By Jeremy Lim and Patrick Lim | Goal.com Singapore
The debate between England and Italy over who has mastered the modern game is one that has never really been settled. While the Italians has turned defense and their back four into an art form, the English have always been the soul of the game playing with fierce pride and passion.
As the two sides meet in quarterfinals, we take a look at some thrilling encounters between the nations’ domestic sides in the Champions League. Perhaps we might divine the result based on domestic performance!
Outcome 1: Comprehensive victory for either England or Italy
In 2007, AS Roma stepped into Old Trafford counting on a vital Champions League away-goal and got it, but what they were not counting on was an inspired Red Devils performances that bulged the back of the away side’s net seven times for a stunning 7-1 victory. Chalk one for the English.
Possible Repeat? Unlikely
Both teams have not been particularly prolific in front of goal, but Italy has displayed slightly more impetus in attack. Roy Hodgson’s defensive mentality could backfire if they allow Italy to dominate possession and create more chances. If they can capitalise, the Azzurri will stand to win by a landslide.
Outcome 2: Edge-of-seat thriller
A hard-fought battle will make for a smacking good match. England-Italy has all the makings of an encounter that flows back and forth, full of twists and turns.
This was most evident in Manchester United’s 3-2 first-leg quarterfinal win over AC Milan in 2007. Both teams were deadlocked at 2-2 until Wayne Rooney’s sucker-punch in the 90th minute. The Italians had the last laugh though, overturning the deficit to dispatch the Red Devils in the second leg en-route to the Final.
Possible Repeat? Likely
It will come down to the team who keeps their poise and makes fewer errors, particularly in midfield. Look for a tense midfield battle between De Rossi-Pirlo and Gerrard-Parker. Whoever scores the first goal holds the advantage.
However, Italy tended to fade after the 70th minute in their group games. If England is able to get a foothold and counterattack with pace late in the game, the odds will weigh heavily in their favour.
Outcome 3: Stalemate, Lottery of penalties
The lottery of a penalty shootout is the most haunting possibility, where even the dominant team in normal time could be punished for not making the breakthrough.
Mention Istanbul 2005, and the thought conjures up memories of the comeback of ages. Liverpool came from three goals down to force and win the penalty shootout, despite being outmatched in every department.
Possible Repeat? Very Likely
Roy Hodgson has built England around a solid backline, and Italy is simply Italy. With both sides placing emphasis on defense, there is a high chance in the game ending in a stalemate.
There is no clear favourite between England and Italy in a shootout. Both have terrible records from the penalty spot, exiting Euro 2008 under identical circumstances. The coolest head will be key to securing victory in an even matchup.
If the two nations’ domestic clashes are anything to go by, Monday’s game will be very close. Both sides have adopted a practical “defense-first” mentality, which makes a draw increasingly likely.
It will probably come down to whoever wins the midfield battle or gets their counterattacking game going first to decide the eventual victors. If not, there will always be the lottery of penalties.