The tone of a game and a squad's relative composure are generated most often from the midfield.
In that sense, England has fallen short of the mark thus far. Despite their run of positive results, a lack of control persists as the undercurrent to their play. That has to change or Italy will never let them see the ball.
Scott Parker is rightfully lauded for his work rate and aggression. Yet, in the quarterfinals, he will need to show off his ability to hold the ball as well.
Too often the measured short ball is abandoned in favor of a speculative lob forward. That approach is highly speculative. It concedes possession too easily against a side that covets it.
Parker's relative ability to exude patience on the pitch is thus of critical importance on Sunday.