Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Euro 2012 Review

Team of the competition

Spain – This was an odd competition for Spain. It was the first time they had to continuously defend their playing style. But again their system was beautiful, effective and un-containable. There was no complacency, arrogance or underestimation from Spain during Euro 2012, they played each game with complete focus and a great worth ethic, something their system demands immensely. Although Spain haven’t really changed their playing style, they have improved. In the 2010 World Cup they scored 8 whilst conceding 2. But in the Euros they scored 12 and only conceded once. It’s pretty impressive considering in the World Cup they played a game extra and for most of the games in Euro 2012, they played with no striker.

Overachievers of Euro 2012

Portugal – Now this one is hard to pick. Especially considering there aren’t that many teams in the Euros, and the Euros is only 6 games long. It basically means your often out before you even know it.

But Portugal have impressed me quite a lot. Although they started off with a slow and rather lacklustre performance against Germany, they really grew in strength as the competition progressed. It comes as no surprise, but once Cristiano Ronaldo found his feet, Portugal shifted into another gear. After Portugal’s dismal qualifying campaign for the Euros and their poor World Cup in 2010, most thought they’d go out in the group stages, especially being in the Germany, Holland group. Instead, they marched on all the way to the semi finals and took Spain right to the end.

Underachievers of Euro 2012

Easy. Holland.

They were bad. So bad. They had a campaign what one would easily define as a ‘nightmare campaign.’ It started off badly and finished badly. They didn’t even pick up a single point. You’ve got to remember, this is the same team who made the World Cup final in 2010. Holland had a complete shocker. Holland were like that kid who did really well in their 11 plus but when they did their end of year tests, they failed. Miserably. ( You probably wont get that joke if your over 21, sorry.)

Player of Euro 2012

This is a tough one. But for me it’s Andrea Pirlo. Prior to this tournament only those who follow Serie A would remember and be aware of just how he’s been. But now, the whole of Europe and the world know that he is still classy as ever. He was a catalyst of everything that Italy did. He kept the team ticking over, whilst when he played as a deep lying creator,  he played great intelligent long balls to Balotelli and Cassano. When he played higher up the pitch, Pirlo didn’t look out of his depth at all. He threaded in so many fantastic through balls from the edge of the box and was a constant danger to the opposition. His free kick against Croatia was just glorious, a real demonstration of his technical abilities. While his penalty was unforgettable. He took the tension of the night and cut it with a pin so coolly and composedly. Just genius.

Best Young Player

Mario Balotelli

I often feel Balotelli’s abilities are a bit underrated simply because he is an idiot. But he gave a mature, composed and determined showing over the Euros for Italy. He lead the line brilliantly, he kept the ball well with his strength and created space with his quick feet and trickery. But what impressed me the most about Balotelli during this competition was his intelligent runs, he continuously broke offside traps and used his smart movement to open up goal scoring opportunities for himself. You could tell Spain were wary of this, whenever he got the ball, he was surrounded by three Spanish players, who would restrict his space and movement. At times, I did think Balotelli was a bit wasteful in front of goal. But the reality is, at 21 years of age, leading the line for a nation like Italy is mightily impressive and the fact they got to the final shows just how good he is, when he focuses.

Best Manager

Vicente Del Bosque

This guy has got balls. When you’re Spain and you have three exceptionally talented forwards and you choose to predominantly play with no forwards, you have guts. Del Bosque did a fantastic job in coming up with an offensive plan to bypass the injury to Spain’s record goal scorer David Villa. The World Cup winning manager came up trumps with an extremely creative and gifted central midfield taking dominance. After his and Spain’s latest success, you’ve got start to consider if Vicente Del Bosque is one of the greatest managers ever. I mean he has won the World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and La Liga. No other manager has ever achieved that. He seems to have the ability to keep the players onside and to not allow the players to become complacent and revel on past glories.

Moment of the tournament

Wayne Rooney’s goal v Ukraine:

It was a glorious moment. The hero returned with a goal. A goal which allowed England to top the group. You couldn’t have scripted it.


My moment of the Euros was Aindry Shevchenko goals v Sweden.

It was like the nation and the player were craving for that moment for a life time. The sheer ecstasy from the player and fans was just unbelievable. For me, the Sheva goals rolled back the years. The 35 year old showed he really was the man who tore up Europe once for Milan. What topped off the moment was Ukraine ended up winning the game. The pride and glory of that moment was unforgettable.

Funny Moment

Keith Andrews being knocked over the ref:

Let the pictures do the talking.

Best Match

Sweden 2 – 3 England

This game was brilliant. It had twists, turns and tantrums. England were in complete control in the first half. They took Sweden by storm. But in the second half, Sweden sharpened up and in a 15 minute spell of dominance they turned the game round into their favour. But for the first time in a long time, England showed resilience, determination and persistence, it probably raised the hopes of some England fans too. This game was fantastic for another reason for England. That reason was, Theo Walcott. Everything he had improved on in the past year was demonstrated in that game. His final ball, finishing (call his goal luck or a fluke, whatever you want) and his defensive work. They all were on show in his cameo performance against Sweden. But the lasting impact of this game was the scorers for England. Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. All three were under the age of 24 and you could argue, they will play a key role for England in the future.

Best Group

Group A

This group was a certain surprise. Initially, I thought this group would be boring as listening to Mark Lawrenson co-commentating.  But this group had everything; it had hammerings, twists and utter confusion. It was like one of those parties you go to and before you go to the party your thinking, ‘oh why do I have to go to this? This will be shit. ‘But by the end you want to stay and you don’t want it to end. What makes me laugh about this group was at one stage Russia were certain to top the group. They hammered the Czechs and were rather unlucky to draw against Poland. Greece on the other hand was the complete opposite. They were utterly lacklustre in the opening two games and at one point, it looked like it was only a matter of time till someone put them out of their misery. However, against Russia, Greece took their chances and held on for dear life. It certainly was one of the moments of the tournament when Greece made it through. No one gave them a chance. No one. But somehow they dug deep and found it within themselves to through. What typifies just how crazy this group was, Czech Republic got hammered 4-1 in the opening game, yet they ended up topping the group. Insane.

Euro 2012 XI


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