Part 2: As well as progressing my picks for the first two Groups, this is the second part of my feedback which involves both finalists...
Minutes Played: 69’ (3 games; 3 from bench)
Minutes Played: 0’
For me it is a big letdown for the Spanish manager, Vincent del Bosque who didn’t let these two talent play in the national side at this summer’s Euros. Del Bosque who had won the World Cup for Spain a couple of years back plumped for no recognisable centre forward in four of their six matches in another triumphant campaign for Spain, beating Italy 4-0. Pedro came off the bench for a cumulative 69 minutes from three matches in the knockout stages but couldn’t provide anything like Torres, who wound up with the golden boot despite starting just the once.
Minutes Played: 42’ (2 games; 2 from bench)
Minutes Played: 421’ (6 games; 1 from bench)
The runners-up in Italy went all the way to be beaten by Spain 4-0, just three weeks after their crucial 1-1 draw in the opening game in Gdansk in Group C. Sebastian Giovinco wasn’t given the chance as the experienced Antonio Cassano was preferred to the young Italian who got off the bench twice in the groups. Balotelli provided sulks and petulance in the games against Croatia and Spain, resulting in being bench for the final match where his acrobatic overhead kick provided their passage to the quarter finals. Balotelli performed the best out of the 32 carefully selected players by yours truly and he played well against England before his two goals in the semi-final against Germany as he proved his worth and led them to the final.
Minutes Played: 14’ (1 game; 1 from bench)
Minutes Played: 209’ (2 games)
Ireland were never going to set the Euros alight with the nations they were drawn against. Aidan McGeady was largely unimpressive in an Ireland side which struggled. James McClean was given a poultry 14 minutes against Spain as the hot prospect for Sunderland was given a chance even in the run-out against Italy as Ireland left with nothing.
Minutes Played: 270’ (3 games; captained 3)
Minutes Played: 0
Croatia almost qualified had it not being for that crucial late goal from Jesus Navas who put Spain in the driving seat with Italy qualified. I realised my mistake in choosing Ivica Olic in the opening couple of minutes of Croatia’s campaign when Mario Mandzukic netted and went onto score three times in the tournament whilst Olic didn’t make it onto the pitch. However, Dario Srna, the Croatia captain, played the full 270 minutes of the group stages and played with his heart on his sleeve but it wasn’t enough sadly.
Minutes Played: 116’ (3 games; 2 off bench)
Minutes Played: 270’ (3 games; captained 1)
Group D saw another co-host in Ukraine who would bow out at the group stages just like Poland this year and the co-hosts in 2008 – Austria and Switzerland. Artem Milevskiy rather had the limelight stolen thanks to the call-up and subsequent two goals against Sweden from Andriy Shevchenko before Milevskiy was called up thanks to “Sheva’s” injury. Anatoliy Tymshschuk, the old head from Bayern Munich featured in the full 270 minutes of group stage football and held the Ukrainians together at times, captaining a match whilst looking overall very good.
Minutes Played: 248’ (3 games)
Minutes Played: 270’ (3 games; captained 3)
It was fairly obvious going into this tournament that the pairing of Sebastian Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were going to perform well should Sweden qualify for the quarter finals. Ibrahimovic carried Sweden in terms of goals and caused England problems in Kiev before netting that cracking volley against France with Larsson doubling Sweden’s lead in that final group match as Sweden were eliminated in style.
Minutes Played: 184’ (3 games; 1 off bench)
Minutes Played: 232’ (3 games)
France just squeezed through the group stages but overall were satisfied with their performances in the groups but coming up against the holders and world champions in Spain they looked disinterested and went down 2-0 with ease as they went out with a wimper. Both M’Vila and Cabaye were being noticed as they furthered themselves in the tournament with Cabaye scoring against Ukraine whilst M’Vila put in some decent performanes, two players that will be figureheads in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign and perhaps in the tournament itself in Brazil.
Minutes Played: 322’ (4 games)
Minutes Played: 390’ (4 games)
After coming out of the group stages undefeated and on top of the pile, Roy Hodgson and the English public had everything to be confident about. However, yet another penalty shootout (6th in 22 years) saw their campaign end. Danny Welbeck grew into the role in his first tournament and the innovative winner against Sweden kept him in the public’s good books. He performed better than Ashley Young but when Carroll came on there seemed a lot more to aim for up front for England. Young performed poorly given his high expectations, playing the entirety of the tournament but he dipped after the 1-1 draw against France with his campaign culminating in a penalty crashing against the crossbar.