Tag Archives: soccer

20 October 2012 – Tottenham vs Chelsea

Tottenham-2/4-Chelsea @ White Hart Lane

47′-Gallas, 54′-Defoe//17′-Cahill, 66′- Mata, 69′- Mata, 91′ Sturridge

Chelsea used to absolutely dominate Tottenham back in the day, with something along the lines of 30+ games in succession going from Chelsea. However ever since 2005 Chelsea has had a hard time at White Hart Lane, as the Spurs have not loss to the Blues in the last 6 games there. This game is a little different, however, since Tottenham have looked strong with their new addition to their team and Chelsea are still unbeaten in the EPL before the game. So which one of the two trends would give way?

Game of the Week. EASY. A strong showing from both teams lately made this game an interesting one. However, one thing to note is that Gareth Bale was not in the starting line as reports say that his wife went into labor roughly an hour before the start of the game. Start of with some great play from Chelsea. Torres seemed to be working his magic up front as the three behind him (Mata, Oscar, Hazard) worked well to support. Obi Mikel controlled the game well and worked the team up at a good pace. 17′ minutes in Chelsea’s corner gets deflected out to Gary Cahill, who volleys a smasher right through Friedel. Not much else to report of the half other than a couple opportunities from Chelsea and something or two out of Tottenham. Mainly, Chelsea maintained control of the half and did not let the home team gain any momentum whatsoever. Going to the second half, a early set piece from Tottenham took a confused Chelsea to the tie. However, it didn’t end there as a pressing home team took the momentum of the goal to work a second one from Defoe, who was assisted by Aaron Lennon. A rapid succession of goals plus the home field advantage game Tottenham a commanding lead in the momentum, as Chelsea couldn’t come out of the back in an orderly fashion. After a long spell of pressure from Spurs was ended by a chance from Chelsea, followed by a goal from Juan Mata off a mistake from Gallas. It did not end there as absolutely amazing movement from Juan Mata tied to an amazing pass from Eden Hazard connected for the third goal for Chelsea. After that, the game seemed to go all in Chelsea’s favor as the spell of Tottenham’s momentum came to a screeching halt. More pressure from Chelsea ended up with an extra goal from the substitute Daniel Sturridge, courtesy of the trip from  Kyle Walker near the 18 yard box and an assist from Juan Mata. That would basically conclude the match, as the White Hart Lane would suffer its first Blues lose since 2005.
Man of the Match- Obviously Juan Mata. Admittedly a quiet man in the first half, but came to life after the Tottenham momentum surge in the first 20 minutes of the second half. After which Juan Mata dictated the pace of the whole game and scored a double of his own, raising his streak to six goals in five games. Second goal, however, blew my mind, as the vision of Juan Mata to make that run so much earlier than it was seen by defenders is truly the reason why he is one of the best in the EPL at the moment. This man is having no thoughts about a sophomore slump.

 

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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 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- England vs Ukraine

Final Score- England:1/Ukraine:0

48′-Rooney

The co-hosts take their exit in an exciting fashion as they give the supposed favorites a run for their money. On the other side of the of the headline, Wayne Rooney makes his entrance and leaves his mark as his goal was the deciding factor in the match. Ukraine beating down on England in the first half with strong shots and quick ball movement were surprised not to have one end up in the back of the net, partly the fault of Joe Hart. He was not the only player of note in the white shirts as Steven Gerrard played unbelievably well. He was the heart of the attack today, on top of his pinpoint accuracy.  Although John Terry had a great game today, including causing the miscall from the 5th referee on Devic’s attempt on goal, but more on that later. Regardless, it was an exciting match and I felt like Ukraine deserves more than to be sent out this early. Of course, winning is just as important as playing well, and with the array of opportunities that the Ukrainians acquired it is hard to sympathize too much with the home team. Great game to watch and a great conclusion to the group stages.

In the 62′ minute, Devic from Ukraine made a break in the box and hit it over Joe Hart towards the box, just to be cleared by John Terry at the last second. Replays show that the ball was, in fact, in the goal and Ukraine deserved the goal. In the moments before this play, however, a clear offsides on the Ukraine team was not called and therefore allowed the continuation of the play up until the controversial call. Up until now, the refereeing has been remarkable, omitting the first game, of course. But this call was missed by the 5th referee, a solution that UEFA came up with in order to make a secondary solution to miscalled goals in crucial times. This officially negates this idea and brings back the idea of goal line technology, which Micheal Platini has been actively avoiding. On that note, I’ll make a different write-up about the pros and cons of goal line technology, as well as my personal thoughts on it.

Also, I will do a pre-quarterfinals write-up tomorrow on what to expect in the coming games.

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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 – England vs France

Half-time in the match. Pointers

England- The idea that Roy had for his team was a sound idea. Play good defense and counter attack in numbers. But looks like it got unraveled after the goal at the 30′ by Lescott from Manchester City. Milner’s chance was almost too good, and sad to see it go to waste and this might end up kicking England in the end. Roy Hodgson needs to make sure that Parker and Gerrard get up and out of the defense, which is very uncharacteristic of him, and make sure that he can support Welbeck and Young, both phenomenal strikers that only need one chance to fix a match. The main thing to note is after the goal by Lescott, England played defense for 15 minutes. This cannot be done against the French side, as they have too many players in form and too much attacking power, regardless of the strength of the England back line.

France- Honestly, I cannot say too much about this side. Blanc is a veteran manager and player and has been to many tournaments as both. He looks like he knows exactly what he is doing with the team. Of good note, however, France is currently sitting on the perfect balance of possession and attack. They are not straining too many opportunities and finding one good look after another, with Nasri finding a great slot and possibly catching Hart off his toes. The main criticism I bring up for them is their defense, which needs to be stronger on set plays and fast attacks in order to come out with points today, because England is looking for a good counter, luckily without the likes of Rooney or Lampard.

On another note, Ian and Steve are quite entertaining as always.

Final Score- France:1/England:1

Lescott-30′, Nasri-39

Very exciting match. Loved the paced back and forth attacking, as it was engaging the whole ninety minutes. It seemed like a textbook football match. Some notes to make for both teams in the future.

England- Although I do believe that this defensive mindset was for France and other strong attacking teams, I hope they don’t make a habit of it. With so much attacking force, it will be disappointing to sit back like that against teams like Sweden, who aren’t known for their defense at all. This side will also be missing Rooney for another match but after that I think that England will feel the confidence surge a bit to carry them into the knockout rounds. Not much to say about this other than Gerrard needs to get out even more than he did the second half, but obviously will feel better about it with Rooney in the back. Sadly, this injury-struck team could do more with the likes of Lampard and Cahill (bias?). I do question the reason of not starting Theo Walcott, but maybe Roy has realized that. Sadly, like I hoped against, the game came down to Milner’s miss.

France- I can say even less about this side. They played some very pretty football all the way through the game and were, in my opinion, the stronger team on the pitch. Samir Nasri played like a big name should, but France needs to see more from Ribery and more importantly, Benzema. I am a true Benzema fan since his Lyon days, and he has been doing so well for his club, almost making the other veteran striker Higuain look like he was a novelty item. He did have some strong looks and looks promising, but I’m glad that he found his footing against England and hopefully he can take that into the rest of the tournament. By no means did Ribery play poorly, in fact I think he did a wonderful job, but a little more would propel this team to the semi-finals in this tournament. I do not agree with the Malouda choice over Ben Arfa, even as a Chelsea fan, but maybe that experience was needed on the pitch. Ben Arfa is one of France’s more creative players and giving that asset to Benzema could be vital. On a positive note, I loved Cabaye’s pace and prowess on the field. I truly believe he is a player to watch so as long as France is in the tournament. After this game, I believe France will be coming out on top of the group and exceeding England in this tournament.

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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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