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European Championship Semi Finals
European Championship Semi Finals
The European Championships in Poland and Ukraine reaches its conclusion this week with the semi finals on Wednesday 27th June and Thursday 28th June and then the final on Sunday 1st July.
It has been an exciting tournament with some good games featuring a decent number of goals.
Most teams have tried to play attacking football which makes for open games with a lot of goalscoring chances created, rather than a lot of nervy, safety first play which has characterised some major tournaments.
Some teams who have been knocked out may put forward their claims as being unlucky and maybe could have reached the semi final stages themselves but it is probably fair to say that the best four have become the last four standing.
The first semi final on Wednesday evening in Donetsk features Portugal against Spain and it will be interesting to see how the 2 countries fare. Portugal came through their group as runners up to Germany. After losing to the Germans in their first game they hit back to win their other 2 games, against Denmark and Holland. The team has been slowly improving and in Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo have one of the tournaments and indeed World footballs star players who could have a major say in the game.
They came through their quarter final beating CzechRepublic 1-0 and have had a possibly crucial rest over their opponents Spain.
Spain’s 2-0 quarter final victory over France was played 48 hours after Portugal’s game so it could be interesting if players freshness and fitness becomes an issue. Spain, though, are current European and World champions and have a lot of experience at these crucial games as well as having quality all through their squad if the manager wants to bring in rested players.
Spain with their ability to keep the ball for large parts of every game will certainly be a formidable opponent as they proved in winning their group after drawing with Italy and then beating Republic of Ireland and Croatia.
The Thursday night semi final will be played in Warsaw and is between Germany and Italy, two of the traditional powers in World football.
Like Portugal in the first semi final Germany have also had 2 rest days more than their opponents here. So could that be crucial?
Germany finished top of their group to qualify winning all 3 of their games and were the only team to do so. They beat Portugal, Holland and Denmark before beating Greece 4-2 in their quarter final. So far they have been top scorers in the tournament with 9 goals including 3 from their prolific goalscorer Mario Gomez.
Italy have played well in their games although have found more difficulty scoring. They were runners up in their group behind Spain. They drew 1-1 with the Spaniards first of all and then also drew 1-1 with Croatia before beating Republic of Ireland. In the quarter final they came up against England and despite dominating possession and creating a lot of chances they couldn’t score and the game finished 0-0. But Italy were to prevail and won out 4-2 in a penalty shoot out to take the last semi final berth and keep alive their chances of landing the big prize.
At the start of the tournament when looking at the groups a lot of people were saying that groups B and C looked particularly strong and groups A and D looked noticeably weaker and that is exactly the way it has proved with the semi finalists all coming from B and C and nothing from the other groups.
Now it is just down to who can win through and go on to Sundays final in Kiev and prove they are Europe’s best.
Can Spain do what no country has done before and win consecutive European Championships as well as being the first to win 3 consecutive major events.It would also be their 3rd European Championship win in total.
Can Portugal win their first ever trophy after being runners up 8 years ago?
Can Germany win their 4th ever European Championship and what would be their first for 16 years?
Or Can Italy win their 2nd-after winning back in 1968.
It will all unfold in the final 3 games of the tournament this week and everyone can hope they are exciting and memorable occasions worthy of such a major event and which this tournament probably deserves.