Euro 2012 Day 8: Theo To The Rescue
The 2012 European championships just keep getting better and better. 46 goals have been scored so far in the 16 matches played and there hasn’t been a single goal-less draw.
The first match between Ukraine and France had to be halted after 4 minutes. It seems the Battle for Middle Earth had arrived in Donetsk, such was the intensity of the electrical storm. While TV scheduling meant UEFA wouldn’t have cared a toss about the rain and thunders, but the lightning was a real cause for concern and the referee made the right decision in taking the players off. There was also the danger that little Miss Nasri might get blown away.
Ukraine fought well in the first half and although France were constantly trying to pry them open down Ukraine’s right flank, Andriy Shevchenko fashioned some good opportunities for the co-hosts as well. But France stepped it up a notch at the start of the second period and the quick goals by Mene and Cabaye deflated Oleh Blokhin’s team. I hate to say it, but Samir Nasri had a fantastic game, running the show behind the front three.
Reported Arsenal targets Yann M’Vila and Olivier Giroud came on as subs. By the time they were introduced though the match had been won so it’s difficult to judge their impact. Still, M’Vila looked very assured on the ball and he completed all 14 of his passes. Both players had a shot each at goal as well but both efforts were wide.
The Giroud deal seems to be very close from everything we hear. His arrival would pose the question – how will Arsenal line up next year? Chamakh started his Arsenal career well, but has continued to go backwards with Arsene Wenger unable to play the Moroccan too much in our preferred lone striker formation. What do you think, what formation will AW come up with next season to best use these players?
The second match between England and Sweden was a rip-roaring affair. I was very pleased with England’s more positive intent in this game, even though Theo Walcott should have started instead of James Milner. His pace from the start would have troubled the Swedes down England’s right flank.
Anyway, England took the lead from a fantastic header by Andy Carroll. While he still not worth 35m, it was a towering effort from a purposeful run by Mr. Ponytail. But Sweden hit back in the second half thanks to some comical defending from England and it took Walcott to come on and turn things around.
First, he got England back in the game with a deflected shot which wrong-footed the keeper. Then, he won England the game by storming into the penalty box between two defenders and assisting for Welback. It was a remarkable back heel finish by Danny Welback too, and the replays confirm that he actually meant it. Late on, Theo was at it again putting in another good ball after a quick England break. Steven Gerrard got ahead of the Ox and shot wide. If he’s let it go, it would have fallen perfectly for Alex Oxlade’s right foot.
The defending was poor from both sides which made it a regular Premier League and thoroughly enjoyable. England have a foot in the quarter finals and have also given their fans something to cheer about with a more positive performance. Based on this performance, Theo has to start against Ukraine if England want to take the initiative against Ukraine.
Wojciech Szczesny may return today for Poland but there are doubts if Tomas Rosicky will be fit for the Czech Republic. Andrey Arshavin’s Russia take on Greece in the other match. Both the Czechs and the Russians will go through with draws, so both will rely on defending solidly and catching their opponents on breaks.
Russia to win 2-1 and Poland to go through with a 2-0 if Rosicky doesn’t play. Enjoy the games.