IM SORRY! You know it was not me but I still have to do it. If I could do something about it you know I would definitely would. I’m being played and I dont know why. I want to fix things and take you out of your misery. I want to take care of you always and I will still try to do it. I can’t ask for forgiveness but I want to be taken away for this act that I am being made to carry out.
One of the most talked about games in the Competition kicked off on Monday night to a loud roar by the crowd. The first half was close to a chess game with both sides respecting each other to a large margin. The game got some life when a Steven Gerrard free-kick found Lescott in the box, who headed home convincingly to give the Lions the lead. Following the goal England stayed too deep in their own half which gave France the opportunity to play the ball around and find space. It was not too long before Nasri unleashed a powerful strike from the edge of the box to beat Joe Hart who was one of England’s best players on the night. After the equalizer it was all about France knocking at the door and England not opening it.
England were very disciplined on the night defense wise but they sat too deep and let France come at them. A point of the first game is a satisfactory result for Hogdsons side. France captain Patrice Evra blamed England of parking the bus but at the end of the day the result was theirs. Former Chelsea player Ballak said that he,” wasn’t impressed with England” on the night. Funny coming from a Chelsea player.
In the second encounter in Group C the Croatians absolutely demolished the Republic of Ireland. The scoreline highlights the one sided affair and plenty of missed chances spared the Irish the blushes. Mario Mandzukic scored either side of Nikica Jelavic’s goal to see Croatia go to the top of Group C. 3 goals 3 points. The domination started as early as the 3rd minute when Mandzukic wrong footed the keeper and put his side in the lead. The Croatians were all over the ball and all over the opposition when against the run of play Ireland got a set piece and St Ledger rose above everyone to head home and level the game. Towards the dying seconds of the first half Jelavic had a lucky break when the ball fell to him in the box and he made no mistake. Croatia went into the break regaining their lead.
The Republic of Ireland did not really turn up for the second half as Croatia continued to dominate proceedings. Midway through the half Mandzukic got his brace when he put the ball past Given for the second time. the game was over. Ireland’s shoulders dropped and Croatia saw the game out. It would have been an even larger scoreline had Modric’s shot not been save by Given, who had a nightmare in goal.
Croatia go top of the group which has Italy and Spain. This could be a major breakthrough for a side that has produced brilliant players since almost a decade now.
The Azzuri and the Tiki Taka kings played out a 1-1 draw in the opening game of Group C on Sunday night. On a night where Spain fielded 6 midfielders and no striker, the Italians took the lead midway through the second half when a powerful run and a sublime ball by Serie A winner Pirlo found the run of Di Natale. The striker bent his run just in time to beat the offside trap and finished brilliantly past the Spanish number 1. “A glimpse of Henry” is what the commentator referred to it as. Just moments later a swift Spanish move saw Fabregas through on goal. He made no mistake by slotting home with his left foot to level the score and spare the former World and European Champions the blushes.
As expected Spain started the stronger of the 2 sides with their short interchange of passes and possession play. Their tiki taka play was matched by the Azzuri who defended well. De Rossi who played make shift sweeper, had a few dangerous challenges but did well to keep the Spanish out. Italy’s first real chance came when a Cassano cross found Thigo Motta in the box. His header though brilliantly saved by the Spanish goalkeeper. The second half started similarly as the first with Italy trying to hit Spain on the break whenever they got a chance. Mario Balotelli had great chance when he pick pocketed Ramos of the ball and was through on goal. Why he thought he had so much time god alone knows, but Ramos was back to steal the ball of his feet. An immediate reaction by the Italian manager was bringing Di Natale on who scored within 3 minutes of his arrival. Spain were under pressure but as they always do, they came back into it in a flash. Silva with a first time ball to Fabregas who found the net. The stage was set for the out-of-form Torres to come on and make amends. His first touch on the ball and he was one on one with Buffon. Was this his moment? “ 2 years back the keeper would not have seen him pass the ball into the net”, said ITv commentator. However, Buffon tackled him like a defender and took the ball of Torres. Few moments later he got another chance. “Torresssss”, but it was not to be. He was disappointing yet again by trying to chip the goalkeeper but the ball went above the post. “The lad is short on confidence. In his Liverpool days he would have flashed through the defenders and eased it into the net.” said Spurs manager Harry Rednapp.
That summed up Spain and Torres’ night. The Italians deserved the point and have silenced their critics who spoke about their slow game play by taking the game to the Spanish. Great game for a neutral.
On a night where Denmark recorded the first upset of the competition the Germans went on their merry way by beating the Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal. A towering header by Mario Gomez was enough to see his side home. Portugal din’t really turn up for the game. A defensive mindset against an attack like Germany was not the right option maybe.
The Germans put their foot on the pedal from kick off. A couple of early strikes from Arsenal’s latest signing Podolski set the tone for the rest of the game. Schweinsteiger and Ozil did not give Portugal’s defensive a minutes rest. Stringing passes together trying to get that early breakthrough. Portugal on the other hand were content to hold it at stale mate. The first real chance for Portugal came when Pepe hit the woodwork from a Nani corner in the dying seconds of the first half. Nani himself hit the woodwork with what seemed to be an attempted cross in the second half. Germany kept knocking at the door and finally drew first blood when Mario Gomez powerfully headed in a deflected cross from the right flank. He showed why he was picked ahead of Klose, not that the latter would have missed. Ronaldo once again showed he is a different player when he plays at a national level. Apart from one shot that Neur save he had nothing much to offer. Varela and Nani missed sitters towards the end of the game to put the result beyond doubt. Hummels and Badstubber were rock solid at the back and Boetang kept Ronaldo in check.
Statistics show that the team that win their opening game more often than not qualify for the next round. Portugal have to come back strong in their next game to have any chance of qualifying. The Group of death surely provided some breathtaking football tonight. This championship has just come alive.
Netherlands were just Denmarked by an inexperienced Danish side. On a night that the Dutch were favorites to win, the Danes came out on top with a goal from Krohn-Dehli which settled the tie. Going forward was never a problem for the Dutch with 28 shots on target and none converted said a lot about the disappointing outing they had. Snijder and Arjen Robben looked dangerous from the first whistle. Willems, youngest player in the competition, was outstanding in his role at left back. The Danes were finding it difficult to get more than 3 touches on the ball in a Dutch dominated opening period. The Dutch created several clear cut chances with Robben trying to be unselfish and passing from 8 yards, Van Persie blowing a few and a miss pass from the goalkeeper which only found Robben. His shot however went out of the post. 24 minutes of Dutch dominance and against the run of play the Danes hit them out of nowhere. A Poulsen cross deflected straight into Krohn-Dehli’s feet who skipped past Heitinga before slotting home through the legs of the goalkeeper. The goal gave the Danish side the missing confidence and there was no looking back. They pressed and kept hitting the Netherlands on the break but failed to convert. The second half was the complete opposite of the first half where the Danes enjoyed more possession, but the Dutch continued from where they left off, MISSING CHANCE AFTER CHANCE. Snijder played an absolute belter of a ball with the outside of his foot for Huntelaar, who was denied by the hand of the Danish defender. Appeals for handball were turned down by the referee. Replays suggested that it was a bad call by the man in charge.
Danish captain Daniel Agger was the man of the match for me with his rock solid defending and being in the right place at the right time. This win has opened up the group and put the Netherlands under a lot of pressure.
Season 3 awaits!