Spain 1 France 0
This was a real snooze-fest of a game. France never seriously threatened the Spanish defense or the Spanish control of the midfield, while the “no striker” concept really doesn’t work well for Spain since it eliminates the only player on the field who is actually willing to shoot on goal without waiting for every planet in the solar system to come into the ideal alignment, Fernando Torres. If your only scoring is dependent upon a midfielder completely failing to track back with his man, then there is probably something wrong with your tactics. Spain will have to take it up a level to get past Italy, let alone Germany.
Italy 1 England 0 (4-2)
England played well. Italy was simply better, although I do not understand the choice to start Balotelli over Di Natale, let alone leaving the two-time leading scorer in Serie A on the bench for the entire game, unless he’s being saved for Germany. Italy had no shortage of decent chances, but the combination of a very tough English defense, some poor first touches from Balotelli, and the usual midfielder fever kept them from scoring.
I was impressed by the English, as John Terry was easily the best defender in the tournament. He certainly prevented more goals than anyone else. But Rooney should not have been starting. He simply wasn’t in shape to go 120 minutes, and the idea of having him attempt to mark Pirlo was disastrous. Due to the poor coaching decisions, Italy should have won 3-0, but even on a poor offensive night they weren’t afraid of going to penalties… and now the English have lost 6 of their last 7 shootouts.