Euro 2012: Round 2
The second round of Euro 2012 has been played, with the Rep. of Ireland and Sweden being eliminated.
Here’s a summary of the games, and my thoughts on what has been, what is, and what will be.
Greece 1 – 2 Czech Republic
Greece couldn’t recover from an absolutely shocking start, conceding two goals in the opening six minutes, and look almost definite to exit the competition, unless they beat Russia and Czech Republic and Poland draw, leaving Greece with a better goal difference.
Petr Cech once again had an absolute nightmare in a major competition. It was probably easier to catch the ball rather than let it slip through his fingers, past a defender and right into the path of Gekas to get a consolation for Greece.
Greece have to beat Russia if they want to have any sniff of getting through, but with the way the Russians are playing at the moment, I can’t see that happening at all. Greece have just been all over the place and unless they are really lucky, will be packing their bags.
Poland 1 – 1 Russia
A true rivalry, not just on the pitch, but historically off it too. The Poles and Russians shared the points, and you can only say that it was probably a fair result. Both teams had chances to win the game, but neither could take them.
Blaszczykowski’s awesome strike equalised for Poland after Dzagoev put Russia in front in a Russia-controlled first half.
If Poland beat Czech Republic then they are definitely through to the next round, and likewise for Russia against Greece.
I can see Poland pulling off a win against the Czech’s, although Lewandowski and Blaszczykowski will have to be at their absolute best to drive the team forward. With a tighter defence, Poland will be able to do it.
Denmark 2 – 3 Portugal
One of the most exciting games of the tournament so far. Portugal looked to be cruising towards victory after their two first half goals, but Bendtner had different ideas.
Two excellent pieces of play and two headers later, Denmark looked good for a draw after the Danish equaliser in the 80th minute. But substitute Varela had different ideas. When the ball fell to him inside the box, and he completely fluffed the shot, I thought that was game over. But the ball bounced so kindly to him and he just walloped it into the back of the net, no chance for the ‘keeper.
Denmark have now gone from a position of dominance after round one, to a rather precarious one, as they look likely to leave the competition if they don’t get a result against Germany.
Portugal also have to get some sort of result against the Netherlands, who have been woefully poor, or they risk leaving the tournament too.
Netherlands 1 – 2 Germany
Germany are the only team left in the Euro’s with a 100% winning record. Mario Gomez has shown everybody what he’s about, and no doubt there’ll be a few clubs willing to cough up the tens of millions required to purchase him this summer.
I thought that this game would have been a draw, with both teams cancelling each other out. But at half time, you might have thought that Germany were going to run riot, being 2-0 up.
Credit to Holland, they reduced the deficit and Van Persie finally took one of his opportunities, but again squandered too many.
It’s up to the Netherlands to beat Portugal by such a margin, and hope that Germany also comfortably beat Denmark, in order to qualify just on goal difference. It’s a tough ask, not impossible, but very unlikely.
Italy 1 – 1 Croatia
Pirlo’s lovely free-kick was cancelled out by Mandzukic’s strike to share the points, and put Croatia in a qualifying position ahead of the last game.
Italy had the possession, the shots and the quality to be able to get three points from the game, but Balotelli disappointed again up front, not being able to take any of his chances.
Croatia just stuck in and kept plugging away until the goal finally came, and now they’re equal on points with Spain.
Italy still have it all to play for though. They have a game against probably the tournaments worst team, Rep of Ireland. If Italy can beat them in such a manor as Spain, then they have nothing to worry about, because no combination of win or draw can stop them from leapfrogging at least one of the two teams ahead of them.
Croatia will just want to avoid defeat against Spain, and they will class that as a good result. But then they’ll also be hoping for Ireland to do them a favour and take something from Italy.
Spain 4 – 0 Rep. of Ireland
A David and Goliath situation, where Goliath prevailed. It was cat and mouse for much of the game, with Ireland looking nervous, out of ideas and, at some points, scared.
As soon as Ireland had any sort of possession, Spain had at least two players closing in fast on the player. Whereas Spain could enjoy time and space and freedom for the majority of the game.
Ireland became the first team to be eliminated from the Euros, as not even a win against Italy will get them enough points to qualify.
We really saw what Spain were about in this game, as Torres came to life, scoring two goals.
I don’t doubt that Spain will be able to beat Croatia and qualify, but I don’t think that they’ll have what it takes overall to win the tournament, because they can be too wasteful, clever and cocky with their chances.
Sweden 2 – 3 England
A brilliant win for England. After leading 1-0 going into half time, I’m sure the team talk from Hodgson would have been something along the lines of: “don’t concede early, keep a tight defence and let’s get another goal.” Well that didn’t go down too well, as within 15 minutes of the restart, Sweden were leading 2-1.
On came Walcott to change the game. A perfect impact substitute in my opinion, and he shouldn’t start any game for England until he can put in these types of performances from the first minute.
He scored a flukey goal, where the ‘keeper was just nowhere in sight, and then set up Wellbeck for a back-heeled goal to take all three points. I’m not sure if Wellbeck meant to do that, and if you asked him I’m sure he’ll say he did, but I’ll take it any day of the week!
Sweden became the second team to be eliminated from Euro 2012, and I am glad. Purely because of Ibrahimovic. He’s arrogant, egocentric and thinks he’s better than everyone on the pitch and can win the game by himself, well, I have news for you, he isn’t, and he never will be.
Because he can’t appreciate his team mates, he will never become a player of quality that I will look to and say “yes, you deserve to win.”
England need just a point from Ukraine to secure qualification into the next round, although I’m sure they’d like a win to try and top the group.
Ukraine 0 – 2 France
This game was delayed by an hour as the heavens opened and flooded the stadium, with forked lightning posing a potential danger to the players.
Credit to the ref and the UEFA officials, they managed to get the game under way with no more hitches, keeping everyone happy.
Neither team could break the deadlock in the first half, although Shevchenko came very close for Ukraine, breaking behind the French line but his shot was saved by Lloris.
France secured the three points with two goals in three minutes, as wave upon wave of increased pressure saw Menez and Cabaye convert.
Ukraine will have a tough challenge to qualify now as they play England in their last game, but France will probably get a win against a deflated Sweden side, making it a two horse race between England and Ukraine for that final qualifying spot.