Euro Blog Part 3 (2nd Games Group A and B)

Euro Blog Part 3 (2nd Games Group A and B)
Group A
Poland 1 – 1 Russia
Greece 1 – 2 Czech Republic
Group B
Holland 1 – 2 Germany
Denmark 2 – 3 Portugal


 

This tournament is really starting to kick into gear now and the last two days have thrown up some cracking football.

The unfortunate thing is that violence in Warsaw between Russian and Polish fans overshadowed what was a pulsating contest between the two sides. The Russian FA have been fined around £100,000 and been given a suspended 6 point deduction. Harsh by UEFA’s standards but not harsh enough to deter the morons involved. Sanctions such as banning club sides from European competition may be more of a deterrent. It is an issue that needs solving – Hooliganism is a blight on the game and needs stamping out. With them also investigating two claims of racism by Mario Balotelli and Theodor Gebre Selasie

To the football then and as expected Poland asked a lot more questions of Russia than the Czech Republic did. Despite the Poles looking threatening on more than one occasion the Russians drew first blood with Dzagoev nodding home from a set-piece. Headed goals and quality crossing seem to be another feature of this tournament.

The Poles hit back with an early contender for goal of the tournament as Blasczykowski finished off a lovely counter attacking move beating two men and unleashing an unstoppable left footed strike.

A classic counter attacking goal is a thing of beauty and the Poles nailed it to perfection.


This game brought the Russians back down to earth after being so impressive last weekend and although they should still make the quarter finals, defensive frailties will see them not go much further.

Poland need to beat the Czech Republic to advance to the last eight and will see a failure to advance as a disappointment especially given that they’ve been the better team in both games so far.

In Group A’s other game Greece took on the Czech Republic in a repeat of Euro 2004’s semi-final. There was a different outcome this time as a quickfire start saw the Greeks 2-0 down within 6 minutes, a nation that prides itself on it’s defensive discipline will be rightfully ashamed of the sloppy work that led to the Czech’s second goal and the way they were cut apart for Jiracek to score the first.

Petr Cech may have been heroic in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph but he will want to forget the Greek consolation as he too threw his hat in the ring for the goalkeeping gaffes award inexplicably coming to claim a ball that he was never going to get.

Greece failed to really test him after that but their hopes of the quarter finals aren’t over. They need to beat Russia and hope Poland defeat the Czechs to advance. A lack of punch upfront and a repeat of that substandard defending will see them go home.

    

To Group B then and the Denmark-Portugal clash was a thriller. Portugal got a 2-0 lead courtesy of Pepe with a smart finish from Helder Postiga doubling that lead. The Danes weren’t done and didn’t give in with Nicklas Bendtner scoring a headed brace before Varelas broke their hearts with an unstoppable strike on his second bite of the cherry after air kicking the first attempt.

The Portuguese were clearly more adventurous than they were against the Germans in this one and it was a far more entertaining affair as a result. The Danes aren’t a bad side either and they’ve played some good stuff too in a group where they were expected to be overwhelmed. Christian Eriksen hasn’t shone for me but Krohn-Dehli has, his vision cleverly setting up Bendtner for the first.

When it comes to non-shining stars we look across Group B to the Dutch.

Although they came into Euro 2012 highly fancied they’ve stunk out the place as the Germans taught them a lesson in how to finish against a disjointed Dutch side.

Mario Gomez has clearly shaken off the disappointment of losing out on Champions League glory by joining Alan Dzagoev as the tournament’s top scorer, a beautiful double strike with both assists coming from Schweinsteiger.


The Dutch managing to implode at a tournament despite a talented squad seems to be a regular occurence and a lot of improvement is needed for them to make the last 8, they must beat Portugal by a 2 goal margin and hope the Germans beat Denmark to advance.

Germany on the other hand are starting to live up to their billing as they efficiently swept aside the Dutch, the only thing that can fail to see them advance is a convincing Danish win and Portugal defeating Holland, a scenario that is very unlikely. The Germans look certain to go to the last eight but who joins them is an intriguing scenario, my initial instinct is Portugal to go through given how underwhelming the Dutch have been, I wouldn’t write off Denmark but defeating the Germans is a tall order and one that the brave Danes may find too tough.

Group C is back in action on Thursday as Croatia take on Italy and Spain take on the Republic of Ireland. The first game is the more intriguing of the two as Croatia have a good record against the Azzurri. The defensive discipline and midfield flair of the Italians should see them win especially if Di Natale is preferred to Balotelli and they execute their set-pieces to good effect.

Ireland’s lacklustre display against the Croats has seen them written off, it’s hard to see them getting a result against Spain especially if their defence has a stinker like they did on Sunday. The Spaniards however must play with a focal attacker rather than the arrogant 4-6-0 they chose to employ against Italy. If they do that Irish eyes may not smile as Spain could well put a few past them.

Friday sees England in action against a bogey side in Sweden. Hodgson’s men put in a spirited if dour display against the French and a bit more flair is needed in all honesty. Our defence kept Karim Benzema quiet and hopefully they’ll do the same against Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I’d like to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain start again as our wingers could do some damage against the Swedish full backs. A win should see England on the way to the quarter finals.

Ukraine take on France in the other game, Les Bleus go into this following a less than impressive showing against England and must improve against the hosts. Ukraine can even seal a quarter final spot with a win, it’d be a turn up for the form books considering their poor run up to the tournament.

We’re nearly a week in and this tournament is shaping up nicely and even with the dark shadow of racism and hooliganism hanging over it, the standard of football’s meant that we’ve been talking about how enjoyable the football’s been. The last two days have seen the goal of the tournament and the game of the tournament so far but the feeling I have is that we haven’t hit the peak yet.

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83


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