European Championship 2012 Overall Review 2
Into the quarter finals and it is fair to say that the better, more attack minded teams all got through.
GREECE had beaten Russia in a big shock to qualify after drawing with Poland and losing to CzechRepublic. They played very defensively against Germany, hardly putting any men forward at any point. But eventually Germany took their chances and went on to win 4-2. Greece had done better than many expected but again as in previous tournaments were a team who showed little ambition to even cross the halfway line.
CZECH REPUBLIC had amazingly topped their group after losing the first game 4-1 to Russia. They made themselves more defensive minded and achieved narrow victories against Greece and Poland but this strategy wasn’t enough in the quarters against Portugal. The Ronaldo inspired Portuguese had most of the play and chances and eventually took one with about 10 minutes to go to knock the Czechs out.
FRANCE went into the tournament with high hopes after a long unbeaten run but they never played to their potential. An uninspiring performance in a 1-1 draw with England was followed by a good 2-0 victory over Ukraine. But the final game against Sweden was to prove disastrous. They lost the game 2- 0 and although they qualified as group runners up they now had to play much fancied Spain in their quarter final as a result. There were rumours of bust ups within the French camp for the 2nd tournament in a row and when it came to their match they looked as if there was no unity. Spain easily beat them 2-0 and France had the look of a beaten team very early in the game.
ENGLAND had went into the tournament with a lot of people writing them off, because a new manager, Roy Hodgson, had only recently taken over and then there were a few injuries to experienced players. But as the games started the injured players weren’t missed and England won their group, drawing with France before beating Sweden and Ukraine. There were good performances in the England team but now because it was Italy instead of Spain in the Quarter final it was assumed by many that it would be a lot easier. But Italy totally dominated the game even though it finished 0-0 and the Italians then won 4-2 on penalties. There had been pessimism and then optimism but a quarter final exit was probably right.
The semi finals had 2 teams from group B and 2 teams from group C which shows where the strong groups were with all the teams from groups A and D already out of the competition.
PORTUGAL went out of the tournament at the semi final stage and must have been thinking that they could have achieved more. They had lost their first group game to Germany before beating Denmark and Holland to qualify. They then beat CzechRepublic in the quarter final and took on Spain in the semi final. They took the game to the Spanish and created chances. Their best chance was right at the end of 90 minutes and had Raul Meireles played a better pass to Ronaldo he may well have scored but he maybe should have done better with his shot anyway. With no goals in extra time despite Spain looking dangerous it went to penalties. Ronaldo never got to take one. Despite being a good penalty taker through the years he was left to the end and by that time Spain had already won 4-2.
GERMANY also went out at the semi final stage and also must be thinking that they shouldn’t have. They had won every qualifying game followed by winning every game at the finals against Portugal,Holland, Denmark and Greece. But against Italy in the semi final they seemed to change their personnel and adapt their system slightly to try and cope with Italys Andrea Pirlo. Perhaps if they had fully concentrated on their own players and playing with real width in attack they would have troubled Italy more but as it was they were 2-0 down at half time and although they battled in the 2nd half they only managed an injury time penalty as they went out 2-1. This squad has been close to real success a few times. They’re winning fans but will they eventually be able to win any trophies.
Both finalists Spain and Italy came from group C and so this was surely the strongest group in the tournament
ITALY had come into the tournament on a low. They had lost a few games and their domestic football was again in crisis with yet more match fixing problems facing it. There was talk of Italy pulling out of the tournament but in the end they stayed and certainly did themselves justice. They drew with Spain and Croatia and beat Ireland to qualify as group runners up. They beat England on penalties in the quarter final after a goal less draw and beat Germany in the semi final thanks to 2 goals from Mario Balotelli.But in these 2 games it was the name of Andrea Pirlo that was the one really being mentioned as he had put in a superb midfield masterclass of passing, control and composure.
In the final though Italy came up against Spain at their very best and it would have been difficult for anyone to live with them. Italy tried to compete but in the end Spain had won comfortably 4-0.
SPAIN won the tournament to continue their dominance. It was a competition for them of ups and downs. Some great and some average performances but whatever different styles they came up against they always had the answers to get through.
They had drawn 1-1 with Italy in their first game and that was the only goal they conceded. They then played very well beating Ireland 4-0 before topping the group with a late 1-0 win over Croatia. They beat France 2-0 in the quarterfinal before beating Portugal in the semi final penalty shoot out. They saved their best to the final when answering a lot of critics who call them boring they put on a great display to beat Italy 4-0
So Spain have won again and once again it was a very good watchable European Championships. There were very few negative games and a lot of goals. There were goals in all the group games and in fact it took until game 28 for the first goalless draw and there were only 2 of those in the whole tournament.
There were a total of 76 goals scored in the 31 games for an average of 2.45 goals a game.
The referees and other officials were noticeably better than recent tournaments. The goal that was said not to have crossed the line in the England- Ukraine game will surely make certain goal line technology comes in fairly soon. After the first game I feared the worst when 2 players were sent off and a Greek defender got 2 yellows when none even seemed like a foul but this was probably the worst referee by far and there was only one player sent off in the rest of the competition.
This time it was good not seeing loads of cards being dished out keeping good players out of important matches and maybe a lesson for the future in letting referees control the game using their common sense as much as the rulebook.
Spain finished as tournament top goalscorers with a total of 12 goals and just like the World Cup of 2010 there were a lot of different players who finished equal as top individual scorer. On this occasion there were 6 players. They were- Torres of Spain, Balotelli of Italy, Gomez of Germany , Ronaldo of Portugal, Mandzukic of Croatia and Dzagoev of Russia who all finished with 3 goals.
- European Championship 2012 Overall Review 1
FOR THE FIRST PART OF THIS REVIEW CLICK ON THIS LINK