Friday June 22 2012
Parker: Defeat to Italy would hurt

Scott Parker believes that whilst England are underdogs for Sunday evening’s quarter-final clash with Italy, a loss would still be a disappointment.

The English face up to the Azzurri in the final quarter-final of the tournament this weekend, having won Group D, whilst the Italians finished as Group C runners-up.

Defensive in playing style, Parker believes that England can take heart from European champions Chelsea to frustrate Italy and make it to the semi-finals.

“I think we have a real togetherness and commitment in the squad and, ultimately, that can get you a long way,” the Tottenham midfielder told an assembled Press room this Friday.

“We've seen that last season with Chelsea and other teams. Fundamentally, they are the main key ingredients of why we can go and progress further.

“It's going to be a very tough game against an Italian side that are very well prepared and organised, with individual qualities. If we carry on doing what we are doing, we can maybe upset them.

“We want to go further than the quarter-finals. We have the belief in the squad to go and get a victory at the weekend and progress. We'd be really disappointed if we went out of the competition on Sunday.

“I don't think I am being disrespectful by saying we'd rather play Italy than Spain. Spain are the reigning world champions and European champions.”

For Parker, it will be a reunion with Mario Balotelli, who last season served a ban in the Premier League for a clash with the midfielder in which the striker stamped on his head. This January incident saw Balotelli’s agent accuse the English media of persecution.

“Whether Balotelli meant to do what he did or not, I don't know. He got punished for it and obviously has served his punishment. I am not holding any grudges.

“Of course, he's a threat [to England]. We have all seen his quality. I can only really comment on his footballing ability. He is one of many in their team that we will have to take a tough line on.”

The England man was more forthcoming with regards a possible clash on the pitch with Andrea Pirlo.

“I am really looking forward to this. When you play football, this is what you want to do – to pit your wits against the very best. And that is what he is. His passing ability and control of the game is fantastic.

“To play Italy? This is what we are here to do. It is what we want to be doing. Look at what we are up against – a team with buckets of experience and a lot of great players, very well disciplined, organised and prepared.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with