France v Ukraine - A tribute to Teletext

For some reason, the first thing my dad does upon returning home from a Gills match, is to put on the TV and find the Teletext (Yes, I know it's not called that anymore but it's the same thing!) report of the match.  If it's not published yet, he keeps looking every few minutes until it appears. His reward for this persistence is a 50 word article typed up by somebody who wasn't even at the game! So, in honour of Teletext (Not the BBCs Interactive service if you prefer) here is my match report of Ukraine v France....

"France went to the top of Group D after a comfortable win over host nation Ukraine on a bizarre night in Donesk. Referee Bjorn Kuipers  was forced to take the players off the field after just 4 minutes as torrential rain made conditions unplayable. When play resumed an hour later, both teams struggled in the energy sapping conditions. France coped the better and took the lead thanks to a neat shot from Jeremy Menez after 48 minutes.  That lead was doubled 8 minutes later as Yohann Cabaye turned and fired home from the edge of the area.  France had further chances to extend their lead whilst Andriy Shevchenko fired over the hosts best opening."

Sweden v England - England at the pub

The Beehive in Sheffield was the venue for my evening of England watching.  It wasn't the original plan, but from about 5pm, the pubs of Sheffield were very busy, so having found a table with a good view of a big screen we decided to stick at the Beehive rather than risk going to another pub. The Beehive is near Sheffield University and there were hoards of students present.  There was a good selection of ales and plenty of tv screens, but once again the sound was so low you couldn't really hear any of the commentary.  Note to landlords - turn the sound up! It helps the atmosphere.

The atmosphere was lively, but not as partisan as I've experienced in previous tournaments.  There was no singing during the game and Andy Carroll's early header was met by muted cheering and clapping.  When Sven Johnson and Olaf Mellberg put the Swedes ahead, there was plenty of abuse flying around, mainly aimed at poor Mr Johnson.  Clearly, everybody being a couple of drinks further along meant that the reaction to England's last two goals was more animated, but it still wasn't the wave of ecstasy often associated with the national team.
Maybe people still don't really believe that the team are a threat in this competition...but stranger things have happened. In fact, a stranger thing happened the following night...

Russia v Greece

Limericks are usually rubbish. The rhyming pattern means the lyrics are almost always convoluted and ridiculous. The rhymes themselves often don’t work and the attempts are comedy are lame at best.  But, I’m willing to give most things a try, so here is my report of the Russia v Greece game in the form of a limerick.

“Advocaat was the old Russian boss
His team had just suffered a lose
They just needed a draw But just couldn’t score
No wonder he ended up cross!”

Wonderful stuff, I think you’ll agree that poet laureate will be looking over his shoulder nervously from now on!

Poland v Czech Republic

Tournament Pet Hate Number One – The final matches being played at the same time!  I know why they do it, and it makes perfect sense, but it means that you can’t watch every game live.  You can go for the laptop/TV combo but it’s hard work and you don’t get the same viewing experience.  Of course, the “duel game” option isn’t available if you’re watching the game in a bar, so on Saturday evening I saw almost nothing of the host’s game with the Czechs.  There was the goal update and a cut to some celebrating victors at the end but that was it as far as “live” coverage went.  

Obviously this makes it somewhat difficult to form a decent report of the game.  My subsequent knowledge is from a couple of minutes of studio chat and a few newspaper reports but here goes anyway…

Poland crashed out of Eruo2012 after a 1-0 defeat to the Czech Rep on Saturday night.  Czech midfielder Petr Jiracek scored the only goal after running into the box and side footing past Tyton in the Polish goal.  Poland wasted a number of chances, with star striker Robert Lewandowski being particularly profligate.  

As far as I could make out, it sounded pretty similar to the opening game against Greece – but without the goal.  Once again, the Poles faded after a good start. Whether it’s fitness, pressure, or the heat, the Poles are clearly a bit lacking.  Personally, I think there’s a gap in quality between their best players (The 3 Dortmund players and Obraniak) and the rest of the team.  This leaves them with too many holes and they are getting picked apart as the games wear on.  They’ve been stronger hosts than Austria 4 years ago, but a lot of people were expecting them to reach the ¼ Finals, so gaining only 2 points has to be regarded as a failure.

As for the Czechs? After the 4-1 hammering by the Russians on Day 1, you’d have got a great price on them topping the Group.  As with the Greeks, they don’t have any real star names, but they have a great team spirit and a few tidy players in midfield.  Pilar and Plasil have both looked impressive, whilst right back Gabre Salaisse looks to have a bright future.  I’m not convinced they can get passed Portugal in the Quarter Finals, but regardless of that, the Czechs will be delighted with their performance at this tournament.

I really didn’t like missing this game as there was a lot riding on it.  It doesn’t sound like a classic, but the tension of the last round of fixtures more than makes up for a lack of quality.  I’m disappointed that Poland and Russia are out as they have been the 2 most entertaining teams in the Group.