Tag Archives: Forwards

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- Portugal vs Denmark

Final Score- Portugal:3/Denmark:2

Pepe-24′, Postiga-36′, Bendtner-41′, Bendtner-80′, Varela-87′

A clinic of strong finishes, this game turned out to be high scoring game despite both teams have notably strong defensive players. The key to this game was finishing, as many players took their chances to finish. Many people are criticizing Cristiano Ronaldo on not being a finisher, but I will talk about that later. Regardless, this was an attacking game, and both defenses seemed out of wack and out of place. But all the goals were very clean and clinical, something that both teams would like to take to their final group stage game. With this win, Portugal has virtually put fate in their own hands.

Denmark- For a team that was prized for their defense in the earlier game against Holland, shutting out the mass array of superstars to no goals, they were outdone countless times. The line was constantly broken and easily manipulated by the attacking Portugal, making it easy to slip ball after ball behind their line. Although this isn’t how they scored, it is a problem that needs addressing. The defense needs to be more disciplined, making sure to keep their shape regardless of the tricky movement and responding to the ball accurately without leaving gaps. Another thing to note on the defensive end is that the midfield did not help on defense as much as they did on offense. Maybe this was a coaching choice, maybe they were tired and could not move around as much. Frankly, this game should of been over much earlier than it was, but the last first half goal by Bendtner kept them in the game for another half. Bendtner will have to be the key in order to pass the Germans in their next game, which will not be an easy feat. Also, they will need that tight defense that I referred to earlier, making sure that Bastian Schweinsteiger does not break the line.

Portugal- First off, Pepe played the international game of his life. A goal in the first half, another with constant beautiful defense was such a major part in the win. Another man who played unbelievably well was Pepe’s  club teammate, Fabio Coentrao, who played like Mourinho wanted him to when he made the decision to buy him. He attacked very strong  when he went up and defended strong and without fouls, something I saw out of him in the World Cup 2010 and loved him since then. Sadly, Real Madrid can’t say the same, but I guess we’re not worrying about that at the moment. Ronaldo will have a lot to think about after this, missing two easy goals that would of been in the back of the net had he be playing in a Real Madrid shirt. Portugal, being in a cup drought for quite a while now, have rested their hoped in ending that on Ronaldo, who his completely aware of his situation. In my opinion, this is his Achilles heel and until people can stop making him the savior of Portuguese football, he will not be of help. In the next game, he will need to be strong but should be reassured that he does not need to be the goal scorer against Holland. The greatest thing for Portugal in this game is that Ronaldo does not need to score to win, and both Portugal and Ronaldo specifically should take that to heart and move to the next game.

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Euro 2012 Group B Round 2 Pre-Game Analysis

With the loss that the Danish handed the Dutch, Group B has forced its second round into a do or die situation. Losing what was considered to be their easiest game, the Dutch now have to find an answer against no other than my favorites to win the tournament. Before that game, however, is the Portugal vs Denmark match, which should be another excited bout. A few notes for each team to effectively give their side the edge that they so need for this second round in the group stages.

Germany- Although my favorites, they were unconvincing in the win against Portugal. The Dutch have a much stronger offense, with the midfield filled with the mastermind Wesley Sneijder, who always plays at the top of his game. But the list of worries don’t end there for Germany, as you can add another five names to that list. One thing that Germany has that Holland does not is a win, and this will force the Dutch to be more attack focused than defensive. With this note, the Germans have to worry about getting stuck in their half, as their defense will get broken down by the array of superstars. Germany also has their set of superstars, but the absence of their work in the first game should be troubling. Of course if we see some great chemistry early on I don’t think that they will have too much problems on the opposite end, as the average defense of Holland will not hold up. The main players to note for Germany is Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who are both going to need to start the build up and keep the tempo up for Germany, in which doing so shall probably win a spot in the next round for their side.

Netherlands- After a surprise failure from my other favorites for the title, I question the idea of starting Robin Van Persie over Klaas-Jan Huntulaar, who has shown more promise internationally. Other than that, the Holland line up is fine, and honestly should work its magic in the game. Whether there will be another flop on a team chemistry level is hard to see, but it is something that needs to be found. They do need a win from this game to make the next set of matches all on them, but seeing them through Germany is a tough thought, as both teams are too strong, theoretically. If both teams played to optimum levels I would believe that the Dutch side would come out on top. I say that the best formation for this side is a 4-4-2, making sure that there is enough people behind the ball at all times, and attacking swiftly and in numbers. Germany’s defense is headed by their strongest defender, Phillip Lahm, and catching him making a run can prove to be a goal at any time. Holland’s main plan is to apply constant pressure against the Germans and put them on their back foot in order to make sure that nothing is built from the bottom up. This formation only works against the 4-2-3-1 if everyone on the team moves back and forth to defend and attack.

Denmark- With the upset against Holland, Denmark is put into a spot that no one thought would be theirs. With the weak offense that Portugal has, Denmark should not have a problem with the attacks, but should worry about the creators on both sides, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani. The former teammates are both insanely good players and can create goals by themselves, and given the gift they will take their side to the win. That being said, conceding a goal would spell death for Denmark, as their strong defense is the hallmark of this side. The offense is lacking but in terms of power, and moving in numbers is essential for putting pressure on the surprisingly strong defense of Portugal. I think that Denmark is in the greatest position to seal the deal to the next round, even possibly winning the group against anyone’s previous beliefs before the tournament.

Portugal- I like this team for the mainly players that have been through this squad. Sadly, the main men in this squad are all alone in terms of strength, and the old teammates will need to dig deep to create for their side. Portugal’s main problem is their midfield, as it seems nonexistent, but playing the 4-3-3 is a good idea for this match, unlike the previous one. The strength of this defense should hold against the Danish unless they get stuck in a beatdown. This formation is best because it will minimize the seemingly useless defense and add more constant attack against the Danish, which seems like the only way to break this side other than a well timed counter attack with Cristiano or Nani. This is why I can see the 4-2-3-1 as an opinion, but I think that Portugal should see if this is a good idea and NOT start with this formation. For this reason, I think keeping the line up as is is understandable, given the fact that Hugo Almeida may or may not be needed for this strategy. However this needs to be executed by the unconventional 30′ or 45′ minute marks to make sure that there is enough time to settle and work this. I believe Portugal does have the strength to make it out of the group stages and these are key points to hit if they want to.

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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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Euro 2012-Portugal vs Germany

It’s half time in the Portugal vs Germany game. Just a few points

Portugal- Needs to switch to a 4-2-3-1. They have a strong defense. Fabio Coentrao is playing better than he does for Real Madrid and they should take advantage of this. Sub out Postiga for Hugo Almeida and throw him up top. Other than that, a tie against the favorites is not a bad turn out.

Germany- Do not look convincing on either side of the pitch. Neither their offense or defense is doing what they need to do, and it’ll take one chance for Ronaldo to break that line. Line up is fine, but they need to start thinking of solutions for other strong defensive teams like Denmark.

End Game -Portugal:0/Germany:1
Mario Gomez -72′

Germany- In my opinion, still unconvincing and this kind of play will not work against teams with midfields(see below). The midfield for Germany and their forwards need that connection that makes champions, which will lie in the crafting hands of Bastian and Khedira. Not to let the strikers off the hook, Muller has a poor show and Gomez, although making the goal, missed many opportunities that would of made the win more convincing. The good news is that the 3 points are theirs and will make their next games a tad less stressful.

Portugal – Who I thought was the better show of the match, Portugal sadly failed to find the net, despite a convincing second half and multiple healthy looks on the frame. The two play makers, Ronaldo and Nani, were on opposite sides of the pitch, and being the only two players who showed any life from the Portuguese side, its hard to create anything separately. If Portugal would like to see themselves out of this group, the midfield needs to make a stand. Sadly, the midfield of the Portuguese is not filled with the likes of the old genius Deco, but that is no excuse for that poor show. Defense and offense was disconnected by a shabby midfield, and even If they don’t have too many big names there, the pace needs to be fixed. It’ll be surprising to see this side come out of the group stages without support for the stars of this team.

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