Italy wins 4-2 against England in penalty shootout.
Buffon is hero of Italy once again with a super save in start of the game and save England 4th penalty to give Azzurri the chance to fight their remaining way to euro championship.
more news later...
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti believes Mario Balotelli could make the difference for Italy in their Euro 2012 quarter-final against England on Sunday.
Ancelotti feels it's an advantage for the Manchester City attacker that he knows the Three Lions’ defenders very well, and has the edge on them when it comes to pace.
John Terry and Joleon Lescott are expected to continue their partnership at the heart of England’s defence in Kiev, with the latter a domestic team-mate of Balotelli.
"Italy need Balotelli right now. He can be a crucial player for Italy and help the team to the European title this summer," Ancelotti was quoted as saying by A Bola.
"Balotelli know the English defence very well. Lescott is his colleague at Manchester City. That could be a psychological advantage for him.
"Plus, he's faster than Lescott and John Terry put together."
Balotelli was dropped from the starting line-up, with Antonio Di Natale preferred to partner Antonio Cassano, as Italy dispatched Republic of Ireland 2-0.
However, the youngster made the headlines as he netted a stunning second to confirm the three points and secure their qualification to the quarter-final stage.
Andrea Pirlo has voiced his opinion that England are very predictable and lack the quality to upset Italy in Sunday's Euro 2012 quarter-final.
The Juventus midfielder feels the Three Lions have been unimpressive so far at the European Championship, and is confident the Azzurri will exploit their weaknesses.
"People talk about England playing the Italian way, but that's rubbish. Only Italy can play the Italian way. And we do not care for anyone who tries to impersonate us," Pirlo stated to Sky Sports.
"Maybe they will adopt a different approach against us, but I doubt it because in some ways they are very predictable.
"I have seen some of England's games in this tournament. They have been more practical than impressive, and we are confident of beating them.
"They have weaknesses that we can exploit, particularly in midfield. They are missing some key players and I think we will have the measure of them in that area.
"They also look very nervous at times in defence and, France aside, they have not had to play against too many big nations."
Sunday's encounter kicks off at 20:45CET.
Ahead of his side's quarter-final in Kyiv, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon tells UEFA.com what he thinks of Roy Hodgson's England team and relays his thoughts on penalty shoot-outs.
As he prepared for his side's UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final against England, Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon sat down with UEFA.com to reveal why he believes Sunday's match will be a close-run affair, why he likes penalty shoot-outs and why he sings the Italian national anthem with such vigour.
UEFA.com: Six years ago you won the FIFA World Cup. Do you have a feeling that you could be on the way to another big success?
Gianluigi Buffon: It's a nice squad, we are all united for the same cause, but it's also true to say that for the last four years there has been a side that is considerably better than the rest, and that's Spain. So in my opinion they are certainly favourites. Italy, though, are very hard to beat.
UEFA.com: You play England next. What are their strengths?
Buffon: England have always had players of great individual ability. They have not managed to win anything major in recent years, sometimes through bad luck; they have been knocked out in penalty shoot-outs a few times, but this year I think they have three or four world-class talents like [John] Terry, [Ashley] Cole, [Wayne] Rooney, [Steven] Gerrard, and we respect them a lot and know it will be a very hard match.
UEFA.com: What sort of match are you expecting against England?
Buffon: It will certainly be close because the sides have very similar qualities, and also because Italy have a habit, which is both a pro and a con, that whoever we play – whether our opponents are strong or weak – it's always an even contest. If we play against the best, we match them, but if we play against weak sides we never manage to win with ease. We always have to struggle a bit, so I think the difference between the two sides will be very, very, very, subtle indeed.
UEFA.com: Why do you think Italy have this problem?
Buffon: It's only a problem against weaker sides, but when you play in the World Cup or the EURO, you're always playing the best sides, so then it's no problem.
UEFA.com: In England, they are already talking about the possibility of a penalty shoot-out. Are you prepared for that?
Buffon: When you think too far ahead about how a match might end up, it never pans out that way, and it normally ends sooner. But penalties are a normal part of football, and there is merit to the shoot-out system. Penalties bring technique, character and nerve into play, so it rewards the ones who really deserve, and have the strength, to win the match.
UEFA.com: Former England No1 David Seaman used to say that he enjoyed shoot-outs because it was a chance for a goalkeeper to become a hero.
Buffon: It all depends on your outlook. If I were to lose on penalties I would be very disappointed and I would feel guilty because in the end it would be a chance wasted. But it is also true that perhaps it's the only moment in a goalkeeper's career when your responsibilities are taken away from you.
UEFA.com: How do you rate England goalkeeper Joe Hart?
Buffon: Hart, along with [Manuel] Neuer, [Hugo] Lloris and our own [Salvatore] Sirigu, is no longer just an emerging goalkeeper, but is now established as someone who always plays well and can be a determining factor for his team. He deserves my compliments.
Cesare Prandelli asked Italy to play "without fear" against England, whose manager Roy Hodgson wants his side to take the quarter-final in Kyiv "by the scruff of the neck".
Cesare Prandelli has told Italy they must play "without fear" to overcome England in the final UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final in Kyiv.
"England are a very tough side and we must go into the game without fear – no psychological hang-ups," said Prandelli. "We must stay focused and wait for our opportunity. We've watched England's previous games and they're one of the most organised European sides. We need to make sure we stop them playing. They're going to produce a high tempo and put their foot in a lot, so if we can set the tempo then we can do well."
The teams have not met since a 2-1 Italy win in Leeds in March 2002, but both coaches are only too aware of the challenges their opponents pose. Roy Hodgson is unbeaten in five matches since taking charge of England last month while Prandelli's side qualified unbeaten, although the victory against the Republic of Ireland which secured second place in Group C ended a five-game winless run and represented their first final tournament triumph in seven attempts.
Former FC Internazionale Milano and Udinese Calcio coach Hodgson knows Italian football well, but refuted the suggestion that England's current approach has parallels with the defence-first ethos once prevalent in Serie A. His priority against Italy will be getting England to dictate the pace of the game. "We're very impressed by Italy, like everyone is," he said. "Prandelli's done a very good job – they've got a lovely mix of youth and experience and a lot of athleticism. We need to take the game by the scruff of the neck because if Italy have the chance to control it, it could be a very long night for us."
England are likely to be unchanged from the team that clinched first place in Group D with a 1-0 win against Ukraine, while there is mixed news on the hamstring front for Prandelli. Giorgio Chiellini is out and will be replaced by his Juventus club-mate Leonardo Bonucci, although Thiago Motta has trained with the squad despite a similar problem.
A meeting with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday awaits the winners in Kyiv, with Italy aiming to reach the semi-finals for the fourth time while a last-four appearance would be England's third. "I really believe we are coming into this at the right time," said Prandelli. "We're not the strongest side in the tournament but we're very determined. Over the last few years we've tried to change how we play; we've done well so far but now we want to win these big games. We only need a little bit to make that leap in quality."
England have lost four of the sides' six competitive meetings, winning only one. When it was put to him that the national side had consistently fallen short against the top nations since lifting the FIFA World Cup in 1966, Hodgson bristled. "It's a nasty statistic because it's very negative," he explained. "You don't change statistics by talking. You change them by winning."
Italy played 22 official games against England that first one was a 1-1 draw on 13/05/1933 and last one was a 2-1 win on 27/03/2002.
Italy record 9 wins, 6 draws and 7 loses versus England.
|28/05/1976||New York/New Jersey||England||3:2 (0:2)||Italy|
|06/06/1985||Mexico City||Italy||2:1 (0:0)||England|
Gianluigi Buffon sees no reason why Italy cannot prolong their Euro 2012 adventure, with a quarter-final showdown with England awaiting on Sunday.
The Azzurri, like England, arrived at this summer's European Championship with expectations lower than usual.
Disappointing showings at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cupsuggested they would struggle to mount a serious challenge for continental glory.
Buffon concedes as much, admitting that he would have been 'carted off' had he billed Italy as contenders prior to the tournament getting underway.
The 2006 World Cup winners have, however, made it safely through to the last eight and consider themselves to be dark horses to go all the way.
Buffon said: "I have never said that we will win the tournament because, if I had said that, I might have been carted off.
"I would have been rather presumptuous, given that there is Spain, who are much stronger than anyone, and Germany, who are much better than the others.
"But this does not mean that, if we meet these teams, we will automatically lose."
Buffon will line up against Germany at the semi-final stage if Italy can see off England, and he has enjoyed success against the Three Lions in the past.
The Juventus goalkeeper added: "I only ever faced England in two friendlies and we won both.
"I've never played them in an important match before. I hope there will be more occasions, but I above all hope we win this one."
England's past history at major tournaments suggests there is every chance that Sunday's encounter will go the distance, but Buffon is hoping a penalty shoot-out can be avoided.
"For everyone involved, for the sake of our hearts, it would be better if we get the job done without having to resort to penalties," he said.
"But if it does, then we will just have to deal with it."
Ignazio Abate admits he and his fellow defenders will need to keep a close eye on England's wide men when they square up to Italy on Sunday.
Four of England's five goals at Euro 2012 have come from corners or crosses, and they are likely to look to the flanks for inspiration again this weekend.
Italy know what to expect, though, and are in confident mood ahead of a quarter-final showdown.
AC Milan full-back Abate, who is likely to find himself up against Ashley Young, believes the Azzurri are capable of containing England, provided they can impose themselves on the game.
He said: "England have quick players who find it easy to cross and have great attackers who are very strong.
"But, with serenity, we have to impose our game, even if we all have to suffer a bit together."
Abate concedes that Wayne Rooney is likely to pose the biggest threat to Italy's back four, with the Manchester United striker having returned to the England side with a match-winning goal in their final group clash with Ukraine.
Asked if the Azzurri can be considered favourites to reach the semi-final stage, Abate said: "I don't know. They too have great enthusiasm and an attacker like Rooney, but we are confident that we have a great squad.
"The English are physically strong. We must defend and attack well.
"They started as underdogs, but now believe they can get to the final. We too must nurture this dream.
"We have no fear. There is tension, but we need to be as relaxed as possible, and aware of our potential."
Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon is hoping his side's Euro 2012 quarter-final clash with England does not get as far as a penalty shoot-out.
The Azzurri finished second in Group B, behind reigning champions Spain, and will face Roy Hodgson's Group D winners in their first knockout game on Sunday.
And, with the possibility of penalties now looming, the Juventus shot-stopper insisted he would like to see the game decided in normal time.
Buffon told reporters at a press conference on Friday. "Twice I won, and once I lost.
"However, for the sake of the coronary arteries, mine and everyone else's, it would be better to close out the game with England before then!"
While Buffon freely admits that nerves sometimes get the better of him, he claims that his happy-go-lucky team-mate Antonio Cassano has no such problems.
"I like his healthy insanity," he enthused. "I think it is an added value for us. He is a leader and he often underestimates these gifts of his.
"I like his extravagant, at times even forceful, way of expressing himself."
Cesare Prandelli's men will meet the Three Lions in Kiev at 20:45CET.
Leonardo Bonucci believes that Italy's performances in Euro 2012 so far have been superior to those of quarter-final opponents England.
The Azzurri progressed to the knockout stages behind defending champions Spain in Group C, while Roy Hodgson's side topped Group D ahead of much-fancied France.
However, Bonucci believes his side have played the better football to date and is therefore in a confident frame of mind ahead of Sunday's meeting with the English in Kiev.
"In terms of performance, we've probably been better than England so far in this tournament," the Juventus defender told reporters on Thursday.
"But the thing is, if you want to achieve a good result, you must be clinical in front of goal. You have to play your own game and be convincing in everything you do."
Italy's preparations for the game have been overshadowed by reports that enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli does not feel a part of the squad, but Bonucci insists the rumours are without foundation.
"I think Mario is integrated," he stated. "Yesterday, for example, he was smiling and joking around with [Antonio] Di Natale.
"I think Mario is a great talent and when he played as he did against Ireland [on Monday], he can really prove the difference."
Italy's eagerly-awaited last-eight encounter with England will kick off at 20:45CET.