Quarter Finals May Be The Best England Can Get


So England surprise surprise, have exited yet another major tournament on penalties. Where have we heard that before?

In truth though had the boys have scrapped through on penalties last night, it would have been an injustice for football. Yes England’s performance was spirited full of hard-work and commitment but did they really trouble Italy?

Aside from the chance that Glen Johnson had in the fifth minute did Gianlugi Buffon have to actually do anything other than make sure he didn’t doze off in the game. Nope, well aside from saving Ashley Cole’s penalty in the shoot-out.

England were easily second-best from the first whistle and this narrative kicked in straight away. From the kick-off Italy kept the ball for the first three minutes which during that time Daniele De Rossi spectacularly struck a left-footed volley onto the post from 30 yards.

But for poor finishing from the likes of Mario Balotelli who looked a threat throughout, De Rossi in the second when it seemed easier to miss and Ricardo Montolivio, England would have lost the game deservedly in normal time.

In a way it’s a shame that they didn’t. Whilst expectations going into the tournament were modest and would have been even had Fabio Capello stayed on, going out on penalties after yet another battling and spirited performance leaves an excuse for our defeat!

Our last two penalty shoot-out defeats have come after battling defeats where we have deservedly lost. Even before Wayne Rooney got sent-off against Portugal in the 2006 World Cup England didn’t create any real chances and so was the story last night.

So for once let’s not talk about a spirited performance. That’s the very least England should be doing. Let’s speak about not having a creative engine in midfield and about why the likes of Ashley Young and James Milner had poor tournaments because the reason is they were not given the support needed or time on the ball where they can hurt teams to England’s advantage.

In football it’s great to dream. But unless England get another so-called ‘golden-generation’ of players the quarter-finals are probably the best we can get. However that shouldn’t be the aim though. We have to play more adventurously in knock-out games and at least play to our strengths instead of trying to stop the opposition playing.

By Adam Dennehey

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