On Sunday, team Italy takes on team England in the in quarterfinal action at the Euro Cup tournament. There are plenty of Hamilton fans supporting each team on this side of the soccer world.
While the Portuguese rule James Street North, Italian and English football fans are all over the city — including Twitter. That's where some passionate Euro trash talk has been happening between two local soccer fans.
We've asked them to make the case for their team on this page before Sunday's game and they generously agreed.
Sure, you can argue that Italy and England are evenly matched going into Sunday's Quarterfinal. Both teams play defensively, both have strong goalkeepers, and both have strikers with moments of brilliance matched by flashes of temper (particularly Italy's Balotelli — it's almost worth it to watch the game just to see him lose it.)
Beyond being well matched, the World Cup 2010 cloud of failure that hangs over both teams is almost palpable. England was a mess, and 2006 World Cup Champs Italy didn't even make it out of the first round.
Sunday's game will likely be played midfield for the first half with England getting physical and Italy spending most of its time writhing on the ground trying to gain free kicks.
Despite all the drama, each team will score but not hold the advantage for long.
So why will England win?
It all comes down to who wants it more. While the Italian team as a whole took the brunt of their last failure on the world stage, England's striker Wayne Rooney took his team's lackluster performance personally. Really personally. And the British media pummeled him for it - remember?
Rooney, fresh off his two-game suspension this past Tuesday, roared into action scoring an easy goal and terrorizing the Ukrainians with at least two other close attacks. Every time he was within a metre of the ball the Twitterverse started chanting "#Rooney" in anticipation. And fans at pubs like Aout & About on Augusta knew he was hungry for victory.
You don't have to come from England like my family (Devonshire) to bet against the Italians on Sunday.
With Rooney set on personal redemption from his World Cup fiasco, Italy might as well be walking into the three lion's den.
PS — Speaking of the Twitterverse, Mark from La Piazza Allegra seems to think he can intimidate me on Twitter — even daring to tell me to "Shhhh" during a recent game between Italy and Croatia when I was cheering for my husband's team.
Trying to get me to shut up is almost as big a mistake as Mark thinking Italy will beat England on Sunday. Almost.
This sunday marks a historic event in the world of sport.
Italy faces England, for the first time in over 20 years, in a soccer match that has huge implications not only in the world of international soccer but also closer to Hamiltonians' hearts. England's chances of winning are slim — yet my English friends and even non-UK'ers have this honest belief that they will prevail.
Let's look at the facts: Italy's defense is stronger, their strikers are of better quality and let's be real — they have more class!
Now I know the English fans and my UK mates would disagree, but Italy has been a world contender and soccer force for decades. And England? Where have they been?
Oh, I know they've been chasing Italy's heels. They did come close a couple of years ago when they decided to hire an Italian for the head coaching job — but even he decided there wasn't much hope and quit.
As children and adults we can all agree that one of the nicest sights is being able to look up into a sky and see all the stars. On Sunday, the English won't have to look into the sky to see stars — they'll see the four World Cup stars on every jersey of every Italian player as they put goal after goal into the net.
Maybe after the 90 minutes have finished and the final whistle has blown, Italy will be generous and give a star to the English — at least then they would have two.
Strong words from both sides. So if Italy loses on Sunday, does this mean that Mark has to serve bangers and mash at La Piazza Allegra?
Guess we'll see — and good luck to both sides.