Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Euro 2012 - Sneak Preview 6th Day's matches

Tonight's matches are again humdingers from the Group of Death - the first between Denmark & Portugal....its a must win for the Portugals, as anything else would quite certainly hurtle them towards a exit from this edition of Euro Cup.
In their last match against Germany, they were quite well organised & though they eventually lost 0-1, they showed enough capabilities to reach Ronaldo they have one of the best players in the world today, & with Nani, Postiga, Coentrao, Meierelis, overlapping Pepe playing & combining indeed is a lethal team....
If they continue to play with over burdening Ronaldo, I expect them to score today....& the goal could come from the least expected quarters,...Coentrao or Pepe.....
Denmark on the other hand have a win under their belt & hence should play more freely....they are capable of scoring & a win here will certainly place them in the next round & also would signal exit for Portugal.... so a lot to play for....I expect an open attacking game from both the teams....goals for sure....while my heart says Portugal, it could be the Danes....

The second is an even bigger battle....Germany vs Netherlands. The Orangie team needs a must win, while the Germans cant take it easy....the bitter rivalry traces back to the dark World War II days, & in their past contest, it has always been a high voltage match.
The Dutch have brilliant players, but suffer from being selfish & ego battles within, which takes away the sheen from the team....if they can brush aside all internal squabbles, the Orangie brigade can decimate any team.....but the big question is, will they????.....its a do or die for them...on the other hand, the Germans are a young bunch of disciplined players who combine very well....they are always good in big events & have already shown signs of a successful tournament ahead....however, if I go by history, Germany has a tendency to lose focus towards the 2nd games of a tournament, especially if they have won the it complacency, call it experiment, but they do tend to stutter....if they can guard against this, this German unit is a extremely well oiled machine, which can go the distance....
I expect the Germans to pip ahead today on current form & mental status....however, the Dutch do have it in them to evolve & win....anyways, it will be a tough & tight game....absorbing till the very end...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Euro 2012 - Day 4

France vs England 1-1 :

I had mentioned in my match preview that this England team would have to depend on Gerrard for innovation, in Rooney's absence & thats exactly what happened in the match. While France seemed the better team on the ground & dominated the proceedings in the 1st half, it was England who opened the scoring. Gerrard  angled a perfect free kick deep inside the French half & Lescot jumped up to head in  the 30th minute, giving England a surprise lead. For a while, the French team looked deflated, as England tried to gain advantage, but it was only a while. French attack came in waves as the English grimly defended....but only the 34th minute Diaara almost scored from a Benzema free kick, but English keeper came up with fantastic reflexes to fist rebound Diarra tried again, but the ball rolled out of play....English camp breathed a sigh of relief....the French however, were buoyed by this chance & they rained in attack after the 42nd minute, Nasri received the ball on the edge of the box & his fiery right footer beat a couple of defenders & Hart under the bar....French had was a super goal.....the ball kept zooming within the English half, as French put more pressure, but at half time the score read 1-1.
2nd half somehow was quite boring football.....with England grimly defending & French concentrating on dominating the midfield.....however, the game did not have the zing. While French enjoyed more possession of the ball, they could not penetrate the tight English would be fair to say that English fans would be happy  with a draw, while French will rue their missed chances.
France need to convert their chances, as in the next two games, they would be against strong defensive opponents....while England at this stage look ragged as a team.....& unless they combine well, their Euro Cup dreams might be snuffed out early....hopefully Rooney comes in before it is too late.....

Ukraine vs Sweden 2-1 :
As reflected earlier, the match was quite dull & boring....Sweden, with more stars on their ranks were expected to sweep their opponents easily, but the results were just the opposite. From the beginning, Ukraine looked the team to score, as their forwards were more purposeful & eager...Shevchenko, even at this age, was a strength to reckon with & he combined well with Nazarenko & Veronin to upset the Swedish defense....after Ibrahimovic got the opening goal to give Sweden the lead, the Ukrainians responded soon, with Shevchenko heading in twice to get them the much deserved victory. I have never rated Ibrahimovic as a great striker....he is tall, well built & runs hard....but he is less imaginative, & lacks skills to win a match on his own....
Shevchenko on the other hand is more imaginative,  & still capable of springing he did tonight. The win will help Ukraine settle into the tournament & if they can get an upset win of England....they can look at the next round......

Monday, June 11, 2012

Euro 2012 : Sneak Preview - 4th Day's matches

As the tournament heats up, tonight we have two more heavyweights cross swords, France vs England...eternal rivals across the English Channel. On form, both teams are going through low the last Euro Cup in 2008, England did not qualify & France got knocked out in the group stages itself.....both teams again fared quite poorly in the last World Cup in South Africa.....However, both teams have the capability to rise to the occasion & no platform ca be bigger today than the Euro Cup.
For England, it would be a 4-4-2 helps them with the long ball strategy, while France would probably go in 4-2-3-1, strengthening their defence & playing passing football midfield.
England has players like Ashley Cole, John Terry, Baines, in defence, Gerrad, the Captain, Walcott, Henderson, Milner in midfield, & Caroll, Rooney upfront.....though Rooney will be unavailable for the first two matches. France on the other hand have Patrick Evra, Clichy, Rami, Debuchy & Mexes in defeence, Ribery, Nasri, Malouda, Cabaye, Diarra midfield, & Benzema, Giroud upfront. Both teams on paper have enough heavyweights....while England would depend on Gerrad & Terry to marshall the performance, France would be looking at Nasri, Ribery & Benzema to bring laurels.
At current status & form, I would believe, France has a better chance of scoring & the absence of Rooney would hurt the English attack. usual it will be a high octane match to watch.....

The 2nd match is between Ukraine & Sweden.....& honestly I dont see much would be a typical European match, long balls played on the opponent box....heavy tackling, booming shots & brute physical power.....Sweden as a team is better on paper & should win, with the fiesty Ibrahimovic along with Elmandar upfront, Larsson, Olssen midfield, its not a spectacular, but effective team. On the other hand Shevchenco, though old, would be the heart of Ukraine...

Euro 2012 - Day 3

Spain vs Italy 1-1 :
Spain came out in their customary red with yellow stripes, while Italians were in their Azure blue. The game was fast paced in the 1st half......both team realizing the need for an early lead. Italy was more enterprising with Cassano & Balotolli testing the Spanish defense along with Motta & Chielini running hard down the flanks, which looked tentative at times.....surely Carlos Puyol's presence missed. Italy is known to up the ante every time they look down & out, & today's 1st half was no exception. Keeper Casillas had to stretch & make two excellent saves to keep Italy at bay. On the other end, Iniesta missed an easy chance & Fabregas made a mess inside the Italian box....while the scoreline remained blank, the men in blue were certainly dominating the game at half time.
The 2nd half started in whirlwind fashion, as the Spaniards pressed hard...Fabregas came close to scoring for Spain, but Bufon was quick to fist out the shot....minutes later Iniesta & Fabregas stitched another beautiful pass, but the final push by Iniesta beat everyone including the was a close shave for the Italians. Balotelli went for a counter attack almost immediately & had Casillas at his mercy, but delayed the shot & Ramos cleared the ball. The match picked up steam & speed, as both teams looked purposeful for a goal.
Against the run of play Italian broke the deadlock in the 61st minute, as Di Natale, substituting for Balotelli went in between the defensive screen of Pique & Sergie Ramos & slotted the ball past Casillas. Italy were ecstatic.....but their joy was shortlived. Spain responded by pounding the Italian goal & Fabregas, who looked very impressive through the evening scored the equaliser in the 63rd minute from a David Silva pass, which initiated from Iniesta. Spain -1, Italy-1. The game became a bit tensed as both the teams earned yellow cards for foul play....
Spain looked the better side & created more chances, as Italy defended grimly. In the 73rd minute, Fernando Torres came in place of Fabregas, clearly D Bosque bringing in the tall striker to put pressure Th the move almost paid immediate dividend, as Torres got a clear ball & hurtled towards the Italian goal, but keeper Bufon showed amazing presence of mind to shorten the angle & snatch the ball away for the striker before any damage. Meanwhile, at the other end, Di Natale got another clear chance to score, but made a hash of a simple was Spain's time to feel lucky. Iniesta was brought down just outside the Italian box, earning a dangerous free kick, but Xavi could not make good use of it. Torres missed two more absolute sitters, as the crowd roared in anticipation....did Spain make the mistake of bringing him in place of a more enterprising Fabregas??? the end of the game, that is what evolved. Italians got another chance as Motta raced along with Marcisio into the Spanish box, but Casillas was resolute with a brilliant save. Iniesta kept creating opportunities for Spain, but the final kill was missing.
In terms of statistics, Spain had the better share of possession & also shots at goal, but Italians were excellent as a unit to deny the defending Champions a was a certainly a hard fought match, with both teams matching skills for skills & keeping their fans well entertained.
The final outcome was most appropriate.....a 1-1 draw, between the two glorious teams, though it should have been a Spanish victory, had Torres not muffed absolute sitters.
Unless any major upsets happen, both these teams should cross over to the next round.

Croatia vs Ireland 3-1 :
Ireland in their customary green & Croatia in blue started the game, as rains opened up in a slight drizzle. Within 3 minutes of the start, Croatia pushed for a corner & Mandzukic headed in for an early lead, while the keeper Given, & whole of Irish defence watched, stunned. The men in blue were all over the park, taking advantage of the early goal, as Ireland did their best to recover & gain control. Duff & Doyal & Keane pressed hard for Ireland, & managed to earn a foul at the top of the box, but could not capitalize. The pressure however got dividends as in the 19th minute, Ledger, Irish back headed in from a free kick to equalize. The match was now building big, as both teams, having scored now, were looking to press for a lead. Croatia kept coming hard & Given, the Irish keeper had to make a couple of spectacular saves to hold the Croats at bay.. the  light drizzle had made the turf slippery & heavy, & both sides committed fouls regularly...... both the teams resorted to long clearances as the game drifted. Croatia, the more inventive of the two teams, showed more pluck in attack & once again, from a corner, scored in the 43rd minute, as Jelavic, arguably in a offside position tapped the ball past the outstretched hands of the Irish keeper to go up 2-1. In the injury time, again Croatia came close to scoring, but the header went tantalizingly close over the bar, as half time score remained at 2-1 in Croatia's favour.
2nd half started with Croatia more determined to extend the lead, & not surprisingly, the scored the 3rd goal, once again from a header in the 48th minute, as Mandzukic beat the Irish keeper & the ball deflected in after hitting the bar.....his 2nd goal of the night. As the match proceeded, the Croats tightened the & controlled the midfield as the Irish players kept struggling for possession.
In the end, it was Croatia dominating & winning comfortably....Ireland would have a lot of questions to ask....including gaps in the defence....
Croatia has started well with a win, but will have to play out of their skin to get another win in the group..... the tournament is surely getting interesting.....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Euro 2012 : Sneak Preview - 3rd Day's matches

Tonight Italy meets Spain from Group C, in what could be a blockbuster match of the tournament. For Spain, the reigning World Champions & the Euro Cup holders, this is their first big step to retaining the coveted title. They come into the tournament having won nine of the ten qualifying matches. On the other hand Italy come to the party with a huge reputaio behind them....they are one of the heavyweights of the world football & have been the bogey team for Spain.....always a very difficult team to dislodge.
The current form of Spain is enviable. They are bunching up as a fearsome unit, the nucleus of the team has been intact over the past 4-5 years, & most people believe that they should retain the title. The midfield has an array of stars like Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Silva, while, defence is manned by Xavi Alonso, Ramos, Busquets, Pique with Casillas under the bar. The worry could be the absence of David Villa upfront & Fernando Torres's lack of form & also the experience of Puyol as the centre back. However, the team has enough firepower & belief in their abilities to surge ahead. Spain is expected to play in 4-2-3-1 combination, which suits them the best.
Italy has been under a cloud in recent times....recent .domestic match fixing scandal has led to suspension of Cristico & the teams combination has gone awry. The warm up games have been losses which effects the morale of the team. However, playesr like Thiago Motta in the midfield, Balotelli upfront & game maker Pirlo should be able to lift the game enough to give opponents reasons to worry. Somehow this team fires, whenever controversy mires them....we all saw in the World Cup of 1982 & 2006, when they went on to become champions. I expect Italy to play 4-3-1-2 combination, with Pirlo playing the game maker's role.
Records say that in matches between these two giants, Spain has won 8 times while Italy has won 10 times, & 11 times it has ended in draws......the last match was 2-1 in Italy's favour. Both the team have world class keepers under the bar, Casillas for Spain & Bufon for Italy...both as captains, which should be inspirational for the respective teams. Such high octane matches normally end in a draw, but in current form & attitude, I would expect Spain to pip Italy, though it should be an absorbing match.

The second match is between Ireland & Croatia is more a game of power & endurance than sheer skills. Most people are touting Ireland to adopt Chelsea like approach that won them the Champions Cup this year, defeating much better opponents like Barcalono & Bayern Munich. Play destructive football midfield & go hard on counter attacks to score. Croatia on the other hand play well well when they attack.....they are  not very good at defending & get into reckless tackles at times, which is their undoing. Luca Madrich & Nico Craensar could be their trump card in the match, as they combine very well. Both team will look for a win, as the other two matches would be tougher, but would be happy with a draw as well. It would be a tactical battle of the two coaches, Ireland managed by Italian Giovanni Trapattoni who has a good record behind him while Croatia has a young Slaven Bilic who believes in flowing attack.
I would believe, Croatia has the edge, if they stick to the way they play their game....

Euro 2012 - Day 2

Netherlands vs Denmark 0-1 :
The first upset of the tournament, & that too against one of the favourites for the title. The Danish Dynamites have managed to knock over the Orange brigade in a tight game & gather 3 crucial points. The win would certainly pump them up & inspire them to look for one more, which would help pip them over the more fancied group teams. They have looked solid in defence & enterprising upfront.
The match began in earnest fashion, as the Dutch attacked from the word go & the Denmark preferred the waiting game. They would allow the marauding Dutch to stream into their box & then snatch the ball effectively to go on a counter attack. Danish keeper Anderson was superb below the bars & made some spectacular saves to deny the Dutch forwards any clear look at the goal. In the 24th minute, a rare Danish attack reached the Dutch box much against the run of the play, & Krohn Dehli veered through the left & scored through the Dutch keeper's legs. The stadium dominated by the Orange supporters were stunned into silence. The Dutch came  pushing hard at the Danish goal, as Robben, Van Persie, Afellay & Snijder kept creating chances. Robben missed a gilt edge chance when his shot hit the far post & rolled back.....he would have been better passing onto the waiting Van Persie on the was a night, whe they did everything right but score a goal. The Dutch created numerous opportunities, but somehow lacked the finishing touches....Van Persie seemed to have left behind his scoring certainly was his off day.......Robben continued to dribble past defenders at will, but playing to the gallery cost the team, as the forward line kept bumping into a determined Danish defence, that held good today. As the game moved into the 2nd half, the Dutch become more & more desperate & the Danish excelled. In fact the Danes had another chance to go ahead & seal the game, but muffled it. Dutch surprisingly persisted with Van Persie & took off Afellay, who was far more penetrative....the substitute players could do precious nothing, though towards the closing stages of the game, they were denied of a possible penalty, as one of the defenders handled the ball.
From now on the Dutch have an uphill task to move to the next round.....they have to play out of their skin to make amends of today's poor finishing. As for Denmark, they have showed what they are capable of ......certainly looking good to get a toe into the next round.

Germany vs Portugal 1-0 : 
Billed as a high octane match, especially after the upset result, earlier in the evening, Germany & Portugal played initially with guarded caution as expected.....the game opened up in the late 2nd half. It was not a game between individual brilliance & collective team effort. Portugal's game was not overtly dependent on Ronaldo,..... in fact the others played extremely well...Coentrao, Nani, Pepe, Bruno Alves all contributed. Germany, in contrast were less effective as a team, though their steely determination got them through in the end.
The Germans in their customary whites with black stripes adopted a 4-2-3-1 combination, while the Portuguese in red with green borders, started in 4-2-4 formation. The game started in whirlwind fashion, as Germans pressed hard, with Gomez heading into the hands of the Portugal reply, an overlapping Coentrao, dribbled into the German half earning an early corner. The game continued evenly poised, as the Portugal front line showed enough alacrity in attack. Ronaldo got into the act with his dazzling run & his center beat everyone including the Portugal forward line, as the ball whizzed past the goal line for  corner.....the Germans in contrast preferred to play & control the midfield....both the defence held well, while the forwards looked tentative at either side. The game was quite scrappy in the 1st half, though Podolski blew a sitter & then Gomez missed putting Germans ahead & then Pepe's shot hit the German bar post before bouncing back......all close & crucial chances. Portugal had earned four corners to Germany's none in the 1st half, as the Germans surprisingly lacked rhythm....on the other side Ronaldo was hardly in action barring once.

2nd half started with Germany earning their 1st corner & then Ronaldo dazzling briefly again. The Germans yet again missed a chance as Gomez headed out......the match majorly confined to the 63rd minute Ronaldo was in perfect position inside the German box to score, but was denied by a brilliant tackle from Boetang.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 72nd minute, when Schweinsteiger weaved through the Portugal defence & put a perfect pass to the tallest man on the ground, Gomez who headed in.....the crowd erupting in glee. Portugal counter attacked almost immediately, but Nani could not control the ball in the German box. Gomez got another chance in the 77th minute to put the game beyond Portugal, but could not manage to get his toe in....he was then replaced by Miroslav Klose, another goal machine....fresh legs towards the end of the game, to keep the pressure.With the game slipping away, Portugal went all out & Ronaldo fired in hard with Nueur managing to fist out for a corner, as attack came in waves into the German box....a Nani shot hit the bar, while Ronaldo took another shot at the goal, as the men in red earned corner after corner. Germany replaced Ozil with Kroos to improve the defence, as Portuguese missed another gilt edged chance with goalie Nueur at mercy....for the last 5-7 minutes, the Portuguese team was all over the German box, as the men in white defended grimly, often just about barely, waiting for the referee to blow the final whistle.
It was finally a hard hard earned victory for the Germans, who toiled & played below par, especially by their standards. The Portugals would heart broken, as they could not convert their chances, especially when they had the Germans by the scruff in the dying minutes of the game. Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid coach, was in the stands, cheering for Portugal.......must have been keen to be on the turf & take tactical decisions for his country !!!
In this Group of Death, Germans would now breathe easy, having a crucial win under their belt, but cannot take anything for granted, while Portugal need to take the positives from this game & come hard out in their next two. They have shown capability as a team & not rely on individual brilliance.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Euro 2012 : Sneak Preview - 2nd Day's matches

Tonight there are two big games coming up from Group B, touted as the Group of Death - Netherlands vs Denmark & then Germany vs Portugal.......both a must watch for any soccer fan.

Netherlands vs Denmark :
At the last world cup in South Africa two years back, the Dutch had started their campaign against Denmark with a 2-0 result & had gone on to reach the finals, which they lost to Spain. Here again, the Orange revolution is gearing up for a similar start to their Euro campaign, a trophy they had won last 24 years back, in 1988, ......the golden era of  the trio -Gulitt, Basten & Riikard.
This team has it all in terms of talent....Captain midfielder, Bommel has resources like Heitinga, Wiel, Bouma in the defence, de Jong, Sneijder, Robben, Strootman, Rafael van der Vaart, Afellay in the midfield & Dirk Kyut, Huntelaar, Robin van Persie, Narsingh in the forward line.......a dream line up for any national team. The team has reached here with nine wins out of ten matches in the qualifying round, scoring 37 goals, looking rather lethal in their Total Football attacking free flowing football, which was initiated by the legendary Johan Cryuff.  On their day, this team can decimate the best in the world, completely mesmerize the crowd & the opponents into submission....its always been a wonder, why a team with such classy talent, always stumbles at the final bend.....If they can settle their backroom ego issues & in team fighting at crucial stages, this team should certainly book into the last four.
Denmark on the other hand are no pushovers.....the Danish Dynamites have earned respect amongst their rivals with some extremely pressing football game....Champions of 1992, the Danes have Nicklas Bendtner, Christian Erikson, Daniel Agger, Simon Kjaer in their ranks, who have the capability to change the course of any game. Probably the least fancied team in this Group of Death, the Danish Dynamites should play freely which comes naturally to them & that should be a cause of concern for the top teams here. As a unit they certainly are capable of a few surprises.
The Dutch are a brilliant bunch of players, & unless they get into a self destruction mode or get to play selfish individual game, they should cruise ahead. I expect Netherlands to win the game today, on sheer talent & current form, though it should be a tight entertaining match to watch.

Germany vs Portugal :
The two heavyweights of the tournament clash in a mouth watering opener for them today. While the 3 times Euro Champions, Germany, having won all their ten matches in the qualifying round, look ominous as a team......under the coaching of Joachim Loe. The team is spoilt for riches, is young in age & hence would last the distance in endurance, has a attacking, pressing game, a far cry from their traditional water tight defence & counterattack. This team has all that needs to go the distance & win the cup.....probably their best chance in many years. What probably would be tested, is their ability to counter attack & not crumble under pressure in crucial moments, as was seen in the Champions Cup finals recently, when Bayern Munich lost to Chelsea, a game that they should have won at ease.....a game where Schweinsteiger missed a penalty simply caging into pressure of expectations. However, that was club football, & this is national pride at stake. He along with Muller, Gomez, Podolski, Ozil, Khedira, Lahm, Neuer have enough in them to bulldoze past any opponent.
Portugal on the other hand is extremely dependent on their mercurial player Christiano Ronaldo...whose electrifying runs down the flank, can cause sleepless nights to the best of the defenders in the world today. However, in my humble opinion, he has not done enough for his national colours till date to sit back & notice. he has the potential, the calibre, the game, but seems to get frustrated quite easily & give up. They have Pepe, as a brilliant overlapping defender, Nani upfront along with Ronaldo to strike deep into the opponents. Players like Coentrao, Meireles, Bruno Alves, Almeida would also need to contribute substantially, if Portugal has to move beyond group levels.
I would however believe that the Germans have more than enough firepower & will to win this contest tonight, & get a perfect start to their campaign.

Euro 2012 - 1st day

Poland vs Greece 1-1 :
The first game of the Euro 2012 between Poland & Greece, unfolded enough drama, with two red cards, a missed penalty kick, as the game ended in a 1-1  draw. Poland drew the first blood in the first half through their striker Lewandowski, as he headed in the 17th minute, & looked certain to win the opening game of the tournament. Greece, 2004 Champions, looked a jaded lot & to make matters worse, lost Sokratis to a double yellow card removal. At that point in time, hosts Poland were in full control of the game. However, after half time, the tide changed,as the Greek unit started to find their equaliser in the 51st minute by substitute Salpingidis brought the game back alive. Both team pressed for a lead, & the game was confined to midfield. Playing with 10 men, Greece stepped hard & would have won the game, as they earned a well deserved penalty, Polish goalkeeper Szczesny got marching orders for bringing down Salpingidis inside the box, in an attempt to block the striker. However, Greece missed the penalty to the replacement Polish goalie Tyton, & the game gradually drifted to a draw. Surely a result that would disappoint the home crowd, who were their boisterous best in the 1st half.
Greece doesn't look the team they were in 2004 when they surprised the whole football community by becoming the Euro Champions......their game is reflective of the current economic downturns the country is going through....they may claim moments of glory, but I don't see them clearing beyond the group levels. Poland on the other hand, enjoys home support & should make it to the elimination round, but they will have to put up better performances ahead to survive.

Russia vs Czech Republic 4-1 : 
Alan Dzagoev found the net twice, as Russia swept to a convincing victory over Czech Republic in their opening game of the tournament. The game started in earnest fashion, as Czech in whites were all over the Russian outfit who turned up in their customary red. For the first 10-12 odd minutes, Russians barely got to the possession, as they desperately defended the marauding Czech forward line. However, as the match progressed, the famed Russian forward line started to take control. In the 15th minute, against the run of the play, Dzagoev plucked up a beautiful one -two - one pass & drilled past Petr Cech, to get the 1st goal of the match. With Czech defence in complete disarray, the Russians stuck again, almost a carbon copy, as Shirokov this time, calmly netted for a 2-0 could have been one more had Kerzhakov not missed a near sitter, as the Russians kept mounting attack after attack. Czech pulled back one with a good counter attack, but it was Russia all the way, as Dzagoev got his second & Pavlyuchenko, substituting for Kerzhakov, made it 4-1. Arshavin, lead the Russian outfit well with brilliant pressing possession game & are looking good in the tournament. They need to bring in consistency to make  a mark against their more famed opponents ahead. If this forward line can hold their goods together & play fearlessly as they did today, who knows, they may just bulldoze into the semis.....a prediction that I am tempted to make....... Regarding the Czechs, I would like to watch their next game to predict. they looked threatening in the early stages of the game today & once again towards the middle of the 2nd half.....their defence has looked ragged & unplanned & they need to plug that in a hurry, if they aspire to reach the next round.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Euro all begins today

Getting started after a long gap.....this was deliberate. While, I had IPL-5 to cover, I decided against it, as I was writing too much on cricket....there were other topics on my mind, but somehow, mundane work took center stage.....fingers twitched on the keyboard of my Dell Inspiron....thoughts kept good company....words found rhythm....but somehow I resisted the pull.
Meanwhile, monsoon seems to be slowly cascading over the city skyline, as the denizens of Mumbai heave a sigh of relief. It has been rather scorching over the past couple of weeks.....& add to that, taps running dry at home.....making one feel greasy & dirty at not being able to get a decent shower...phew !!!! The water scarcity still a serious problem at quite a few pockets of the metropolis. Juggling timelines to secure a bucket of water...nightmare of sorts. 

Amidst all of this chaos, starts the Euro 2012 of the most grueling sporting tournament, capturing viewership across the globe. 16 teams slug it out across the next three weeks.....some playing breathtaking beautiful football, while some play with brute power...whatever be the trend, its going to be fascinating for sure. 

For the first time since the tournament started in 1960, its being held behind the Iron Curtain....hopefully in much better spirits & bonhomie in the stands.....much lesser on the turf !!!! sure is going to be a stiff competition. 

Defending Champions, & also the World Cup holders, Spain start as clear favourites....the nucleus of the team has been intact over the last few years, as the team has grown into believing in their abilities. The team is spoilt for riches in talent....One of the best midfield in Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas & Silva, with Torres upfront, not to forget the defence of Xavi Alonso, Ramos, Pique, Busquets along with Casillas manning the goal line. Whatever be the outcome of the game, it would be simply awe inspiring to watch the Spaniards....While they will miss Puyol in defence & David Villa upfront, they have all that it takes to retain the title.....& if they do Spain would be the first ever European team to win three major championships in a row....
Germany look the next best team in the fray. With average age pegging at around 24 yrs, its a fighting bunch of players. Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Badstuber, Boateng, Ozil, Podolski, Muller, Klose, Lahm, Neuer.....all match winners in their own rights.....the capability reminds me of the Luftwaffe Bombers.... bunching together to create havoc on the turf. They may not be the best team to watch for the machine like disposition on the ground, but their sheer iron will to win, makes them a superb unit. This particular team seems to be lean & hungry & I would be surprised if they dont make it to the last four at least.....after that it could be anybody's game. 

Among other teams, it would be Netherlands with their free flowing game, Croatia with their ability to surprise, Portugal, the mercurial non achievers, France & Italy the heavyweights, while England, mostly faltering. Teams like Russia, Denmark & Poland could spring in a couple of surprises.

For me, like millions across India, & surely across the world, it would be a football feast for sure......the body might ache, the eyes may become bleary, the shoulders may droop through the day,.....all due to fatigue, but am sure it will be worth all the trouble.

Look out for this space to cover the tournament.......