England 3-2 Sweden: long balls, set-pieces and terrible defending

June 16, 2012


Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll
“A scrappy game low on quality, but high on entertainment. Roy Hodgson made one change. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was dropped with Ashley Young moving to the left, and Andy Carroll coming upfront as a target man. Erik Hamren brought in three players – Johan Elmander upfront, Anders Svensson in the middle, and Jonas Olsson at the back, though Sweden played pretty much the same formation as against Ukraine. This was a crazy, open match that could have gone either way – both sides had spells when they were on top.” Zonal Marking

England’s show of character
“Buzzwords in the England camp the past few days included ‘bold’ and ‘creative.’ For large parts against Sweden at the European Championships at an Olympic Stadium mostly bathed in yellow, England was anything but. However, an inspired substitution of Theo Walcott by manager Roy Hodgson will ensure most will only remember the result, a frenetic 3-2 England win that knocked the Scandinavians out of the tournament.” ESPN (Video)

Sweden 2 England 3: match report
“Danny Welbeck struck a goal of elegance, athleticism and immense significance for England, here on Friday night. It was a magical flicked finish, created by Theo Walcott, who helped turn a crazy game on its head with a vibrant second-half cameo. England were trailing 2-1 when Walcott arrived, swiftly equalising and then fashioning Welbeck’s winner with a superb darting run and cross. England were panicky at times late on but held on and now face hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday knowing a draw sees Roy Hodgson’s side into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.” Telegraph – Henry Winter

Euro 2012: Danny Welbeck hits late winner as England beat Sweden
“There was a point here when all of England’s old failings had resurfaced and the match was straying dangerously close to an almost implausible ordeal. Sweden had turned the game upside-down with two goals early in the second half and, at that point, it looked like Roy Hodgson’s team might finish the evening at the bottom of Group D.” Guardian

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France 2-0 Ukraine: Ribery v Husiev battle decides the game

June 16, 2012

“After a long rain delay, France took the initiative and went onto win the game comfortably. Laurent Blanc made two changes. One was a straight swap, with Patrice Evra dropping out and Gael Clichy starting at left-back. Higher up, the introduction of Jeremy Menez at the expense of Florent Malouda meant Samir Nasri moved into a permanent central position, and France switched to a 4-2-3-1. Oleg Blokhin had said before the tournament that he didn’t have a set first choice XI, and would switch from game to game, but after Ukraine’s famous 2-1 victory over Sweden on Monday, he stuck with the same side.” Zonal Marking

France comes alive in second half, beats co-host Ukraine in Group D
“France won a match at a major tournament for the first time since Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt, beating Ukraine 2-0 Friday in a storm-delayed match at the European Championship. Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scored early in the second half for the French, who last won a major match in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. In the final of that tournament, Zidane was given a red card for his head-butt in the last match of his career.” SI

Three thoughts: France’s tactics work in 2-0 victory over Ukraine
“Three thoughts from France’s 2-0 victory over co-host Ukraine from Donetsk, Ukraine. 1. The tactical and personnel changes of Laurent Blanc worked perfectly. France’s 4-3-2-1 against England, with Samir Nasri and Franck Ribéry on either side of Karim Benzema, was switched to a 4-2-3-1 against Ukraine. In the latter formation, Nasri was side of Ribéry and Jérémy Ménez, who came in for Chelsea’s Florent Malouda.” SI

France’s talent too much for Ukraine
“The Ukrainian national anthem, “Ukraine has not yet Perished,” rang out raucously in the driving rain ahead of the team’s game against France, yet the co-hosts could not summon a performance to match the title. In this contest, French quality snuffed out the opponents’ passion. France coach Laurent Blanc tweaked his lineup ahead of the game, dropping veterans Patrice Evra and Florent Malouda in favor of Gael Clichy and Jeremy Menez, hoping to find sharper movement in the attacking third. Blanc knew his team had mustered 15 shots on goal against England yet created few clear-cut chances. His changes would prove to be vindicated.” ESPN (Video)


Englands of the Mind

June 16, 2012

“The English national soccer team is, as of this writing, located in Krakow, Poland, its official stamped-by-UEFA ‘Team Base Camp’ for Euro 2012. England’s hotel in Krakow, the Stary, was ‘revealed’ in November via a press announcement from the Football Association. It was then re-revealed last week via the FA’s official YouTube channel, FATV (‘Football’s Home’), or more specifically via an ‘exclusive’ synth-y corporate down-tempo waiting-room video mostly devoted to slow pans over billiards tables and shots of boxes sliding into focus.” Grantland – Run of Play (Video)


Euro 2012: Alan Dzagoev is finally meeting Russia’s expectations

June 16, 2012


Alan Dzagoev
“Russia has been waiting since 11 October 2008. It was then that Alan Dzagoev made his international debut, coming off the bench at half-time in a World Cup qualifier away to Germany and hitting the bar. He was aged 18 years and 116 days and so became the youngest outfielder ever to play for Russia. Comparisons with the Russian forward Eduard Streltsov, who, at 17 years and 340 days, became the youngest outfielder ever to play for the USSR, were inevitable if not entirely fair. Streltsov, after all, is one of the great icons of the Russian game, a forward who scored a hat-trick against Sweden on his international debut, was jailed for a rape he may or may not have committed and returned from five years in the gulag to inspire Torpedo to a league title.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


A Few thoughts on the German Midfield

June 16, 2012

“Two goals from Mario Gomez saw the Germans beat their arch-rivals, Netherlands 2-1 to ensure progress to the next round of Euro 2012 (Mathematically they can still be knocked out). The difference between the two sides was clearly felt in the middle of the pitch. Although both sides on paper lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the German double pivot of Khedira and Schweinsteiger were given freedom to go forward where as Nigel De Jong and Mark Van Bommel stayed behind, guarding the Dutch defence.” The False 9


The Reducer: Orange Crushed

June 16, 2012

“Game of the Week: Germany 2, Holland 1. When the final whistle blew on this Group of B (B is for Death) match, one image in particular kept running through my head. There was Arjen Robben and his crinkled, baby Benjamin Button face, dickishly taking the long way around to the Dutch bench after being substituted for in the 83rd minute. He didn’t try to hype up his teammates, he didn’t shake hands with his sub, Dirk Kuyt, or give a quick man-shake to his manager. Nope, instead he tore off his jersey, parading past the famously passionate, good-traveling Holland fans, looking like a kid who’d just been Tasered while sucking on a lime.” Grantland