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Maltese couple divided by the beautiful rivalry

Jeffrey Muscat and Letizia Grech have been dating for nine years, but they are not sure they can handle being together for tonight’s England vs Italy grudge match.

We want to watch it together but we could end up arguing

“That is a big dilemma as we want to watch it together so we can tease each other, but on the other hand we could end up arguing,” said Italy fan Mr Muscat.

Like most of the country, the usually happy couple will be glued to the TV tonight as local favourites England and Italy lock horns in the Euro 2012 quarter-final.

But as they will be rooting for different teams, it means one of them will end the evening disappointed.

“It will take a few days to cool off if England lose, maybe even longer because I know he will tease me for a long time,” Ms Grech said.

“I’m looking forward to having another two years of teasing her about the loss,” Mr Muscat chipped in.

But Mr Muscat has a dirty secret – he used to support England.

“It’s true – I was raised supporting England due to my late nannu’s brainwashing but when I saw Italy beat England in the 1990 World Cup I changed sides... thank God!

“I grew up watching Italian television and that, together with spending holidays there, influenced me a lot. Now I love anything Italian: the lifestyle, fashion, food, weather... you name it.”

Ms Grech’s choice of team was also influenced by her grandfather, but she stayed loyal to England.

“I grew up watching games with my nannu and I still do. He used to explain everything and it just made me fall in love with the England football team.”

Unlike her boyfriend, however, Ms Grech’s blind devotion does not extend beyond football.

“I like both countries equally. I like to go to England for a holiday as much as I like going to Italy, and I work with Italians,” she said.

So if their team loses tonight, will they support their partner’s team for the rest of the tournament?

“I will be neutral if England are knocked out,” said Ms Grech.

Her boyfriend was less diplomatic: “Absolutely not,I’d support Cambodia ahead of England!”

Similar sentiments were shared by Nadja Chetcuti, who sides with England despite her boyfriend Joe Debono being an avid Azzuri fan.

“I wouldn’t be able to cheer for Italy even if England go out. I hate the way the Italians play – they’re always falling over,” she said.

Ms Chetcuti and Mr Debono plan to watch the game in the same band club – though they will be sitting at different tables.

Their families are also England and Italy fanatics, which leads to lots of teasing but nothing more serious.

“Whoever loses tonight will have to put up with some jokes but we would never have a serious argument over football,” Ms Chetcuti said – though her boyfriend seemed less sure.

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