3 in a row for Spain

1 07 2012

A 4-0 win against Italy has won the European Championship for holders Spain.

This makes them the first team ever to retain the trophy. Not content with setting 1 record the Spanish have set 3!!!

They retained are the first team to retain the trophy, first team to win the final of a major tournament 4-0 and to cap it all off they are the first team to pull off the treble of European Cup, World Cup and European Cup…quite the feat.

Well done to Spain for their various achievements tonight.
I still don’t like you system though ūüėõ

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The Mario Balotelli Show

1 07 2012

I decided to wait a decent amount of time to let things sink in before I commented on Friday nights match.

As I mentioned to many people beforehand I really, really couldn’t see much of an outcome other than a German victory.

Well haven’t I got egg on my face now.

Germany didn’t manage to overcome their inability to beat Italy in competitive matches and really were second best on the night.

Other than the first 15 minutes when Germany really should have gone ahead they just didn’t find their feet.

They let Montolivo, De Rossi and Pirlo control the pace of the game in midfield and just looked disconnected.

One of the few positives for the losers on the night was the performance of Marco Reus, you can see straight away why Borussia Dortmund have splashed the cash to secure his signature. Shame the rest of the team didn’t include him as much as they should have.

I guess the standout performance for me, and most people for that matter, would have to be a certain disruptive youngster by the name of Mario Balotelli.

For anyone who has followed his antics in recent years this was the performance they have been waiting for.

So often he threatens to scale the heights of excellence only to see his own stupidity and lack of discipline send him tumbling back down.

His first goal came at exactly the right time for Italy and as for his second, well it was a bit of a peach wasn’t it.

Everyone loves seeing a wonderfully well placed shot which curls around and shows off the technical brilliance of the player who hit it. BUT and it is a big but, nothing for me ever really beats watching a striker really put their laces through it and just rocket one in.

Of course Balotelli wouldn’t be Balotteli without some element of idiocy so of course he had to pick up a yellow card for taking his shirt off whilst celebrating

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Euro 2012 Quarterfinals

21 06 2012

Well from tonight onwards we enter the fun stage of Euro 2012.

The group stages were wrapped up on Tuesday evening with England topping their group and France coming through as runners up.

So after a night off we get stuck right in with the first clash taking place in Warsaw tonight

Czech Republic Vs. Portugal

As much as I would love to see a Czech victory here I just can’t overlook the quality that Portugal have available to them with Nani, Veloso, Pepe, Coentrao and of course a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

That isn’t to say that the Czech’s are toothless, far from it, but talismanic goal scorer Milan Baros has failed to spark so far this tournament and Tomas Rosicky is still carrying a bit of a knock. That said Petr Jiracek has been one of the top performers in the tournament so far, grabbing 2 goals in the opening 3 matches.

Tomorrow night sees the action resume in Gdansk;

Germany Vs. Greece

The second of our quarter finals presents a bit of a “David and Goliath” situation. However on this occasion I am putting my money squarely on Goliath.

Germany were one of my hot favourites before the tournament started and three games in I haven’t seen much to make me alter my views.
Germany are the only team to have picked up all 9 points from the group stage and the Holland match aside, have done so without really having to break a sweat.

Mario Gomez has been in superb form thus far with 3 goals to his name already, 2 of which against Holland were absolute crackers.

I just don’t see the Greeks having the quality to go up against¬†Die Mannschaft in any area of the park. They were lucky in a lot of ways to get out of their group especially as they probably played the worst football out of any of the four teams.

The third quarterfinal takes place on Saturday in Donetsk

Spain Vs. France

Well, well, well isn’t this going to be a veritable feast of football.

In a lot of other years this is a match which could have graced a final, instead we see two of the heavyweights of World and European football going toe to toe in the first of the knock out stages.

I know that you can never base anything on form, particularly in cup football but if we were looking just at the group stages then you would have to say that this is a tough one to call.

Personally I haven’t really fancied Spain, even before the tournament started. There is just something about the way they are playing football at the moment which doesn’t fill me with that sense of awe that has been present in the past when watching them.

Yes Spain have the better players on paper, yes they are current World and European champions and yes they are more than capable of playing some very good football but I can see France tipping it.

Our last installment of  quarterfinal fun comes on Sunday in Kyiv

England Vs. Italy

Not quite the pairing that it might have been in prior years, neither team is what you would think of as a “vintage” side , indeed a lot of people have been saying that this is the worst England side for a number of years and plays a very negative style of football, personally I disagree but I will come to that later.

If I had to choose a word to sum up Italy for me it would be a toss up between dull and mediocre. They have some talented players in the side – Di Natale, Balotelli and Pirlo spring to mind but they made really hard work of their group and were far less value for money than the very unlucky, very spirited Croatians.

As if to prove my point only 1 of Italy’s goals in the group stages actually came about from open play.

As for England, well I am finding it more difficult than usual to dislike the side this year. Sure a few of the old annoyances linger on like Cole, Terry and Gerrard (all good players but just scum) But Hodgson hasn’t been afraid to give time to the likes of Welbeck and Oxlaide -Chamberlain, both of whom have impressed so far.

Whilst it isn’t the flashiest England team of recent years it it probably the most hard working and they look well set up to counter with pace via Young, Walcott and the aforementioned Chamberlain.

With Wayne Rooney back in the side and looking to make up for lost time I could see the Azzurri stumbling in this one.

 





Euro 2012 – Top players so far

15 06 2012

Ok, now before anyone points out the obvious yes we are only partway through the group phase but this is my blog and I make the rules!

With the second round of matches more or less out of the way now I have decided to have a quick look at some of the standout individual performances in the tournament so far.

 Mario Gomez

In my view Bayern striker Mario Gomez went  into the tournament with a little bit of a point to prove after a disappointing night in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

Well, with 3 goals so far he has more than delivered. Whilst he was the scorer of the only goal against Portugal was important it is two strikes against Holland which really impressed.
In particular his first where he timed his run to perfection and scored a goal that Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of.

I would be surprised if an in form Gomez couldn’t fire German on to at least a Semi Final place.

Adrei Arshavin

¬† If I had to pick three words to sum up Arshavin’s time at Arsenal they would be frustrating, lazy and mercurial.

After the initial promise Arshavin has pretty much failed to deliver. Yes people can point to his assist rate but it is more his work rate or lack of that bugged me. He just doesn’t seem to care.

Well if for Arsenal Arshavin has been found wanting it has been a completely different story for the Russian national side.
This is the Arshavin that Arsenal fans have been crying out to see, making runs, picking out passes and just generally pulling the strings in the way we know he can.

Russia have been one of the standout teams for me and I credit Arshavin with being a big part of that success.

Mario Mandzukic

If it hadn’t been for injury to first choice striker Ivica Olic then Wolfsburg striker Mandzukic would likely have found himself consigned to the bench.

Well couldn’t that have proved to be a mistake? With 2 well taken goals against Ireland and the all important equaliser against Italy last night. Mandzukic is proving to be a more than capable replacement.

Here is hoping Croatia can manage to make it out of the group stage so we can see more of this promising forward.

Alan Dzagoev

With 3 goals to his name so far 21 year old Dzagoev is really starting to live up to Russia’s expectation.

The CSKA Moscow striker has been a revelation so far and if not quite the dark horse that some people are making him out to be he has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows as Russia have looked more than good value for a tilt at the title.

Niklas Bendtner

 If you have ever had the pleasure of listening Niklas Bendtner then you will be well aware that he is a supremely confident young man,some might even say arrogant.

Well Sunderland’s top scorer last year, a mighty 8 goals, has started to live up to a little bit of his own hype after netting two well taken goals against Portugal.

Of course the controversial 24 had to go his own way by flaunting tournament rules against and flashing his Paddy Power sponsored boxer shorts.

 

Andriy Shevchenko

At 35 there are some people who thought that this might prove to be a tournament too far for Shevchenko.

Well two goals against Sweden from the talismanic striker will have gone someway to proving them wrong.

Shevchenko has always been a player for the biggest of stages and an excellent start to the tournament so far coupled with his resurgence for Dynamo Kyiv is just going to show why he is still top dog for the Ukraine.

Yohan Cabaye

Cabaye was the best midfielder on show in the France v England match by some distance, especially when compared with Scott Parker….

The Newcastle player dictated the tempo of the entire game and showed levels of class that may yet earn him a move away from St. James Park.

He controlled and patrolled the middle of the park with ease and it was on this foundation that France dominated the entire game.

 

 

 

 

 

 Bastian Schweinsteiger

Gomez might be getting the plaudits for scoring 3 very good goals but if he is pulling the trigger than it is Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger who is providing the ammo.

In fact I would go so far as to say that Germany’s chance of winning the tournament revolves heavily around Schweinsteiger’s ability to set the tempo of the game more or less single handed.

Approaching his prime at 27, Schweinsteiger’s influence was evident again on Wednesday when he set up both goals as Germany beat the Dutch 2-1 with a lesson in fast, powerful and clinically effective football.

“Schweinsteiger is getting better and better, he’s developing more of a presence and when it gets tough he can keep the ball,” coach Joachim Loew said after Germany moved to the brink of the quarter-finals. “He’s physically strong and wins the one-on-ones.”








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