The second round of matches has all but thrown early favourites Holland out of the tournament, as well as confirming Mario Gomez as one of the best strikers in Europe.
Cristiano Ronaldo May As Well Not Turn Up To International Tournaments
For those who thought his tournament could only get better after failing to have any impact in the match against Germany will have been unpleasantly surprised by his stinking contribution against Denmark. Unable to dribble, pass or shoot, it looked at one point that his fulffed shot in a 1v1 with the Danish keeper had cost his team a win.
It really shouldn’t come as any surprise though given that for one of the biggest name in world football his contribution generally stops at the qualifying stages. Indeed you’d have to go back to the 2006 World Cup to find an international tournament where he really had any impact. At the last European Championships he only scored one goal and in the World Cup two years ago he repeated that sorry feat.
This tournament it looks like Portugal will be too frail to go far enough to give him the chance of scoring a goal and perhaps the team would be better served without all the attention revolving around one supposedly talismanic player. Those wanting to defend his contribution will point to the fact that he doesn’t have the same quality of players around him at international level as he does at Real Madrid. The fact is that a truly great player elevates the teams he is in and right now Ronaldo looks like he’d be better off benched.
Pepe Is The True Standout Star Of Portuguese Football
He is also probably one of the vilest players on planet Earth. A diving, dirty, swaggering thug, there’s also no getting away from the fact that he’s a big game player and gives his all for the cause. Although he was arguably at fault for one of Denmark’s goals he scored the opener and made so many defensive blocks and clearances it’s something that should be forgiven.
There’s also fewer sights as majestic as watching Pepe stride forward, playing the ball out of defence and beating players as if he was a creative midfielder as opposed to a centre-back. Rarely wasteful with a pass it’s easy to see why he has enjoyed such a great domestic season and he looks like one of the few Real Madrid players actually transferring their club form to these European Championships.
There’s also fewer sites as majestic as watching Pepe stride forward, playing the ball out of defence and beating players as if he was a creative midfielder as opposed to a centre-back.
Denmark Won’t Fear The Germans
Although Portugal enjoyed better chances and more possession the Danes still almost nicked something with two goals from the unlikely source of bumbling Bendtner. The Germans have looked a cut above everyone else in their group however the Danes know that if they can convert just one chance they could be going through to the knockout stages from a group of death they were never factored into competing for.
The German centrebacks are still relatively inexperienced and even though the Danes have looked short on creativity they do possess some physical players who can put them under pressure and look to force errors. All it could take is a good delivery from a set piece, as shown here against a Portugal side that was vastly superior on paper.
The Danish coach has played it smart with the media too insisting his team would be the underdogs whoever they played here. No pressure for them and the Germans perhaps relaxing because they know they only require a point… Everything could be converging for another Danish upset at the Euros.
The Dutch Camp Is In Disarray
It’s well documented that the Dutch style of management has to involve decisions by committee and consultation with the players. It is a system that has seen many a foreign coach, those used to a more authoritarian style, come unstuck when confronted with an unruly dressing room that say they don’t feel the tactics work for them. Bobby Robson found that out first hand at PSV Eindhoven.
Here once again the Dutch egos have converged to effectively derail their own challenge, blaming the manager Bert van Marwijk for their poor performances and citing not just a poor system but also nepotism as the reason for failure. Indeed, Mark Van Bommel might well be his son in law, captain and, in the eyes of many, a surprise starter for the Dutch, but can the blame truly lie with two individuals?
Surely the finger has to be pointed at the players such as Robben, Van Persie, Afellay and Mathijsen who have only looked like themselves in the briefest of patches. The only one to acquit himself with any credit has been Sneijder, so why the blame game? There’s been so few plus points about the Dutch campaign and their own attitude on the pitch has been nothing short of shocking, a brief rally against their fierce rivals of Germany being the one exception.
Their hopers of qualifying are slim and whatever happens – clue: they won’t be qualifying – van Marwijk’s tenure will be over as soon as they exit the tournament. All that remains to be discussed is whether or not he was a victim of player power, à la Villa Boas or the architect of his own downfall through bad choices. The truth lies somewhere between the two.
The Germans Can Win The Tournament
Much improved after a muted but effective display against Portugal, it was hard not be impressed with the Germans who boast the most athletic side at the tournament and the best at counter-attacking football. The individual talent they have runs throughout the team and there seems to be an air about them that just makes you believe it’s their time.
Full of running, fewer teams have looked as energetic. They burst forward with the extra man whenever they are looking to catch teams on the break, always flooding the space and giving their creative midfield, brilliantly marshalled by the veteran Schweinsteiger, as many options as possible. When they lose the ball the press and chase aiming to win it back before it has crossed the halfway line.
Some teams are always going to be shrouded in hype and it’d be a falsehood to say the Germans are dark horses or underdogs. Everyone knows how good they are. The frightening part is they’ve been nowhere near their best yet and they are beating teams that would be amongst the contenders. Watch them grow in stature as the tournament progresses.
Schweinsteiger Could Win Player Of The Tournament
For those of us that remember the arrogant, Teutonic David Beckham wannabe, the reinvention of Bastian Schweinsteiger as the complete midfielder remains one of the great transformations in the modern game. And if you’re in any doubt as to the term “complete midfielder” being bandied around lightly, then all you would have to do is watch how he towered above every other midfielder on the pitch against the Dutch yesterday.
An all round passing display capped by assists for both goals, he also showed great positional awareness to thwart any Dutch momentum building in the centre of the park effectively showing both Van Bommel and De Jong how they should be doing their jobs. When the pressure was on and the Dutch finally started to hit their stride it was always Schweinsteiger that seemed to be in the right place at the right time to launch a counter for Germany and if Özil could have stayed on his feet a bit better who knows how it would have turned out.
In just two games he has looked to belong in the same company as Iniesta, Pirlo and Sneijder. Instrumental to everything Germany do right, expect more plaudits coming his way before the tournament is over.
For those of us that remember the arrogant, Teutonic David Beckham wannabe, the reinvention of Bastian Schweinsteiger as the complete midfielder remains one of the great transformations in the modern game.
Mario Gomez Is As Clinical As Anyone In World Football
While people were still marvelling about Shevchenko winning a game for the Ukraine with only 15 seconds of time on the ball, there is only one player who can truly lay claim to being the most clinical striker at this tournament and that is Gomez.
The game against the Dutch was a prime example of one touch finishing that rightly had the likes of Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker inadvertently comparing the player to each other. Certainly on this type of form his name belongs in that company, which makes some of the criticism that comes his way all the more perplexing. Sure, he might not be “dynamic” but he’s in the right place at the right time and rarely misses. Sounds like the kind of player everyone would want to have.
Even when his team are misfiring all he needs is the merest sight of goal and he can turn a game on its head, which is exactly why he’s keeping someone as good as Miroslave Klose out of the team. Smart money for golden boot? Most likely a shoe-in.
Other great England articles at Euro 2012
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