Story by Adam Wilson
The third round is over; we know who is going home early, here’s another ‘The Good and Bad’ from the final round of group games.
3. Zlatan turns up late.
People often say in football that a team can be at their most dangerous when they have nothing to lose. The French – fortunately for England – found out the hard way. On the final day of Euro 2012’s group games, France went head to head with Sweden and a win for France would almost certainly guarantee top spot in the group, which consequently would have locked them into a quarter final with Italy. However, on the day the French fell apart, firstly to what may be the goal of the tournament from Zlatan Ibrahimovich: whose aerial volley from the edge of the area put the Swedes 1 up. To make matter worse Larsson struck late on to secure a first and last victory for Sweden in the competition.
2. England’s lucky break.
Bloemfontein 2 years ago, England saw a goal disallowed by blind officials that deprived the team of hope to come from two goals down in order to beat an impressive German side. The nation was in uproar, as many attempted to convince an unmoved Sepp Blatter that Goal line technology was needed. Two years on and England are handed a slice of justice! Terry clears a Ukrainian goal from inches behind the line, the official behind the goal with his novelty baton failed to notice and England were handed a huge lifeline. As a side note, Sepp Blatter now believes that goal line technology is a necessity not just an option. Honestly Sepp you don’t try very hard to hide your blatant hatred for the English! But I wouldn’t worry, because an awful lot of us hate you too!
After Ronaldo’s poor start to the competition, many thought that maybe this just wasn’t going to be his year again. Nevertheless, when his country needed him most he stepped up and delivered with two nice finishes past a Dutch side that were threatening to turn the group on its head, thanks to a superb strike from Rafael Van der Vaart who threatened again late on. However it was to be Ronaldo’s day, with two goals to his name and he could have had a hatful more. Ronaldo chose to answer the fans who disrespectfully chanted Messi at him and he answered them the only way he knows how, by playing the kind of football that most only dream of playing. He proved yet again that he is the only player in the world who rivals Argentina’s great Lionel Messi.
3. Russia’s entire side catch Kerzhakov fever.
After the first round of group games, most people (myself included) were of the opinion that Russia were going to storm group A and potentially be the dark horse in the competition. Sadly for the Russian fans, that game appears to have been their peak as they crashed out of the competition with two lacklustre displays against both Poland and Greece. The problem for Russia was not the creation of chances, instead what the Russians found most difficult to achieve was direct their strikes towards the goal! With more than 30 shots against Greece, only 2 hit the target! This is a dismal statistic from a team with talent in abundance.
2. Spain’s arrogance and Croatia aren’t clinical enough.
Put aside the fact that Spain scraped through with a late goal from Jesus Navas and a 1-0 victory. It was the Croatians that were deserving of a victory, as they countered the Spanish possession with brilliant breaks that just lacked that final finish! As I watched I became infuriated at the arrogance of Spain, who, when they needed a goal, subbed off their recognised striker for a midfielder. They believe that they are so good that they do not need a striker and will just hold the ball until the other side lapses in confidence. Hardly top viewing for the fans either. This attitude of the Spanish side, is bordering on overconfidence, that could see them punished by a more clinical team.
1. Holland’s entire tournament.
What went wrong for the Dutch?! They topped their qualification group convincingly, they seemed prepared to take on Europe and many saw them as genuine contenders. Once the tournament began, they capitulated, poor defensive displays cost them in every game and their final group game against Portugal was no different. They wasted chances in the opening 20 minutes similar to their game against Denmark and they simply did not play as a team. It seems that there may be a rebuilding process overdue with this squad which appears to have already begun with the retirement of Van Bommel. Hopefully for the Dutch fans they can create another team capable of challenging for honours in two years time.