Written by Adam Wilson
EURO 2012: The Good and The Bad.
With the Tournament now finished and Spain crowned champions. ‘11’ looks back on the best and worst moments of the knockout stages.
3. Mario sends the Germans packing.
Mario Ballotelli is a controversial figure in the world of Football and his antics even spread off the pitch into his ‘not so’ private life, Nevertheless the young man has unquestionable talent. Throughout the course of the Premier League season many were witness to the bad side of Ballotelli’s game as he threw tantrums and kicked out at players on numerous occasions. However the Ballotelli that showed up against the Germans was evidence of just how much potential he has, his first goal a powerful header beating Badstuber in the air and his second a thunderbolt to beat Neuer from distance. If Ballotelli can mature and control his temper then the prospect of facing him will strike fear into any defenders heart.
2. Germany B vs Greece
Joachim Loew made the decision to rest many of his key players for their quarter-final encounter with the resilient Greeks, however as the match played out, we were witness to the magnificent strength and depth at the Germans disposal. Their captain Philip Lahm set the example by finishing a curling shot from outside the box, before goals from the ever reliable Khedira and Klose. The finally finished the Greeks off with a magnificent strike from youngster Marco Reus, one of their many rising stars. Unfortunately for the Germans, resting Gomez, Muller and Podolski did not pay off, but nevertheless their second choice players helped to dispatch a helpless Greece.
1. Spain’s final dominance.
Throughout the tournament Spain’s performances had come hand in hand with complaints that their tactics and style of play was boring, but their dominance of possession and ability to find the killer pass once again brought them International success as they tore apart what had been a solid Italian outfit before this match. Each of their 4 goals were prime examples of what can now be called trademark Spanish plays. The ball is stroked around the midfield as they wait for their opportune moment and when the opposition has a momentary lapse of concentration they attack the weakness, more often than not this results in a goal. Striker or no striker.
3. Cesare Prandelli’s poor tactical substitutions.
Italy once again made it to a major final during the turmoil and pain of another domestic scandal. This potentially could have been another heroic moment for their national team to cast aside the looming cloud of corruption and achieve greatness. Prandelli however made a serious mistake. With over half hour left to play he made his last substitution as his team were fighting to come back from a 2-0 deficit, this move although extremely brave, proved to be extremely stupid as well. 5 minutes after entering the field of play Thiago Motta collapsed injured and Italy were forced to play the rest of the match with only 10 men.
2. Portugal’s confusing penalty shootout.
The Portuguese had played extremely well throughout the entire two hours of their semi final match against the reigning champions Spain; although they had not threatened the Spanish goal many times they had frustrated their opposition with resilient defending. After the final whistle was blown as the 30 added minutes came to an end, Portugal perhaps had the greatest chance this tournament to send Spain packing… the lottery of the penalty shootout. The first mistake Portugal made was not having their strongest penalty taker step up first, Ronaldo should have led by example and fired in their opening strike. Secondly Nani should have realised that there is enough pressure to deal with in a penalty shootout of this magnitude, without chasing his teammate Bruno Alves to the edge of the area to prevent him from taking a penalty before him. Alves was understandably shaken, missed his spot kick and Portugal were on their way home.
1. England. Penalties. Misery.
Another major international tournament, another exit in a penalty shootout, for every other team the shootout is a lottery, for England it is more often than not a ticket home. England played out a defensive game against the Italians, spending most of the game camped in their own half defending the edge of the area. It almost seemed as if they were playing for a draw? As if they believed a penalty shootout was their best option. They were wrong. Ashley Young and Cole missed their spot kicks, cue English heartache and another two years before a shot at redemption.