23rd Jun 2012 | Euro 2012

England v Italy Tip

Hart in mouth time.

Now would be the perfect moment to find out that Roy Hodgson really is a lucky manager.

It’s not often that you can get 10/1 (Bet365) on what many people regard as the inevitable outcome. With two defensively-minded and resolute teams in action, the final quarter-final of Euro 2012 may be destined for a penalty shoot-out. It’s 10/1 (Skybet) that Italy win in that fashion and the same price that England finally progress in the most dramatic of formats.

I’m going to go against the trend of tournaments past and side with Roy Hodgson’s men. As abysmal as The Three Lions’ record is in shoot-outs, the Italians aren’t much better. The Azzurri have lost five out of seven shoot-outs at major tournaments so they will hardly relish that scenario anymore than the English.

The chances of either team showing particular daring in the course of 90 minutes, let alone during extra-time, look slim. For Prandelli’s team a cautious approach is deeply ingrained and I’ve only seen limited evidence of them throwing off the shackles so far.

England’s resolute approach is now far and away their greatest asset. I feared for them having to chase a victory against Sweden or Ukraine but they somehow got past those challenges. Now into knock-out football, the knowledge that a draw always gives them a chance is helpful but may stifle adventure further.

The results of tight matches often come down to the rub of the green. There was a feeling in the England-Ukraine match that things were rolling for the Three Lions for the first time in many years at a major tournament. If that’s true, or even if they just believe it’s true, it could see them into the semi-finals.

One final point is that Italy’s captain and keeper Gianluigi Buffon lost his most recent shoot-out in Euro 2008 and failed to save any spot-kicks even when his side were victorious in the 2006 World Cup final. Joe Hart has no skeletons in his locker and may relish the chance to prove himself amongst the world’s finest custodians.

Let’s be incredibly brave and back England to win on penalties at best odds of 10/1 with Bet365. There is a logical rationale behind it even if it feels like a bad idea!

Odds correct at time of publishing: 13:09 23rd Jun, 2012 but subject to change

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