Euro Blog Part 1 (Opening games Groups A and B)

Euro Blog Part 1 (Opening games Groups A and B)
Group A
Poland 1 – 1 Greece
Russia 4 – 1 Czech Republic
Group B
Holland 0 – 1 Denmark
Germany 1 – 0 Portugal


Two days, four games, a lot of entertainment and a bit of dour football.

They say football’s a funny old game and if I’d told you on Friday that the most entertaining game so far involved Greece and the dullest game involved Germany you may have said I was stark raving mad.

The unfortunate thing was some of the drama in the Poland-Greece game was thanks to the ineptitude of the Spanish referee and two goalkeeping howlers, Kostas Chalkias and Wojciech Szceszny failed to put on goalkeeping clinics, the latter giving away an embarrassing penalty and getting himself sent off although Salpingidis should learn not to celebrate until the penalty is scored, you made yourself look a fool my friend and the celebrating the award of a penalty like you’ve scored quite frankly does my nut in.

Papastathopoulos’ red card was laughable. If winning a header is a bookable offence nowadays we may as well make this game a non-contact sport.

Hopefully the suits at UEFA will not reward Senor Carballo with any further games in this tournament, one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve seen since Byron Moreno’s effort in the 2002 World Cup.

The game itself wasn’t a display of free flowing football but it was absorbing, gripping and had pure sporting drama, I never thought I’d see the day where a game involving Greece would entertain but I’ve been proved wrong.

Neither side will win this tournament but Greece will feel better about the result than the Poles especially given that they were dominated in the first half.

In Friday’s other game Russia annihilated the Czech Republic and after one game have already been called the “dark horse”.

There was plenty of skill and flair in the Russian play, a lot of it came from the double goalscorer Dzagoev, a potential star of the future. The Russians could possibly have scored more had it not been for the hapless Kerzhakov, even Kim Olsen could have converted some of the chances he passed up.

Russia won’t win this tournament either but if they can cut the odd bit of sloppy passing out of their play, which actually enabled the Czechs to cut them open a few times, then they can make their presence felt in this tournament.

They’re still going out in the last eight though.

The news that Russian fans were involved in clashes with stewards and allegedly racially abused the Czechs’ Theodor Gebre Selasie isn’t pleasant however and given that the 2018 World Cup will be hosted in Russia doesn’t send out a positive message.

Both FIFA and UEFA have long had a “Kick Racism Out of Football” campaign going and it’s clear that racism will unfortunately be a reoccurring theme during this tournament.

UEFA MUST take action instead of ignoring it and brushing over the incidents.

If the governing bodies are going to give these countries prestigious international tournaments then they must get in step and take their responsibilities seriously.

To Group B then and given that this is supposedly the Group of Death, the reaction to Denmark beating Holland was disproportionate, you’d think it was akin to Frickley Athletic beating Manchester United. A lovely bit of skill from Krohn-Dehli and a cheeky finish where he nutmegged the keeper was the difference between them and the Dutch.

The Danes rode their luck with Jacobsen getting the benefit of the doubt after handling and the Danish keeper Andersen’s determination to add his name to the list of Euro 2012 goalkeeping gaffes denied by the post saw them gain three points and if they can beat Portugal on Wednesday it should secure a place in the last eight.

Germany-Portugal was seen by some as the pick of the first round of group fixtures but it was anything but.

Portugal’s tactics of deep lying defence saw them neutralise the main German strength of the deadly counter attack and such was the lack of quality football in the game that the main talking point of the first 70 minutes was Cristiano Ronaldo changing his hairstyle at half time.

The one bit of quality in the game did see the Germans take the win from a superlative cross by Ozil met perfectly by Mario Gomez to nod home in a game that won’t live long in the memory.

Looking forward and the pre-tournament favourites kick off their campaign tomorrow against Italy in another “pick of the round” game. With the Azzurri in crisis a heavy Spanish win wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

In Sunday’s other game Ireland open up their bid for Euro glory against Croatia, this is an intriguing one. Ireland’s dourness and organisation is tough to break down but Croatia have players with the flair and the style to do just that, however their defence is at best makeshift and is easily exploited especially from setpieces – bank on a draw.

Our boys kick off against the French on Monday with most already accepting defeat who’s gonna join me in a cheeky 1-0 win for England?

Hodgson has his critics but at international level his record stands up and if any manager could get England to the final on a wave of 1-0 or 2-1 scores Hodgson would be that guy.

Sweden vs Ukraine is the other game of the evening – if the ref’s performance in the other host game was anything to go by the Swedes will have to be very,very careful.

In conclusion, there’s been plenty of talking points including the dark shadow of hooliganism and racism that threatens to take the onus off what Euro 2012 should be about but let’s not dwell on that for now.

What I’ve seen in this tournament so far has been a mixed bag – some good football, some crap football, some sporting drama and some inept refereeing and I’m loving it all.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

One Comment

  1. well done danny!

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