At the end of the group stages, it managed to throws some suprise packages into the quarter finals while some favourites made through
At the end of the group stages, it managed to throws some suprise packages into the quarter finals while some favourites made through aswell.
This group was meant to be a weakest group and one of the easiest to predict, as Russia were supposed to ease through the groups and possibly make a good run in the tournament. Add to that, their final opponents Greece were bottom of the group with one point. However Greece won the game through a solitary Karagounis goal in a game which Russia dominated but were wasteful with their chances.
This result left the Czechs in a must win situation to progress, and Poland were already needing a win, so this was a do or die game for either team. in the first half the Czechs were largely outplayed by Poland but the scores were still level. After half time the Czechs started to dominate the tempo of the game, and with Poland running out of steam the Czechs capitalised through a calm Jiracek’s finish. With that to go along with the Russia defeat, Czechs finish on top of the group and Greece sneak in second, to send Russia packing.
I definitely couldn’t have predicted this outcome. I seriously would fancy them progressing any further than the quarter finals.
This group was labelled “the Group of Death”, and as it stood with one game to go, all the teams still had a chance of making it. Amazingly enough the Dutch who have lost both their games can make the final eight if Germany beat Denmark (highly possible) and they beat Portugal by two goals. Also leaders with two wins Germany is still wasn’t sure if they would make it through, as if Denmark beat them and Portugal won they would be in trouble.
So with the Denmark vs Germany, Germany were dominating in the Danes half and Lukas Podolski put the Germans in front in the 19th minute. But five minutes later Krohn-Dehli’s second goal of the tournament brought the Danes level. With the game dragging on, first the Danes had a good penalty appeal turned down after Badstuber pulled Bendtner’s shirt. But soon enough the Germans broke clear, as Ozil’s through ball intended for Klose, but it was too far for him, however the full-back Bender, got there and coolly slotted home his first international goal to give the Germany the winner.
In the other match, the winless Dutch were facing Portugal. It was looking good for the Dutch after 11 minutes, as Van Der Vaart with inch-perfect shot into the bottom left corner to give Netherlands hope. That was good as it got for the Dutch, as Portugal started to find a way back into the game with Ronaldo finally making a mark in the tournament with a composed first touch and slick finish after a defence splitting pass from Pereira. The Dutch backline was looking even more fragile now and the attack play becoming ever more wasteful, as they wasted some good opportunities. It was Portugal again with a counter attack from the wings and ended with Nani supplying Ronaldo to finish off the Dutch. Ronaldo missed out on a hat trick as he hit the woodwork. But with the Dutch not showing enough clinical finishes, they paid the heavy price, they came into the tournament as heavy favourites but exit winless and without a point in group play.
So it is the Germans who top this group and get to play Greece in the quarter finals. While Portugal sneak in second place to play the Czechs. I’m expecting both these teams to dispatch their Group A counterparts with ease and book a place in the semis.
Italy vs Ireland, it was always going to be a tough game for either team, as the Italians needed a win to have a chance of progressing and the Irish have nothing to play but pride. As expected Italy dominated for most of the game, with Pirlo pulling most of their strings. With 10 minutes to go in the second half, Italy finally got the break with Pirlo’s near-post-delivery that Cassano met with a glancing header. The Italians could have been more goals up, if it hadn’t been the Irish bodies that kept popping up. Then nearing the end of the match, the Irish finally laid siege to the Italy goal for a while, but came up short thanks to Buffon. But it wasn’t to be for the Irish as late sub Balotelli hooked home a Pirlo corner to seal a 2-0 victory.
In the match between Spain and Croatia, Croatia put up a good fight against the reigning champions but was undone late on in the game to see them crashing out. Unsurprisingly Spain dominated possession throughout the game, made quite a number of chances only for Croatia to be defensively brilliant and Croatia counter-attacked down the flanks and produced good chances of their own to try and win it. It would have been a very tense game for either supporters, but relieve came for the Spanish as Fabregas again played a major influence on the game, as he lobbed the ball to put Iniesta clear and he squared it for Navas to tap it in.
The table finishes with Spain on top as expected and Italy sneak in to second place. From these two teams I would say that only Spain will make it past the quarter finals stage, as I don’t see Italy having enough attacking to finish off France (their likely opponents, if France tops their group).
It may have ended a good night for England, but at from the first half they were pegged back as Ukraine relentlessly attack the England goal early on. When England finally got some chances to score they faltered as Rooney obviously showing a lack of match sharpness, missed a good chance to put England in control. But made up for it after half-time as a danger low cross delivered by the excellent captain Gerrard, which took two deflections and went through the Ukraine keeper to finally find Rooney barely a yard from goal to nod home his 29th England goal. That put England with a bit of breathing space and as a couple minutes later Sweden got in front against France leaving England on top of the group. Later on in the game there was to be some drama as Ukraine had ‘ghost’ goal, as John Terry hacked Devic’s half-blocked shot away from the line. England would feel that its justice for them after their own Lampard ‘ghost’ goal against Germany in the last World Cup. But England managed to hang on to a 1-0 victory to amazingly stay unbeaten.
While in the other game between France and Sweden, there was to be an upset as the Swedes put on their best efforts, as they were already heading home and the French delivered their worst performance as they go to the quarter finals. This game wasn’t really dominated by either team, but the Swedes countered France’s attack well. As in the second half they broke away, with Larsson delivering a drifting ball in from the right which Ibrahimovic met with a spectacular volley to put Sweden ahead. France were wasteful with their shots and paid the prize as in injury time Sweden made it worse for them by Larsson volley home a simple chance to make it 2-0.
Luckily for the French, England managed to beat Ukraine allowing France to qualify in second behind the Three Lions. So the prize for the French is that they get to face off against World Champs while England should be relieved that they are playing Italy and not Spain. France will really need to up their game if they are to have a hope of beating
Spain, but Spain haven’t looked as impressive as in the past (expect the Ireland game), so it could be close game between the two. But I would say that Spain should manage to get past France. While England will be tested by Italy I would think and hope that England should hold the Italian attackers at bay, as I feel that the English defence is a lot more solid than Italy’s attack. And with that England could snatch a goal or two and make it to the semis.
I can’t wait for the quarter final. The Three Lions are finally roaring. C’mon England!