Euro 2012 Day 2: Van Persie And Podolski Wasteful
Group B always promised to the toughest one to progress from and after yesterday’s results it’s gotten a lot tougher for Robin van Persie’s Holland.
The Dutch did everything but score. They bossed possession, completed 90% of their passes, took an incredible 32 shots and created 24 chances. At the other end, Denmark did the only thing that mattered – they scored. Krohn-Dehli produced a moment of quality in twisting away from both central defenders and Van Bommel to shoot between the legs of the keeper. The Dutch huffed and puffed for the rest of the match but they couldn’t blow Denmark’s house in.
Robin van Persie attempted a tournament high 8 shots but only 2 were on target. Like the rest of the Dutch forward line, RvP’s finishing was really poor and one particular fluffed shot in the second half would not have been funny had it happened at Arsenal. At least 5 of his chances were in positions from where he should have scored – there’s something about the Dutch team set up that doesn’t quite bring out the best in Van Persie.
Nicklas Bendtner did alright without being spectacular. His hold up play was good but Denmark didn’t create enough chances for him. Still, he had a good opportunity in the first half but was slow to react to a deflected ball in the box. While the Danes came away with three points, they were not particularly impressive in defense or attack and could yet struggle to go make the quarter finals because neither Germany nor Portugal will be as wasteful as the Dutch were last night.
In the other game, Germany took on Portugal hoping to produce the kind of attacking display they put up in South Africa two years ago. The Portuguese set their stall out to defend though – the coach’s name on Portugal’s team sheet says Paulo Bento but it might as well have been Jose Mourinho.
Per Mertesacker did not start the game, probably because he looked off the pace in the friendlies (isn’t that his normal state of being?). His replacement Hummels of Borussia Dortmund did quite well, it has to be said. On the other hand, Lukas Podolski did start and was probably watching the Dutch game – the new Arsenal recruit did his best to stay in touch with Robin van Perse in the wayward shooting stakes – some of his shots ending up in the higher tiers and one embarrassingly becoming an inadvertent pass to teammate Muller. Sell the deadwood, I say.
While Podolski was heavily involved throughout the match, I still don’t think he’s a guaranteed starter on that left lank for Arsenal. If Gervinho can get his decision-making right, the Ivorian is a better player with the ball at his feet and may keep the German on the sidelines. Unless of course Podolski plays through the middle if you-know-who leaves. Or Theo is sold and Gervinho moves to the right-wing. Or Arsene Wenger decides to convert the new signing into the much-needed holding midfielder. Way too many variables.
No Arsenal players are involved in today’s action although two ex-Gunners may come on as important substitutes for their teams – Cesc Fabregas for Spain and Eduardo da Silva for Croatia. I think both matches could turn out to be entertaining affairs.
Spain are weak at the back and so are Italy. While the Spaniards will continue to play their slightly more direct form of tiki-taka, Andrea Pirlo has the ability to turn defense into attack very quickly with his excellent range of passing. Spain are more vulnerable in defense this year with Puyol out due to injury and Pique’s form not very promising. In the other match, both Crotia and Ireland will want to win today to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter finals.
My predictions are: Spain and Italy to draw 2-2 and Ireland to win 2-1.