France 1-1 England: France dominate possession but creativity stifled by England sitting deep

June 12, 2012


“A match with little invention, played at a very slow pace. Laurent Blanc chose his expected side in a 4-3-3, with Florent Malouda shuttling forward from the midfield. Roy Hodgson’s side contained one surprise name – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started on the left. James Milner started on the other flank, and Danny Welbeck got the nod over Andy Carroll upfront. As expected, France dominated possession (65%) and had 21 shots compared to England’s 5, but many were from long-range, as Blanc’s side struggled to create clear-cut chances.” Zonal Marking

Three thoughts: England’s set play success forces draw with France
“1. England thrives with English goals. In the Balkans and perhaps elsewhere, a goal scored with a powerful header is known as an English goal. If that header comes from a set play, that makes it even more English (British, really, but in the Balkans comprehension of the distinction is blurry). So far in this tournament, that stereotype has proven to be true. Only two goals have been scored with one touch from a set play, and, appropriately, both were scored by players on English clubs: Sean St Ledger of Leicester City for Ireland and Joleon Lescott of Manchester City for England.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

France 1 England 1: match report
“Good point, average creativity. England were under sustained pressure towards the end of their opening Group D game but they held on and will take deserved satisfaction from this result, if not necessarily the display. It’s a good start though. The French were more technical, more assertive through the likes of Franck Ribery and their terrific right-back, Mathieu Debuchy, comfortably the man of the match. Uefa awarded the honour to Samir Nasri, who had brilliantly equalised Joleon Lescott’s header, but Debuchy really impressed most.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Samir Nasri’s goal for France echoes England’s old failings
“New coach, but familiar pattern. England have scored before conceding at every international tournament they have competed at since 1990. Yet so often they lose that lead with a goal struck from a similar position. For years England’s weak zone has been the space between defence and midfield and it has constantly been their downfall in opening games. In 2000 the game-changer was Portugal’s Rui Costa, who got all three assists as England squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2. In 2004 Zinedine Zidane scored a superb free-kick after a clumsy Emile Heskey foul in that position. Two years ago Clint Dempsey turned past Frank Lampard’s poor challenge before his weak shot squirmed between Robert Green’s legs.” Guardian – Michael Cox

Not a bad start for England, France
“Not a win for England, but not a bad start. A team devoid of four regulars, including Wayne Rooney, showed grit, organization and calm to earn a 1-1 draw with tournament dark horse France, which extended its unbeaten streak to 22 games. Les Bleus won’t be disappointed, either. Neither team wanted to lose.” ESPN (Video)

England, France draw in Group D
“England held on for a 1-1 draw with France on Monday at the European Championship, giving the Group D favorites one point each. Joleon Lescott put England in the lead with a header in the 30th minute, and Samir Nasri leveled for France shortly before halftime with a strike into the bottom corner of the net. France still has not won a match at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup. The national team, however, is unbeaten in its last 22 matches.” SI

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Lionel Messi hat-trick leads Argentina to 4-3 win over Brazil

June 12, 2012

“The summer friendly has become a familiar genre for American fans, but this felt different. For one thing, Brazil and Argentina are perhaps the only teams in the world able to draw more than 80,000 people in the same time slot as Germany-Portugal — a European Championship game that actually matters. For another, it provided another chance to compare Neymar and Lionel Messi, excellent players in their own right and proxies in the cold war between Pele and Diego Maradona.” Guardian

4-4-2 G4M3 TH3ORY 4-3-2-1 4-2-2-2 3-4-1-2
“Brazil finds itself in an awkward position. After a desperately disappointing quarterfinal exit in the 2011 Copa América, the Seleçao has three years to put it right with only the Olympic Games this year and the Confederations Cup next in the way of ‘proper’ matches. (Even then, the Olympic Games allow only three players over the age of 23, and the quality of opposition in the Confederations Cup is questionable, as the major nations seem unsure of the tournament’s importance.) Other teams may complain about qualifiers, but they do at least offer an opportunity for competitive games.” Howler – Jonathan Wilson


Ukraine 2-1 Sweden: the Shevchenko show

June 12, 2012

“The story of the tournament so far – Andriy Shevchenko rolled back the years to complete a surprise turnaround in Kiev. Shevchenko was named from the start, despite speculation Oleg Blokhin would use him as a substitute. The rest of the side was as expected. Erik Hamren made a surprise choice in the centre of midfield, playing Rasmus Elm alongside Kim Kallstrom. This meant Ola Toivonen started on the left, and Markus Rosenberg played upfront.” Zonal Marking

Another Euro shock
“Isn’t it fun to see your prognostications go up in flames? The tournament’s been full of head-turning incongruities — Croatian attacking verve, Greek resiliency, Spanish struggles — but the sight of Ukraine and Sweden punching relentlessly did a lot to buck the trend of scoffing pundits who reckoned it might be Euro 2012’s most grueling contest to date. In the end, further shock came from the eventual winners: not the gritty, impressive-in-qualifying Swedes led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but a 2-1 victory for the unfavored co-host complete with a talisman of its own.” ESPN (Video)

Euro 2012: Andriy Shevchenko double gives Ukraine victory over Sweden
“The script was written for Andriy Shevchenko and Ukraine’s most iconic figure followed it to the letter. Back in the arena where he was a ball-boy before he made his name as a young forward for Dynamo Kyiv, Shevchenko turned this pulsating match around in seven remarkable second-half minutes with two opportunist headed goals. The 35-year-old’s body may be creaking but here was compelling evidence that his predatory instincts remain as sharp as ever.” Guardian


The Joy of Six: classic European Championship matches

June 12, 2012

“Our selection includes a nine-goal semi, English humiliation, Danish Dynamite – and the best international of the 21st century” Guardian (Video)