Portugal 3-2 Denmark: No tracking from Ronaldo and Rommedahl means goals come from that flank

June 14, 2012


“Silvestre Varela grabbed a late winner as Portugal registered their first win of Euro 2012. Paulo Bento named an unchanged side from the team that lost to Germany – Helder Postiga continued upfront, despite Nelson Oliveira’s positive impact from the bench in the opening game. Morten Olsen also made no changes from Denmark’s surprise 1-0 win over Holland. Think of Portugal and Denmark – not just the current sides, but their style over the course of the century so far – and you think of width. That was the main story here, with little happening in the centre of midfield, and all the attacking thrust coming from the flanks.” Zonal Marking

Ronaldo struggles, but Portugal wins
“In this, the Group of Death, Portugal avoided a premature discovery of the afterlife. Unheralded substitute Silvestre Varela’s late goal earned them a 3-2 victory against a resilient Denmark. The game was an enormously entertaining affair, not least because of the fascinating clash of styles it presented as the wet, hair-gel look of Portugal, all ‘Night At The Roxbury,’ was pitched against Denmark’s Motorhead full-arm sleeve tattoos.” ESPN (Video)

Three thoughts: Portugal’s victory showcases great aerial play at Euro
“Three thoughts after Portugal’s 3-2 victory over Denmark in Lviv, Ukraine. 1. Heading is the new shooting. Portugal’s Pepe and Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner both scored on headers in Wednesday’s Group B match, raising the total to 12 headed goals — out of 30 — at Euro 2012. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the quality of crossing was noticeably poor. Players blamed everything from the Jabulani ball to the high altitude in certain stadiums. Whatever the problem was, it seems to have been solved. Aerial assists from dead-ball situations and open play are markedly improved in this tournament, passes that gives forwards (and plenty of defenders, too) the opportunity to calculate flight paths and attack the ball accordingly. Are fullbacks attacking too much to defend properly? Or is the new Tango 2012 ball simply more stable? We certainly haven’t heard the usual complaints from goalkeepers yet.” SI

Euro 2012: Denmark v Portugal – as it happened
“Good afternoon everybody. If only there was some over-used, catchy but not entirely accurate phrase to describe the one group in a major football tournament in which four apparently strong teams with no obvious whipping boys were drawn together, then it could almost certainly be applied to Group B in Euro 2012. After the first round of games in The Group Of Four Apparently Strong Teams With No Obvious Whipping Boys, Germany and Denmark are cock-a-hoop with one win each, while Portugal and Holland have been forced to lick their wounds, regroup and set about playing catch-up.” Guardian

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Germany 2-1 Holland: German flexibility outwits the static Dutch midfield

June 14, 2012

“The second excellent Group B game of the night, and another encounter decided by superiority in one particular zone. Jogi Löw continued with the same starting XI that defeated Portugal on Saturday. Despite widespread predictions that Holland would change at least one of their front four, Bert van Marwijk’s selection featured only one change, with Ron Vlaar dropping out of the side now Joris Mathijsen was fit to start. Clearly, van Marwijk believed that the majority of Holland’s play against Denmark was good – it was just the finishing that let them down.” Zonal Marking

Germans too strong for the Dutch
“The Netherlands hardly needed extra motivation heading into Wednesday night’s encounter with Germany at the European Championships. The countries have plenty of footballing history between them – as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a friendly between these two nations, let alone in a big tournament. More importantly, the Dutch flopped against Denmark in the Group of Death opener and desperately needed all three points. They didn’t get them, losing to Germany 2-1.” ESPN

Euro 2012: Gomez strikes twice as Germany shred Holland’s nerves
“The European Championship is unremitting. Germany may have been a better-balanced side but the match still tilted when Robin van Persie trimmed the Dutch deficit to 2-1. The score, however, was not to alter further. Germany lead the group with six points but Holland, with none at all, still have some prospect of advancing to the quarter-finals.” Guardian


New Century, Old Tensions: Russian & Polish Supporters Clash In Warsaw

June 14, 2012

“For those amongst us of a certain age, the scenes from the streets of Warsaw yesterday afternoon and evening had a wearyingly familiar look to them – streets of mostly young men, mostly wearing terrible clothes, trading kicks and punches on the street of a European city whilst others, including, of course, a media that had over the last few days given every impression of really looking forward to this moment, looked on. The Polish police had been aware of the potential for crowd trouble to come from the fixture between Poland and Russia, but even a tightly co-ordinated effort on their part to keep the peace on the streets of their capital city c0uldn’t fully contain those that wanted to fight and the result was one hundred and eighty-three arrests – with more to expected to follow – and ten injuries.” twohundredpercent

Poles Prepare for Soccer Match Against Russians With a Bitter View to History
“Poland is enjoying its turn on the European stage, co-hosting the prestigious European soccer championship, which the country’s leaders hoped to use as a coming-out party for their newly confident nation. There is only one problem, and it is a familiar one: Russia. Centuries of enmity have defined the relationship between Poland and Russia. Their history is filled with war, conquest and occupation. More recently, a significant minority of Poles have come to believe that the Russians were responsible for the plane crash in 2010 that killed President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 others. However, a Polish government report last year blamed the poor training of a Polish flight crew, as well as Russian air traffic controllers, for the crash.” NY Times