Euro 2012: England, Italy primed for rare clash

England play Italy in the last Euro 2012 quarter-final on Sunday, a rare meeting between two teams who will not want a penalty shootout to decide who goes through to play Germany in the last four.

England coach Roy Hodgson pits his wits against Italian Cesare Prandelli in the sides' first clash for over a decade and only their third at major tournaments.

Italy have won both those matches but England are enjoying a new lease of life under Hodgson whose pragmatic style suits a team short on match-winners but long on hard-working disciplined players who know how to get results.

Italy's Balotelli puts on a bib during a training session at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. Reuters

Italy's Balotelli puts on a bib during a training session at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. Reuters

That could be said of the Italians too, with Andrea Pirlo dictating the play in midfield and set for a battle royal with England captain Steven Gerrard in the centre of the pitch.

Wayne Rooney should be England's main attacking inspiration after scoring on his return from suspension in their last match against Ukraine and Prandelli must decide how best to use the unpredictable talents of striker Mario Balotelli.

Italy will be without key defender Giorgio Chiellini but midfielder Thiago Motta has recovered from a hamstring injury.

Both teams have suffered plenty of heartache in penalty shootouts in major tournaments but if extra time fails to produce a winner two of the world's best goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon and Joe Hart, will get the chance to make themselves a national hero.

Reuters

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