Euro 2012 TV Schedule: Studs to Watch in Remaining Quarterfinal Matches
With two quarterfinal matches already in the books, there are two big games remaining in order to determine the semifinalists for Euro 2012. Spain and France will do battle on Saturday with England and Italy locking horns on Sunday. Those four teams are among the greatest powers the sport has ever seen, so both matchups should be quite intense.
It should come as no surprise that each of the four squads have a number of big-time stars capable of turning in dominant performances. There are bound to be a few who stumble on the big stage, but it is going to take some elite play in order to move on to the semifinals. Every remaining team has the ability to do so, but only two of them can.
Along with a television viewing schedule for your convenience, her are three studs that you will want to keep an eye on in the remaining quarter-final matches.
Spain vs. France: Saturday, June 23 at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN2
England vs. Italy: Sunday, June 24 at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
Spain's attempt to defend its Euro 2008 title got off to an inauspicious start as it had to come from behind to earn a draw against Italy. La Roja relied far too much on midfielders rather than a traditional striker and it clearly hurt Spain offensively.
Things turned quickly, however, as forward Fernando Torres was given the start against Ireland. He responded with two goals in Spain's easy victory. He didn't score against Croatia, but he was once again a threatening presence on the pitch.
Spain is in good shape as it heads into its quarterfinal match against a reeling France squad and it will need another strong performance from Torres.
El Nino has had a rough go of things in club play with Chelsea, but none of that matters now. Torres is surrounded by some of the best talent in the world, and that talent is going to get the ball to him in scoring areas. All Torres has to do is make sure he finishes.
Midfielder Andrea Pirlo is one of the very few players remaining from Italy's World Cup victory in 2006, and he is reminding many soccer fans exactly how good that squad was.
Italy has undergone a youth movement of sorts and has struggled over the past few years, but Pirlo is one member of the old guard that refuses to go quietly. Pirlo has unquestionably been Azzurri's best player as he has registered a goal and two assists in three matches thus far.
Pirlo's fearless play has been a great advantage to the Italians as he has a knack for finding his teammates in high-percentage scoring areas. Even when it seems as if there is nowhere to put the ball, Pirlo often squeezes it through a tight space in Houdini-like fashion.
If England has things its way, it will likely try to play an up-and-down offensive match. That will play right into the hands of Pirlo, as his counter-attacking skills could lead Italy to a slight upset.
If you need proof of how important striker Wayne Rooney is to England's success, look no further than Three Lions' opening match against France. Rooney had to miss England's first two matches due to suspension and the Brits were out-shot badly by the French in that particular tilt. England was able to escape with a draw, but it was clear that the team desperately needed Rooney.
The star forward returned with a bang against Ukraine as he scored the lone goal and cemented a group win for England.
Rooney will be leaned upon heavily when England plays Italy for a chance to make it into the semifinals and Three Lions will likely sink or swim based upon his performance. Rooney will have his work cut out for him against an Italian defense that essentially shut down Spain and allowed just two goals during group play, but if anyone can solve the Rubik's cube that is Italy's defense, Rooney can.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?