Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SQUEAKY BUM TIME IN THE EUROS by Wale Adigun



If someone had told me that the Oranje will be bundled out of the group stage of the UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland-Ukraine, I would look at such person and burst out with laughter and crown it with a hard slap on the persons face. 
Here we are at the end of the group stage with the Dutch team out, without a point, two goals and an overall performance which was shambolic. 


I for once thought the beginning of the end for the Dutch was their loss to Denmark in the opening game when they failed to take their goal scoring chances; Wesley Sneidjer created almost ten clear cut chances which Robin Van Persie and Klass Jan Huntelaar connived to throw away. 

Against Germany, I thought they were going to up the ante, they did that but their energy levels dropped in the first half and the Germans took over, the same thing also happened against Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal. 

When stories of disunity among the players started leaking out, one knew that it was going to affect the team, Nigel De Jong criticizing Bert Van Maarwijk for subbing him against Denmark, Huntelaar also claiming he should have started instead of Van Persie and to cap it all Wesley Sneidjer coming out to say some players were leaking out tactics to opponents, although the coach shouldn’t be left out of the blame game, going with inexperienced Jetro Willems at left back was a gamble that didn’t pay off, deployment of two defensive midfielders against Denmark also showed how na├»ve he was, but I will be interested on how the Dutch recover and move on from this reality check dished out to them.


Another team that suffered a shock exit was Russia, after setting the Euros on fire with a 3-1 win over Czech Republic, got a draw against Poland, a team I felt they should have managed to beat, they would curse their luck, but I’m having a rethink right now and I feel that the Russians too were very profligate in front of goal Kerzakov was the main culprit, alongside Roman Pavlyuchenko especially in the 
Greece game when the Greeks against all odds defeated them.

The two hosts are out, Poland and Ukraine, but Ukraine will feel the most hard done by, with an opening day win over Sweden, defeat to France, it was upon them to get a result against England to get a chance of progressing, they bossed the first half against the three lions who had no shot on target, but they will be left to rue their missed chances, Pyatov’s mistake allowed Wayne Rooney to get the only goal of the game.

but the Ukrainians also fell victim of the goal line brouhaha after Marko Devic’s goal had appeared to have crossed the line, the fifth referee even failed to spot it and for me these zombies at the back of the goal line haven’t  made any major decision since 
their inception.

The Three Lions must also be given credit, no one gave them a chance, started the Euros without talismanic striker Wayne Rooney, against France, the Les Blues ran them over but they kept their shape and got a draw, comeback against Sweden and digging deep against Ukraine.

Steven Gerrard has been massive as a midfielder and as a skipper in this tournament, three assists so far, defensively, they’ve been ok but ball retention has been below par, they need to bring their A-game to the table against the Azzurris who look beatable, but for now I think they should enjoy the tournament and this is the first time the English team will progress to the knock out stages as group winners in the Euros.

QUARTER FINAL FIXTURES
Czech vs Portugal
Czech mad it through after defeating Poland in the last game, still unconvincing, I think Portugal will beat them easily, Tomas Rosicky is unlikely to feature due to injury, Milan Baros is nowhere near his best.


Portugal will be happy that Cristiano Ronaldo the 12th best player in the world according to Sandro Rosell is now scoring, Nani also creating chances.
Verdict: Portugal to qualify

Greece vs Germany
Giant killers they look like, and there is talk about the gods  supporting them despite the economic crisis they find themselves in but the Germans will be in no mood for that, they’ve looked like the best team so far in this tournament. Four shots on goal, three goals too show for it, Mario Gomez has been supplying the goals so far. 


Joachim Loew will tell his lads to take their chances because the Greeks will take theirs if it comes.
Verdict: Germany to qualify

Spain vs France
This looks like the marquee fixture, Spain have been unconvincing, lack penetration and look shaky on the back-foot, possession has always been their forte and that will count against France.


But Ribery, Nasri, Cabaye can be dangerous on the break and that is where I worry for the Spaniards. Torres needs to be sharp in this game and Benzema who is yet to find the back of the net must be clinical.
Verdict: France to go through

England vs Italy
This looks like anybody’s game, Italy have looked very sharp with their 3-5-2 formation, impressive against the Spanish team but they look suspect on the wings 

Abate or Maggio on the right and Giancherrini or Balzaretti on the left haven’t done much of defending and with Ashley young who has moved away from the hole to the left wing will be a handful. 


Another selection dilemma for Hodgson will be to either start Theo Walcott or keep faith with James Milner who offers cover for Glen Johnson, the English defence should also watch out for Mario Balotelli and Cassano.
Verdict: England to win

Enjoy the quarterfinals!!!!!!

Olawale Adigun is a young and vibrant sport presenter who has enjoyed much accolades for his objective and expert analysis on sport issues. He works for Top radio and  you can join on Back to Back Sport every morning by 6am and Sport Cafe every evening by 6pm on Top radio. 
He is also on top sport on top radio every morning by 11am.

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