With the first round of Euro 2012’s group stage complete, Bigsoccerhead rewards the best and worst of the week:
Andriy Shevchenko & Ukraine
It might be impossible to avoid clichés when describing Ukraine’s game against Sweden. Before today’s game few would have expected the co-hosts to pull off a win in the group, and even fewer would have imagined that thirty-five year old, Andriy Shevchenko, would have found the back of the net twice. Still, the Ukraine and their captain proved that the ball is round, and class is permanent. The Ukrainians exhibited a well-organized and direct team that transitioned seamlessly from defense to offense, and showed
Although not completely forgotten, Denmark was hardly the reason soccer pundits deemed Group B, the tournament’s group of death. Now with a win under their belts against the highly rated Dutch team, the Danes are in control of their own destiny, and full of confidence. And why wouldn’t they be? Denmark’s next game is against Portugal, a team that finished second to them in the qualifying stage, and their last game will be against Germany, who will very likely have qualified by then, and could conceivably field a second string team.
Spain vs Italy
Perhaps the most highly anticipated game of the group stage, the Spain-Italy game did everything but disappoint. Both managers made surprising tactical decisions, with Del Bosque deciding to go without a recognizable striker, and Prandelli choosing to employ three at the back. Besides producing numerous scoring opportunities, and tackles galore, the game demonstrated that the Spanish are not without their weaknesses, and that the Italians are unaffected by the Serie A match-fixing scandal.
France vs England
Like the Spain-Italy game, the clash between France and England promised a lot. Ultimately, though, the game proved to be the dullest of the tournament, so far (who can forget that sleeping French fan?). A clearly better offensive side, France lacked a sense of urgency after Nasri scored the equalizer, and seldom created scoring opportunities in the box. The English contented themselves by defending deep in their own half, and were happy to finish the game with one point. Is this what a typical Hodgson game will look like?