On Sunday, June 24, Italy beat England 4-2 on penalties to advance to the Euro 2012 semifinals this Thursday against Germany. The two teams played to a 0-0 tie through both regulation and extra time before Italy sealed it.
Here are three thoughts on the match:
Hard to watch
I'm not sure how to feel about this win. I'm excited that Italy pulled it out. I think it's huge for a country that has had more than its share of legal problems and scandals involving the sport to have something positive happen. However, I'm disappointed at Italy's inability to put England away in regulation.
The Italians dominated this game. There's no way around that. They controlled the pace of the match while consistently pressuring England's back line. It was hard to watch as they missed shot after shot at the English net and threw away every opportunity their opponents gave them. Truthfully, this game never should have gone to penalties at all. Italy should have won this game in regulation.
England deserves credit
I think England did an outstanding job in this tournament, especially when I consider how long manager Roy Hodgson had to put this team together. Italy outplayed them on Sunday, but the English didn't wilt under the pressure, nor did they give up. England kept fighting and very nearly earned a trip to the semifinals. I know that many England supporters are disappointed with the team's quarterfinal exit, but I think the future is bright for this squad. England is talented enough to compete with the world's best, and the effort it gave at Euro 2012 might just serve as the starting point for a solid 2014 World Cup run.
World War II allies meet in Warsaw
As a historian, I find Thursday's semifinal matchup between Germany and Italy to be quite surreal, especially since the game is being played in Warsaw. I know that the European Championship is all about soccer, but it will be interesting to see if the broadcast mentions how two World War II allies are meeting in the city where the Warsaw Uprising took place nearly 70 years ago.
Again, this tournament is all about European soccer, and maybe I'm one of the few people who have noticed the historical aspects of this game, but I hope something is mentioned about it during Thursday's event.
Derek Ciapala treasures his Italian ancestry and follows the Azzurri religiously. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.