Friday, 6 July 2012

Euro 2012 Team Reviews

      Hello, I’m Callum Rivett, and this will be my review of the European Championship, running through team-by-team. I’ll give a brief overview of their matches, then their highlight. Finally a rating out of 10, based on what people thought of them before the tournament (for example, a team who over-performed and came 2nd in their group would get a higher rating than one who was expected to win their group and did), and we’ll see if we agree. Hope you enjoy!


            The hosts were widely expected to qualify in second place from Group A, but they failed to win a single game. Opening with a draw against Greece, then another against Russia, all they needed to do was beat an average Czech Republic side. They lost 1-0, and the co-hosts were out at the first hurdle, but at least there was one moment to savour: Lewandowski’s strike against Russia was easily their highlight.
RATING: 5/10

            The 2004 winners were not expected to proceed from their group, with Russia and Poland the favourites. However, a draw against Poland and an unlikely win against Russia - which was their highlight - in the final group match sent them through, playing their almost traditional style of play: defensive. Finishing second, they faced a tough task against Germany in the quarter-finals, and succumbed to a 4-2 loss. Not disgraced, and can take heart from their performances. 
RATING: 7/10

            This was a Russian side full of quality, boasting players like Alan Dzagoev, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Andrei Arshavin. Things started very well for them, a resounding 4-1 victory over a lacklustre Czech Republic side, their one and only highlight. A draw against Poland meant they were still favourites to progress, and only a defeat to Greece and a Czech Republic win over Poland in the final group game would send them out… A 1-0 defeat to Greece followed, and the Czechs won 1-0, sending the Russians home early.
RATING: 4/10

Czech Republic
            The Czechs were expected to go out with the Greeks in the group stage, but veteran Milan Baroš helped guide them to the last 16, exceeding many expectations. A heavy defeat to Russia in the opening game merely spurred them on, collecting two wins from two against Greece then Poland. They met Portugal in the quarters, and went out fighting, going down 1-0. Perhaps not the most vintage set of performances, but it’s the results that matter. The win over Poland has to be the highlight.
RATING: 7/10


            The World Cup runners-up had a nightmare tournament, one that fans hope can be thrown into the abyss of football history, never to return. Expectations were high, but performances and results never met those standards. Wesley Sneider hinted at an “ego problem” within the Dutch set-up, and with players like Arjen Robben, you can’t help but to agree. Losing every game and not putting up much of a fight dents their reputation, one which they hope will be restored come Brazil 2014. 
RATING: 2/10

            Being dealt in the Group of Death meant expectations were low, and the world was expecting them to be on the first flight home with zero points. But an opening win over Holland - their highlight - put them in good spirits, and it took a late Portugal winner to deny them a point. Germany followed, and so did another good display, but they unfortunately lost 2-1, sending them home with the Dutch. 
RATING: 7/10

            One of the best German sides in my lifetime, and they were hailed as the favourites to lift the trophy before it had even kicked off. Three wins out of three in the group stage certainly helped their cause, and momentum was building. A 4-2 win over Greece and they were in the semi-finals, thinking they could go all the way. But the infamous Mario Balotelli popped out with two goals to ruin the Germany parade. 
RATING: 8/10

            A team that has constantly underperformed given the strength of their side on paper: Ronaldo, Nani, Moutinho, Miereles… Finally they get to where they should be - a semi-final, and just penalty kicks away from a final. Going out to the eventual winners is no disgrace, and they put in some good performances along the way, and finally got Ronaldo playing well for the national side. 
RATING: 8/10


            Three trophies on the bounce says it all about this Spain side. They are simply the best in the world. Why would anyone ever call them boring? They play nice football, and have when their original tactic was on the verge of being sussed out, they changed it to a tactic no one expected. They didn’t play with a striker, yet they still had a striker win the Golden Boot. It seemed they didn’t get out of second gear for most of the tournament, until the final. The performances weren’t vintage Spain, but it’s the results that will be remembered.
RATING: 10/10

            The other finalists surprised many on-route, including beating favourites Germany. Even more surprising was Mario Balotelli. He stormed his way to three goals, including a brace against the Germans in the semi-final. The cool and calm Andrea Pirlo provided the killer ball many times, and his style and grace on the football pitch will be missed at international tournaments, as this was almost certainly his last one. A win over England on penalties was impressive, but they had many chances to kill us off. It has to be remembered that Thiago Motta had to go off injured in the final, and they didn’t deserve to lose so heavily.
RATING: 9/10

            A disastrous tournament in terms of results for the Irish, but the fact that they even reached the group stages has to be seen as a success. The fans were brilliant, but that would be no consolation back in Ireland as they crashed out at the first hurdle. They gave it their best shot, but with teams like Spain, Italy and Croatia in their group no one expected them to do anything, and they didn’t.
RATING: 3/10

            Croatia were unlucky to be drawn in this group, they had a good side and a draw against Spain would have sent them through. Slaven Bilic had them playing well, and scoring goals. They didn’t have the strongest defence, but with a bit more coaching, and with the youngsters coming through, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the next World Cup. A draw against Italy and a convincing win over Ireland made it a very respectable campaign, and a good building block.
RATING: 6/10


            The co-hosts didn’t embarrass themselves in a tough group, with an opening victory over Sweden the highlight. After falling behind, they rallied and the home crowd spurred them onto a well-deserved win. An expected defeat against France followed, then a spirited performance against England where they had a goal disallowed - it did cross the line, but the attacker was offside so justice was done in my view. They played well excluding the France game, and it was a good tournament.
RATING: 6/10

            They lost in surprising fashion against Ukraine, then a good performance - helped by England’s defensive frailties - was only ruined by a sublime back-heel by Danny Welbeck and a wicked shot on the edge of the area by Theo Walcott. They were not sent home empty handed, however, defeating France 2-0 in the final group game, an acrobatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic volley giving them the lead, then a late goal secured the victory. Not a terrible performance, but the opening day loss will haunt them. 
RATING: 6/10

            A balanced opening game against England ended in a 1-1 draw, then a victory against Ukraine provided a massive stepping stone to qualifying for the quarter finals. But a loss to Sweden in the final group game proved their downfall, which meant they finished second in the group behind England. They faced eventual winners Spain, and got dominated. For a French side with so much quality - easily a better side on paper than England’s - they lacked the cutting edge, and this will be a tournament to forget.
RATING: 5/10

            Last but by no means least, we come to England. A team in transition, with a newly appointed manager meant expectations were low. Some expected us to go out in the group, most thought a quarter final was a reasonable target. We, along with Spain, were unbeaten in the first ninety minutes of football, and only went out by the dreaded penalties. This was undoubtedly a tournament where not much was known about our game plan, our manager, but we put in a good display. Hopefully we will be ready for Brazil 2014, and get further than the quarters, where we fall so many times.
RATING: 7/10

So, that wraps up the team reviews, and as you can tell this took a while: re-watching highlights, looking at team line-ups, tactics, results. If you agree or disagree, I’d be delighted to know, so drop me a line either on my twitter (@cjrivett12) or in the comments below. Hope you enjoyed, and I’d like to end on a quote which I found completely correct, one by double European Championship and World Cup winner Cesc Fabregas:
“Those people who think we are playing boring, in my opinion they don’t understand the game.”

Follow Callum on twitter: @CJRivett12. You can find more of Callum's work here.

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