Good morning, dear people. If you're on the Iberian peninsula, it's the morning before the night after. Or if you're from Italy or Germany, it's the morning before the morning before the night after. Or if you're from Italy or Germany but take a wider world view and prefer dealing with one match at a time, it's the morning before the morning after the night before for everyone on the Iberian peninsula. Er. Oh I don't know. It's semi-final time, I should probably have kept it at that. Anyway, before we get the rolling news rolling, here's Sid Lowe on Spain's obsessive impressive ability to stay in control AT ALL TIMES AND AT ALL COSTS. Enjoy, enjoy!

10am: We begin today with Italian newspaper Eejitta dello Sport, who have finally issued an apology for La Vignetta di Valerio Marini, a cartoon depicting Mario Balotelli as a gorilla, for Christ's sake.

The newspaper is for those who read it and hence, if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise.
But those that accuse Gazzetta (and poor Marini) of racism are going overboard.
This newspaper has fought any form of racism in every stadium and has condemned the boos directed at Balotelli as an unacceptable form of incivility.

They don't explain the idle, some would say highly dubious, thought processes that led to them basing their metaphor on Balotelli, who had a distinctly average game, rather than Italy's man of the match Andrea Pirlo. But a grudging apology's an apology I guess.


Titfers tipped to Tim Bradford of When Saturday Comes fame.

10.10am: Fancy reliving England's defeat at the hands of Italy? Of course you do.

10.20am: Andres Iniesta, the man who won the World Cup for Spain, can't be doing with fans across the continent bellyaching over the questionable entertainment slopped up by Tiki-takenaccio Team.

Football's so great because not everyone likes the same thing, we don't have to all agree on everything. For us, the play that we have, the way we have of doing things, is what has led us to our success, to winning titles.

All opinions should be respected, but when a team always wants to attack against an opponent who are shutting up shop, who are only trying to stop you hurting them, football is not as attractive as when the game is open, with two teams who are looking to win.

We feel identified with our style of play, and a few years ago this style changed the history of Spain for good.

Slow news day, isn't it. What this blog needs is a fuming England defender who didn't get picked for England riffing on England's pain. Oh look! Here comes one now!

10.35am: Rio Ferdinand's got the hot heat with Mr Roy, and you can hardly blame him given the turgid nonsense England foisted on the nation during the last ten years fortnight. He told the Sun, via the medium of ear steam:

I am a fan of The Ox and I wanted to see more of him but in the end he finished up as a spectator.
Phil Jones is one of the most adaptable players we have in our country and where was he?
When we need to take the ball from midfield, run 40 yards with it and put the other team on the back foot, he is the man for the job.
Instead, we stayed cautious and Jordan Henderson was used instead.
That's not a criticism of Jordan, he is a different player to Phil, but I thought it showed we were being too conservative.
I'm reading a lot of stuff about how it's time to get the youngsters in and all of that but you only find out if they can do it when you throw them in there.
What did we learn about Alex and Phil at this tournament?
Do we know how much influence Alex can have on a game in a finals?
He did fairly well against France, so why not persist with him and let him grow into it?
As for Phil, we will now have to wait until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, provided we qualify, to see how good he can be at the highest level.
Expectations were low so the manager had a free shot to find out about our youngsters and I feel it was a missed opportunity.
If Pirlo was English would he have made the squad let alone been on the pitch?
I don't know as his qualities may have been overlooked... not by just the current manager but maybe those before him too.
The only time we really kept the ball properly was when Danny Welbeck dropped short to collect it and linked the play.
But, usually, he was having to stay up and wasn't allowed to drop too much because we had set out a certain way with a 4-4-2 which didn't offer a great deal of flexibility.
It's okay saying we were very good defensively and hard to beat but if you set out to be defensive then that's your first priority.
I'd love to see us running at other teams. I want to see Alex and Theo and Adam Johnson, who I thought should have gone too, causing problems instead of worrying about covering back as the first thought.

Well, the Mr Roy honeymoon didn't last very long, did it? Oh England! At this rate, it'll only be another couple of weeks before fans across the country freely concede that Liverpool supporters might have at least had the germ of a point.

10.40am: Benjamin Newman wants to ruin your day. And he's going to do it, as well. What a rotter. He's sent us this clip of Lukas Podolski's new single Halleluja, a fairly common-or-garden number which ticks both of the Europop boxes: i.e. it will make you sad and unhappy. But at least Lukas and his band have put the effort in by creating a coherent image for themselves, going for a modern take on the Bay City Rollers look, with tartan ties and shortbread-tin breeks. Or maybe it betrays an early Spandau Ballet influence, perhaps. I don't know, and caring's quite far down my list of priorities too.

10.50am: My colleague Tom Bryant, like everyone else in the London media village, has been faffing around on Twitter all morning. But that's just as well, folks, because he's found out that Laurent Blanc is keen to carry on as manager of France, and has decided to dispense with the permanently irate Samir Nasri indefinitely, regardless of any suspension the midfielder receives from Uefa for yakking his neck in the mixed zone in combative style. But in related news, it seems young Master Nasri is backpedalling furiously, and has apologised for getting into bother at Euro 2012:

Apology from @SamNasri19: "too many untruths circulating", apologises "to fans and especially children", says he loves playing for France.

So there you have it. Breaking tweets. Pulitzer, please!

10.55am: And here it is in story form! Another Pulitzer, please!

11am: And all's well! "Yes, I fancy reliving England's defeat at the hands of Italy," begins Matt Dony. "Everyone seemed to be obsessing over how good Pirlo was and what England should have done to stop him. Yes, he certainly did run the show, but (for whatever reason) Italy didn't score. That made his impact as an attacking force completely irrelevant. It didn't matter that he wasn't marked closely enough, because England ultimately weren't punished for it. England didn't lose because Pirlo was allowed to play, they lost because they didn't make the most of the chances they fashioned themselves. I know there was a (massive) element of fortune in that, and it needs to be addressed in future formations and tactics, but in the context of that one game, Pirlo looked good, but it didn't decide the match. I'm also aware that Fergie famously said some similar things about Zidane, and they came back to bite him in the bum. Still, as I don't make my living from having to back up these opinions, I can stick my two cents in with impunity."

11.10am: You wouldn't know it from the way he takes penalties, but Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo is half German. He's got the Bundesflagge stitched onto his Bundesboots, in celebration of his mum being a Hamburger, and so he's been trotted out in front of the world's media to help us fill space. "It's for sure a special match," he says of the semi-final of the European Championship. More, please, Riccardo!

Part of me is German. I spent every summer in Germany until I was 15 with my grandparents near Hamburg and I'm still in touch with many friends there. But I feel Italian.

And of skewing his spot kick wide against England?


If penalties happen again against Germany, I'll put my hand up to take one. Penalties are not missed by those who don't take them. When you miss the world crashes down onto your shoulders but when I returned to the halfway line I was calm and confident. I was convinced my miss would not be decisive.

11.20am: MUSICAL INTERLUDE. "The other day on the MBM you suggested that the Mills Brothers' 'Tiger Rag' would be the perfect soundtrack to Spain's tiki-taka fest," writes Phillip Hucknall. "Here, in preparation for tonight, is the proof."

11.25am: In lieu of Euro 2012 news, you may or may not wish to catch up on all the latest transfer rumours in today's Rumour Mill. But here's the thing: just how much of it is utter nonsense? Here's a slightly unhinged highly detailed infographic on the matter from the good folk at Delayed Gratification. Warning: it may drive you blind. (It's not bongo.)

11.30am: The anti-discrimination group Kick It Out have got involved in the Balotelli cartoon row, and no bloody wonder.

Mario's very presence in the Italian team is symbolic on so many levels.

The Italian media ought to champion this individual rather than singling him out as a scapegoat and somehow inferior to his international team-mates.

The paper in question, Gazzetta dello Eejitry, have apologised (see 10am) albeit in a slightly huffy manner, as though it's everyone else's fault for getting offended.

11.35am: In case you missed it, here's AC Jimbo's paper review from Monday, looking at how those continental types deal with being good at football.

11.45am: So anyway, yesterday, Fabio Capello, like everyone else on this tattered mess of a post-Twitter planet, HAD HIS SAY. And of course everyone's focused on the rather eloquent "Wayne Rooney only understands Scottish" gag. Here's faithful MBM pup Ryan Dunne's take on it (featuring bonus tinder-dry Ibrox zinger): "As a Scotsman - although patriotism is less important to one than supporting the Glorious Glasgow Rangers - I could take offense at Capello's comments, but doesn't he have a point? If we accept that some languages are better for seduction (French), opera (German) and cookery (Swedish) then couldn't the same thing be said of getting footballers to obey instructions? Certainly, 'youse are f***ing idiots!' and 'away and write yer sh**e!' have a gritty, authoritative ring not true of similar statements being made in (say) effete RP. Perhaps the solution to Rooney's performance in England tournaments is for the manager to adopt a comically nasty Scottish voice, like the school teacher in Pink Floyd's Happiest Days of Our Lives."

11.50am: Here's a textbook lesson in taking the pressure off your own team, courtesy of DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach. Mindful that Germany have never beaten Italy in a competitive fixture, he's announced that defeat would be taken coolly and calmly back home:

Reaching the last four for the fourth tournament in a row is a sign of continuity and stability. It is the federation's wish - it is not a demand but specifically a wish - that we finally reach the very top once. Whatever comes after this stage is a bonus and it will not be the end of the world if we do not win because the overall picture is already positive for us.

11.55am: Mr Roy's a-riffin'! He's got the face on, unhappy at Fabio Capello sticking his beak into Wayne Rooney's business. He told the Talksport radio station this morning:

Capello is entitled to his opinions, I suppose. I don't know what relationship he would have had with Wayne but I always think it's a bit cheap to kid on a player who was so anxious to do well.
His attitude was magnificent. He was putting in extra work in training because he was concerned he was behind the others having missed the first two games through suspension.
He was trying to do extra work and we were trying to put the brakes on. His desire to do well was enormous.
In the final game he, along with one or two other players, didn't play to the level he can but that's what football is about. If every player was a robot and played at the same level in every game then football would be a very simple game and we wouldn't need coaches.

Midday: Now then, it should have been time to say hola to Sid Lowe, who was planning to field your questions in today's Euro 2012 webchat. He'll still be doing that, but I hear he's just been turfed out of his Warsaw hotel for some unspecified reason. Maybe he's been jumping up and down on the bed too much, barely able to contain an understandable childlike glee at the prospect of another 90 minutes of metronomic tiki-totalitarianism. Or maybe, bored of life itself and seeking new kicks, he's cleared out his mini-bar in a desperate binge and done a runner without paying. Could be either or. He's not telling us anything. Oh Sid! God speed! But providing the Polish polis don't throw him in the jug, he should have settled somewhere else by 12.30pm in order to answer your queries. So get your questions in now!

12.10pm: And all's quiet. Here's Alec McAulay: "Surely it's time for Ryan Dunne (11.45pm) to transfer his allegiance from the Glorious Glasgow Rangers to Super Sevco 5088?"

12.20pm: Animated histories of the Euro 2012 semi-finalists, anyone? Germany! Italy! Spain! Oh Portugal! How could we have failed to believe in you?

12.30pm: Right, I've got to go and do some other work. Not sure what exactly. The mop and bucket they've given me might be a clue. Promotion at last! Anyway, you'll be in the safest of safe hands: ladies and gentlemen, Mr Tom Bryant!

12.41pm: Roy Hodgson has come out with his fists up after Fabio Cappello's criticism of Wayne Rooney. "Capello is entitled to his opinions, I suppose. I don't know what relationship he would have had with Wayne but I always think it's a bit cheap to kid on a player who was so anxious to do well," said Roy, swinging for all he's worth. "If every player was a robot and played at the same level in every game then football would be a very simple game and we wouldn't need coaches," he added, without quite explaining why the Rooney Mk1 robot seems to go haywire when leased to England, before purring nicely when back in the Manchester United garage.

12.44pm: Breaking webchat news. Having been thrown out of his hotel, Sid Lowe's hunt for a local wifi connection has proved fruitless. Instead Paul Wilson will be helming things, since he's not been turfed out on his backside. Get your questions in for Paul here.

12.48pm: Eusebio has found himself in the same predicament as Sid. However, happily, the building that the Portugal legend has been turfed out of is the hospital, and the letter in his hand was a clean bill of health. Eusebio was admitted to hospital after falling ill on the weekend. "He had a very good night. Today he was physically and mentally able so he was discharged by the medical team," said a hospital spokesman.

1.16pm: While answering questions on the webchat with one hand, Paul Wilson has found time to tap out this piece on why Germany now have their best chance to beat Italy at a major tournament with the other.

1.23pm: Some brief news on how many people enjoy watching England crash out of European Championships on penalties, courtesy of Uefa and their crack team of telly watchers and the chaps at the Associated Press news agency.

Uefa says Italy's penalty shootout victory over England is likely to record the highest global television audience of any quarter-final in European Championship history.
Uefa says 100m viewers watched on Sunday in the first 20 markets which reported ratings, with more than 100 broadcasters yet to deliver figures.
England's loss on penalties to Portugal in the Euro 2004 quarter-finals holds the current record at 228.2m, UEFA says.
Sunday's average audience in the United Kingdom was 20.3m.
Uefa compares the match ratings to the 14.7m UK audience for a concert this month to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

That's how many people enjoy it, then.

1.40pm: News from an MP who, perhaps thinking his profile is slipping, has decided to stick his oar in on a subject barely anyone in their right mind gives a flying one about. [Your live blog reporter is reproducing it, however, because not much else is going on].

England's footballers should be banned from singing God Save The Queen before matches because the anthem belongs to the whole UK rather than just England, according to Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, who must have solved the banking crisis, recession and general state of it all given he's got time to churn this out.

The Leeds North West MP said: "It is an affront to the people of Wales when England wrongly use the national anthem when England are playing. England should emulate Wales and be clear on the difference between England and the United Kingdom and introduce a rousing national anthem of our own."

He added: "Nothing promotes the Welsh identity better than the wonderfully rousing national anthem, Land Of my Fathers."

1.46pm: Another reason to hate Spain, and their odious possession and skil-based football. Chances are, they're wearing their away kit tonight and it's not very nice. And they're called stylists. Pah.

2.21pm: Breaking news: Mario Balotelli ruled out for Italy after ear-related injury, following flick attack from team-mates.*

* Disclaimer: this is neither breaking news, nor true.

2.33pm: The last time Spain and Portugal met at a major tournament, the World Cup in 2010, Daniel Taylor had this to say about Spain's 1-0 win.

Portugal did not show enough wit and adventure to make it the classic that had been hoped for and Carlos Queiroz's team did not go out of the competition with great dignity.

In the final moments Ricardo Costa earned a red card for a flailing arm into the face of Joan Capdevila and, as Cristiano Ronaldo sloped off the pitch after the final whistle, he registered his disapproval about being followed by a cameraman by spitting near enough for it to be seen as deliberate. Later, when asked for his thoughts on why Portugal had gone out of the competition, he replied pointedly: "Ask Queiroz."

2.39pm: According to various people on Twitter, there will be no minute's silence in memory of Miki Roqué tonight while Uefa has also blocked Spain's attempt to wear black armbands. Will confirm when I can.

2.54pm: Uefa do our work, so we don't have to - Platini and his chaps being our newest Open Journalism recruits. There's a handy guide to past Portgual semi-finals here, including quick interviews with the key men.

3.22pm: Hurrah. Paul Doyle is here to charge of the live blog. You'll be in far better hands from now on.

3.32pm: Hello. Doyle here. Tom has fobbed the banter baton off on me and I've got to run with it. First stop: Loftus Road, where Mark Hughes has announced the permanent signing of Samba Diakité, who, after an absurd start to his Premier League career last February, was excellent for the remainder of the season and an important part in QPR staying up.

"He's a very accomplished footballer and he's made to measure for the Premier League. He's got good pace, strength and ability on the ball and he's going to be a great asset for us going forward. There's still so much more to come from him. He's only been exposed to the Premier League for a handful of games, so I'm sure he's raring to go and get back into the action again."

Diakite was equally pleased to seal the move.
"It's a dream come true to sign this contract," he said. "I loved my time here on loan and I couldn't be happier to join QPR on a permanent deal. It's a fantastic club to play for and the owners have great plans for the future - I am just delighted to be part of it. This is a really exciting move for me."

4.01pm: Just 12 years in, Fifa look like they may finally join the 21st century. Here's what PA are reporting this afternoon.

Goal-line technology is certain to get the go-ahead from football's law-makers next week, according to sources on the International FA Board (Ifab).
The two systems, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, are set to be judged to have passed exhaustive scientific tests to the satisfaction of the Ifab.

4.15pm: For what it's worth, here are some of my thoughts on the topic du jour or, indeed, du tournoi. Spain are both boring and fascinating. The boredom factor comes from their aversion to risk, which results in an unwillingness to release the ball for a pass or shot unless almost certain that it will reach its destination. This is an admirable aspiration to perfection. And they've got pretty darn close to perfection at times. It is true that most of Spain's recent games have been monotonous spectacles but it could be argued that just as Spain have a tendency to make opponents look dire, opponents have a tendency to make Spain look boring – by taking even fewer risks than Spain, without being good enough to apply that approach while going forward. Let us hope that Portugal will be enterprising tonight, then we could be treated to a classic.

4.23pm: Rangers legend Sandy Jardine has a hunch that certain Rangers players are "trying to maximise their income" without giving a single hoot about helping the club clamber back to its feet after years of shameful mismanagement. Oh, other than the fact that several months ago they accepted drastic pay-cuts.

I am dismayed and disappointed by the actions of the eight players," stormed Sandy, who remains an Ibrox employee. "You have to say that if the players were up front and honest you would respect them more. What they have done is seen an opportunity - whether it is them or their agents - to maximise their income. The players took a salary sacrifice but for that they got clauses in their contracts which would allow them to leave on rock bottom prices if clubs came in for them. I have to be honest and I think the players have used our predicament to their gain. Ally McCoist gave a statement last week where he asked the players not to kid anyone on and to be up front and honest with the supporters."

Of course, we as a club, don't expect international players to go down a division or a few divisions. We understand that situation. We would be reluctant to see them go but we would understand.

They would move on with our best wishes and we would get a fee - albeit a rock bottom price in comparison to their market value. I know they made sacrifices but the gain will be huge in comparison. The unfortunate thing for us is that we get nothing. What we don't have an answer for is why the players simply did not adhere to the original deal and allow the club to make money from these reduced fees.

There was an agreement reached over wage cuts and they got a great deal because they could leave for rock bottom prices and now they have seen an opportunity. In many ways it's greed.