Euro 2012: England are not underdogs, insists Roy Hodgson

England boss Roy Hodgson believes Italy have plenty to fear ahead of their Euro 2012 quarter-final showdown on Sunday

roy hodgson
Roy Hodgson's side made it out of Group D unbeaten PA Photos

roy hodgson

Roy Hodgson insists England are not underdogs going into their Euro 2012 quarter-final showdown with Italy on Sunday.

Hodgson’s men have already exceeded many peoples’ expectations in Poland and Ukraine by topping Group D with victories over Sweden and Ukraine after drawing with France.

And the England boss is convinced his side can cause problems for any opposition, including Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri outfit.

“We’re not underdogs in any way,” said Hodgson. “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 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.

“Italy have been stable without actually tearing the tournament up. Spain have had a few scares along the way. They certainly didn’t make life easy for themselves against Croatia and, if they are totally honest, will be thinking it could have gone the other way.”

Hodgson had less than a month to prepare his squad for the tournament after being announced as Fabio Capello’s successor in May.

But the former West Bromwich Albion boss says England have swiftly adapted to his coaching philosophy and his squad is now full of belief that they can go all the way in Poland and Ukraine.

“It’s been a fairly smooth process for us,” he continued. “Things were up in the air [before the tournament] because our preparation time was so short and we lost four senior players to injury, which added to the negativity.

“But we’ve put that to one side now and it’s more a positive than negative feeling. The thoughts are all positive now. We will be ready. We’ll go for the result. We believe we’re a good team and we’ll go out and play well. That’s the pure, simple thinking.”

Pre-match facts: England v Italy

• Italy took nine attempts to beat England for the first time, Fabio Capello scoring in a 2-0 home friendly victory in 1973. The Azzurri nevertheless hold a slight head-to-head advantage with a record of W9 D6 L7.

• Although the nations first played in 1933 they did not meet in a competitive fixture until 1978 World Cup qualifying, trading 2-0 home wins – but it was Italy who made it to Argentina. The Azzurri have won four of their six competitive meetings, England just one.

• England have posted four wins and one draw under Hodgson and are now looking to reach only their second European championship semi-final since 1968.

• The Azzurri were five games without a win before beating the Republic of Ireland last time out.

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