Betting Spy: England expects but Italy too strong

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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Sunday is when things get serious for England as Italy stand in the way of a semi-final place.

So will Wayne Rooney and his bizarre new fringe lead us to glory?

Or will Italian technique and tournament know-how see more quarter final heartache for Roy Hodgson’s boys?

This is where things get tricky as my betting head says lump on Italy, while my heart, and every other bit of me, hopes for an England win.

Paddy Power have priced up Italy as slight favourites at 17/10 for the win – and that could be good value if England don’t improve.

We have done nothing wrong so far in the tournament.

But we haven’t done much right with the comedy-of-errors against Sweden compounded by a very ordinary display against an average Ukraine side.

The first half of the Ukraine game was stunning due to our inability to keep the ball or create a single chance against a side who were hardly world-beaters.

It’s lazy journalism to dismiss Hodgson as a defensive coach. But hey, you can’t beat a bit of lazy journalism, so let’s just say that Roy is not the most expansive of managers.

In a bizarre role reversal he will set England up like an 80s-style Italian team in a bid to thwart attacks with two banks of four behind the ball.

The hope will be using our pace on the counter attack to grab a goal and then defend for our lives.

I fear the Italians will have a bit too much for that to work and in Andrea Pirlo have a man who can unlock our defence.

The Juventus midfielder is a class act and will use the space in front of England’s defensive banks to hurt us if we drop too deep.

The Italians are also very dangerous from set pieces and our defence cannot afford marking as slack as that against Sweden.

Mario Balotelli is also a worry and it wouldn’t shock me to see the unpredictable Man City striker put in a performance.

At the other end, we have the pace to worry Italy if we can get in behind their full-backs.

Rooney looked rusty, and i don’t just mean his weird hair colour, against Ukraine but should come on for that and be a threat.

I can see both sides scoring in this one but I fear Italy will come out on top 3-1.

Saturday night sees a potentially great game between France and Spain.

The Spanish are my outright tip and I’m confident they’ll brush the French aside by actually playing with a striker for 90 minutes this time.

The French have been fairly average so far and I like the look of Spain winning at half time and full time at 15/8.

I’ll be back next week with a preview of the final and let’s hope my head was wrong and somehow Hodgson’s men have made it all the way.

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Running Total for all 2012 bets to a £10 stake:   +£144.50

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