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Euro 2012 Round Up - Quarter Finals

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Portugal became the first side into the semi-finals after overcoming the Czech's in a dull game on day 14. It took just seven minutes for Ronaldo to let rip at Postiga for a bad pass. Harsh that, it's Helder Postiga, what was he expecting? The Czech's were terrible, they offered nothing going forward and I can't believe how ineffective Milan has been this tournament. Really sad to see how much he's declined.

Jonathon Pearce made a remark about his 'creaking old legs'. Creaking? Old? He's 30 you whopper. Still, he does look lost without Jan Koller doesn't he? He was up there on his own and I doubt Pepe has ever had an easier international game. A pity, as Milan in his pomp would have given that cheating twat all he could handle and then some. After the game Baros announced his retirement from international football. Probably for the best based on what we've seen over the last few weeks. Thanks for the memories Milan, especially the couple of hundred quid you won me when you were top scorer at Euro 94.

Who'll be top scorer this time? It should already be Ronaldo but the woodwork has denied him four times so far. Despite that he's on three goals already and getting better with each game. It took him a while to get into this one as he was well shackled early doors and Portugal didn't start too impressively, but when they eventually stepped it up he was pretty much unstoppable.

His first real involvement came when he was harshly penalised by Howard Webb for a shove on a defender as he went through on goal. Cech made a superb save anyway, but Ronaldo was incredulous at Webb. Sorry lad, you burned your bridges with him when you left Old Trafford for Madrid. Not that it would have made much difference in this game if the treatment of Nani is anything to go by. The cry baby United winger was booked after a tussle with the Czech left back and didn't look happy about it. "Howard, what are you doing man, we're supposed to be team-mates".

'The boy Nani was diving all over the place' and had a penalty appeal turned down after tumbling far too easily under minimal contact. Webb wasn't fooled, and it'd be nice to think he will referee him in the same manner when the season starts up again, but realistically there's more chance of me buying a Sweden shirt with Zlatan's name on the back.

The Czechs suffered an injury blow as Portugal striker Postiga had to go off. Fortunately for them his replacement was even more hapless. Almeida I think his name was? Woeful. If they ever find themselves a good number nine they'll take some stopping.

Predictably it was Ronaldo that came closest to breaking the first half deadlock when he produced a brilliant bit of skill to bring a ball down on his chest, turn away from his man and get a shot away under the close attention of two defenders. Made it look so easy but he's the only player on the field (possibly in the tournament, although I may be doing Hendo a dis-service there) who could have done that. It hit the post but it would have been a fantastic goal.

He doesn't really bother me much now that he's left United. It's much easier to appreciate him as the great player he is now that he isn't playing for our most hated rivals, but there is still one thing he does that makes me want to smash his stupid face in; that ridiculous free-kick routine of his. Self indulgent, arrogant, preening, 'everybody look at me', pretentious gobshite. Winds me right up that does.

Anyway, it was goalless at half time and Ronaldo came out after the break chatting with Webb; playfully patting him on the back of his stupid bald head. "Come on Howard son, for old time's sake eh?" Within two minutes he'd been awarded a dodgy free-kick and then he got a handball decision after he blasted the ball into the wall. From that free-kick he toey'd one against the post with Cech beaten.

Nani then got away with a blatant pull back on a defender before testing Cech with a powerful shot and it seemed like only a matter of time before they scored, the Czech's couldn't get out of their own half and Webb wasn't doing them any favours either.

The Czechs are distinctly average compared to previous years but Kadlec was outstanding at the back and Jiracek is decent, he works very hard and has good technique. He's effectively a poor mans Paddy Berger but from me that's a compliment as I thought Paddy was fucking brilliant.

Portugal wasted some excellent chances before Ronaldo finally got the goal he'd been threatening all night when he headed in a Moutinho cross late on. The post denied him what would have been a brilliant second, and he's probably one more top performance away from winning the Golden Ball. I'd say Iniesta, Alonso, Ozil, Schweinsteiger and Pirlo may also have a say in that depending on how the semi's go.

Couple of other observations; Bruno Alves really needs to lay off those spray tans, he looks like the 'Ronseal Man', he's a glorious mahogany colour. Also, I spotted Joao Pinto on the Portuguese bench in a smart suit, he must be part of Bento's coaching set up. Always liked him as a player back in the day, he was like a Portuguese Paul Walsh. Roy Evans tried to sign him once, shame it never happened as he was great to watch. Still got great hair too.

The Czech's looked despondent at full time. They've got no right to be acting like that, as though they'd been hard done to and lost a real heartbreaker. They didn't have a shot on target in 90 minutes, they were crap and they deservedly went out. They should be happy they even made it out of the group as the Russians are clearly better than them. Great fans though, they made a lot of noise in all their games.

The Greeks were in a similar situation to the Czechs, facing a vastly superior side in a game they were expected to lose comfortably. The last time they faced such insurmountable odds was when King Leonidis and his 300 faced off against the Persian hordes. Fitting then that they included a Leonidis lookalike in their starting eleven in the shape of Grigoris Makos. Along with Olof Mellberg, that's the best beard of the tournament so far, very impressive. Sadly his performance failed to match it and he was eventually subbed.

Predictably, Greece were under the cosh immediately; Germany were running all over them in the opening minutes and created chance after chance. The Greeks barely got out of their own half - which is just how they like it - and Germany had missed so many chances there were signs they were starting to get a bit frustrated.

Then Philip Lahm scored a belter out of nowhere and it seemed the Germans were on their way to comfortable win. Greece were much more positive after the break though and produced a shock equaliser after a superb break ended with Samaras bundling the ball in from close range. What he lacks in talent he makes up for in effort, he's easy to root for as he's a trier. I was pleased for him, the unselfish work he's put into this tournament deserved some reward and it certainly made the game a lot more interesting, at least for a few minutes.

Unfortunately that goal just made the Germans mad and the Greeks ended up getting bummed. The outstanding Khedira volleyed the Germans back in front, Klose headed in a third before Reus wrapped it up with as emphatic a finish as you'll see. Greece were handed a late consolation via the penalty spot. Very harsh decision and it looked like a sympathy pen to me. Can't begrudge the Greeks their goal, and Salpigidis certainly deserved one for his efforts.

Germany are just a machine though. They left out three of their four regular forward players and still didn't miss a beat. Klose is obviously a more than adequate replacement for Gomez but I was impressed with the other two lads who came in for Podolski and Muller. So much talent in that squad, and most of them are young too. Can we just do our shopping in Germany from now on please? Pretty please?

So the Germans march on, the Greek's go home and thanks to a HD slo-mo shot of him celebrating his goal I finally managed to solve the Samaras hair conundrum. He doesn't need any kind of hair band as he's butchered his fringe. It's that simple. Bit disappointed, I thought it was some great secret he had. Still, it's a risky game he's playing, as on a windy day he may still find himself in trouble, fringe or no fringe.

Spain against France was a highly anticipated clash, but it was a turd sandwich. France were scared stiff of the Spanish and the Spanish are as negative a side as there is in the competition. I'll obviously have to qualify that statement, as clearly they aren't negative in the sense of a Greece or Ireland have been. Those teams don't really have much of a choice but to play the way they do, and Spain certainly don't play like that. They are negative in their own way, it's just less obvious and a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

They just seem happy to keep the ball and not do much with it for long periods of the game, especially once they go in front. If they have the ball, the other team can't score. Sounds simple, and they make it look simple because they are so good at it, but Spain's possession football is as much of a defensive tactic as it is an offensive one. Nothing wrong with that, it's a great way to play and it's working for them. I'm just saying that when you aren't starting with any recognised striker and don't seem particularly bothered about scoring goals despite having the most talented group of players in the tournament (with the possible except of Germany), for me that's negative.

Whilst I can appreciate what Spain do, and the likes of Alonso, Xavi, Silva and Iniesta are a joy to watch on the ball, they've bored the tits off me for long periods in most of their games so far. There's only so much neat little interplay in midfield that goes nowhere I can watch before it gets boring. Give me a Germany game over a Spanish one any day. It obviously works for them and there's a hell of a lot to admire about it, but it doesn't make for great viewing.

The only thing stopping me from rooting against Spain right now is Xabi. If he wasn't playing I'd want them out I think, maybe a kick up the arse might make them have a bit of a rethink and start to attack a bit more in future? This was Xabi's 100th cap and what a way to celebrate it. He doesn't score many headers, but the run into the box and finish was reminiscent of Terry McDermott in his heyday. Malouda's lack of tracking back was a sight to behold though, that's me on a thursday night at TLW footy that. Shocking stuff.

France aren't very good despite all their pre-tournament hype and Spain should have been looking to bury them once they had the advantage. It's just not their stye though, once they had the lead they were happy to just keep the ball and this was a terrible game for the neutral. Neither keeper had anything to do as France weren't capable of creating anything and Spain didn't want to. Ribery was the only one who even looked interested for the French. He wasn't good, but at least he was trying.

Eventually Spain sent Torres and Pedro on and that at least gave them the threat of getting in behind. Unfortunately it was shit Torres who showed up this time and he kept getting caught offside. Finally Pedro won a pen in stoppage time and Xabi converted with ease. 2-0 to Spain then, but if they'd bothered their arses to try and score more they could have easily doubled that and then some. As good as they are they always leave me with the feeling they could have done so much more.

Who's the biggest pretty boy poser, Ramos or Pique? I'm leaning towards Ramos but it's a close call. At least Pique knows he's a centre half and doesn't take himself off to the right wing just because he fancies it or because he's bored. He won't be pulling any of that shit against Portugal I bet, he'll have his hands full with his club-mate Ronaldo. Portugal can beat Spain, they won't be bothered about how much of the ball Spain have as they'll be happy to just hit them on the counter through Ronaldo. Might stick a couple of quid on the upset.

The last quarter final was a tad predictable wasn't it? The sky is blue, water is wet and England go out of major tournaments on pens. This was no heroic failure like they've had in the past however. There was no 'Gazza Euro 96' near miss, no disallowed Sol Campbell header like in France '98. There was no controversial sending off resulting in a brave, backs to the wall, determined effort that the nation could be proud of, although you could argue they did play with ten men for the entire 120 minutes. It's just a pity that Ashley Young then decided to belatedly show up to take a penalty.

It's odd, as the England fans in the stadium seemed to be really proud of their side and spent much of the game singing Roy Hodgson's name. They genuinely do seem pleased with what they got from team and coach. If they're happy with it then good luck to them, who am I to disagree? It's their team, not mine. Unlike previous years I wasn't actively cheering against them this time, I was fairly neutral and didn't really know who I wanted to go through. It was probably 60-40 in favour of Italy but it evened up when Carroll and Henderson came on, giving us four players on the field by the end of the game.

When it went to penalties, I honestly didn't care who won although clearly it would have been a travesty if the Italians hadn't gone through. England deserved nothing as they were shockingly bad. I can't understand how anyone can say they weren't. After a bright start in which Glen Johnson was outstanding in attack they went completely into a defensive shell and spent the rest of the game camped on the edge of their own box whilst Italy passed the ball around. And when England got it, they gave it straight back to the Italians. Every time.

Of course they worked hard and defended heroically at times, but that isn't something to be praising them for, that's what they supposed to do. Just because the French played like they didn't give a shit doesn't mean England should be lauded just for working hard. Had they lost to a brilliant team and given it a right good go then you could praise them for their effort, but Italy aren't great. They're alright like, but nothing special. Even Ireland had more of the ball against Italy than England did and Joe Hart completed more passes than any other England player, most of them to Andy Caroll. Embarrassing.

Losing on pens makes it look like it was close but the only reason it got that far was because Mad Mario didn't have his shooting boots with him and De Rossi missed a sitter. Seemed to take his eye off the ball, probably having a sneaky glance at Stevie, he seems to have a bit of a man crush on the skipper based on his pre-match comments.

By the time Carroll belatedly replaced Danny Welcrap, England were out on their feet and were just launching it to him and couldn't get up in support. Rooney was with him but he was arguably as bad as Young. He contributed nothing, he couldn't even do the job of sitting on Pirlo meaning Gerrard and Parker were completely fucked as all they did was chase the ball as Italy passed it around them. Pirlo was simply imperious all night, what a player.

Should it be like this though? I keep hearing how England's players are not good enough to keep the ball. That's bollocks for me, they all play for sides that keep the ball at club level. And if Swansea's players are capable of playing possession football then you aren't going to convince me that England's can't. Yet the last England team I can remember who looked comfortable passing the ball about and taking the game to the opposition was the Euro 96 side. They weren't bad in the '98 World Cup either to be fair, but mostly since then they've been shit, despite having some excellent players and high profile coaches.

I'm sure someone like Brendan Rodgers or even Roberto Martinez could get England passing the ball. They still wouldn't be good enough to beat any of the top sides, but at least they wouldn't look like a more negative, less talented version of Greece. Hodgson only had a few weeks to prepare them for this tournament and that's not enough time to do much in terms of changing the style of play. He'll argue that all he could do was get them organised and hard to beat, and that's exactly what he did and did it well.

That's pretty much all he's ever going to do though, England aren't suddenly going to be keeping the ball and passing it around as that's not Hodgson's MO. He's done a fantastic job of convincing people that this is all they can expect from an England team, and it's funny how so many England fans are happy with what he's done, which basically amounts to getting the players to sing the national anthem, and errr…. that's it. Still, fuck it, it's only England.

Highlights from this game were obviously Pirlo's ridiculously good penalty, and also the BBC commentator observing "Cassano powering one into Ashley Cole's backside" after the full back blocked a shot from the Italian. Cole is used to that kind of innuendo, he's had that kind of thing said about him for years, but hot-headed homophobe Cassano is going to go fucking apeshit when he hears about it.

Dave

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Good report, hodgsons downfall was keeping young on and not geting Carroll on sooner. they were never going to dominate the midfield.

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'The boy Nani diving all over the place' was a nice touch.

 

Agree about England, I think the expectations on your side have been ridiculously low. Alright, there was a change of manager weeks before the tournament, but in general England should expect to be able to give the likes of Italy a game, if not Germany and Spain.

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Really good read that and on the money about Ingerlund. Thought hodgeson deserved some credit for bringing a few kids along, then I remembered everyone else at his disposal is either an ale-house clogger or crocked. I'm still saying it's Germany's tournament given they've managed to ally creative flair to their usual teutonic metronomy. If it weren't for Xabi, I'd hope they wipe the floor with Spain in the final.

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"Highlights from this game were obviously Pirlo's ridiculously good penalty, and also the BBC commentator observing "Cassano powering one into Ashley Cole's backside" after the full back blocked a shot from the Italian. Cole is used to that kind of innuendo, he's had that kind of thing said about him for years, but hot-headed homophobe Cassano is going to go fucking apeshit when he hears about it. "

 

 

I'm in tears....

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Loved the last para.

And yeah Rooney should have been sitting on Pirlo for them to have any chance, sadly he seems to have spent his time off chenging the fags in the pool.

Roys halftime team talk worked wonders too.

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