• Thursday, 14 June 2012

    Yesterday at the Euros #6

    This tournament just keeps churning out really good games and day six was no exception.

    First up, Portugal and Denmark served up a bit of a classic. It didn't look like being that for the first 40 minutes as Portugal twice carved the Danish defence open for Pepe and Helder Postiga helped themselves. The Danish goose looked well and truly cooked by then, but Nicklas Bendtner has a habit of not looking total crap in the colours of his nation. Michael Krohn-Dehli teed him up four minutes before the break to give Denmark a lifeline. Portugal should have wrapped it up, but good old Ronnie Cristialdo fluffed a couple of efforts that he really should have buried. One in particular stood out - one-on-one with Stephan Andersen, he waited for the goalkeeper to commit and still screwed it wide of the post. And it looked like Bendtner had made them pay for that as he headed in a second from a delicious cross from Lars Jacobsen. With time running down, Portugal launched forwards. A cross found it's way across the box to Silvestre Varela who swung a lazy left peg at it and missed completely. Reacting quickly, he gathered himself and swung a less lazy right peg at it and it rocketed past Andersen into the bottom corner. Could Simon Poulsen have done better? Possibly, but it was quite a strike. Lasse Schøne had one late opportunity, but blazed over the bar.

    The fear was that the Germany v Netherlands game would be a disappointment in comparison, but not a bit of it. The Dutch came flying out of the blocks, but Robin van Persie couldn't convert the best early chance, when the otherwise magnificent Mats Hummels switched off momentarily to allow van Persie to reach a long ball over the top. Manuel Neuer to the rescue. Germany came roaring back, aided by the Dutch midfield allowing Bastian Schweinsteiger the run of Kharkiv, which is odd given the two holding midfielders so beloved of Bert van Marwijk. It was Schweinsteiger who sent a ball between the Oranje defence for Mario Gomez. He turned brilliantly and though Maarten Stekelenburg got hands to the shot, it wasn't enough to keep it out. Quarter of an hour later, the same two combined and Gomez gave Stekelenburg no chance with this finish, high and across him into the far corner from a relatively tight angle. Holland were in utter disarray. Van Marwijk responded by bringing on Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but they didn't get the latter involved anywhere near enough and Germany looked comfortable with 2-0. Van Persie had one chance with a snap shot from 20 yards which Neuer did very well to turn away, but van Persie did get on the scoresheet with that collectors item - a goal with his right foot. Germany were content to run it into the corners for the remainder and closed out the game with what someone who likes a cliche may term ruthless efficiency. In the build-up, Ralf Rangnick said that, like Bayern under Louis van Gaal, Holland under van Marwijk are too predictable. He was right. Highlight of the game: Joachim Loew mugging off a ballboy.

    The game can be summed up in one picture:

    Gawd, but Mats Hummels is amazing....

    Something did happen in both games, at least for UK viewers. Ronaldo missing the one-on-one chance was followed by 'expert' summariser Andy Townsend saying "in a Real Madrid shirt, that's a goal". After van Persie's early miss following the Hummels brain fade, 'expert' summariser Mark Lawrenson reckoned "in the Premier League, that's nestling in the back of the net". How does that work? They are both dreadful characters, obviously, but what process of thought has to go on to even think that that line of argument is even vaguely coherent? We've not heard anyone covering Premier League games laughing at yet another comedy miss from Bendtner saying "put him in a Denmark shirt and he scores that".

    Anyway, the Dutch aren't quite out yet. They need to beat Portugal in the last game by at least two goals and hope that Germany beat Denmark. Anything else and they're out. Portugal need to match or better Denmark's result, Denmark need a better result than Portugal.

    Today, Italy take on Croatia and it's Spain against Ireland.

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