So my hopes of a few days ago of a Germany-England semi-final in Warsaw have partly come true. Germany smashed the Greeks out of sight on Friday night in a dose of attacking football which has made them the team to beat at the tournament. Forget the tortuous passing of the Spanish, which makes half of the world gape with open mouths and the other half reach for the remote control, the Germans have strength, skill, pace and determination. I’m just hoping if they do make it to the final it’s not the same as the semi two years ago, the Germans sitting back and watching as the Spanish outpass them. We may well see in a week’s time if the Germans have learnt anything from two years ago, I’m praying they have.
Tonight our attention is instead turned to the little matter of England versus Italy. On paper the most even teams facing each other in the quarter finals. Two teams who have not lit the tournament alight but have quietly gone about their business in getting the results they need.
Italy started impressively against the Spanish, played pretty poorly against the Croats and scraped through against the Irish without having to show their best form. They aren’t a team full of stars, and the one lauded player they have got, Balotelli, has been racially abused and not been at the height of his game. I’m intrigued to see how they play today but I don’t expect a particularly attacking performance.
England have done well considering the injuries which have played havoc with the midfield. The player that has been missing the most is Lampard, who connects defence and attack so well. This means we have had to rely on a lot of long balls, pacey wingers and the excellent dead ball delivery of Steven Gerrard. This has meant players such as Ashley Young have been complete bystanders. Still when we’ve needed to get a goal, we’ve got it and there’s an impressive desire about the team which might just get them through.
It’s been nice to be away from all the obsessive fretting and over-analysis which always accompanies the build-up to an important England game. I have been blissfully spared the interviews with mono-syllabic England players, idiotic celebrities like that fat one out of Gavin and Stacey and the special offers on Carling which Tesco insists on trying to sell us when England are on.
Stuff I’m not missing by being out here.
In an attempt to get back involved in the Euro2012 atmosphere here, tonight me and some friends are heading to the fanzone in Warsaw to cheer on the boys. It’ll no doubt be practically empty, the beer will taste like water but at least I’m spared Shearer’s analysis at half-time.
It’s difficult to predict this one. I’m going to go for a 1-0 win for England, Gerrard cross from a freekick, Rooney header and another Germany-England game, where we’ll most likely get slaughtered. But then we’re used to that.