June 5, 2012

Hi guys and sorry for the fact I haven't blogged at all up to now this year. I was lacking the creative spark (which the English national football team also seems to be lacking at the moment) and busy as usual with lots of work and stuff.

But now I have been smacked around the head with a wet fish by the name of "creative inspiration" and I am going to start blogging on the EURO 2012 as a football nutter and enthusiast and fan, and any other noun that denotes a sense of exessive fondness of the sport involving the round ball, the football....  Every day until the end of the tournament I will be writing my own personal diary on the games, the teams, the results and many other things no doubt.

Tomorrow I will be concerning myself with Groups A and B. Group A contains Poland, Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic. Group B, the so-called Group of Death, includes Holland or the Netherlands whatever you want to call them, the Germans, Denmark and Portugal.

The first games kick off on Friday, 8 June and the first match is between Poland and Greece, at 6.00 pm. I am unsure who to support in this match actually as my wife was born in Poland and my Grandfather was Greek. I think Poland might just nick it, 2-1. The other match will be between Russia and the Czech Republic, I think that will be a draw. Anyway, I will be providing more detailed analysis and more biased, misguided predictions tomorrow. Read it, it might even make you laugh...... ciao tutti...

 

EURO 2012 Group A June 6, 2012

Ok guys here we go. I said I was going to preview both Groups A and B but I won't be able to manage it today as I am going to be working till midnight....

The group contains host nation Poland, former occupiers Russia, former country occupied by Poland and other nations in 1968 Czech Republic (ok it was Czechoslavakia back then (:P ) and Greece. So there might be a bit of tension in this group. Poland have quite a good side with Lewandowksi up front and fellow Dortmund teammates Lukasz Piszczek, the quality rightback and Jakub "Kuba“ Blaszczykowski, the busy midfielder who is also an excellent technical player. However, Greece have also proved a very difficult side to beat and are well set up by Portuguese coach Fernando Santos. They have few star players and no players whose name I can recall, I only know the guy who plays for Schalke... but anyway they are very miserly in defence and I think they might even pull off a draw against Poland in the opening game. Russia is managed by Dutch veteran coach Dick Advocaat who has been pretty successful with a large number of different clubs including Glasgow Rangers, but not including Borussia Mönchengladbach who fired him after half a season. He is supposed to be a bit of disciplinarian which doesn't go down well with a lot of these modern football types, who are sensitive and hate criticism and earn ludicrously large sums of money. Star players are Arshavin who used to play for Arsenal and Yuri Zhirkov who used to play for Chelsea if I not mistaken... They are a useful side and even though Russians are more interested in Ice Hockey where they are world champions, the Russians will want to impose themselves on this group. I think they will head the group as the Poles though a handy side will succumb to the mental pressures of playing at home, and fail to perform. 

The other side as mentioned above is the Czech Republic, they are not as strong as they used to be, but still have the excellent Peter Cech in goal and Rosicky in midfield. They may actually do quite well they are not far from home and will have great support too and I expect them to battle it out with Poland for 2nd place in this group.

That's it from me for today, I will be focusing on Group B tomorrow, so please tune in. I know quite a lot about all the sides in this group.

 

June 7, 2012 EURO2012

Group B

So this is the group of death with Germany, Holland, Portugal and Denmark. Although actually there are only two teams who I feel are likely to progress from this group in Holland and Germany. Germany are many people's favourites for the tournament and have a wealth of talent in all areas and a refreshing attacking style of play, their defence is relatively solid though I suspect their central defence my be a bit suspect. Manuel Neuer - who cheated back in 2010, pretending Frank Lampard's goal was not over the line, they have the brilliant Phillip Lahm who can play equally well as left or right-back, Boateng, who is a strong athletic and technically sound central defender or left or right back. Pier Mertesacker who is about 6 foot 7 tall also in central defence. He lacks some pace and opposing sides might want to try and exploit this assuming he is playing. Other contenders for the central defender position are Badstuber of Bayern Munich and Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund. The interesting thing going in to this tournament is the fact that Joachim Löw has stated publicly that he will be looking to use more Bayern Munich players than Dortmund players. This may well lead to some feelings of annoyance on the part of the Dortmund players, who have after just won the domestic double in Germany and convincingly beaten Bayern Munich every time they have played. Löw feels rightly that Bayern Munich have more international experience and they reached the Champions League final  "Dahoam" (at home) where they were expecting to finish off the season with a huge high... Unfortunately for them they lost against Chelsea despite having much more possession and a few very good chances to clinch the tie. Arjen Robben (the Dutchman, I will writing about them next) missed a penalty and Chelsea went on to win the penalty shoot-out. I feel Löw's decision to more or less solely back his "Bayern Block" could backfire and lead to a lack of team unity and cohesion. We will see. Germany's key players of the recent past have been Schweinsteiger and Özil of Real Madrid. Schweinsteiger has been injured for quite some time in the second half of the season and also picked up a calf injury in the CL Final. It is debatable whether he will be fully fit for the Portugal game. Maybe he could be replaced by Dortmund's own star player 19 year old Mario Götze, but there again Löw would prefer to play the Bayern Munich player. Özil is an excellent technician, fast dribbler and superb passer of the ball, he is arguably the German sides best player. His game has improved since he moved to Mardid and he was very good to begin with. In defensive midfield they also have Sami Khedira who has also had a very good season with Real Madrid

Germany had an excellent qualification campaign winning all 10 of their matches against quite decent opposition in the form of Turkey and Belgium and scoring a lot of goals. They also beat Holland 3-0 in a friendly in November 2011 and are many people's top favourites. Here in Germany there is a great sense of expectation and the Mannschaft must deliver. I see three possible problem areas, 1. the central defence, 2. the potential lack of unity in the team, 3. the fact their forwards might not be firing on all cylinders. Up front they have Mario Gomez who has scored a huge number of goals this season but also has a tendency to miss absolute sitters. His rival for the number 9 position is golden oldie Miroslav Klose. He has played in more than 130 matches for Germany and scored over 70 goals for the team. He is 34 and I think he is past his prime. Müller who was such a revelation at the 2010 World Cup has also struggled of late and not been a regular starter. On the left they have Podolski who has had a good season even though his side FC Cologne were relegated. It is clear while I am writting this that the side is very good, but it remains to be seen if they can deal with being favourites for this tournament.

Holland are also a great side and have household names throughout the team, especially Arsenal's Robin van Persie and Van der Vaart in attack, and Huntelaar and Sneijder and Nigel de Jong in midfield. The match against Germany should be a real treat and an explosive affair between the two fierce rivals.

 

Portugal despite not having performed well recently also have star players including Christiano Ronaldo who scores nearly as many goals as Messi, and Nani of Manchester United. Meireles is a good midfield player and they have the uncompromising and psychotic Pepe in defence. 

 

Denmark are the lesser lights in this group but also a more than capable side. They have talented young midfielder Eriksen in the side and Daniel Agger in defence, one of the best central defenders in the English Premier League.

 

Ok, I said this would be more detailed, and so it has been, now let's look forward to the opening matches. The Dutch play Denmark first on Saturday and I predict they will win 2-1.

Who dares wins

Then Germany play Portugal. This is a really interesting matchup and I feel Portugal can even win this match, but they need the right tactics. Germany's weaknesses in central defence need to be exploited for Portugal to have a chance. Nani and Ronaldo and the striker whoever it should be need to apply a lot of pressure on the German defence and prevent them from getting their passing game together. I would suggest Nani should be up on the shoulder of the German right or leftback and then supported by Ronaldo who would play more centrally and cut inside, using his pace, and his shooting prowess.  The Portuguese will need to work hard, defend as a unit and always fall deep quickly if they lose the ball. The Germans have frequently proved what a counter attacking threat they can be. A lot of people see Germany as clear favourites in this game. I am not so sure. Portugal will no doubt relish being the underdogs and will have a point to prove. I predict Germany 2 Portugal 2.

 

Friday, 8 June 2012. Group C.

 

So today is the big day when the tournament kicks off in Warsaw. Final predictions for today, Poland 1 Greece 0, and Russia 2 Czech Republic 1.

 

So now I will be briefly taking a look at Group C featuring European and World champions Spain, recent world champions Italy, Ireland and Croatia. Spain who won 8 out of 8 of their games in qualifying for the tournament are surely going to win this group. They do have problems up front though with David Villa out injured and Fernando Torres regularly failing to find the net when playing for Chelsea. The do have non-typical Spaniard Fernando Llorente a big front man but also a man with a lot of pace and skill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbLSg1PdSQI

I have attached a video link. It also demonstrates why Rio Ferdinand was rightly left out of the England squad. Spain are also missing Carles Puyol in defence. But they have lots of good young players coming through including Martinez in midfield and will no doubt pass the opposition into submission in this group. Iniesta is also a superb player and they have a quality and experienced goalkeeper in Casillas. Will definitely win the group with at least 7 points, might draw against ultra-defensive Italy.

Italy have been poor in their recent friendlies, one of their players has been arrested pre-tournament on match fixing charges and they may well struggle to beat Croatia to 2nd place in this group. Their star man is Pirlo, a great set piece taker and the man who can make things happen in midfield.. he is getting on a bit though. Balotelli offers occasional flashes of inspiration up front, but has threatened to walk off the pitch if he hears any racist abuse from the stands… unfortunately, there is a large undercurrent of racism in Poland and the Ukraine. Balotelli is also famous for doing remarkably silly things on, and off, the pitch aside from just scoring goals… why always him, well precisely why? Perche? Lui e pazzo … that's why ;) Italy quite an aging side in overall terms… will be interesting to see if they triumph in adversity. As in the case of England too, the tag of underdogs may actually spur them on to greater things. Vediamo. Che sara sara.

Ireland are not a very talented side, their best players being Kevin Doyle of Wolves who were relegated last season and Robbie Keane who has been playing in the MLS in the States of late, and the slightly aging Damien Duff. They may pull off a draw against Croatia and Italy but I expect them to come bottom of this group. They will fight hard under coach Giovanni Trappatoni and be well organised, could pull off a shock, but I doubt it.

Croatia are a good side and have regularly qualified for major tournaments over the past 20 years. They have the mercurial Modric in midfield and are well managed by Slavan Bilic. They will battle it out with Italy for 2nd.

 

Saturday June 9, 2012 Group D

So today the Group of Death kicks off. My predictions as stated earlier:

Holland 2-1 Denmark

Germany 2-2 Portugal.

Yesterday Poland started well against Greece, went up 1-0 up through Lewandowski then a Greek was sent off for no good reason by the Spanish referee, and this strangely galvanised the Greeks in the second half who then went on to equalise after 52 minutes through substitute Salpingidis, then had a penalty awarded to them with the Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny, being sent off when fouling Salpingidis in the area as the last man. Amazingly the substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton saved the spotkick. Both sides then had a couple of chances to sneak the win, with Greece having a goal ruled marginally offside. The Poles started well but lost their way after the sending off of the Greek player Papastathopoulos and the pressure of getting off to a winning start before their home crowd got to them. The next game against Russia is a must-win game. Russia, however, were very impressive in seeing off the Czech Republic 4-1 and could and should have scored several more goals.

 

OK now let’s move on to Group D

This group consists of England, France, Ukraine and Sweden.

France have been very impressive of late and not lost in 21 games, having beaten England, Germany and Brazil in friendlies. They are actually my favourites for the tournament with star striker Benzema of Real Madrid, and Ribery of Bayern Munich. The pair of them link up very well and are a constant threat. They have a good goalkeeper in Lloris and an excellent midfield with Ribery, Nasri of English PL champions Manchester City, Cabaye of Newcastle United. They may not be all that strong defensively, but they play a fluent attacking game and will be hard to beat.

They play England first on Monday in Donetsk. This will be a really tough match for England who have been cursed by injuries with their best creative player Wilshere being out all season through injury, and injuries to other players such as Smalling, Walker, Bent, Cahill and Lampard. Rooney is also suspended for the first two games. The only good thing about this is that captain Steven Gerrard will be playing in his favourite position just behind the fowards. England under Roy Hodgson will play a defensive, organised game and look to hit sides on the counter attack. They have quick attacking players in Ashley Young, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain. The trouble with playing too defensively against the excellent French attack is that it will invite them to attack, and they will be happy to do so. England’s best goalkeeper in decades Joe Hart may have to produce a blinder to prevent an English defeat in the opening game. England's only trump card is that everyone thinks they are abysmal. It is not a great trump card to have in all honesty.

The other two sides in the group are Sweden who will be their organised, combative selves, with Ibrahimovic up front. He is a world class striker but can go missing and Sweden tend to play better when he is not playing. Sweden are a tough side to beat and though they will probably lose against the French in their final game they may get a draw against the English.

The host nation in this group is Ukraine. They have been poor in their friendlies of late but should not be underrated, they have a world class defensive midfielder in Tymoshchuk and are a good side on the counter, they almost beat Germany in a friendly recently and the speed of their counterattacking football was breathtaking on that day.

France will come top in this group, and Sweden, England and the Ukraine will fight it out for 2nd place. In the first group matches I predict France will beat England 2-0 and the Ukraine and Sweden will play out a 1-1 draw.

 

Sunday June 10, 2012

Haphazard Holland humbled

Germans get glücklich

So the Group B matches were played yesterday and Holland lost 1-0 against Denmark, starting well but then letting Krohn-Dehli exploit Dutch defensive uncertainty and expertly strike the ball into the net through the goalkeeper's legs.

Robben then hit the post when he picked up a poor goalkeeper's clearance from Andersen and the Dutch missed a couple of other chances. Arsenal's van Persie was particularly profligate. Denmark stuck to their task, defended valiantly and in the end deserved the win against an arrogant Dutch side who thought they merely had to turn up with their worldclass stars to pocket the 3 points.

In the evening match Portgual frustrated a strangely lacklusture German side for long periods, even hit the underside of the bar with a shot by Pepe just before halftime, and looked dangerous on the counter. Germany, however, kept plugging away and just when it looked like they would be frustrated for the whole game Gomez managed to place a perfect header into the corner of the net. The cross by Khedira took a deflection on its way to him and he hardly had to move to get his head on it, but he proved that he is a great header of the ball. I wonder if Andy Carroll will do something similar against France ;). Portugal then decided it might be a good idea to start attacking, Nani who played well throughout hit the bar with a cross-shot effort, Ronaldo was frustrated by an excellent challenge in the area by Boateng, and substitute Varela had a great opportunity but fired his shot straight at Manuel Neuer whilst Nani also saw his close-range effort from blocked by Holger Badstuber. Germany marginally shaded the game in terms of possession and also had other chances, Gomez just failed to get on the end of a Müller cross immediately after his opening goal and also had a goal disallowed in the first half as the referee pulled the play back for a foul on the edge of the box by Meireles leading up to this.

All in all it was not a sterling display by the German team but they will be more than happy with the result. Schweinsteiger showed little and I had forgotten he was on the pitch until his name was mentioned around the hour mark. Mats Hummels was selected instead of Per Mertesacker and played superbly with a cool head at the back and often bringing the ball forwards expertly out of defence, Boateng was also impressive. I had suspected Germany would struggle if Mertesacker would play, Hummels' selection was just the right tactical tweak by Löw. Portugal were slightly disappointing in that they were so defensive. Ronaldo should have played more centrally and they should have tried to attack more from the start. It would have made for a more entertaining game at any rate.

 

Now Holland will have to face Germany knowing that only a win will be good enough to keep their hopes alive. Löw was actually not too happy about this, but I suspect Germany will win that game too. Holland will have to attack and that will leave space for the likes of Özil, Müller and Podolski to exploit. The Holland defence is also not that strong. I hope Denmark win the other game against Portugal... They have quite a good recent record against them too.

Today Spain play Italy. I suspect Italy will play quite defensively and try and win a point. My prediction Spain 1 Italy 1.

The other match is Ireland v Croatia. I expect quite a tight game but Croatia should win, 2-1 to Croatia my prediction.

 

Monday June 11, 2012

Well hi there. I am going to have to be quick here as the work is piling here. I correctly predicted the Spain v Italy result yesterday and Italy played very well took the lead after 62 minutes and then Febregas equalised for Spain within 2 minutes. Spain struggled to deal with the 3-5-2 formation of the Italians and also complained about the dryness of the pitch after the match. The final score was 1-1. In the other match Croatia beat Ireland 3-1 and looked pretty useful.

Today France play England and will have too much quality in the heat of Donetsk running out easy 2-0 winners. In the other match I suspect Sweden will win 2-1.

A bit brief today but I will add something to the blog later on this evening.

 

Tuesday June 12, 2012

Yesterday England remarkably avoided defeat and played quite well in patches, albeit very defensively, against France. Milner should have scored with the goal at his mercy following an excellent past by Ashley Young in the 16th minute and Lescott then headed England in front after about half an hour only for Nasri to equalised for the French with a shot through a mass of players into the bottom right hand corner. The Italian referee was terrible though and refused to send any French players cards despite numerous fouls from them. The final score was 1-1. In the other game Ukraine and Sweden fought out a tough match in Kiev and the home side emerged 2-1 winners with Chevchenko scoring both of the Ukraine goals after Ibrahimovich had put the Swedes in front after 52 minutes. The Ukrainian were very impressive on the night and if they beat France will already have qualified for the quarter finals.

Today I am really late with this blog and the Czech Republic have already scored after 3 minutes against Greece. I think Greece will come back though and win 3-2.

In the other game host nation Poland play Russia. I expect Poland to pull off a surprise and win 3-1 in a hot tempered match.

That's it from me for today I am afraid. I will try and write more tomorrow..

 

Wednesday June 13, 2012

Yesterday the Czech Republic managed to beat a fairly harmless Greece side 2-1.  In the other match Poland and Russia fought out a very exciting draw which ended 1-1. Blaszczykowski producing a superb strike from the edge of the area to pull Poland level in the second half after Russia had taken the lead in the first half from a set piece. In the lead-up to this match there was a lot of trouble between Russian and Polish supporters as the Polish authorities ludicrously allowed the Russians to march through Warsaw (on Russia day marking the country's liberation from the Soviet Union in 1990) and towards the stadium. Lots of fights broke out and around 200 people were arrested, some 15 were injured.

In today's matches Portugal play Denmark and I predict a 1-1 draw. In the other match the Dutch, who are suffering from their traditional infighting and players not seeing eye to eye with the coach, take on Germany in what is arguably the match of the group stages. It will be played in Kharkov and the temperatures are expected to be around 30 degrees for this match even though it does not kick off until 8.45 pm. The Germans at home were happy with the result against Portugal but not with the performance and even Gomez's position, despite being the scorer of the winning goal,has been questioned. Lahm also came in for some criticism and was strangely off colour against the Portuguese. I expect a German win tonight and predict a 3-1 scoreline. Holland need to attack and to try to win but I think Germany will have too much for them going forward. Snejder has also criticised his Dutch teammates and accused them being egomaniacs and all does not seem to be well with the Oranjes. They could produce a good performance and they have world class strikers in van Persie and Huntelaar, just can't see it happening today, their defence is also not all that, so Germany should win with something to spare.

Anyway let's see what happens the Portugal v Denmark match has just kicked off and I am going to go downstairs to watch it. Toodaloo folks.

 

 

Thursday June 14, 2012

Hi there. Yesterday Portugal beat Denmark 3-2 in an end to end tie.. Portugal went up 2-0 in the first half with goals from Pepe and Postiga then Bendtner pulled one back with a headed goal just before the half-time whistle and in the second half Ronaldo fluffed two excellent chances to restore his side's two goal lead. The Denmark equalised with another Bendtner header in the 80th minute and it almost looked as if Denmark might go on to win the match but Portugal then went ahead again through an excellent strike by Varela in the 87th minute. It was cruel on the Danes, but they still have a chance of qualifying for the quarter finals.

In the other (grudge) match between fierce rivals Holland and Germany, Germany won 2-1. Holland disappointed throughout and despite two early chances which van Persie failed to put away and dominating early possession you had the feeling that the Germans were the side more likely to score. Özil then hit the post for the Germans before Gomez latched on to a slide rule pass from Schweinsteiger spun on a six pence then nonchalantly struck the ball past the Dutch keeper in the 25th minute. In the 38th minute he scored again picking up a ball on the right hand side of the penalty area and firing in a great shot into the top left corner of the net. Super Mario certainly proved his critics, and yes I am looking at you Mehmet Scholl (prize pillock), wrong. The Dutch changed their tactics at half time and brought on Van der Vaart to replace the feckless Van Bommel. The Dutch showed a bit more intent but you could be forgiven for thinking that van Marwijk is not a good manager and that he got his tactics wrong and lost his dressing room. Van Persie did pull a goal back for the Dutch after 73 minutes and they made an attacking substitution bringing on Kuyt for Robben, who again failed to impress. The Dutch had another couple of half chances and the Germans seemed to tire and resorted to a lot of timewasting towards the end of the match. The match was played in great heat in Kharkov and it took its toll on both sides. Overall the Germans deserved the win and the last round of matches will be interesting as the Danes could still go on and beat the Germans and even knock them out of the tournamenent despite the fact the Germans now have 6 points. I don't think it will happen but the Germans are not through just yet.

Today's matches are between Italy and Croatia. Croatia have beaten the Italians once or twice in the fairly recent past, but I think Italy will win this one 3-1. In the other match Spain take on Ireland and Spain will win this match comfortably 3-0.

That was it from me today. I will be back tomorrow with some interesting and hopefully reasonably detailed analysis in the leadup to the England v Sweden game. Bis später :).

 

 Friday, June 15 2012

Hello readers. Yesterday Italy drew 1-1 against Croatia after having taken a first half lead through a magnificent Pirlo freekick and wasting a host of chances. They then parked the bus in the second half and seemed to tire against a combative Croatian side who then equalised in the 72nd minute through Mario Mandzukic. The draw means Italy may have to win their last game against Ireland and even then it won't be enough if Croatia play out a 2-2 draw against Spain in their final game. Span convincingly beat Ireland 4-0 and Torres bagged a brace against a hapless Ireland side who went 1-0 down in the 4th minute following an excellent Torres strike and Spain dominated from start to finish, though the Irish frustrated the Spaniards in the first half and kept the scoreline down to 1-0 at the break. In the final 20 minutes the Irish hardly got a touch of the ball, and it will take a good side indeed to beat this Spanish side.

 

Today it is the turn of the sides in Group D to show what they can do with the ball, or in England's case without the ball, as England are the best side in history without the ball.... Their fans only have to worry when they have the ball as that's when they have major problems. In the first match host nation take on France in Donetsk.. It is likely to be another game played in intense heat and I am hoping Ukraine will win, as that would mean they will already be through to the next round before their final match with England, theoretically making life easier for England, but I suspect France will win comfortably 3-1.

In the other match England take on Sweden, a side they have failed to beat in a competitive match since 1968. England will need to attack more in this match, and Sweden will also want to clinch the 3 points as a draw or defeat would leave them with little hope of qualifying as they have to take on France in the final match. I suspect it will be another draw, 1-1 my prediction. Interestingly Roy Hodgson may play Andy Carroll to partner Danny Welbeck up front. The Swedes with their aging defence with 33 year old Mellberg at its heart are certainly vulnerable. England will need to use the pace of Young, Welbeck and possibly also Walcott, to stretch the Swedes. Good passes into the channels in the final third can mash up the Swedes and that is the way England must play, with pace and with Gerrard in a more forward role to supply the forwards. The Swedes are suffering from their own "bumgate" scandal where their reserve keeper had to suffer the embarrassment of having his teammates firing shots towards his bare backside after he lost a keepy-uppy game. The Swedish press and even their prime minister have criticised these bullying tactics though in fairness it is just a bunch of lads having a good laugh in training.

Ibrahimovic will be their danger man and Wilhelmsson, who came on late in the game against the Ukraine and looked very impressive, is likely to start with Elmander also playing from the start. England have the ability to win this game, but they must play more offensively and the Swedes will be eager to test the England defence, will play physically and with a lot of commitment. England need to play streetwisely, calmly and pick off the Swedes with cool precision. It is not likely to happen, but that is the best way to win this game.  The Swedes seem very confident before the match and always enjoy battling it out with England, England need to play a less physical game, and rely on the speed of their forwards.

 

 Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nick Watson football genius or what, you will all be thinking to yourselves. England beat Sweden in a dramatic, topsy turvy match. 3-2 was the final scoreline. England took the lead through an immense header by Andy Carroll following a brilliant cross by Steven Gerrard in the 23rd minute.... England then looked relatively comfortable in the first half and even had chances to extend their lead. The Swedish then increased the pressure in the 2nd half and equalised from a set piece with Mellberg beating Joe Hart with a shot from close range which Glen Johnson was then unable to clear off the line. The Sweden proceeded to take the lead from a corner with defender Mellberg again the scorer. However, England then seized the initiative back when Milner came off and Walcott come on. He scored from 20 yards as Sweden failed to clear an England corner and then in the 78th minute burst into the box with his lightning pace and crossed to Welbeck who then produced a brilliant backheeled goal with his back to goal. England then held firm and should have scored a 4th when Walcott again burst down the right to set him up. It was a good win for England and a battling display and apparently their first ever win over Sweden in a competitive fixture. I had said yesterday that England must make the pace of their attackers pay and in the end it did. 

In the earlier match which was interrupted for an hour due to a violent thunderstorm and a torrential downpour in Donetsk France comfortably beat Ukraine 2-0. The Ukraine offered little and seemed to have more trouble coping with the playing conditions. It will be interesting to see if they can up their game in the England match.

Today co-host nation Poland play Czech Republic. I hope Poland will win 2-1 as they are the better side. In the other match Russia play Greece. I predict a Russian win 3-1.

That's it for today I am going to try and enjoy some of the warm summer weather here. Catch you later guys!

 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hi there! Just a very short blog today. Poland disappointingly dropped out of the tournament losing 1-0 against a savvy Czech sides, but missed a handful of good chances in the first half and paid the price as the Czech Republic took control in the second. In the other match Greece show what a strong side they are mentally beating Russia 1-0 and thus progressing to the quarter finals where they will most probably play tournament favourites Germany.

Today Germany will beat Denmark 3-0 and Portugal will beat Holland 2-1. Portugal and Germany would then progress to the quarters.. Ok gonna watch the match now catch you later!

 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guten Abend meine Damen und Herren. Germany made it to the quarters yesterday winning 2-1, made a bright start, Podolski scored from a great Gomez flick and they squandered a couple of gilt-edged chances, the the Danes equalised through Krohn-Delhi from a corner and it was 1-1 at half-time. The Germans struggled at the start of the 2nd half and the Danes could have even taken the lead from in the 51st minute, when they struck the post.In the other match Portugal beat Holland 2-1, Ronaldo scoring both goals for the Portuguese, after Holland had taken the lead from a brilliant van der Vaart strike. So the pointless Dutch campaign came to an end. In the quarters Germany will face the mighty Greeks and Portugal will take on the Czech Republic. 

Today Spain take on Croatia and I am predicting a scandalous 2-2 draw meaning the Italians will drop out of the tournament regardless of how many goals they score against the plucky Irish. I predict Italy will win 3-1. Normally Spain should beat Croatia easily but a 2-2 or higher draw will mean both teams progress at Italy's expense. Having seen Italy and Croatia play against each other, I actually think Croatia are the slightly better side, certainly physically.

Ok the games kick off in a few minutes, catch you later!

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's the crack? As we say in West Cumbria.. Well the crack is that Spain sneaked into the quarter finals last night in rather fortuitous circumstances.. The fact a German referee was nominated to officiate the game obviously meant he was shit scared (pardon my French) of disadvantaging the Spanish in any way shape or form, as this would have meant he was trying to make life easier for his compatriots. Anyway he should have awarded the Croatians 2 penalties and the Spanish goal in the 87th minute was offside in my opinion. Spain dominated possession for large swathes of the game but Croatia were the better and more dangerous side, an excellent cross by Modric with the outside of his right foot, should have resulted in a goal but the Ivan Ratkitic failed to beat Cassillas and headed the ball straight at him. Towards the end of the match Croatia had to press harder for a goal as Italy were winning 2-0 and were ultimately unfairly punished when Jesus Navas scored. Spain came very close to going out but ultimately prevailed, this was mainly due to the disgraceful performance of the referee. Anyway Spain and Italy progress and will be watching this evening to see who progresses from Group D to face them in the quarters. The situation is as follows:

 

England probably need a draw. If they lose, they have to hope France lose by enough so that England at least end level with France on goal difference and goals scored (as England have a superior coefficient, 33.563 to France's 30.508).

• Ukraine need to win to progress.

• France will be through with a draw. If they lose, they would only be out if England lose but at the same time move level with them on either goal difference or goals scored.

• Sweden are out.



I expect England to lose. They lack pace in central defence and the Ukrainians have a lot of pace up front. England were also in control in the first half against Sweden and then completely panicked when the Swedes started attacking more and they defending of set-pieces was very poor. Rooney comes into the side but he may not be more of a liability than a help, I hope he keeps his cool, but there is a big chance he will see red and then see red;) Anyway England obviously have a chance... They also have very quick players and the Ukrainian defence look a bit feckless and even slower than ours but I suspect the home side will be able to use the passionate atmosphere and England will lose their cool and not be able to deal with the pressure. In the words of the famous song 3 lions... we've seen it all before, England's gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away.  Anyway I might be surprised but I am not optimistic.

In the other match I think France will beat Sweden, by winning they will ensure they don't have to play Spain. Let's see what happens.

 

 Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So England have made it the quarters and even came top of their group as they won 1-0 and France lost 2-0 against Sweden. Ukraine put England under a lot of early pressure and had a couple of good chances but England weathered the storm and Rooney even could have put England ahead after 28 minutes when offered a chance to score following a good floated cross from Young. Unfortunately he headed wide and the evening remained tense. The score was 0-0 at half time and then England took the lead through a gift from the Ukrainian goalkeeper who failed to deal with Gerrard's deflected cross and allowed Rooney to nod into the empty net in the 48th minute. England dealt quite well with the waves of Ukrainian attacks that followed but were very lucky in the 64th minute when the Ukrainians seemed to have scored a goal when Terry cleared the ball off the line, but actually from behind the line. The official behind the goal should have seen it was behind the line but did not award a goal... as it turns out the Ukrainians had benefitted from the fact the linesman had failed to spot an offside infringement leading up to this ghost goal... England would have had more cause for complaint in fact if the goal had been awarded.

So England take on Italy in the quarter finals, should be an interesting game, and France will have to take on European and World Champions Spain in their quarter final match. OK I am off to play football myself now readers, catch you later...

 

 Thursday, June 21, 2012

So now we are into the business end of the tournament, yesterday was thankfully a rest day from football, so I have had some time to collect my thoughts. Today Portugal take on the Czech Republic and now that Cristiano Ronaldo has found his scoring boots and his touch in the game against Holland I expect Portugal to run out reasonably handsome winners. The team as a whole has been playing well and they should be far too good for a Czech Republic side I obviously love to underestimate. Anyway I predict a 3-1 Portugal win.

Tomorrow Germany face their euro chums Greece in their quater final clash. Should be a fascinating battle and the Greeks are out to prove a point and make the sad people back home happy.Whether success would induce them to move back home along with their huge savings is another matter however.

On Saturday it is the turn of Spain against France and I expect France to emerge as the surprise winners of that contest. They were soundly beaten by Sweden and lucky to qualify for the quarters but they can be a quality side on their day and I am hopeful we will see the best of the France side, my outside tip for the tournament as you may recall.

Then on Sunday Italy play England. I cannot actually recall any other knockout match between these 2 sides which is strange. The Italians in the form of players such as de Rossi are saying they are confident of beating England, but if England opt for the right tactics and the right mix up front they can make life very hard for the Italians. I will discuss this in more detail tomorrow. Anyway I will sign off for now... Have a nice evening whether you are still in the euro(s)or not.... ;)

 

Friday, June 22, 2012

So thank God it's Friday, and thank God, it is time for the Greece v Germany quarter final in Gdansk, the home of the Solidarnosc moment. I should first, however, mention that Portugal progressed to the semi-final last night by beating the Czech Republic 1-0. The scoreline did not reflect the second-half superiority of the Portuguese and with Ronaldo again superb, hitting the post twice and then scoring the winning goal with a late header in the 79th minute, Portugal could and should have won 4 or 5-0.

So Germany will be big favourites tonight to beat what many people view as a limited Greece side. However, there is a lot more to Greece than you might think. Their outstanding playmaker Giorgios Karagounis was unfairly suspended for this match after picking up a yellow card for a supposed dive in the penalty area against Russia. But this does not have to be bad news for Greece. They have an outstanding and supremely talented playmaker in 22 year old Sotiris Ninis and he has even been compared favourably with Messi, well who hasn't to be fair, I know I certainly have (in my dreams) ;). He is a very skillful player and has a wicked shot in his repertoire. The Germans for their part are expected to shake things up a bit against this plucky, resiliant Greece side. Reus may come in for Podolski and Gomez may be replaced by the more mobile Miroslav Klose. I expect Greece to spring a surprise by attacking far more than anyone expects them to, and remember the name Sotiris Ninis, he will definitely score tonight.

My prediction 1-1 after 90 minutes... and then Germany will win in extra time. Enjoy the match and bleiben Sie sportlich (remain sportsmanlike) ;).

 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Germany beat Greece fairly comfortably in the end. The Greek keeper had a bit of a nightmare, but the Germans created a whole host of first half chances but were unable to break the deadlock, until Phillip Lahm scored with a scorching drive from 25 yards out. Greece were lucky to only go into the half-time break 1-0 down and they then sensationally equalised when Samaras scrambled the ball home after they broke down the right, exposing Lahm's lack of pace. Germany then upped the tempo further and scored in the 61st minute through a powerful short-range volley by Khedira, then Klose head them 3-1 in the 74th minute, and Reus then added a 4th shortly afterwards. The Greeks were then awarded a late penalty after Boateng was penalised for a supposed handball in the box. The Greeks duly converted and can console themselves on at least scoring 2 goals against this powerful German side. Mind you Greece are arguably one of the worst sides in the tournament. Germany may also overpower England or Italy in the semis, we will have to wait and see, however both England and Italy have top class goalkeepers and they also have good defences.

Tonight I am predicting a 2-1 win for France, I am getting bored of Spain and Germany always winning, and I did predict France would win the tournament before it started.

 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Unfortunately Spain won easily and dominated against a disjointed French side who solely relied upon the brilliance of Ribery to trouble the Spanish. Anyway a headed Alonso goal in the 20th minute and a 90th penalty by the same player saw off the French and ensured the Spanish serenly progressed to the semi-final where they will face Portugal.

 

Tonight we have what will probably be an even contest between Italy and England. Strangely a lot of people see Italy as clear favourites despite the fact their main central defender Giorgio Chiellini will be absent through injury. The favourites tags of Italy is perhaps justified as England have never beaten a major nation in the knockout stages of a tournament of any significance away from Wembley. Italy also tend to do well when they get beyond the group stages of a tournament winning the 2006 World Cup and finishing runners up of the EURO2000 tournament. I feel the Italians are not that great a team, they have 33 year old Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield and mercurial Mario Ballotelli up front supported by Cassano. Their wingbacks are fairly useful. England will have to play to their strengths to beat Italy, Andy Carroll should play a part, maybe coming on as a substitute for the last half hour. He is unbeatable in the air and can cause the Italians major problems. Walcott too coming on a substitute can put the Italians to the sword. England are stronger in attack and have more options. I suspect the Italians will use their wealth of tournament experience and tactical intelligence to stay in the game and somehow prevail and will be quite defensive. England have already achieved more than I expected them to do in this tournament and have nothing to lose. Italy 2 England 1 my prediction but England certainly have a good chance of beating an ordinary Italian side. 

 

Monday, 25 June 2012

So Italy won on penalties last night after England set out to frustrate them for the whole games. De Rossi hit the post in the 3rd minute for the Italians, in the 6th minute Johnson found his way into the Italian and should have done better with his shot which was nevertheless well saved by Button. England then had the better of the early exchanges without really threatening to score, then Pirlo and Italy took over, had the majority of possession and Balotelli had numerous shooting opportunities but failed to score... as the game progressed Italy had more and more of the game and had numerous opportunities in the second half as the English visibly tired. Gerrard was suffering from cramp in the 71st minute. Roy Hodgson introduced Carroll and Walcott just beyond the hour mark and whilst Carroll started to win headers, no-one was on hand to win the 2nd ball. Walcott was hardly given the ball at all anyway and Rooney was looking increasingly ragged and unfit, which is obviously currently is... Anyway England had one last chance before the end of regular time when Rooney tried to score with a bicycle kick from Carroll's knock-on, unfortunately for England it was well over.

 

In extra time Italy continued to dominate and hit the post and had 5 other shots on goal, but they could not penetrate the English defensive wall... they did score in the 115th minute but it was ruled offside... So it had to go down to penalties and although Hart tried to put the Italians off with stupid grimaces and other underhand tactics Italy emerged victorious, winning the shoot-out 4-2, Diamanti scoring the winning goal, whilst England's two Ashleys (Cole and Young) failed to convert for England.. England just aren't very good at taking penalties but they didn't deserve to progress on this night. They were too defensive and the Italians were simply too good for them. Pirlo was brilliant throughout and also humiliated Hart with a Paneka penalty in the shoot-out.

 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Today Spain rather luckily beat Portugal on penalties after the tie ended 0-0 after extra time. Portugal had the slightly better chances in this game and will feel hard done by. The Spanish seemed strangely tired. In the penalty shootout the Spanish were the first to miss a penalty when Alonso failed to beat the keeper with Spain's first attempt. But then Moutinho and Alves both went on to miss for the Portuguese, and Ronaldo who was due to take the 5th penalty, didn't even get to take on. Portugal slightly unlucky, although the Spanish did dominate in extra time.

 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

This turned out to be a black day in Germany as the pretournament favourites were convinciningly beaten 2-1 by Italy, for whom Balotelli scored 2 excellent first half goals. The Germans huffed and puffed in the 2nd half and had a number of chances but did not scored until the 92nd minute when they were awarded a penalty for handball. Özil scored with the penalty but it was too little, too late, and possibly Joachim Löw is not the right manager for Germany after all.

 

 

Sunday 1 July 2012

Spain 4-0 Italy. The Spanish proved that their poor display against Portugal was a mere blip and ran out convincing 4-0 winners against Italy, who unluckily had to play with 10 men for the last half hour of the match. This was because they had made all of their possible 3 subsitutions when Motta who had only just been brought on, pulled with a hamstring strain and had to be taken off the pitch on a stretcher. A one-sided affair it turned out to be although Italy had a couple of early chances. Silva, Alba and Chelsea teammates Torres and Mata late on were the scorers for Spain. Let's hope for the sake of football that Spain don't win the next world cup too.... they play nice football, but the same team winning everything is just a tad boring don't you think? 

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