‘El Clásico’ or Armageddon?

Football fans across Malta are no doubt anxiously awaiting the anticipated Quarterfinals match of the Euro Cup 2012 between England and Italy this evening.

Facebook has been flooded with images predicting ‘Armageddon’ today as competitiveness has steadily been growing between supporters of both teams over the last few days.

Nationalist voters, those aged under 34, professionals and university-educated people are more likely to side with Italy tonight.

On the other hand, Labour voters, white and blue collar workers, those aged over 55 and those with a secondary education are more likely to side with England.

This emerges from surveys conducted by this newspaper before the 2006 and the 2010 world cups.

The 2010 World Cup showed that England supporters slightly outnumber Italy supporters (34% vs. 31%), which confirmed a similar three-point gap registered in the 2006 survey.

Judging by the latest survey among the 16 to 34 age bracket, 44% will support Italy while 32% will support England. Back in 2006, 46% supported Italy, while only 24% supported England.

On the other hand, among those aged over 55, 37% side with England while only 22% side with Italy. Those in the middle age group are equally divided.

Speaking to football enthusiasts across the board, MaltaToday discovers tonight’s game could take excitement to fever pitch levels.

Blogger Wayne Flask, partly blogging for MaltaToday.com.mt on the Euro Cup 2012, expects a draw followed by the inevitable eliminating penalty round.

Flask thinks Maltese supporters have misdirected their own rivalry. “Supporters seem to be completely unaware that both teams hold fiercer rivalry with France than with each other.”

The Youth FA’s President, Fr Hilary Tagliaferro, on the other hand, believes this competitiveness to be quite “healthy” for Malta but will be avoiding the expected chaos which will be a “good distraction from politics”.

Contrary to Tagliaferro, professional footballer Andrew Hogg is not expecting an exciting game since neither team is doing particularly well.

“I initially thought Italy had the edge but at the moment, they’re just as bad as each other. Everyone is so hyped about the game on Sunday but, to be honest, I’m expecting a really boring game simply because they are not in form,” Hogg says.

TVAM presenter, Joe Mifsud admits to be looking forward to watching the game and up until Thursday was still debating where to watch the game with his wife.

Avidly supporting England, together with her daughter, is TV presenter and singer Claudette Pace who will be watching the game in the comfort of her home to “avoid the crowd”.

“I can’t really predict tonight’s game because it can go either way because neither team is playing an extraordinary game,” Pace says.

Peter Paul Gauci, sports presenter with Melita, will also be supporting England. “I support Arsenal so it only makes sense, although I do have a soft spot for Germany.”

Asked to comment on the growing tension across the islands, Gauci says it is nothing compared to what he’s experienced.

“I think youngsters today have missed a lot. Between the 50s and 70s, we could only watch Italy games on Rai. We had to wait until every Tuesday to watch snippets or highlights of England games, unless of course they were playing an Italian team. I remember everyone used to go berserk when English and Italian teams played against each other.”

Footballer Michael Mifsud meanwhile told MaltaToday when contacted: “You’ve called the wrong guy! I don’t really watch football except for a little bit while I’m having dinner. I won’t be going to watch the game on Sunday because I’ll be playing against Hibs tomorrow!”

May the best team on the day wins!