Had something written up since Sunday but work commitments meant that it was never published. So, in order not to waste your time (you know how much I treasure your time), here’s just a recap of how things went in the Euros.
England v France
- Roy Hodgson went for his tried and trusted 2 banks of four and that worked. It stifled the attacking advances of France and limited them to shooting from afar.
- Set piece remains England’s best chance of scoring though they themselves were subjected to a few heart stopping moments when defending against such plays.
- Its obvious Blanc is building his team around Samir Nasri and the latter repays his faith with an eye-catching performance. Dictated play and always kept himself available for the ball. Deserved the goal.
- Creativity hard to come by for England with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain providing in spurts but tried too much on his own. Due to Ashley Young being employed further forward, James Milner was used but provided nothing except protection for Ashley Cole. Expect him to drop out when Wayne Rooney returns.
- France not utilizing Matthieu Debuchy’s exploits down the right hand side. Overlapping runs done perfectly and delivers inviting crosses. Yet, France had no on in the box to take advantage of it.
Ukraine v Sweden
- The old boys does it, or rather the AC Milan boys did it.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic benefitting from playing in the hole by ghosting in late to opened the scoring. Looks like he’s enjoying the new role as well, given his preference to be involve all the time.
- For a team with 2 reputable freekick takers, Sweden’s delivery was poor from those set plays. Neither Rasmus Elm nor Sebastian Larsson would want to look back at their deliveries.
- Andriy Shevchenko turned back the clock with two very well taken goals. Still has that instinctive side to his game. The second one, the diving header, something we don’t see very often in today’s game.
- Andriy Yamalenko looks a player. Another one of those left winger put on the right. Bags of skills and doesn’t look flustered when pressured. One for the future.
Greece v Czech Republic
- Proves that football is not always that predictable. Greece with a solid defensive unit coming into this tournament and Czech being goal-shy in the qualifiers. Yet, the opening minutes turned that upside down.
- Suspension of Sokratis Papastathopolous was a big loss for Greece. The rearranged side doesn’t look at organized and that is to be expected.
- Samaras on one side and Baros on the other. Both teams needs to find new talent to play as the striker. Both had their time as professionals and neither looks up to the mark (before or any longer).
- Tomas Rosicky proved his experience is still vital to Czech’s cause. His team missed his influence in the second half as Greece threatened to come back into the game.
- On this showing, neither side will be confident to advance to the next stage of the tournament.
Poland v Russia
- One of those enjoyable games with teams who are looking to play football on the ground and move the ball around quickly.
- Alan Dzagoev once again grabbed the headlines with his goal but did little else apart from it. Jury still out on the young Russian on whether he could turn out to be a world beater.
- I can’t go a game involving Russia without mentioning how good the working trio in midfield is for them. Zyryanov, Shirokov and Denisov has been my favourite midfield partnership of the tournament (what Spain?)
- Blaszczykowski aka Kuba came to the rescue for Poland with what I consider the best goal of the tournament so far. Quick, incisive passing set up the goal. One to savour for some time.
- Both sides still looks the best bet to advance out of the group and could potentially provide a shock or two in the knock-out stage.
Portugal v Denmark
- I can’t really start anywhere but on the “The Greatest Striker That Ever Lived”. Nicklas Bendtner scored a brace and continues to be a thorn to a Portuguese side. The second one, a lovely powerful header as well.
- Denmark did really well to come back into the game having been 2 down but Stephan Andersen could do little to prevent Silvestre Varela’s thunderous strike for the winner. Air shot the first chance, the Porto striker swiveled and redeemed himself with the second effort.
- Varela has looked the brightest amongst those that Paulo Bento keeps on the bench. Surely now he has to start ahead of Helder Postiga.
- Haven’t been the best of tournament for Christian Eriksen so far. Touted as one of the potential stars, perhaps the burden of expectation got too big for him. Still, that one pass which set up Lasses Shone was superb. Shame that didn’t turn out to be the equalizer.
- Cristiano Ronaldo belied his goal scoring form in La Liga as the goals dried up for him. Two one on one chances squandered and he’s left exasperated. On the other flank, Nani showed just how a winger is suppose to find the pass instead of individual effort. The Manchester United man had a very good game.
Germany v Holland
- I won’t call it German efficiency but it was rather close to that. Joachim Loew got his tactics spot on. Soaking up the consistent Dutch possession but gave away little. Their movement and positioning, a joy to behold.
- Mario Gomez found his shooting boots again. Two very well taken goals showed the predatory instincts of the Bayern Munich man. The lack of celebration rather baffling to me. Shame he couldn’t play like this in the Champions League final.
- Arjen Robben, still so one dimensional and so selfish. What else is there to say.
- Robin van Persie opened his accounts for the tournament with another of his classic chocolate leg finish. The power and accuracy of that shot gave Manuel Neuer no chance. Did little prior to that.
- Tournament favourites and rightly so for the Germans. Just too many players needed stopping and any opposition would struggle with that.
- Another tournament, another Dutch failure (potentially). Hardly look like a team with players seemingly playing for themselves. Egos bigger than the team.
Italy v Croatia
- Pirlo, Pirlo, Pirlo. There’s really no need for explanation there.
- He’s so good, he deserves another point. Right between the heads of two players jumping makes the freekick far more incredible than on original viewing.
- Thiago Motta proving himself more important to Italy by not being on the field than on it. Croatia wrest control of the midfield after his substitution.
- Bilic should be praised for playing 2 strikers against Italy. Caused them plenty of trouble and took advantage of just the 3 man at the back for the former World Cup winner.
- Maggio, Montolivo and Giacherrini disappointing but Prandelli still has qualification within his grasp.
Spain v Ireland
- Only caught it up till Torres’ opening goal. So won’t have much to say about this.
- Ireland not good enough while Spain showed exactly what is expected of them against such a poor side.
- A in form Torres could be one that decided the tournament winner.
On to 2 more games tonight as England face Sweden while France take on Ukraine. For the former, I don’t expect it to be an entertaining game at all. There’s already talk that Hodgson will go for Carroll up front, supported by Welbeck. Set piece outcome will probably decide this game, surprisingly the Swedes are the poorer in that stat. As for the latter, rumours emerged of Nasri being dropped to the bench. After his performance in the first one, you would think that he is a nail-on starter. Ukraine looked good in their own opening night win but they will find out that France are a much tougher outfit than Sweden.
Enjoy the matches.