Sharethematch.com ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to Mancunian Matters…
It might not have been pretty but I doubt England fans will care, and lets be honest now, it was about time Lady Luck smiled on the Three Lions.
England have enjoyed enough bad luck in the past with Sol Campbell’s disallowed header against Argentina, David Beckham’s sending off in the World Cup and Frank Lampard’s goal that never was at the last big tournament against Germany.
So you know England have had their fair share of bad luck at major tournament and I’m neither here nor there about whether it should have been given or it shouldn’t have.
Michel Platini’s attitude is that these officials don’t make mistakes because there’s so many of them but it just proves once and for all that it’s not as straight forward as that.
Even with a human eye so close you still can’t get it right so it’s no surprise to me that Sepp Blatter has come out and said that it’s not if but when goal line technology comes in.
And it should just be goal line technology and nothing else. I’m not an advocate of too much technology but certainly goal line technology, certainly for big tournaments.
But what’s done is done and England might only be at best a fairly average national side but they have a very good team spirit, they work hard for each other and defend very well and are hard to beat.
Steven Gerrard got most of the plaudits after the Ukraine game and quite rightly too.
I think Steven’s had a fantastic tournament. England are not playing that well and need inspiration and I think the skipper has provided that.
He looks fit and looks like his old self rampaging around the pitch and he can make anything happen which is a rare commodity in the England team right now.
Wayne Rooney was grabbing the headlines before the game and I think the one thing we can take out of it is that he needed the game for his fitness.
That is the reason I would have played him in the friendly games. I think Roy Hodgson has done everything right since he has taken over as coach but that’s the one thing I would have questioned.
I think Wayne was desperate for a game and I would have given him the whole game against Norway to keep himself match fit because it’s now four or five weeks since Wayne played a competitive game.
And I think that showed against Ukraine, but he’ll be better for the game. It wasn’t his best but he scored a very important goal and you can’t take that away from him and he’ll be fitter and better because of that.
Up next for England now is Italy in the quarter-final and I have seen quite a bit of Italy and actually thought against Spain at the very beginning they played very, very well.
They got a 1-1 but might have won it. They played three at the back as they did against Croatia but they changed it to four at the back against Ireland, which I thought they would do because of the nature of the team and the fact they needed to win it.
However, I’m not so sure they will do that against England and they might revert to three at the back with the five in midfield and two up front.
If Italy play as well as they did against Spain then they can run England very close. But I’ve seen Italy play less than great against the Irish where they were OK but I wasn’t that impressed.
I think like England there won’t be many chances as like England they know how to defend so I can see this being a really, really tight game and this might actually be the first game of the competition to go to penalties. I think there is a real chance this could go either way.
I can see Germany beating Greece fairly comfortable, I can see Portugal getting past a dangerous Czech Republic side if they play like they did against Holland, and I think Spain will come out on top of an exciting tie with France.
But as for England versus Italy, I think it is too close to call and I really think it is flip of a coin stuff, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see penalties.
If so, let’s hope England’s luck continues to turn.
Andy Gray is an official ambassador for Sharethematch.com – Football’s Social Network. Available now for FREE online or at the App Store; http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/share-the-match/id450784289?mt=8