Archive for the ‘UEFA’ Category

The Euro 2012 curtain has just closed and a resounding victory for defending Euro and World Champion Spain over reborn routinier Italy is now history. Still, this leaves us some time to offer up our reflection on Euro 2012 … 12 ‘food for thought’ delicacies to hopefully tide you over for a while.

Good Guys Finish Last [Poland]: Who was not rooting for co-hosts Poland to do well at Euro 2012? After all, their Borussia Dortmund super stars trio, Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek, helped power Borussia Dortmund to its second consecutive German league title. While they were eager to put on a good show for their home fans at Euro 2012 their collective team performance was anything short of impressive. Dismal goaltending and an underwhelming offensive performance kept the Poles out of Group A contention and the elimination rounds

Head Games Trump Talent [Germany vs. Italy]: A side-by-side comparison of the two footballing powerhouses showed a clear advantage for the Germans but history and head games prevailed as the Azzuri proved once again that history does indeed play an important role in future German NT performances. In trying to change the course of a loosing history vs. Italy, Germany’s Joachim Loew made major tactical changes leading to a clear victory by the Italians.

The Perfect Storm [Ukraine v France, Group D match-up]: Euro 2012 made history by delaying a group match due to bad weather. Thunder and lightning kept players sidelined for a while before being able to finish their Group D match.  Ukraine’s Group D showdown with France at Donetsk’s Donbass Stadium was dramatically suspended after thunderstorms forced the teams off after just five minutes.

Don’t  Believe the Hype [Euro Host preparedness]: All this talk about disorganized hosts and fears of ultra violence and hooliganism dominated the pre-Euro headlines. Yes, there were some reports of boneheads and idiots misbehaving and even more news of transportation and field condition issues, BUT, overall this tournament went off without a hitch.

How ‘beautiful’ is the game? [Spain]: Many have called this the most boring and uninspired Spanish performance in recent times. Why? Because they are so disciplined and routine that flawless play, even if not flashy has to be criticized? As a Germany supporter I can tell you, I wish we played boring and uninspired … it might have landed us in the finals.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Holland]: What happened to the fierce Dutch team that made it to the 2010 world cup final? ESPN’s Alexi Lalas called it early on in the tournament when he said Holland  had lost its shine. 0 wins and 0 points was an all time low for the Dutch

Against all Odds [Italy]: Betting scandals, economic issues, low popularity rating for the national team, and a 3 game losing streak headed into the Euros, all means  nothing when Italy plays in a World Cup or Euro tournament. They made it to the final, a lot more than expected.

Natural Born Captains [Euro Goalies]: I have the advantage of having watched the finals, but Iker Casillas is a bad ass. He did what he needed to do in Spain’s convincing 4:0 trashing of Italy in the final, and like his other goalie captains Buffon (Italy) and Hugo Lloris set the tone for his side’s attitude and aim. It’s not coincidence that 6 of the 16 Euro 2012 captains are defenders.

(No) Luck of the Irish [Ireland's disappointing Euro tournament]:Who was not  excited about having Ireland back at an international tournament? Especially since an old Italian icon led them there. Unfortunately, they fizzled much like a morning after alkaseltzer and left no lasting highlights or memories. They are actually to blame for Italy’s advancement to the next round based on a lopsided win vs. the hapless Irish.

Down but not Out [Greece]:I picked Greece to finish last in Group A of Euro 2012, thinking Poland, the Czechs and Russia would all be stronger and leave the Greeks behind. In an impressive show of resiliency, the Greeks delivered Russia a  crushing defeat and much like their Euro 2004 run, surprised the experts by advancing to a Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

Decisions, Decisions [Germany's talent 'problem']: Is there ever too much thing of a good thing?  Well, in Germany’s talent (and deep bench case) the answer may be yes.  Every pre-game discussion this Euro started with who should start – Podolski or maybe Schuerlle or maybe Reus instead of Mueller. This lack of conviction on the national coach’s end led to a lot of second guessing as well as a good measure of over confidence due to the depth of talent at Loew’s disposal. In fact, the number of talented subs available to Germany vs. Italy may have led to the sketchy decision-making  and play calling.

From Russia with (no) Love [Russia's fast start and slow finish]:  It seems like no one really likes Russia; be its political views, how it’s citizens are treated or its national  football team. The few international stars have worn out there welcome in England and elsewhere so an opening 4:1 thrashing of the Czech Republic made for some headlines.  In the end (last game of the Group A matches), the Russian lost out to the surprise Greeks and entered the tourney without much fanfare.

The Euro semifinals are here at last and our match predicting canine Dude is once again ready to give it his best. Today, he’s focused on Spain vs. Portugal and tomorrow he’ll reveal his picks for the classic match-up between Germany and Italy.

Then, there’s this business of the mole in the Germany camp that leaked the Germany starting lineup before the Greece quarterfinal match. While we know it wasn’t the actual hole digging mammal that dun it, the distraction might be the perfect remedy to pre-Italy match jitters.

Welcome to week 3 of Euro 2012 and the beginning of the elimination round. With two more quarterfinal match-ups upon us [Ronaldo's Portugal beat the Czechs 1:0 Thursday & Jogi Loew's Germans dismantled the hapless Greeks 4:2 last night], it’s ‘brass tacks’ time and a good opportunity to review some interesting Euro 2012 numbers, stats and facts …

500,000+ Germany fans gather at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to celebrate Die Mannschaft during Euro 2012

860  A record for most passes in a EURO match, achieved by Spain in their Euro 2012 Group C match with Ireland. Spain’s midfield maestro Xavi led the way with a new record of his own, completing 127 of 136 pass attempts vs. Ireland.

368  The total player count at Euro 2012 represented by 16, 23-man European national teams.

120  The total number of national team appearances for Miroslav Klose after yesterday’s start against Greece.

64  All goals scored by Miroslav Klose in a Germany shirt since his national team debut in 2001. His 64th goal yesterday puts him only four behind Gerd Mueller’s DFB scoring record.

64  Goals scored by Germany at the UEFA Euros after their latest 4-2 quarterfinal win over Greece, putting them seven in front of the Netherlands as the competition’s all-time leading scorers.

58  With it’s recent win over Croatia, Spain has now enjoyed more possession than its opponents in each of the last 58 matches.

38  The age of the oldest Euro competition player to score a goal [at Euro 2008, Ivica Vastic found the net for Austria]. 35 years and 256 days was the age at which Ukraine’s Andriy Shevchenko undid Sweden with a decisive double goal performance and established himself as the second-oldest goalscorer in the history of the UEFA European Championship.

27   The age at which Lukas Podolski won his 100th cap on Sunday, becoming the youngest European player to reach this landmark in the process.

19  Germany have now scored at least once in their last 19 matches dating back to November 2010.

12  The group of players who have scored at least twice in a match at both the Euros and the FIFA World Cup. Ukraine’s Andriy Shevchenko joined this elite club with his Euro 2012 goals.

7  Goal total for Greece during their 2004 Euro Championship campaign compared to Germany’s 9 tallies during 2012 Euro Group and quarterfinal play.

5  The number of major international tournaments that have been graced by a Cristiano Ronaldo goal. The Portugal star struck twice in a Group B win over the Netherlands and once in the quarterfinal victory over the Czechs.

4  The total of consecutive semi-final appearances made by the German National Team. This includes the semi-final loss to the Italians at the 2006 World Cup in Germany; the 2008 Euro match-up with Turkey (who Germany beat only to lose to Spain in the final); the 2010 World Cup semi-final loss to Spain, and the upcoming Euro 2012 semi-final match on Thursday, June 28th against either England or Italy.

0  The Netherland’s point total in Euro 2012 Group B competition after losing all three group matches at a major tournament for the first time in their history, and suffering three successive defeats for the first time in 22 years.

With five Euro 2012 matches remaining and European football powerhouses England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain still competing for Euro glory, there are bound to be more records broken and ‘firsts’ recorded. Stay tuned.

Euro 2012 day 6 features two fantastic match-ups in Group B, the tournament’s so called ‘group of death’. While the Dutch are looking to rebound from their loss to Denmark, but face tournament favorite Germany, the ‘butter cookie’ nation is hoping to continue their Cinderella run with another result against Portugal.

Dudestradamus, our trusty canine Euro 2012 prognosticator, continues his predictive ways with today’s match picks.

 

Are you sick of the Euro 2012 international football tournament yet? Well, regardless of your answer, buckle in for 18 more days of  some of the best international soccer action you’ll see, probably until the 2014 World Cup.  Here’s TRF’s short list of Euro 2012 Group notables based on the first 8 matches:

  • Biggest upset: The mighty Danes stole 3 points from the Netherlands Express which looked more like the local mass transit during Saturday’s group B face-off. An ‘honorable’ mention’ goes to Ukraine for a come from behind victory vs. Sweden in group D
  • ‘What a goal’ award: Robert Lewandowski’s opening match zinger not only got the Warsaw stadium Polish supporters going, but also qualified for the nicest finish we have seen of the 20 goals scored in the first 8 games
  • Worst referee call: This dubious distinction goes to Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo who sent-off Greece’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos shortly before half-time in a highly questionable second yellow card call. He issued another red in the 69th minute when he sent off Poland’s goalkeeper

  • ‘Feelgood’ win award: Ukraine scored two second half goals against Sweden to win their opening match on Tuesday. It was great to see the co-hosts, who have been repeatedly criticized for controversial political actions as well inadequate Euro 2012 stadium conditions, play so well, led by 35-year-old striker Andriy Shevchenko who scored two headers to lead his country
  • ‘Clutch’ play award: This one goes to Polish reserve goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton. Tyton came off the bench in the second half for the co-hosts after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had been sent off for bringing down Greek substitute Dimitris Salpigidis. He promptly saved the resulting spot-kick from Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis to secure the draw for Poland

  • Biggest blowout win: Russia beat the Czech Republic 4:1 (2:0 at halftime) in their group A opener on June 8th completely dominating the Czech’s midfield and back-line.  21-year old Alan Dzagoev netted two goals and in-form Andrei Arshavin added two assists to cap a great evening for the Russians
  • Biggest tactical surprise: Out of all the opening games at Euro 2012, the one that stood out from a pure tactical point of view was Italy vs. Spain. The surprise came from the Italians showcasing a mere three defenders at the back and Spain, who started without a center forward. An unbelievable decision when you consider their striker firepower including the two Fernandos — Torres and LLorente

  • Biggest waste of talent on the bench: This one goes to Holland’s benching of Klaas Jan Hunterlaar, the Bundesliga’s leading scorer and top goal-getter during Holland’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. In their loss to Denmark, the Dutch stuck with Robin van Persie until late  int the second half when they inserted Hunterlaar … too little too late

Dudestradamus’ day 5, Group A, 2nd match predictions …

 

 

Another day of Euro 2012 is in the books and Dude, our Euro 2012 match prognosticator, is at again. His focus today — Group D including the thrilling England vs. France match up.

 

Dude-stradamus had a tough day yesterday and missed his first ever prediction when Denmark upset the mighty Dutch. However, after much soul searching and a promise of many more juicy treats, he is back to his predicting ways. Check out his Spain-Italy and Croatia-Ireland picks du jour.

 

Every major footy tournament has it, every team that competes at the highest level hopes to avoid being a part of it … it’s the dreaded group of death aka Todes Gruppe aka Gruppo Mordo aka you are screwed. In the case of Euro 2012, Group B fits this description. All four teams are among the top 10 according to FIFA’s world team rankings: The Netherlands only lost to Spain in the last world cup final; Germany finished 3rd that year and 2nd in Euro 2008; Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo, and Denmark finished atop their Euro qualifying group even beating out Portugal. With all that talent come high expectations, especially for group B favorites Germany and Holland.

While Germany eked out a win vs. Portugal with a 70+ minute goal by striker Mario Gomez, and some amazing defense, Holland was not so lucky in its 0:1 defeat against major underdogs Denmark. Lots of money was surely lost on that final score since a majority of ‘experts’ picked Holland to at least manage a draw. Even ‘Dude-stradamus‘, the Euro 2012 canine prognosticator, got that one wrong.  Does the Oranje’s defeat have them seeing red for the rest of the tournament or can they recover to still claim a spot in the elimination round? I still think they will prevail but the dominance Bert van Marwijk’s team displayed last world cup and even during their Euro 2008 campaign could well be over. Captain van Bommel is over the hill and dancing at his last wedding and the defense has  ‘disaster potential’ written all over it. On the upside, the offensive options are plentiful — the Bundesliga’s top goal-getter Klaas Jan Hunterlaar sat on the bench vs. Denmark  because of Holland’s talent upfront with RVP (Robin van Persie).

Also changing, is the dynamic of the German squad which is getting younger by the minute and represents the youngest of the 16 Euro countries. With 26 year old Marion Gomez replacing 34 year old Miro Klose as the starter in Germany’s attack, and 23 year old Mats Hummels doing a phenomenal job playing for oft  injured/out of form defender Per Mertesacker (27 years), the German lineup debuted against Portugal may be here to stay. I found it ironic that Germany’s defense which has often been criticized and picked on by opposing teams such as Switzerland a mere two weeks ago, saved the day against the desperate yet dangerous Portuguese. For Germany, Holland is next. A win secures them a spot in the elimination round while a solid performance by the Dutch, which I anticipate, gives them a new lease on life as they look to rebound from yesterday’s ‘Dane shock’.

UEFA’s Euro 2012 tournament has finally arrived and after a thrilling opening night of matches on Friday we are ready for the next 29 encounters. On the schedule for today are both Group B matches featuring Holland v. Denmark and Germany v. Portugal. TRF has recruited Dude, a wily canine with a knack for predicting soccer/football results, to help us determine who will win today and beyond. Check out Dude’s Group B predictions below and stay tuned for his other picks throughout the Euros.