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Category Archives: Euro 2012

Spain 4-0 Italy – Spain attain immortality

Spain 4 (Silva 14, Alba 41, Torres 84, Mata 88) – Italy 0

Man of the Match – Andres Iniesta (Spain)

It was fate. It was destiny, but in the end it was kind of farcical as Spain romped to their third successive international trophy, a feat that will surely have earned them immortality in the annals of football.

Italy, however, will find it hard to take, after they played out the closing half an hour with just 10 men. Visibly exhausted, they could barely cover ground in the dying moments, but the Spaniards were ruthless in the least.

Much of the pre match talk was surrounded by one man, Italy’s Mario Balotelli. After his fantastic performance in the semifinals, against Germany, Italians around the world were hoping the maverick young striker would do the same against the world champions. Spain, on the other hand, were looking to close down on another international title. 1 trophy in a century, and now they have 3 trophies in the bag.

There were no surprises in the starting lineup, as Alvaro Negredo lost his place to Cesc Fabgregas. There weren’t any changes in the Italian lineup either, with Ignazio Abate taking his right-back place from Federico Balzaretti.

Spain started like they always do, pressing high and attacking the opposition with some slick passing. Sergio Ramos had a header over the bar. Then, Xavi and Fabregas worked a one-two situation, but could only manage sending the ball over the bar. Spain’s wave of attacks continued. Andres Iniesta played in Fabregas, who played in a delicious pass to Silva, who had the easy job of tapping in the ball.

Italy showed some urgency briefly when midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo’s free kick a bit too high. The Italians won a round of corners, all of which proved to be dangerous but unsuccessful. Italy were forced to make an early substitution when Giorgio Chiellini limped off, to be replace by Palermo full back Federico Balzaretti.

There was a period of end to end football, however, with little to show in terms of chances. A Balzaretti cross was saved by Casillas before it could reach the head of Balotelli. Casillas was forced to make further saves from Balzaretti and Cassano. Italy managed to control play for some time, with Spain having to resort to quick counters.

It was the Spaniards, however, who took a seemingly unassailable lead on 41 minutes, when a beautiful Xavi through ball allowed left-back Jordi Alba to shoot past Buffon. Italy were visibly disheartened with the goal, but immediately looked to pull one back when Ricardo Montolivo’s effort was parried by Casillas.

Coach Cesare Prandelli, made some changes during the interval bringing on Udinese striker Antonio di Natale in place of Antonio Cassano. And, he nearly made the difference, when he headed over an Abate cross over the bar.

On the other hand, a Fabregas shot went wide and Iniesta’s efforts were blocked by Abate and Buffon. A Sergio Ramos low header struck the arm of Leonardo Bonucci, but the referee waved play on. di Natale then found himself in a great position to score when he was played in, but Casillas was in the way.

Italy made their last substitution when Ricardo Montolivo made for former Barcelona midfielder Thiago Motta. And to add too Italy’s woes, Motto strained his hamstring, just 3 minutes into his stint, and had to be stretchered off. The seemingly tough task now looked impossible, with the Italian’s body language reading that they had consigned to defeat.

Spain, however, showed no signs of letting up as they wore down the Italians with large periods of possession. By the 75th minute, the Italians were barely able to walk, and could be seen trudging along heavily. Vicente del Bosque sensed the opportunity to seal an emphatic win, sending on Fernando Torres, in place of Cesc Fabregas.

Torres obliged, latching on to a Xavi cross, to score a goal in a second successive Euro final. To add to the gloss, his Chelsea teammate, Juan Mata, who too came on as a sub, scored in the 88th minute.

Ramos could have made it 5-0 when his backheel almost ended in the back of the net. The Italians just wanted the ref to blow for the whistle. And, he did so, soon after.

Mario Balotelli furiously walked off the pitch, only to return minutes later, having calmed himself down, even as the Spanish were revelling in a party.

The closing moments of the night, were UEFA president Michel Plaitini handing over the Henry Delauney trophy to Iker Casillas, as Andrea Pirlo, Leonardo Bonnucci and Mario Balotelli looked on inconsolably.

Match Ratings – Spain

Casillas (7.5) – Never looked troubled enough.

Arbeloa (7.5) – A good performance. Bombed down the flank very often, but did allow a few Italian attacks to stem out from the left.

Ramos (8) – Another strong showing at cenre-back. Could have helped himself to a few goals as well.

Pique (8) – Dominant all around.

Alba (8.5) – A brilliant game for the young left-back. Barely gave any space to the Italians, and looked very good going forward. Took his goal like a striker would.

Busquets (8) – Helped the Spaniards win the midfield battle.

Alonso (8) – A fine performance, yet again.

Xavi (8) – The thorn in Italy’s flesh. Constantly caused trouble with his array of passes.

Iniesta (9) – Man of the Match performance. In the thick of everything good for the Spanish.

Silva (8) – A lively performance.

Fabregas (8.5) – Caused the Italians too many problems. Assisted for the opening goal, and created several other chances.

Subs – 

Pedro (7.5) – Replaced Silva well.

Torres (8) – Came on to frustrate the Italians and returned home with the Golden Boot.

Mata – No Rating

Match Ratings – Italy

Buffon (7) – Sadly for him, his defence let him down.

Abate (7) – Was given a torrid time from Alba and Iniesta.

Bonnucci (6.5) – Looked so uncomfortable against the slick Spanish passing movements.

Barzagli (6.5) – Had a rough night too.

Chiellini – No Rating

de Rossi (7) – Tried his best to stamp his authority in midfield, but to no avail.

Marchisio (7) – Looked lively in the opening minutes, but eventually fizzled out.

Montolivo (7) – I thought taking him off was a mistake, as he was having a decent game.

Pirlo (7.5) – Let down by his teammates. Spain had him covered well.

Cassano (6.5) – Apart from a couple of chances, he was largely anonymous.

Balotelli (7) – Had a couple of efforts at goal, but never really got the service on the night.

Subs – 

Balzaretti (6.5) – Was roughed up by Silva and Arbeloa, and later by Pedro.

di Natale (7) – Quickly livened up the Italian attacks, but with little to show for.

Motta – No Rating

Overall Ratings

Spain – 8.03

Italy – 6.87

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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 

Germany 1-2 Italy

Germany 1 (Ozil 92) – Italy 2 (Balotelli 20, 36)

Man of the Match – Mario Balotelli (Italy)

It’s a curse, or probably a jinx. Or just the fact that the Germans have become the biggest chokers at the international stage. Whether they choked or just buckled to a Balotelli masterclass is a whole another issue, but the Germans only have themselves to blame for their exit from the European Championships.

The only surprise in the German lineup was the inclusion of Toni Kroos in place of Thomas Muller. With coach Joachim Loew stating that Marco Reus, Miroslav Klose and Andre Schurle started against Greece, only because he felt the trio of Podolski, Gomez and Muller were not sharp enough in training, the German manager opted for a different attack up front.

There were no surprises in the Italian lineup. Giorgio Chiellini returned to the starting lineup, and took his place at left-back, with Balzaretti switching flanks to right-back.

The Germans, starting as favorites for the match, lest the tournament, started brightly, with Dortmund defender Mats Hummels shot, cleared off the line by Andrea Pirlo, with Gianluigi Buffon clearing the danger. Jerome Boateng’s cross was then fumbled over by Buffon, with Barzagli clearing narrowly.

However, the Italians slowly drifted into the game, with some neat midfield movements. Ricardo Montolivo first tested Manuel Neuer, and then Antonio Cassano’s shot was tipped around the post. Italy opened the scoring, when some fine interplay between Chiellini and Cassano on the left flank resulted in a Cassano cross, which ended up in the back of the net off a Balotelli header.

Germany still looked nervous, as the Italians upped a gear after the goal. A long ball from Ricardo Montolivo, over the entire German defence, fell perfectly into the path of Balotelli, with only Philip Lahm back scrambling for a challenge. Balotelli, however, kept his calm and struck a sweet shot into the back of the net. Game over, probably yes.

The maverick striker celebrated by removing his shirt and flexing his muscles, which earned him a yellow card. The second half began, with Germany replacing the ineffective Gomez and Podolski with Reus and Klose.

The Germans switched to a much more attacking formation, but it left them bare at the back. Boateng and  Lahm was often found in the Italian half, and this allowed the Italians more space to exploit on counters.

Philip Lahm had the first chance of the half, when he was set up in a perfect scoring position. However, he only managed to blast it over. Marco Reus then struck a brilliant free-kick, but it was tipped over by Buffon.

Italy had their chances to kill of the game. Substitute Allesandro Diamanti played in Claudio Marchisio behind the German defence, but his shot was narrowly wide. He missed another chance, when a Badstuber slip allowed him to go clear on goal. However, his shot went wide. Antonio di Natale then got a chance, when he went clear on goal, but he could only find the side netting.

Germany by now, had shifted to a 3 man defence, with funnily enough goalkeeper Manuel Neuer playing as an outfield player in the dying moments. This allowed Balzaretti to put the ball into the back of the net. However, it was flagged offside.

Germany were thrown a lifeline late on when Balzaretti handled the ball in the area. Mesut Ozil scored off teh ensuing penalty, but it was too little too late, as Germany were eliminated, yet again from a major international tournament, after having done so well.

As for the Italians, they have set a date on Sunday, with a clash against the Spanish for European supremacy. Will Balotelli and Co. work their magic again, or will it be the Spanish who successfully defend their title.

Match Ratings – Germany

Neuer (7) – A good game, but let down by his defence.

Boateng (7) – Out of sorts last night. Was caught unawares far too often.

Hummels (7.5) – Had a decent game, bu still was prone to making errors.

Badstuber (6.5) – Had a poor game. Made too many lapses.

Lahm (7.5) – Fulfilled his attacking duties well, but defensive, not so much.

Kroos (8) – I thought he provided more dynamism in midfield, than Muller would have, but lacked the finishing touch.

Schweinsteiger (8) – Helped Germany win most battles in midfield.

Ozil (8) – A good industrious performance. Created plenty of good breaks.

Khedira (7.5) – A bit rusty last night, would be safe to say.

Podoslki (7) – Looked out of depth for once. Balzaretti had him wrapped up literally.

Gomez (7.5) – Struggled against the physical Italian defence. Didn’t have the pace to beat them either.

Subs – 

Klose (7.5) – Offered Germany that extra bit in attack, I thougt.

Reus (8) – This youngster will go places, but unfortunately didn’t happen for him last night.

Muller (7.5) –  Did little to alter the pattern of the game.

Match Ratings – Italy

Buffon (8) – Made several key saves.

Balzaretti (8.5) – His versatility came to the fore last night. A dominant performance.

Bonnuci (8) – Unflinching defending.

Barzagli (8.5) – A good strong performance.

Chiellini (7.5) – Struggled a bit against Ozil and Boateng.

de Rossi (8.5) – Workhorse in midfield. Key performer last night.

Marchisio (8) – A good display in midfield.

Montolivo (7.5) – I thought he lacked a but last night, but overall there can be no complaints.

Pirlo (8) – You could see the Germans had a plan to stifle him out, but the peerless Pirlo was at his best again.

Cassano (8) – A hardowrking performance, and troubled the Germans time and time again.

Balotelli (9) – Two fantastic goals. What a player.

Subs – 

Diamanti (7.5) – Looked lively when he came on.

Motta (7.5) – Helped bolster the midfield.

Overall Ratings

Germany – 7.46

Italy – 8.03

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 

Spain 0(4)-0(2) Portugal

Spain 0-0 Portugal (Spain won 4-2 on penalties)

Alonso – Saved 0-0

Moutinho – Saved 0-0

Iniesta – Scores 1-0 Spain

Pepe – Scores 1-1

Pique – Scores 2-1 Spain

Nani – Scores 2-2

Ramos – Scores 3-2 Spain

Bruno Alves – Misses 3-2 Spain

Fabregas – Scores 4-2 Spain

Man of the Match – Sergio Ramos (Spain)

Spain were slaved to penalties for progression to the final of the European Championships by an inspired Portugal who at times looked the better team in an enthralling match at Donetsk. With the game being billed as probably the biggest game of Cristiano Ronaldo’s career, there was visible tension among both sets of players and fans alike.

Spain made a surprise inclusion to the starting lineup, with Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo starting upfront in place of Francesc Fabregas or Fernando Torres. Portugal named the usual starting lineup, which has taken them so far in the tournament. Helder Postiga still remained out injured, his place taken by Hugo Almeida.

Portugal had the much better start in what can be described as a quite frantic open half. Portugal had 2 corners within the first 3 minutes, and rather surprisingly dominated Spain on possession. Cristiano Ronaldo whipped a cross from the left, which was saved by Casillas, before Nani could make any contact. The Spanish on the other hand, had to be content holding on to the ball, as the Portugese gave little room for them to exploit.

David Silva was being marked well by Fabio Coentrao, and despite the best efforts of the hardworking Negredo, Spain barely threatened. Cristiano Ronaldo sent a free kick just over. The trio of Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso played a big part in frustrating the Spanish.

Spain played the second half with much more composure, as they kept the ball for longer periods. However, their periods of possession was met with chorus of boos from all over the stadium. Cristiano Ronaldo was again guilty of sending his free kicks over, as Spain looked more comfortable with the ball. However, they never created a meaningful effort on goal.

The ineffective duo of Alvaro Negredo and David Silva were replaced by Francesc Fabregas and Jesus Navas, as Spain tweaked the formation to a pacier one. Pepe and Bruno Alves were unflinching though.

Infact, most of the best chances of the match would come in extra time. Rui Patricio had to make some fine saves off Andres Iniesta, who looked almost certain to score, when he looked to hook in an Alba cross, and Jesus Navas. Portugal injected pace of their own, throwing forwards Nelson Oliveira and Silvestre Varela into the fray. But to no avail, as the match headed for penalties.

Xabi Alonso had his penalty saved as Rui Patricio made a brilliant left sided save. Joao Moutinho had his spot kick then saved by Casillas. Andres Iniesta, Pepe and Gerard Pique all converted theirs before Nani stopped Bruno Alves in the tracks to go and score his. Sergio Ramos exorcised the ghosts of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich, where he blasted his penalty over, with a Pirlo-esque chip past Patricio. Bruno Alves, however wasn’t so lucky with his spot kick as it struck the bar. And with one more penalty required to seal the win, Fabregas kept his calm and scored, to spark wild celebrations from the Spaniards.

Portugal were eliminated but they can go home with their heads held high. They had come the closest to beating the reigning European and world champions.

Match Ratings – Spain

Casillas (8) – Made a couple of important saves during the game, and also saved one of the penalties.

Arbeloa (7.5) – Was set for a grueling night facing Ronaldo, but he did admirably well.

Ramos (8.5) – A brilliant match for the defender.

Pique (8) – Another commanding performance at the back.

Alba (8.5) – Tireless on the flanks all night.

Busquets (7.5) – Had an average game I thought.

Alonso (7.5) – Struggled against a dogged Portugese midfield.

Xavi (7.5) – A rare subdued performance.

Iniesta (7.5) – Had the best chance of the game, but he was well marshalled by Pereira.

Silva (7) – Ineffective on the night.

Negredo (7) – Struggled after being the surprise inclusion. Hard working, but lacked the incisiveness and thrust that Fabregas provides.

Subs – 

Fabregas (7.5) – Quickly changed the dynamic of the game, allowing Spain to go more forward.

Navas (7.5) – He did infuse some pace, but not too penetrative.

Pedro (7.5) – A hasty substitution. Didn’t really bother the Portugese defence.

Match Ratings – Portugal

Patricio (8) – A good game for the Portugese custodian.

Pereira (8) –  A strong showing at right-back.

Pepe (8) – A good game, expressed by the fact the Spain barely created any open chances on goal.

Bruno Alves (8) – Partnered Pepe well at the back.

Coentrao (8) – Continued his impressive form in the tournament with another good game.

Veloso (7.5) – In the thick of things, all night.

Moutinho (8) – Moutinho was one of the best players last night in midfield. He helped shut out the Spanish for large periods.

Meireles (7.5) – Helped Portugal control the game in midfield.

Ronaldo (8) – A mixed game I should say. Looked Portugal’s best bet to opening the scoring.

Nani (7.5) – A spirited fine showing. His pace was good, but Alba won the battle at the end.

Almeida (7.5) – An industrious performance from the marksman.

Subs – 

Oliveira (7) – Did little to cause panic in the Spanish defence.

Custodio (No Rating)

Varela (No Rating)

Overall Ratings

Spain – 7.64

Portugal – 7.75

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 

England 0(2) – 0(4) Italy

England 0-0 Italy – Italy win 4-2 on penalties

Balotelli – Scores 1-0 Italy

Gerrard – Scores 1-1

Montolivo – Misses 1-1

Rooney – Scores 2-1 England

Pirlo – Scores 2-2

Young – Misses 2-2

Nocerino – Scores 3-2 Italy

Cole – Saved 3-2 Italy

Diamanto – Scores 4-2 Italy

Man of the Match – Andrea Pirlo (Italy)

It has ended in the same old painful way for the English, as they lost in another penalty shootout, this time to the Italians, who, arguably were the better side on the night and deserved to go through to the semi finals of the Euro’s.

There were no surprises in the England line-up, manager Roy Hodgson preferring the partnership of Welbeck and Rooney upfront, with Milner and Young on the wings. Italy’s ability to fit into various formations, and to switch tactically helped them again on the night. They reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. With Chiellini not featuring, they started with the pair of Bonnuci and Barzagli. Manchester City star Mario Balotelli started up front with Antonio Cassano.

The match got off to a blistering start with both sides creating chances early on. A fantastic volley from Daniele de Rossi hit the post, and a quick counterattack from England almost resulted in a goal, when Glen Johnson shot from yards out was met with a brilliant point blank save from Buffon.

Mario Balotelli then had a great chance to put the Azzuri into the lead, when he was let clear, but John Terry tracked back, to deflect his shot. The maverick Italian had more chances, when he forced Hart to save from an acrobatic shot, and then he beat the defenders to see his half-volley over the crossbar.

After the first half, too, Italy dominated. Daniele de Rossi scuffed a shot narrowly wide. Then followed a melee, where Italy should have scored. Hart blocked a de Rossi shot, and then Balotelli controlled to have another go, which went off Hart’s legs, directly to Montolivo, who lashed the ball high.

Roy Hodgson bought on Andy Carroll and Theo Walcott, but to little effect. Nocerino replaced de Rossi and almost had a shot, but for a Johnson tackle. Wayne Rooney had a chance right at the death, but his overhead kick was woefully over.

Italy started extra-time in the same fashion as they had played the match. Former West Ham striker Allesandro Diamanti hit the post with a curling effort, and then another clear shot went wide. They even had the ball in the net, through Antonio Nocerino, but it was flagged for offside. It was all down to penalties.

Mario Balotelli stepped up to take the first penalty, with a wry smile on his face, against his club mate Joe Hart. Balotelli converted and Gerrard beat his counterpart to make it 1-1. Montolivo’s penalty went way wide, and Wayne Rooney gave England the advantage at 2-1. Andrea Pirlo audaciously chipped the keeper, and it seemed the Italians had won the battle of nerves, as Ashley Young thumped his penalty on to the cross bar. Antonio Nocerino scored his penalty, before Ashley Cole’s penalty was saved brilliantly by a diving Buffon. It was all down to Allesandro Diamanti, who cooly’ converted his penalty to send the Italians into the semi-finals for a pulsating clash with Germany.

Match Ratings – England

Hart (8) – Made several saves through the game.

Johnson (7.5) – Had a tough game, but played well overall.

Terry (7.5) – A good game for the Chelsea captain.

Lescott (8) – His knowledge of Balotelli’s style helped England keep a clean sheet.

Cole (8) – Another fine game. Unfortunate with the penalty.

Parker (7.5) – A workmanlike performance. Had it tough against the talented Italians.

Milner (7) – Struggled as he had to contend playing out of position.

Gerrard (8) – A good game alongside Parker, helping absorb Italy’s attacks.

Young (7) – Looks out of depth at the international level.

Welbeck (7.5) – A decent game in a much deeper role. Never looked a threat to superior Italian defenders.

Rooney (7.5) – Had a couple of shots but was average overall.

Subs – 

Carroll (7) – Provided a brief aerial threat.

Walcott (7) – Had plenty of pace to burn, but got the ball only twice or thrice to actually have an impact.

Henderson (6.5) – Did little to alter the course of the match.

Match Ratings – Italy

Buffon (8) – Made that fantastic save early on. Had little to do after that.

Abate (8) – A strong performance. Gave Ashley Young no space to work with.

Bonnuci (8) – Another good showing. Marked out the little threat Welbeck provided.

Barzagli (8) – Like Bonucci, barely put a foot wrong. Had Rooney under wraps most of the time.

Balzaretti (8) – A tireless performance down the left flank.

de Rossi (8.5) – Helped Italy dominate midfield.

Montolivo (7.5) – A good outlet at attack, but was a bit subdued.

Pirlo (9) – The best player on the pitch. His passing, ball retention, vision, all top notch.

Marchisio (7.5) – Had a good game overall, but not too penetrative.

Cassano (7.5) – A good game for the veteran. Caused many problems for the English defenders.

Balotelli (8) – In the thick of things all night. Should learn to release his shot earlier. Probably could have scored a goal.

Subs – 

Diamanti (8) – Helped Italy pack some pace going forward.

Nocerino (7.5) – Assisted the Italians with his fresh legs, and a new dimension.

Maggio (7) – Played right-back in the closing minutes.

Overall Ratings

England – 7.42

Italy – 7.89

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 

Spain 2-0 France

Spain 2 (Alonso 19, 90 (pen)) – France 0

Man of the Match – Xabi Alonso  (Spain)

You knew it was coming. I had expected this semi final to be a cracking contest, between one really exciting young French side, and another experienced Spanish passmasters. At the end of it, the Spanish outpassed the French to set up an all Iberian semi-final with neighbors Portugal.

There were surprises on both sides starting lineups. Francesc Fabregas was drafted back into the team in place of Fernando Torres. I think it was a good move, as Torres would have struggled against a really tight French unit. He just wouldn’t have gotten the delivery he desires. Cesc Fabregas adds another dimension to the Spanish squad. He was one of 6 central midfielders who started yesterday.

France on the other hand made some surprise selections themselves. Samir Nasri was dropped to the bench, and taking his place on the right side of midfield was right-back Mathieu Debuchy. Anthony Reveillere started at right-back. Also, Alou Diarra lost his place to the bustling Rennes midfielder Yaan M’Vila. Laurent Koscielny took his place in the centre of defence instead of the suspended Phillipe Mexes.

Spain controlled most of the game from kickoff. They looked composed in possession, but yet lacked incisiveness in attack. However, they got their breakthrough on 19 minutes, when Jordi Alba’s superbly weighted cross was met with a thumping header from on onrushing Alonso.

France had few opportunities, Benzema and Ribery doing their best, but Spain were expertly closing them down. Yohan Cabaye’s freekick was palmed away by Casillas, when it seemed destined to be going in. The Spanish were happy at keeping the ball, till Fabregas released Iniesta on the right. Only a last ditch Koscielny challenge thwarted the threat.

France looked a better team in the second half, with more urgency in them. Debuchy had a rather straightforward header over the bar, and he and Malouda were soon replaced by Nasri and Menez.

However, this was to little effect, as the Spanish dominated so much of the ball. In the end, Reveillere bought down substitute Pedro in the box, which was rather a harsh decision. Alonso scored his and Spain’s second on the night, to set up a date with Portugal.

Match Ratings – Spain

Casillas (7) – Barely called into action. Made a fine save off the Cabaye free-kick.

Arbeloa (7.5) – A good game. Never allowed Ribery any space.

Ramos (7.5) – Looks much better in central defence.

Pique (7.5) – Another fine game.

Alba (8) – Made many darting runs on the left, and earned an assist.

Busquets (8) – Helped Spain dominate midfield proceedings.

Alonso (9) – Match winner. His passing was immaculate.

Xavi (8.5) – Helped outpass the packed French midfield.

Iniesta (8) –  His bustling self yesterday. Played that vital ball for Alba’s cross.

Silva (7.5) – Disappointed a bit as his Manchester City teammate Clichy kept him quiet.

Fabregas (7.5) – Didn’t justify his selection, though provided more numbers in midfield.

Subs – 

Pedro (7.5) – Won a late penalty.

Torres (7) – Was bought on to frustrate the French, and did his job. Never looked threatening.

Cazorla – No Rating

Match Ratings – France

Lloris (7) – Not his best game, keeping wise or distribution wise.

Reveillere (6.5) – Didn’t offer much going forward, and was responsible for both goals.

Rami (7.5) –  A good composed performance.

Koscielny (8) – Made several last ditch challenges. Clearly a better defender than Mexes.

Clichy (7) – Not his best game, though he did manage to stifle Silva.

Debuchy (7) – Played out of position, and you really can’t blame him, can you.

M’Vila (7) – Looked peripheral with all the Spanish possession.

Cabaye (7.5) – The best performer in France’s midfielder last night. Organised the few attacks they mustered.

Malouda (7) – Looks like he has carried over club form to country.

Ribery (7.5) – He tried his best in whatever little space that was afforded to him by the Spanish.

Benzema (8) – Had a tough outing, but he was their most creative player on the night.

Subs –  

Menez (6.5) – Barely got the ball to make an impact of any kind.

Nasri (7) –  Was bought on too late to make any impact.

Giroud – No Rating

Overall Ratings

Spain – 7.73

France – 7.19

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 

Germany 4-2 Greece

Germany 4 (Lahm 39, Khedira 61, Klose 68, Reus 74) – Greece 2 (Samaras 55, Salpingidis 89 (pen))

Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Germany)

Come to think of it, what was expected to happen, did happen. Germany attacked relentlessly, and Greece defended staunchly and admirably, and made most of the chances they got. But, in the end, it was the ruthlessness and efficiency of the Germans that won the game and also plaudits all over.

To everyone’s surprise, German coach Joachim Loew did not name top scorer Mario Gomez and the in form Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller, who have been in fine nick this tournament. But, instead he went with the untested trio of Andre Schurle, Marco Reus and German legend Miroslav Klose. And, boy did it work.

The Germans thought they had scored in as early as the 4th minute, when the Greece keeper Sifaks spilled a shot, on a boggy penalty area, and Schurle thought he had scored, but it was rued out for offside. Greece’s only shot came from Makos, but it was easy stuff for Neuer. In stark contrast, the Germans were not creating enough clear cut chances. Marco Reus had an effort wide, after some good buildup.

Ozil had a shot, but the keeper managed to keep it out, and some hasty clearing followed. Reus then had a shot, which went across goal, and missed the outstretched Klose by centimetres. Reus then shot wide.

Greece, then had a pacy counterattack, Kostas Katsouranis releasing Sotiris Ninis, who forced a stop from Neuer, who too was playing on a boggy goal area. Schurle and Khedira missed two more chances, before captain Philip Lahm decided to take matters into his hands.Bombing in from left back, he cut inside beatifully and his fine effort met the back of the net.

An even few minutes in the second half followed, by a small period of Greek possession. Katsouranis again released Samaras and Gekas, but Gekas shot didnt have enough power. But, it was not long, before Greece got their equalizer. Salpingidis hooked a cross from the right, and it was poked in by Samaras, from under Neuer. The German keeper should have done better. The stadium, whose majority were Greek fans erupted in joy.

However, the Germans showed they meant business, and a Boateng cross was met with a thunderous volley from Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira. The Greece then collapsed spectacularly. An Ozil corner was met with a thumping header from Klose, who moves to within 4 goals of the German national goalscoring record, held by Gerd Muller.

Marco Reus added a fourth, when his rapturous shot, met the inner side of the post and into the back of the net. The Greeks managed to get a consolation late on when Boateng handled the ball in the area, and Salpingidis converted the ensuing penalty.

Germany will now take on the winners of the quarter final between Italy and England, while the Greeks can go home with their heads held high.

Match Ratings – Germany

Neuer (7) – Should have dealt better with that cross. Barely had any saves to make.

Boateng (7.5) – A good game, but struggled a bit against Samaras.

Hummels (8) – A commanding display.

Badstuber (7.5) – A good game, but looked suspect a couple of times.

Lahm (8) – Fantastic goal, but allowed too much space for the Greeks to exploit on his flank

Khedira (8) – A fine goal, and a good display in midfield.

Schweinsteiger (8) – Consistent yet again.

Ozil (8.5) – Dictated most of Germany’s play. Brilliant last night.

Schurle (8) – He impressed with his work rate. Still very young.

Klose (8) – At 34, he can still be as lethal as any other striker in the world.

Reus (8) – The next big thing in German football, probably?

Subs – 

Muller (7.5) – Replaced Schurle well.

Gomez (No Rating)

Gotze (No Rating)

Match Ratings – Greece

Sifakis (8) – Made some outstanding space.

Maniatis (7) – Struggled against Schurrle.

Tzavellas (8) – Had a good game I thought, apart from the ocassional lapse, which unfortunately lead to the Germans scoring

Papadopoulos (7.5) – A good strong young centre-half. He could be one of the continents best defenders, in years to come.

Torosidis (7) – Had a bad game. Struggled to get to grips with the Gemans.

Papasthapoulos (7) – In the thick of action, but failed to do his duties well.

Makos (7) – He had a decent game.

Ninis (7.5) – A good display in midfield.

Katsouranis (7.5) – One of the better Greek players. Allowed them to break fast.

Samaras (8) – Had a fine game, playing as the lone striker.

Salpingidis (7.5) – Played well on the flanks, causing Lahm a few problems.

Subs – 

Fotakis (7.5) – Helped Greece get back into the game.

Gekas (7.5) – His attacking thrust was vital for the Greeks to create the few chances that they did.

Liberopoulos (No Rating)

Overall Match Ratings

Germany – 7.83

Greece – 7.46

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 

Czech Republic 0-1 Portugal

Czech Republic 0-1 Portugal (Ronaldo 78)

Man of the Match – Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Apologies for the slightly, or rather late match report. The fact is the match was one of the most dullest boring games of football I have ever watched. Yes, it was so boring, I really didn’t feel like writing a match report. I would have rather watched a match between Humberstone United and Kings Lynn, but anyways, here is the match report.

Captain Tomas Rosicky was ruled out of the match with a persistent Achilles problem, which meant that the Czechs really lacked the attacking intent or rather force going forward in midfield. It was the Czechs who had the better start exploiting space on both flanks and even keeping the ball better.

Gebre Selassie, the right back (Is he in any way related to Haile Gaibreselassie, the Ethiopian marathon runner?), was keeping close tabs on Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the Portugese soon gathered momentum, and their wingers Nani and Ronaldo were causing several problems with their pace, despite the lack of space in the Czech defensive third. Ronaldo hit the post and even attempted an overhead kick, both after some fine first touch control. Apart from that, the Czechs looked comfortable just absorbing attack after attack from the Portugese, which were rather toothless.

There was more urgency and authority from the Portugese in the second half. The central midfield of Veloso, Moutinho and Meireles controlled play much better. Ronaldo had another hatful of chances, most going narrowly wide, and with Petr Cech in such good touch. His free kick in the 50th minute struck the post, Cech completely beaten.

Hugo Almeida had the ball in the net, but it was rightly called for offside. Joao Moutinho then tested Cech with a stinging shot, but the goalkeeper was equal to it, as he palmed it over. Kadlec then blocked a couple of goal bound shots from Ronaldo and Nani.

The pressure finally told on the visibly tired Czechs, as Ronaldo’s header from a Moutinho cross beat Cech. The final 12 minutes, the Czechs tried to apply a bit of pressure, trying to outrun their weary legs. Portugal held on for the win, and will now face the winners of the game between Spain and France.

Match Ratings – Czech Republic

Cech (8.5) – A brilliant display, but beaten at the end.

Gebre Selassie (7) – Had the hardest job in football, marking Ronaldo, but did it pretty well, I thought. He was caught dreaming as Ronaldo headed in the winner.

Sivok (7.5) – A strong display, but did look suspect at times.

Kadlec (8) –  A good display at the back.

Limbersky (6.5) – Had a poor game. Caught out too many times.

Hubschman (7) – A decent repressed display.

Plasil (7) – A tireless display, but Portugal dominated midfield.

Jiracek (7.5) – The hardworking midfielder put in another industrious performance, but lacked support of any sort.

Darida (7) – Bought in for Rosicky, but didn’t possess the same thrust that the Arsenal midfielder provides.

Pilar (6.5) – Made a couple of good runs, but failed to help out his defenders.

Baros (6.5) – Did he even touch the ball?

Subs – 

Rezek (7) – Instantly bought pace into the game.

Pekhart (No Rating)

Match Ratings – Portugal

Patricio (7) – Like Baros, did he even touch the ball?

Perreira (7.5) –  Had a good game. Pilar did manage to beat him a couple of times, but was largely comfortable.

Pepe (8.5) – Simple a rock at the back.

Bruno Alves (8) – A strong commanding display from Alves.

Coentrao (8)- Made a bright start, but then slowly faded away. A good game overall.

Meireles (8) – Helped control much of the midfield.

Veloso (8) – A bit rash, but he did his job well.

Moutinho (8) – Another good game. Had a couple of shots on goal as well.

Nani (8.5) – Seems to be getting into his best nick at the right time.

Ronaldo (9) – Scored the winner, but really had a dozen chances to put the game to bed.

Postiga (7) – Unfortunate injury on 40 minutes.

Subs – 

Almeida (7) – Lacked a bit of pace up front. Held the ball well, allowing time and space.

Custodio (No Rating)

Rolando (No Rating)

Overall Match Ratings

Czech Republic – 7.16

Portugal – 7.87

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Euro 2012, General

 
 
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