This was always going to be a looooong week. Ever since it was known that Italy would face England in the quarter finals of Euro 2012, Azzurri supporters have known exactly what to expect. An alien from the planet Tharg could be forgiven for thinking that 46 years since their one and only world or European title, the English might have gotten over themselves just a teensy weensy bit. Everyone else in the human race, however, knows that they simply never learn. It looked hopeful at the start of the tournament. They came in having suffered significant upheaval in their squad and most pundits thought them a weak outfit, even for them.
But then, after having missed countless golden opportunities to score against Ukraine, Wayne Rooney all but threw himself into the goal to nod home a cross that had passed through several inept defensive blunders and would have been infinitely harder to miss than score. Ukraine had a goal disallowed that had crossed the line. Thus, England qualified for the quarter finals. Needless to say this outfit has now been hailed by the English fans and press as the greatest thing since the Harlem Globetrotters, and it appears nothing can stand in the way of their date with destiny against the old foe in the semi-finals.
Pssssssst! Ingerland! One slight hurdle to clear first…
In all seriousness though, what is it really about about England’s form to date that gives people the confidence to make some of the statements like those found in this article?
“They still have some really good players but they have no-one to really frighten England, apart from Mario Balotelli.”
Oh turn it up! Truth be told the fact he plays for an English Club is the only reason they know who Balotelli is and he’s probably the only Italian player they’ve heard of.
“England can close [Pirlo] down and it is almost his nightmare scenario to be up against Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker, who are going to be on his case the whole time.”
Stevie ‘8th in the league’ G and Scott who? The stuff of nightmares for a World Cup winner? Really? Of all the confounded arrogance…
This all brings back awful repressed memories for me, not just as a football fan, but also as a New Zealander. Being a British colony, we have inherited this irritating trait from the mother country of celebrating trophy wins before we’ve even arrived at the tournament. We do it with the All Blacks before every Rugby World Cup and it’s been holding us back since 1987. Ah, but they broke the hoodoo last year you say? Well, yes but they made bloody hard work of it and they were incredibly fortunate to get past France by eight points to seven in the final. This result bore no resemblance to any of the pre match predictions. Watch the video attached to this article, it’s spookily similar to 90% of the drivel being spouted by England fans on my Twitter feed right now, and it wasn’t just bozos on the street, it was so-called experts such as blog pundits and major television networks too.
It’s kind of like the scene in the Peanuts cartoon where Lucy holds the Gridiron ball for Charlie Brown to kick but pulls it away at the last minute every time. New Zealand lost to France in the 1999 Rugby World Cup semi-finals after the pundits gave the French no chance, and again in the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals after the pundits gave the French no chance. Still we wrote them off again and got away with it by a margin of the width of one ant’s proverbial male genital organ.
Likewise with the English football team. They think they are the best in the world, yet they simply can’t do it in the big tournaments. Their abject failures are too numerous to list, yet here the English press go again with their premature hack elation.
Not only are they opening themselves up to the possibility of more egg on their faces than I could throw at Nick Clegg, but they are piling unnecessary pressure on themselves and motivating the opposition so well that Cesere Prendelli might as well sleep in on the morning of the game – his work has all been done for him.
Oh, and one more thing. There’s one other elephant in the room that must be mentioned. I do hope we are going to have a clean game without any cheating… As we all know, one of the two teams in Monday morning’s quarter final is notorious for containing unscrupulous individuals who are famous for diving more often than Captain Nemo. The other is Italy. Leave it out, will ya?
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.