Euro 2012 daily: Monday 25 June
Steven Gerrard to remain as England captain, while Cesare Prandelli hails Andrea Pirlo’s star quality; Spain’s Cesc Fabregas says his side’s semi-final clash with Portugal will be equivalent to an ‘El Clasico’
• Steven Gerrard has expressed his desire to remain as England captain, and confirmed he has no plans to retire from international football. Asked how he felt about the captaincy, Gerrard said: “I’ve loved it, I’ve loved the responsibility and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve had a brief chat with the manager, I’m available as long as I’m wanted at this level. The manager has told me he wants me to continue and carry on.” The Liverpool midfielder had earlier admitted his heartbreak at seeing England exit another tournament on penalties. England lost their quarter-final shoot-out to Italy after neither team was able to break the deadlock in normal and extra time. After losing his third shoot-out in a major tournament, Gerrard said: “This time in the penalty shoot-out we thought we might have a bit of luck we needed but it wasn’t meant to be.” (Guardian)
• Cesare Prandelli hailed the contribution of Andrea Pirlo and called him “a star” as the Juventus midfielder played a key role in securing Italy a semi-final berth against Germany at the expense of England. Prandelli also praised the 33-year-old’s cheeky penalty, a gentle chip despatched straight down the middle. “When Andrea Pirlo stepped up I was very calm - he’s a star and knew what he needed to do; and he did it.” (Guardian)
• Germany’s preparations for their semi-final against Italy on Thursday are being disrupted by concerns of a ‘mole’ in the camp who has been leaking tactical information. Joachim Low’s plan to rest Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Lukasz Podolski was in the public domain hours before kick-off against Greece in the quarter-finals, where Germany ran out 4-2 winners. (The Sun)
• Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas has called his side’s semi-final clash with Portugal as the international equivalent of the Spanish El Clasico. Explaining the comparison, Fabregas said: “Portugal is one of the strongest teams. They defend well and are lethal on the counter. They’re similar to Real Madrid and we must be on top of our game.” (The Sun)
• Spain manager Vicente del Bosque praised his side’s defensive display against France in the quarter-finals after despatching the French in a 2-0 victory. “The truth is we did well and controlled the game”, the former Real Madrid manager said. “Iker (Casillas) hardly had anything to do and that speaks of the good defensive performance.” (Daily Mail)
England 0 - 0 Italy (Italy win 4 - 2 on pens)
England endured a battering in normal and extra time against Italy, only to succumb to an all-too-familiar foe - the penalty shoot-out. Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missed England’s spot-kicks, while Andrea Pirlo’s ice-cool penalty, chipped gently past goalkeeper Joe Hart, put Italy on their way to victory before Alessandro Diamanti scored the decisive kick.
ONE TO WATCH - Joao Moutinho
The Porto midfielder has come to the fore in Euro 2012 as the fulcrum of an impressive Portugal side, who have allied a physical robustness with an impressive technical superiority. The latter is very much the forte of the 25-year-old, who relies on midfield partners Miguel Veloso and Raul Mereiles to do the tough stuff. Ronaldo may be the star, but Moutinho has grown to be Portugal’s beating heart.
Only Greece (38 per cent) and Ireland (33 per cent) have managed to average less possession per game at Euro 2012 than England (39 per cent). Goalkeeper Joe Hart also had more touches than any other England player against Italy (85).
MEMORABLE GOALS OF EUROS PAST
Although not as technically impressive as some of the other goals featured in our series, there is little doubt that Fernando Torres’ strike against Germany has had a profound impact on creating a new footballing superpower. Spain, the perennial underachievers who had always over-promised and under-delivered, not only took home the European Championships in 2008 but went on to win football’s ultimate prize two years later - the World Cup.
In many ways, it was a typical Torres goal - the Spaniard scampered down the channel, neck-and-neck with Germany defender Philipp Lahm as he sought to stay onside to receive Xavi’s casually despatched, but lethally accurate pass from midfield before racing ahead to slot past the onrushing Jens Lehmann. How times have changed, some might say.
Portugal to beat Spain - 7/2
Italy to beat Germany - 7/2
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