Englishman Roy Hodgson, who speaks Italian and has an intimate knowledge of Serie A after coaching Inter Milan, is plotting Italy's downfall in Euro 2012. This subplot is one of many embedded in the Euro 2012 quarterfinal between two of the world's great soccer nations that have rarely played in a major tournament.
Although he possesses old-fashioned English charm and modesty, an important part of Hodgson's knowledge of international soccer was enriched during two spells at Inter Milan in the late 1990s. The best he did was take Inter to the 1997 UEFA Cup final, where it fell on penalties to Schalke 04.
Two of the most successful managers in England at the moment are Italians Roberto Mancini, who has coached Manchester City to its first English title in 44 years, and Roberto di Matteo, who won the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League with Chelsea.
The paths of England and Italy have crossed relatively infrequently in major competitions. Sunday's game will only their third in a major tournament following Italy's 1-0 win in the 1980 European Championship and the Azzurri's 2-1 victory in the third-place game at the 1990 World Cup. Italy won the last meeting, 2-1, in a friendly played 10 years ago.