Sunday, June 10, 2012

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 left.......it 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 boots....it 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 keeper....in 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 midfield....in 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.



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