Tag Archives: Czech

Euro 2012 Pre-Semifinal Predictions and Thoughts

With the semifinal of the exciting Euro 2012 getting closer and my instant football withdrawal slowly taking over my life, it is time to talk about the next stage of the tournament. First off, I would like to say that all four teams who are in the semis are well deserved to be there. If you asked be right after the group stages, I would of said that Italy had a lucky game. But after their impressive showing against England, I believe that the next three games will be exciting and eventful. I wanna talk about each team, their possible plans and actions for their opponents, what I expect to see out of them, and anything else that affects the game of football before the glorious match.

Spain vs Portugal

What a game this will be. At my household, we have a Barcelona and a Real Madrid fan, so naturally, we have a Spain and a Portugal fan. This should make the game a lot more interesting for me. Anywho, everyone is now thinking about the 17th of November in 2010. The 4-0 win for Portugal have left people wondering how this game will actually go. One thing to note is that even though the teams still play the same way, they are both going in with different squads. Will it be a repeat of that fateful game so long ago, or will Spain have its revenge in order to take another step further to achieving the glorious three-peat? This is what I think.

Portugal– This is a side that has been tested over and over. Portugal did not have an easy road to the semifinals, arguably the hardest. But against all odds they came out of Group B, playing with the heart that the Portuguese are known for. That same heart is going to be essential if they want to take a shot at the finals. One thing that I do like from Portugal is that they have grown as a team throughout this tournament, whether they know it or not. In the second game against Denmark, they showed that Ronaldo does not need to be the man of the match every time for Portugal and that the world needs to stop putting this pressure on him if they would like to see him work his magic. In the third game, Ronaldo solidified his role on the team, shutting up all the haters and making sure that they should still consider him the biggest threat in the tournament. In their fourth game against Czech, Portugal showed some Spain-ish patience, as they kept going and going to break down the Czech defense. They stayed cool and collected and worked to get the goal slowly but surely. If they take all these topics that they learned from this tournament, beating Spain will be that much easier. A thing to note is that Portugal’s offense has the ability to put Spain on their back foot, which will be essential to not conceding a goal. Thinking about it, Spain’s defense does not have a lot of possible defenders. Yes, there is the back line and Casillas, along with Xabi, but after that it’s just bodies. Iniesta and Xavi just hustle, and as important as that is, they do not have actual defensive ability. This leaves Spain with five defenders and the most consistent solid keeper in the game at the moment. This is a lot, but it’s still something of note. This means that Portugal has to be sure not to extend itself too much. Not losing the ball to a bad pass or a misstep is key, and keeping the ball as much as they can is also key. Spain is a team that can only work with the ball, so the obvious thing to do is to take the ball away. Portugal is the hard counter to Spain, as the speed and talent all over will give Spain a lot to think about. People like Ronaldo and Nani will be getting the team close and taking some field to let the midfield rise, and from there magic can happen. The defense also has to be solid and safe, not going crazy with the amount of passes Spain is going to do and never over-extending. Keeping Spain out of the 18 is a rule to go by, and keeping that rule true will almost always mean no conceded goals. One thing to note offensively is that the defense on Spain is mainly Real Madrid, not to mention specifically Casillas. These are people who know how Ronaldo tick and know his thoughts in the game. They will obviously put much attention to him, so people like Nani and, who I’m assuming to take Postiga’s place, Hugo Almeida will have to step up for goals. Corner kicks are great for Portugal. Having Bruno Alves, Pepe, Ronaldo, and Almeida will give Ramos and Pique a lot to do, being that most of Spain is shorter than all four of those players. Players to note have already been said. If the normal defense that just stays solid, then Portugal should aim to strike first.

Spain– The team going for a three-peat is definitely going to have to earn it, as Portugal looks to stop them like they did two years ago. Something I love that has come to the surface after this quarterfinal is that people realize that Spain plays boring football. I don’t understand how a opinion is becoming a valid reason to think that a team is “no good”, despite this strategy winning the Euro 2008 cup and 2010 World Cup. I would list all the advantages of playing this style of football, but I may reserve that for another post. It’s tough to find faults in the top team in the world that play an expert tactic at the highest possible level with some of the highest praised players. But Spain has been defeated before, and I will say that they will need some major focus to beat the Portuguese. I feel like the same formation should do fine, having Torres up front along with the support of Xavi, Xabi, and Iniesta. The key will be holding the ball like they normally do and making sure that the Portuguese do not take space in their defensive third. Once that is breach, the wide array of talented shooters can give Casillas a bit to handle. Defense is obviously their weakest point, being that their defense usually is just not letting the other team have the ball. But if they do give the ball up and a patient Portugal decided to build up instead of sending Ronaldo balls through the air, then Spain will have major issues. Being that they don’t have defensive midfielders, Paulo Bento will play Ronaldo against Jordi Alba instead of his club teammate Arbeloa, which is where the defensive weak point is. Portugal do have air superiority, so giving free and corner kicks away is not an option, as the expert headers of Pepe and Ronaldo have proved to pass great keepers. The head defenders, Ramos and Pique, will have to coordinate very well in the air in order to keep that from being a threat. Keeping Casillas in the goal is preferable, as once he comes out, the mass numbers of Portuguese marksmen can put it away. Obviously, their main worry is Ronaldo. His blazing speed cannot be matched by any defender on the Spanish side. If there is an engagement away from the 18, Ronaldo and teammates can link two or three passes to put Ronaldo in the clear, or at least gain massive amounts of ground. This game needs to be played like a battle. Dictating the pace and flow of the game will either make or break Spain, and obviously these guys are the best at flow. The player of note is none other than Casillas. As much expertise as there is in the back line, they do snooze once or twice a game. Although this should be avoided, of course, Casillas is always there to pick up the pieces. A great keeper is on point even after long periods of inactivity. As long as he is on his toes, the Spanish can feel like they have a “Get out of Jail” card, but that should be used only once a game.

Germany vs Italy

June 28th 2012

To be honest I did not expect to see this match-up ever happening. I did not expect Italy to make it past the group stages but, as a Chelsea fan, I know that it’s not how you get there, it’s how you preform when you do. The weird thing about this match up is that Germany and Italy play conflicting formations, depending on situations and the variance of how it is played on the field, of course. Italy play a very traditional 4-3-1-2 with true strikers in the top spots. In this case, that would be Balotelli and Cassano, two deadly strikers that the Germans will need to worry about. This is a very traditional formation, and even though people say that it is an outdated formation, it still works for many teams. The main thing to note about this formation from Italy is its defensive play, as Italy was sure not to give up any free openings after the early incident in the England quarterfinal match. Germany, on the other hand, play a 4-2-3-1, mainly with a true striker as “1” and attacking supporters as “2”. This is a counter-attacking formation that is a more offensive version of the 4-5-1 and requires that the four mainly offensive players be able to work together as a unit at times but also able to handle themselves in dire situations. When this formation includes the “2” in the attack lined up with the defensive wingers, you achieve a strong attacking shape with a possible easy transformation to defense in case of a counter attack of their own. I personally LOVE this formation, but it takes the right assets to play it or it will fall through.vI do prefer this formation against teams like Portugal, who play a 4-3-3 and favor a more attack based formation, but it will work on a 4-3-1-2 if its twisted the correct way. Enough rant about formations, let’s talk specifics.

Germany– Although they are still my favorites for this tournament, I have some issues with the way they have been playing lately. Most of the concerns are defensively, of course, as anyone can see that their offense is pretty much set and ready to score. Therefore, I think there needs to be a focus on this when going to play against Italy. Relying on making a game a goal-fest is not a tactic, it is a gamble. Germany needs to make sure that their defense is set before offense is, because Germany’s offense does not need any tinkering to do what they need to do. I can say with almost complete confidence that Germany’s offense will score, but giving a simple goal to a counter-attack like they did against Greece will definitely make the game twice as hard for them. Their main focus should be not conceding goals, then trying to score. Some key players for this team will include Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez, Mesut Ozil, Philip Lahm, and Manuel Neuer. Schweinsteiger had a below average game against Greece, to be frank. But he was also the key to moving past Netherlands in the group stages, slotting two balls for Gomez to put in the net. To cleanly move to the next player of note, Mario Gomez needs to be on his A-game. Obviously, I have no reason to think that he will not preform, but it is just something of note. He has been a major player in getting his side this far, and he needs to continue that. Another player that needs to continue his great gameplay is Ozil, who has been playing very well. Some say it is nothing special, since there isn’t very many pretty numbers behind him. Only someone who knows football can see that Ozil has played great throughout the whole tournament, and between him, Sami, and Bastian, Germany have an arsenal of assisting power. Sami Khedira has also been a force, as he has been playing great game after game and is constantly being a threat at all times at many different angles.  There is almost nothing to say about Philip Lahm and Manuel Neuer. These two have been the defensive backbone for the Germans and are constantly on top of their game. The consistency is great to see from the German defense, but everybody else on this German defense needs to step up to their level.

Italy– Italy is up against a sleep slope in my opinion. This is going to be a tough game on them, mainly because of the German offense. I don’t know how well the Italians will be able to hold off a German onslaught if they ever got in the rhythm, which could pose to be a major deciding factor for the whole game. I think that the Italians need to do one main thing to win this game, which is keeping the ball away from Germany. Italy played a very good touch ball games against England, leaving them no time to build or get a groove going. That is partly England’s fault, but instigating it is just as important. The German defense is not strong enough to hold off the Italian onslaught of their own, but obviously it will depend on them to put one away. Creating the first goal will be crucial in winning, as a desperate Germany will put more attackers up top, therefore making a strong counter attack possible to finish them off. If the Italians do create the first goal, focusing on strong defense is more important than looking for the killshot. Once Germany is in the hole, the focus should be keeping them there, not making a 50/50 chance on letting them out. Playing a secure game with strong tactics and less-variable movement will help them steer the game in their way. Three players to note for the Italians are Buffon, Cassano, and Pirlo, of course. First off, Pirlo is something amazing. After that cheeky but classy penalty kick against the English, everyone has seen the extent of Pirlo’s magic. He can create, attack, or orchestrate on the field, making him someone of note at all times. He will look to slip Cassano through the German defense, who do leave gaps from time to time. Cassano makes great runs, and can also handle a player or two if need be to create a chance, so the Germans will have to keep an eye on him. Bal0telli will obviously be lurking as well and shown that he is capable, but his awareness needs to improve. There are two ways to simply break the defense. You can have Balotelli and Cassano on far sides of the pitch, giving Pirlo more inside room and leaving the center more unattended than usual. This will let the strikers the ability to sneak around or wait for a open ball to slot or strike. Another way to play this is to play them closer, leaving the wings open and letting midfield advance to those areas. From there, creation has options,  including attacking the goal or crossing it in, but not limited to just working around the 18 and looking for an opening. Italian pressure was very pretty in the England game, and I feel if Italy brings the same pressure to Germany they will surely make a goal. On a side note, the last player of note, Buffon, is something great and will need some master work to pass him, so goals will not come easy for the Germans.

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Euro 2012 Quarterfinals – Update

With one game left in the quarterfinals, I found the Germany vs Greece game and Spain vs France game rather boring and as expected. Germany scored a ton of goals against the defensively weak Greece and Spain kept most of the ball while France struggled to scored on a tougher defense than Sweden with their top striker not being able to find his bearings all tournament. I love Big Benz, he is great, but did not preform. Portugal vs Czech was very exciting and maybe it was because of the seemingly DIRECT similarity to the Spain vs Croatia game. Bullet points include

-Strong attacking from underdog in first half

-Unable to score in the first half, but nonetheless looked dangerous

-Towards the end of the second half, favorites took over and grabbed a hold of what they needed to win

-Second half is the favorites beating down on the defense of the underdogs

-With much persistence, favorites crack underdogs at the end

Almost textbook, but makes for exciting games and good television. I feel like both the winners, Germany and Spain, played sort of a mediocre game compared to their normal standards. It didn’t help that both Greece and France didn’t play well either, but France has a little less leeway on that. One note is that Ribery played great and Casillas still proves to be one of the best keepers by making important saves after long lapses of inactivity.

There lies my lack of writing for the past couple days. I find it hard to write when I find the games boring or difficult, and therefore the best is not brought out from within me. I only want to put out good content and I do not believe I can for the past two games, despite them being my picks for the finals. Regardless, I will try my best to do a good write-up for the next quarterfinal game, as that one is supposed to be a real hoot.

Take care readers!

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Euro 2012 Pre-Quarterfinals Predictions and Thoughts

The quarterfinals have come! After a very exciting group stage in the Euro 2012, the knockout rounds begin with some entries that were definitely surprising, such as Greece and and Portugal. Portugal isn’t as surprising as Greece, but if you asked me on June 7th, I would of chuckled. We have some very exciting games coming up, including the giant Spain vs France game which I am thoroughly pumped for. I would like to take it game by game, giving predictions and thoughts on outcomes and possible strategies and things to expects, sorta respectively. This will

Portugal Vs Czech Republic, June 21st

Portugal – I can say with some certainty that this will be the more attacking side of the game. Obviously, some magic can happen like the Ukraine vs England game, but I don’t see it, as I can support a Ukrainian force. Czech’s main strength is their defense, which Portugal should beat down like Ukraine, only with goals, of course. With the strongest wings in the tournament or at least tied with the two favorites, Spain and Germany, Portugal needs to bring the force on both sides, mixing the attack up with the more direct Cristiano Ronaldo or the unpredictable Nani, both of which are playing some great football this tournament. But the greatest element of the Portuguese offense that I saw out of the group stages is the amount of people who can put a goal in. With a total of four goal scorers out of five in the net, this means that the attack can come from anywhere. Plus Nani still doesn’t have a goal of his own, but everyone knows what a threat he is on and off the ball. Using the strong attack that they showed in the last two games of the group stages and the defense that we saw in the first and third game, you will see a successful Portugal.

Czech-With its strength in its defense, I would rather them play to counter attack on the edgy Portugal. Although Portugal has looked good in this group stages, one thing that has not been consistent is the quality. Like I said before, the first and third game for Portugal were really well defended, and the second and third game were well attacked. Of course this could be said for Czech as well, conceding four goals in their opener but then showing their will and strength in the next two. I say go with your strengths and play to defense, and use the 4-3-3 that Portugal will most likely be playing and counter attack, as they will attempt to defend by attack. 4-3-3 is possibly the defensively weakest of the well known formations, especially when you will not see Nani or Cristiano track back every often, if at all. I say use this to their advantage, and attack the unfortified sides that the put all their attack on. Breaking the defense through the left and right will make sure that you will get a more condensed Portuguese defense, therefore giving you the ability to take some 18+ yard shots.

Prediction- Portugal’s win with at least one goal conceded by them on a defensive mind lapse.

Ill be doing the rest after the game, and tagging this as well 😛

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Euro 2012 – Netherlands vs Portugal

Well its’ half time! I decided to watch this game over the Germany vs Denmark game for a couple reasons, mainly because of the huge controversy over Holland failing to get a point in this stage of the tournament. Still, some of my thoughts for the teams.

Netherlands- The defense looks okay at times, but this is not enough to hold down a Ronaldo that is back on his feet. The Dutch were hoping they weren’t going to have to worry about him, but this is definitely not the case today. Without the defensive help of Mark van Bommel, Holland are going to have to pick the defense up by at least twice the amount to ensure that no looks are found on the goal. Ronaldo has shown that he will stop at nothing to put in another one in, and with the history of the previous games, we know that other players can definitely do the same. Once this happens, Netherlands needs to work on building up to get a good feel on touching the ball and get into the rhythm again, something they haven’t done since the 28′ minute after Ronaldo’s goal. Also, they have decided to go with a very aggresively-based 4-2-3-1, so looking for counter-attacks is essential and might decide the match.

Portugal- After a shaky first part of the first half, Portugal looked great coming off the feel at the half. Ronaldo’s goal has given him great confidence, and hopefully he can take that on to the next half to score that second goal he is dying for. I usually refrain from saying such things, but Nani is playing out of his mind. Beautiful touches, experienced-based movement, and destroying defense is a small amount of things that he has done in this half. Using him will be key to gaining another goal. Portugal needs to feed the corners more balls and let Ronaldo and Nani work the magic that they have been using so far. Other than that, making sure that the defense don’t get lazy and the defensive wingers help the offense like they did on Ronaldo’s goal will help the pressure of Portugal, making Holland subside into their half for at least a great amount of time.

Final Score- Netherlands:1/Portugal:2

11′-van der Vaart, 28′-Ronaldo, 74′-Ronaldo

What an exciting game. If you asked me exactly nine days ago who would move on in Group B, I would of referred to the FIFA ranked 4th place team and predicted them to take the group. But after this crazy three games, Netherlands, for the first time in history, lost multiple games in a row and exited a tournament without any points. Although I’m disappointed to see one of the pre-tournament favorites to go, everything that happened in this game was not out of the ordinary. Holland came out guns roaring and ready to put themselves in a contending position for second place in the group, with a remarkable goal by Rafael van der Vaart in the 11′ minutes. My first impressions were to think that the Dutch could make the comeback of the year, but sadly fell short and a few moments later, Portugal up’ed the tempo and put Ronaldo in the pilot seat, leading the Portuguese offense.

After that, the Netherlands offense was not to be seen again, giving up a goal in the 28′ minute to a beautiful combination of Joao Pereira and Cristiano Ronaldo, who silenced all doubters for sure with that beautiful +40 yarder at Stekelenburg. I bring up this shot because I believe that this was a major turning point in the mental minds of Holland. That shot showed that Ronaldo’s goal was not a fluke, that he was truly there to put points up and take his team to the next stage of the tournament. That shot shut up everyone who said Messi’s name in the Denmark game, and further more, let his team know that this was not going to be easy for Holland. The lethality of that man is unparalleled in this tournament, and this is something that they will have to breed on in the upcoming games.

Holland were not there for the rest of the match, as I predicted. As history showed in the games before, the goal against Holland usually spelled their demise for the rest of the game. The second goal, which was expertly created by the old Manchester United teammates, killed the Oranjes off, and everyone on the pitch knew that this was the end for Holland. Holland’s tournament showing should not stop at the lack of wins, as maybe the chemistry is something that also needs to be improved on. The counter-argument is that this is basically the team that took runner up back in 2010, but my rebuttal to that would be that this is not the same team, obviously.

My words of advice to the Portugal team is to use this momentum against the Czech. They are a strong team who showed that the Russia game was just a misstep, and with the monster Petr Cech behind them, goals will not come easy. Headers near the goal will be tough because of Cech’s height and the tight defense that the Czech play will make it hard for the Portuguese to puncture the line like they did against Holland. With the beaming confidence that Portugal acquired in this game, I suspect to see them in the semi-finals in this tournament.

 

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Euro 2012 – Poland vs Russia

As I said before, I am writing this late as I had things to do this morning. But I just got to half-time and its time for my tips for these teams.

Russia- Although Russia has a great attack and Dzagoev might end up being the Euro’s top goal scorer, but Arshavin needs to step up as an attacker if they are going to go past the Round of 8. Russia’s defense is shaky as in terms of skill but solid in terms of discipline. This trait has saved the Russians more than once already, including that awkward save by their keeper. Yuri Zhirkov is playing okay, and maybe it is because he used to play for Chelsea but I expect more from him. Mainly, Russia needs another goal more than better defense to hold them up.

Poland- I am semi-surprised at the strength of the Polish attack, even though they do possess the Dortmund Polish Three (as I call ’em). Lewandowski is such an phenom of a striker and Poland needs to find a way to get him even more looks at the net. I don’t want to leave the host side’s fate in one guy’s hands but he is truly a man of power. Hopefully Poland uses their creative side to move ahead, as I would like them too. Other than that, I think that their defense will be their downfall, as the discipline that Russia has isn’t there.

First place in Group A is by far the most important place to achieve in the group stages because no one wants to face the winner of Group B. It might be the deciding factor for the Group A winner to make the semi-finals.

Final Score- Poland:1/Russia:1

Dzagoev-37′, Blaszczykowski-57′

The tie in this match has made Group A a do or die. All four teams have the ability to move on, and everyone but Greece will move on with a win. Greece will need a win and a better goal differential, which is possible but tougher. As of now though, I will talk about this game.

Poland and Russia really duked it out today and the game was a really fun game to watch. I enjoy ties in group stages because it makes the whole group more interesting. The game was well paced and back and forth. Poland came out stronger in the second half with a beautiful build up and goal from the Polish side in the 57′ minute. Russia still looked dangerous, but arguebly not as dangerous as the first half or even the Czech Rep. game. The Polish defense was stronger in this half as they needed to be, and the strength of Poland’s offense came through. I will talk about why this was a tie, and what these teams need to get out of this group stage.

Russia- Lost the lead on a well executed counter attack, and, let’s face it, a unstoppable shot. But this is the least of their worries as the strength of Russia is not doing was Russia has the most of, which is strong attackers. I believe that Russia needs to go all offensive against the Greeks. Czech do not really have a strong attack or defense, but I would be worried about counter attacks. I also think having an Arshavin-Pavlyuchenko-Dzagoev line up top will do wonders for them, but I have a soft spot for Roman since 2008. Playing a 4-3-3 against Greece will work if you force them to attack in small numbers and make sure you have the ball +60% of the time. If and only if. Another thing to take note is that Russia will move on with another tie, and are also in the best spot for winning the group, both can be used to their advantage. Although I believe the Polish are the strongest side in this Group, with the addition of home field, Russia seems like they will take group A.

Poland- Who I believe was the stronger side, Poland looks like they have all the ideals of a good team without the execution 100% of the time. That counter attack that gave them the equalizer in the 57’th was spot on and flawless, and if they can find a way to replicate this on a more consistent level, then this team will be much more deadly. Defense is still okay, sadly I think it will be their downfall in this tournament. I do believe that I will see them on the opposite side of the group stages, but it will be something special to go any further. Poland will need to play a strong attacking  formation against the Czech, and making sure that the Czech do not get far into their half will make for a sure win.

 

I’m sorry for the late write-up, I had a couple things to do. But I will try to do a pre-game analysis before Group B’s games as I know these teams very well.

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