Euro 2012: Lowered expectations won’t help Hodgson’s England
Sharethematch.com looks at England's tag as underdogs for Euro 2012, and the turmoil in Cesare Prandelli's Italy camp
A vicious circle of expectation haunts England
If ever there was a vicious circle of hype, over-expectation and pressure then it surely is that which surrounds the England national team.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and the fact that it’s been openly acknowledged that this current England side, deprived of Wayne Rooney for the first couple of games, is average at best, has, by all accounts, lowered expectations of winning Euro 2012.
Manager Roy Hodgson is a pragmatist – humbly displayed on Friday when revealing he’d like to have Manchester United’s Michael Carrick at his disposal but simply didn’t feel it appropriate to approach him at this juncture.
And he has done well to keep this England team understated and outsiders for the European championship.
But somehow the fact that England are underdogs and more self-aware that they’re just not very good, has increased their chances of “slipping under the radar”.
England cannot now “slip under the radar” seeing as they are being hyped as a team that can do so – it’s a no-win situation and it will just lead to further disappointment.
Italy in turmoil – and that’s just the way they like it
Italy got comprehensively beaten in Zurich on Friday night and while Russia highlighted their potential as dark horses for Euro 2012, it’s hard to write off Cesare Prandelli’s side.
With a domestic league in turmoil amid match-fixing allegations, Prandelli has claimed he would have no issue if his side were forced to withdraw from the tournament.
Deprived of any decent strikers, he is forced to use combustable pair Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli up front – but Italy are the past-masters at arriving at a tournament in chaos and uniting to great effect.
When they won the World Cup in 2006, again Serie A was plagued by match-fixing problems – Italian football’s name was dirt, its reputation in tatters but that only serves to invigorate the Azzurri.
While England players care more about personal status, Italy, as always, are consumed by passion and nationalism at a major tournament.
Marco Tardelli’s celebration in 1982 is typical of the Azzurri at big competitions and who remembers Cassano scoring a 94th minute winner against Bulgaria in 2004, only to find out Sweden and Denmark had drawn 2-2?
Things are rarely quiet in the Italian camp, and when they are, it doesn’t suit them. Chaos could carry Italy all the way to the final.