However some players may be asked to tame their challenges as stalwarts from both teams are threatened with a semi-final suspension should they pick a yellow card on Sunday. Five players on the England side and a staggering eight Italians will therefore have to be cautious if they want to face Germany in the semi-final, should their side progress.
|PLAYERS RISKING A SUSPENSION
Daniele De Rossi
This means that the only two ways that a player can miss the Euro 2012 final through suspension are by receiving a red card in the semi-finals, or if he is given a two-match suspension for a red card in the quarter-finals.
How will this affect their performance on Sunday in a game that will be refereed by 41-year-old Portuguese Pedro Proenca, who was incidentally the referee of the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich back in May? Goal.com reviews the players who are walking a suspension tightrope.
England started their Euro 2012 campaign with a 1-1 draw against France in Donetsk. A solid and tactically sound performance from the Three Lions was dampened only by bookings for Ashley Young and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Manchester United winger saw yellow for a wild lunge at Karim Benzema, while the young Arsenal starlet was given a warning for a reckless challenge on Mathieu Debuchy.
The second game against Sweden in Kiev saw Roy Hodgson's side come out 3-2 winners, with only James Milner cautioned. The Manchester City man hacked down Martin Olsson in the second half, and deservedly received a booking. The third and final group game, back in Donetsk, saw England run out nervy 1-0 winners against Ukraine, with Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard the ones to be cautioned; the Chelsea full-back for time-wasting late in the second half, and the Liverpool captain for an elbow on Denys Harmash.
Italy started the tournament against Spain in Gdansk. It finished 1-1, but the mood was dampened somewhat with the bookings of three important players for the Azzurri. Mario Balotelli was cautioned first for persistent fouling, then Leonardo Bonucci was given a yellow midway through the second half, and finally Christian Maggio fouled Xabi Alonso on the edge of the Italian area to earn himself a caution.
Four days later in Poznan, Croatia held Cesare Prandelli's side to another 1-1 draw, with Thiago Motta and Riccardo Montolivo being booked this time. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was cautioned for a tussle inside the area with Nikica Jelavic, and the AC Milan-bound playmaker was given a yellow for an elbow on Mario Mandzukic late in the second half.
The match against the Republic of Ireland saw Italy through with a 2-0 win, but yet again, more vital men were booked ahead of the quarter-final with England. Federico Balzaretti was given his warning for a tug on Aiden McGeady's shirt, Daniele De Rossi fouled Kevin Doyle on 71 minutes to earn himself a booking, and finally, Gianluigi Buffon was given a yellow for dissent just two minutes later.