a certain, I can't wait until the World Cup comes around, as I will be one of the fans travelling over to South America to watch England.
I now look forward to getting back to club football with Newcastle, and writing match previews and reports for the 2012/2013 season!
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