Saturday 23rd June
Saturday 23rd June 2012
With Portugal and Germany safely navigating themselves to the semi finals, it is time for four of European football’s heavyweights to battle it out for a place in the last four and in contrasting styles. The France v Spain game promises to be an absolute classic, with both nations keen to play football the right way, while the England Italy game will be very much a game of chess on the field as both teams adopt their rather reserved way of playing. Roy Hodgson won’t mind one iota how England achieve success, just as long as they bring home the trophy.
Germany 4-2 Greece
Germany made it four wins on the spin Euro 2012 comfortably seeing off Greece to sail into the semi finals and set up a possible encounter with England.
Joachim Low's side maintained their 100% record in Poland and Ukraine producing a performance of imperious dominance, sweeping the unfortunate Greeks aside without mercy in the quarter final clash. It took 39 minutes for Germany to make the breakthrough when Phillipe Lahm fired in from 25-yards. Fernando Santo's men improved in the second half equalising through Georgios Samaras but Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus scored to put the game beyond doubt before Dimitris Salpingidis struck a late penalty as the Euro 2004 winners bowed out of the tournament.
Hodgson believes England have nothing to fear
Roy Hodgson believes that England have nothing to fear, as he prepares his team to face Italy in the Euros 2012 quarter final.
The England boss also believes that they certainly don’t go into Sunday’s game as underdogs and that the possibility of penalty shoot-outs is the last thing on Hodgson’s mind:
"Italy has been stable without actually tearing the tournament up. So we're not underdogs in any way. We have good-quality players who are recognised worldwide and, certainly, would get into a lot of the top European teams. I don't know Cesare Prandelli but he is entitled to look at our team and say: 'This won't be an easy game.' Certainly, we go into the game knowing we have good players. We're aware it's a tough task but I'd be surprised if any of our players feel inferior.
Hodgson doesn’t feel the game is likely to go to penalties and fully expects it to be decided within the 90mins:
“I don't anticipate the game going to a penalty shootout. I'm an optimist. I anticipate us winning the game in 90 minutes, so why should I concern myself with 120 minutes when we haven't even kicked the first ball yet? I think it's a negative thought and I don't really understand the obsession with it.”
Scott Parker holds no grudges
Scott Parker reveals that he holds no grudges towards Mario Balotelli, as the pair gets ready to face-off in tomorrow’s quarter final.
Balotelli was given a four game ban for stamping on Parker’s head at the Etihad Stadium last season; however Parker says whether the Italian meant to do it is neither here nor there and he has moved on from that incident:
“Whether Balotelli meant to do what he did or not, I don't know, he got punished for it and obviously has served his punishment so I am not holding any grudges.”
Parker is under no illusions that Balotelli poses a threat on the pitch, but believes he is one of many Italy players that England will have to work hard to stop:
“Of course, he's a threat, and we have all seen his quality.
“I can only really comment on his footballing ability. He is one of many in their team that we will have to take a tough line on.”
Buffon hails Joe Hart
Gianluigi Buffon has played Joe Hart the biggest compliment by suggesting that the Manchester City has the potential to be the best goalkeeper in the world.
The Italian goalkeeper, who remains the world’s most expensive goalies believes he has all the ingredients to be the top stopper of his time, providing he is able to maintain the level of consistency that all goalies require:
“Together with Manuel Neuer and Salvatore Sirigu, Hart can become the best in the world.”
“The difference between a normal keeper and a great goalkeeper is the attention to detail, to not commit mistakes during one season - the maximum number of mistakes a keeper can commit is two or three per season.”
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