23 June 2012

Quarter-final: Spain v France

Well, that turned out to not even be a contest now did it?
What the hell happened to France? What was their tactic, their game plan? Why even bother to show up if that was how they were going to play??
It was way too easy for Spain; even they looked bored by their dominance.
And so it was a 2-0 win for the Spanish (both goals from Xabi Alonso which was a bit of a shocker) and Portugal is up next for them. At least Ronaldo will give them more of a game than the French did.

22 June 2012

Quarter-Final: Germany v Greece

Six goals, a penalty, counter attacks, smashing volleys.... this game was another great one. This tournament seriously rocks.
Germany looked awesome and quite frighteningly deadly in both attack and defense and you could just tell this was theirs for the taking. It was wave of attack after attack from the Germans and it's hard not to see this team in the final come July 1st.
Greece gave it a game by tying it up 1-1 just after the second half began but Germany were just too much for Greece and it became a game of how many can they get? In the end, it was 4-2, with Greece getting only the second penalty of the tournament as the match was coming to a close.
So Germany move on to the semis to meet either England or Italy and Greece go home without another upset like their 2004 triumph.

21 June 2012

Quarter-Final: Czech Republic v Portugal

A tense game. And unexpectedly defensive from the Czechs; they had some moments of attack but overall, it was amazing to see how many of their players (and how quickly) would surround any Portuguese player with the ball. Ronaldo, once again, had multiple chances & his facial expressions every time he missed were excellent.
Then in the second half, when we were still 0-0, Jenny was sure it was heading to penalties but I could feel a goal coming. And, of course, it was from Cristiano. A ridiculously nice diving header and that was all that they needed to move on to the semifinals next week. Portuguese footballing legends Figo & Eusebio look like they enjoyed it.
Next up for Portugal? The winner of the Spain v France quarter final.

20 June 2012

Commerical Break

A day of no football is a sad day indeed after the excitement we've had from the past twelve days.
So, instead of games, I've been entertaining myself with one of the best by-products of an international tournament: the adverts staring famous players.
In years past this has yielded great spots such as Maldini & co fighting demons, "the cage" tournament, and the Brazilian team dribbling through the airport just to name a few classics.
This year we've already seen Mario trying out different hairstyles and now I've seen this ridiculous (in a good way) Pepsi advert featuring Torres, Drogba, Lamps, Messi & more on the telly a few times and it makes me laugh every. single. time.
Jenny's reaction (via gchat) once she saw it:
 Jenny: lol
  i was like
  "who's that dork"
  it was lamps

19 June 2012

Group stage closing thoughts

After twelve straight days of football, seeing 24 matches with 60 goals and not one 0-0 draw, it's been one hell of a tournament already. And now we come to the knockout stages where one little mistake could send your team out; I really hope that doesn't mean we'll suddenly see more cautious play but I fear it could. I have a feeling at least one of these quarter final games will go to penalties & we all know how crushing that can be (I still have the heartache for the Italians in Euro 2000).
My highlights? Ridiculously good goals from Balotelli against Ireland, Ibrahimovic against France and Welbeck against Sweden just to name my top three so far. New revelations like Russia's Dzagoev making a name for themselves up against superstars like Christiano Ronaldo and icons like Sheva. And then there were the Irish fans. Some other team should draft them in for the quarters so we don't lose them quite yet.
It's been brilliant & I eagerly await the quarter finals.
Predictions? Portugal v Germany and Spain v Italy in the semis, Germany v Spain in the final, Germany winning (even though my heart wants that Spanish win).
And what the hell will I do with myself tomorrow without a game to follow???

Time for Tech

Another international tournament, another dodgy goal line call. Maybe it really is time to allow technology into the modern game.
Now, I'm usually a purist. The last thing I want to see are instant replays on the sideline like American football. I think that would be a mistake.
But a little chip inside the ball and/or in the post to signal when a ball cross the line? Not intrusive, no stoppages, pretty simple.

Matches 23 & 24

Well well well. Interesting games, not the best of the last round but still some moments of excitement for sure.
First of all, there was Sweden v France which gave us a shockingly bad French team and a ridiculously amazing goal from Ibra. Once Sweden went ahead 1-0 and they knew England had taken the lead in their game, the French still couldn't get it in gear & do anything. And then their defense fell apart again in injury time and let in another goal and Sweden exit the tournament with a 2-0 win. It was quite incredible and if France are this woeful against Spain in the quarters they will be slaughtered.
Then there was the England v Ukraine game. England were dreadful in the first half & Ukraine should have scored. Rooney was a non-entity in that half but I guess that's not surprising as it was his first outing in this tournament. And he definitely improved, along with the rest of the team, in the second half as seen by his goal. There should have been another goal in this game as Ukraine scored but the ref, the linesman and the goal line assistant all failed to miss the ball going over the line before JT hooked it away; let the debates begin on letting technology enter the modern game. Anyway, England held on to the 1-0 win and the co-host were out.
The quarter final match ups of England v Italy and Spain v France look quite tasty but today's two teams will need improvement to make it to the semis.

18 June 2012

Matches 21 & 22

Nervy nervy games today. I was afraid we were heading to the first 0-0 of the tournament but luckily Spain dug deep and found a goal through substitute Jesus Navas. With that goal and win, they top the group but are not looking like the champions that they are. Unsettling to say the least.
Italy had one eye on that game and one on their own; Ireland had chances and gave the Italians plenty of worries contrary to the 2-0 scoreline. And while Balotelli's goal was excellent, I wonder what his teammate stopped him from saying?


Absolutely ridiculous.
How committed to stamping out racism is Uefa? Okay, they fined the Croatian FA 10,000 euros for the racist chants & banners against Italy. That's a small step but hey, at least they acted! And fairly quickly.
And then they announce a 100,000 euro fine (yup, you read that correctly) for Nicklas Bendtner's act of showing his underwear which promoted a company that was not a "official sponsor" of the tournament.
Let's look at that again: a 10,000 euro fine for racism but a 100,000 euro fine for something that affects their pocketbook.

17 June 2012

Matches 19 & 20

My goodness. Another day of amazing games! This tournament is spoiling us! Two more games with goals goals goals, attacking play, and just general craziness.
I never want this tournament to end.
Both games ended 2-1 with Germany and Portugal the victors, Denmark and Holland heading home. The Germany v Denmark game was flatter than the 2-1 scoreline would suggest with the second half petering out to an end and Denmark feeling more than unlucky with a good shout for an overlooked penalty.
The Portugal v Holland game was all action. With so many chances for both team, so many chances for Ronaldo alone, it is surprising this wasn't a higher scoring game but there were many shots just wide and smacking on the post to account for that. And Christiano Ronaldo finally did get on the scoresheet with both goals and a ridiculously breathless performance overall.
The first set of quarter finals has been now set: Germany v Greece and Portugal v Czech Republic and I wouldn't be surprised to see today's two winners moving on to the semi finals.

Watch out! Here comes Portugal v Holland

So, the last time these two teams met was in the World Cup back in 2006. That game ended with 16 yellow cards, 4 red, and a ridiculous amount of handbags. Here's a 6+ minute video compilation of all the fouls. You know you want to see it.