Euro 2012–MatchDay 3

Group A

This group finished with a dramatic last day, filled with tension but not many goals.  Coming into the final Match Day,Russia was all but through and just needed a draw, while the Czechs hoped to nick a point against the co-hosts.

Poland was highly entertaining, dynamic and dangerous . . . in the first halves of their games.  They absolutely overran the Czech Republic for about 20 minutes but did not put a single shot on frame that I can remember.  And that was the difference.  The profligacy in front of goal cost them as the Czechs turned the game around, eventually punishing a Polish turnover with a counter, meaning the Poles were done for.  Needing two goals and not bringing their finishing boots, everything was against them and they crashed out.

As for the other game, I had one eye on it and watched the last couple of the minutes of the first half because there was injury time.  To my shock and horror, the Russians switched off on a throw in and Karagounis slithered his way through the box and shot between the Malafeev’s legs.  The second half saw wave after wave of Russian attack crash against a resolute Greek defense to no avail.  The Russians, 4-1 winners in the first match, were out; the Greeks were through.

Group B

I settled in at Buffalo Wild Wings knowing Holland needed a two goal victory and a German win and felt confident that the Dutch and the Germans could come through.  My interest was purely selfish as I had Holland losing in the final to Germany so needed the Oranje to progress to have any chance.

When Robben passed the ball to VdV and the Spurs man curled it in the top corner, I couldn’t believe it.  They might actually do this.  And then the bottom fell out.  From then on, it was all Portugal and CR7 punished the Dutch again and again, with a combination of drive and skill and a shambolic back line.  Zonal Marking felt the Dutch were a bit unlucky to finish without any points, but I don’t think so.  Look at the other teams in the group—phyiscal, organized, ruthless.  The Dutch were none of those and deserved to crash out.

As for the other game, I looked over every time the table next to us got excited but that was about it.  There was that nervous moment when Portugal scored their second and it was still 1-1, meaning that if the underdogs had scored, Germany would have gone out, killing my pool and my predictor.  But once Bender scored, normal service resumed and I could still dream of winning $15.

Group C

Work.  That’s all I can say.  At my job you earn a sabbatical for every five years of service, and I tried to take mine this summer, just so that I could watch this tournament, but that fell through and now I’m trying to keep up with events while trying to get at least a few things done.

I really thought Spain against Croatia would be more entertaining, but the Croats just couldn’t get going and the Spanish kept trying to walk the ball in.  The second half opened up at the end as Spain’s nerves began to show and until Navas actually walked the ball in, there was every chance the defending champions could have gone out.  I read afterwards that Iniesta was man of the match.  I know I didn’t watch the game that closely but his first half was awful—loss of possession, poor passing, chippy fouls.

Italy stayed alive, putting a period on a dismal performance from the Irish.  I saw Cassano’s goal at halftime and then found Balotelli’s skillful finish at the end of the match, but that’s it.  I could see the Italians frustrating the French and maybe making the semis (got that wrong), where they would meet the Germans.  Can’t see them going much beyond that but you never know.

Group D

MatchDay 3 did not live up to the drama, excitement and craziness of the previous round.

I did not watch a second of France v Sweden. Sweden were out and I figured France would cruise to victory and win the group.  Oops.  I haven’t even read a match report so I don’t know what happened but I did see Ibra’s goal thanks to a heads up from my sister.  For a man of that size, that was pretty impressive.  My fear now is that France will somehow get their act together and knock out Spain.

As for England against the Ukraine, Rooney was better than I thought he’d be, but if he had been a bit sharper, this game would have been out of reach.  The Ukrainians were very disappointing as all of their energy was wasted as shot after shot went sailing into the stands.  Felt Milner had a poor game, and may miss out on the quarters. England packed it in and were still vulnerable, and I have no idea how the game against Italy will go.

On to the knockout.

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