July 2, 2012 by joshilan14
Euro 2012 saw history created. Spain’s triumphant 4-0 victory over Italy saw them become the first nation to win three international tournaments in a row. They might have been perceived rightly as boring for the majority of the tournament, but their performance in the final was majestic. The other 30 games were not so bad either, with 76 goals having been scored in the process. Poland and Ukraine proved to be very good hosts; with much of the talk being about matters on the pitch. There was even some time to be optimistic about England’s hopes: that was until the realism set-in. This is a tournament that will be remembered in the future for its excitement and producing some great matches.
The tournament started with a bang. Co-hosts Poland and Greece played out an enthralling 1-1 draw; which saw both sides receive a red cards and Greece having a penalty saved. Russia’s great performance against the Czech Republic saw many people label them as ‘dark horses.’
The first shock of the tournament came when Holland lost 1-0 to the un-fancied Denmark. Germany then defeated Portugal 1-0 in a lacklustre game thanks to a Mario Gomez strike.
Defending champions Spain opened up their campaign with a 1-1 draw against an inspired Italy; with Vicente Del Bosque gaining notoriety for not playing a recognised striker. Ireland’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals looked beyond reach after Croatia were Given a 3-1 win, in which Mario Mandzukic got a double.
England started Euro 2012 with a 1-1 draw against France, which was seen by many to be a good start to the tournament. One of the images of the tournament was co-hosts Ukraine reaction to national hero Andriy Shevchenko getting a double to give Ukraine a fairytale 2-1 win over Sweden.
Two goals in the first five minutes from the impressive Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar saw the Czech Republic beat Greece 2-1. A stunning strike from Jakub Blazszczykowski secured a 1-1 draw for Poland against Russia: this game was overshadowed though by a fight between fans of each country, which resulted in 59 arrests.
Portugal and Denmark played out one of the games of the tournament, with Paulo Bento’s side running out 3-2 winners, despite conceding a 2-0 lead at first: the game also saw Nicklas Bentdner fined £80,000 for advertising betting company Paddy Power on his boxer shorts; while the Russian and Croatian federations were charged significantly less for racism, which rightly saw UEFA attract widespread criticism. Mario Gomez got a double to give Germany a 2-1 win over Holland, who looked like they would be facing a shock early exit.
The meeting between Italy and Croatia saw a game were both teams went for it, with this resulting in the game being a 1-1 draw. Ireland were the first team to exit the tournament, with Spain giving them a 4-0 walloping.
Electric storms saw the match between Ukraine and France suspended for over an hour: upon its restart, France ran out 2-0 winners. England’s second game was against Sweden saw me go through every emotion possible: Andy Caroll’s header was brilliant to give England the lead, but an Olof Mellberg double saw Sweden take a shock lead. Then came super-sub Theo Walcott, who scored a fluke goal and supplied the cross for Danny Welbeck’s sublime flick to give England a 3-2 victory.
The final round of Group A saw co-hosts Poland succumb to the Czech Republic, with Petr Jiracek’s strike sending Michal Bilek’s team through in top spot. The big shock came when Greece beat Russia 1-0 to send the debt-ridden country through to the knockout stages; while knocking out a Russia side heavily expected to go through.
Holland’s misery was compounded with a final defeat against a Portugal side inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo, which saw them finish bottom of their group with nil points: the match also was the last the Oranje played under Bert Van Maarwijk, who resigned in the aftermath of Euro 2012. Germany made sure they would be the only team going through to the quarter-finals with a 100% record with a 2-1 win over a spirited Denmark side.
In Slaven Bilic’s last game as Croatia manager, he almost saw his side get a shock result against Spain; but they failed to take their chances, with Spain winning narrowly through an 87th minute Jesus Navas goal. The match between Ireland and Italy will be remembered for a “Balotelli moment:” this is because Balotelli scored a brilliant stike, before moaning at his manager Cesare Prandelli for not starting him.
An unexpected surprise came when England managed to top Group D after a lucky 1-0 win over Ukraine: Wayne Rooney’s strike was a total fluke, while Ukraine had a shot go over the line, but it was not given and this caused Sepp Blatter to say that goal-line technology is a “necessity.” England were also helped by France’s awful performance against Sweden, in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic got one of the goal’s of the tournament in their 2-0 win.
The first quarter-final tie was between the Czech Republic and Portugal. The latter team dominated and were rewarded when Joao Moutinho’s pinpoint cross was met by the head of Cristiano Ronaldo: the Real Madrid was finally starting to find his feet at Euro 2012 after a slow start.
Joachim Loew made three changes to his attack, to great effect, for Germany’s game against Greece. Goals from Phillip Lahm, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Marco Reus saw Germany run out 4-2 winners, with Greece’s goals coming through Giorgos Samaras (yes, this did happen) and a Dimitris Salpingidis penalty.
Spain edged into the semi-finals with a 2-0 win over France, in what was one of the tournament’s most boring games. Xabi Alonso, who was winning his 100th cap for Spain, was the scorer of both goals for the La Rioja. The game later proved to be the last game for France under the reign of Laurent Blanc, who did not extend his contract after many disagreements during his two-year spell with France football association president Noel Le Graet.
The worst thing about being an England fan is the way we become extremely excited and confident for a game, but ending up disappointed. We were outplayed by an attacking Italy side, who should have won the game before extra-time and penalties. England paid the penalty again, with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole being the guilty parties. Overall though, it was a good tournament on paper and Roy Hodgson proved himself to be an adequate manager at this level. The style is not the best, but with practice, it could be a plus for England in the years to come.
The first semi-final was a boring encounter between Portugal and Spain, which resulted in a 0-0 draw, with few chances of note. In the penalty shoot-out, some strange events occurred. As Bruno Alves was about to take the third penalty, Nani told him that he got his number in the pecking order wrong, so Alves took the forth penalty instead. Cesc Fabregas scored the winning penalty, with him saying that he talked to the ball before he took it. The main talking point afterwards was as to why Cristiano Ronalo did not take a penalty; with the Real Madrid winger wanting to take the last and decisive penalty.
The second semi-final was between the favourites Germany and Italy. Known as either “Super Mario” or “Stupid Mario,” Mario Balotelli was definitely the former in this game. His two goals, one a header and the other a thumping shot from an Italy counter-attack, put the Azzuri 2-0 up. In the second half, the Italians produced a brilliant defensive display, with the Nationalmanschaft unable to break down the defence. Germany did get a goal back in injury time through a Mesut Ozil penalty; but Cesare Prandelli’s side deservedly ran out as winners.
The Olympic Stadium in Kiev was the setting for Spain against Italy. The two teams had previously met in the group-stages, with the game being a 1-1 draw. Spain went into the game as favourites; but many, including myself, fancied Italy to get a shock win. Their task would become harder after just 14 minutes when David Silva headed home a Cesc Fabregas cross to give the La Rioja the lead. Jordi Alba doubled Spain’s lead on the stroke of half-time, with Xavi supplying a brilliant pass for the goal. Italy were reduced to 10 men after 60 minutes when substitute Thiago Motta injured his hamstring, with Italy having no remaining substitutes left to make. The Azzuri’s misery was compounded when Fernando Torres scored and then set-up a goal for fellow Chelsea teammate Juan Mata, with this giving Torres the golden boat and ensuring that Spain would have the record for biggest win in a European Championships final. At the end of the game, Iker Casillas hoisted the Henri Deluaney trophy aloft to confirm this Spain side as one of the best, if not the best, in history.
Changes in Euro 2016/2020
Euro 2012 was the last time that the European Championships will be contested by 16 teams, with the tournament increasing to a staggering 24 teams, almost half of Europe. This could potentially be the undoing of the tournament, with their being less competitiveness as a result. The only plus side is more games, but I am not sure many people would be interested in watching Norway vs Montenegro.
Michel Platini ludicrously said that “Euro 2020 could be held across 12 or 13 cities, instead of it being in one country and 12 stadiums.” If this was to happen, this would take away some of the excitement away from the tournament. The hosts usually provide the tournament with an extra edge and an added excitement. And travelling times between stadiums are already ridiculous as they are, so this would make the time to travel even longer for each team.
UEFA really need to think about the game of football, rather than their love of money, if they want the European Championships to be as successful as the last few tournaments.
Team of the tournament: (4-5-1) Iker Casillas; Theodor Gebre Selassie, Gerard Pique, Pepe, Jordi Alba; Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerard, Sami Khedira, Andres Iniesta; Mario Gomez
Player of the tournament: Jordi Alba
Flop of the tournament: Karim Benzema
Best manager: Cesare Prandelli
Match of the tournament: Sweden 2-3 England
Goal of the tournament: Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sweden against France
Worst TV commentator or pundit: Mick “hoof it upfield” McCarthy, Mark “lastminute.com” Bright and Jamie “sbdsiefnfkdlkfmkde (he’s muttering again!)” Carragher
Poland and Ukraine have been great hosts in a brilliant tournament. There were goals, great games and shocks. Many players increased their reputation, while some made a name for themselves. Some teams overachieved, such as Italy and the Czech Republic; others underachieved, such as Holland and Russia. The defining images of the tournament was Mario Balotelli’s celebration for his second goal against Spain and the Ukraine fan’s erupting after both of Andriy Shevchenko’s goals in their victory over Sweden. Congratulations to Spain, who have booked themselves a place in history with a third consecutive international tournament win-they might just be the greatest team of our generation.
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