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Euro 2012 Day 12: Lady Luck Smiles On Roy

So for the first time since 1988, the European Championship group stages end without a goalless draw. In ’88 though, there were only 8 teams taking part in the tournament which means they only competed in half of the 24 group games played in 2012, which makes this year’s achievement quite unique.

Ukraine put in a positive performance against England and must consider themselves unlucky. They conceded from a deflected cross that put their goalkeeper in an awkward position and were denied a goal when the ball had clearly crossed the line at the other end. Considering there was a fourth official (or is it fifth) stationed in the perfect position, it was a very poor call and the co-hosts are rightly feeling a little aggrieved this morning. Mind you, one goal would not have been enough to see them through anyway, but it would certainly have given them encouragement to try and win the game.

But that’s the nature of cup competitions, a couple of incidents can make the difference between being on the brink of a place in the semi-final or an abrupt end to the tournament. England got the rub of the green yesterday and English supporters must be hoping their team makes good use of it.

Wayne Rooney’s return was expected to help England keep the ball better but he didn’t impress too much yesterday. In fact, he missed a fantastic opportunity from Ashley Young’s cross around the half hour mark. Although he did score the winning goal in the sceond period, the United striker looked off the pace and Roy Hodgson will be hoping England’s MVP can be more influential in the next match.

Theo Walcott was once again sidelined and James Milner preferred on the right flank. In the first half, all this did was to invite the left-back Selin to join Konoplyanka in attack. Milner’s work rate may be excellent but he offers no threat whatsoever going forward. Walcott came on after 70 minutes but England hardly kept the ball for 30 seconds at a time for him to have an impactOxlade-Chamberlain again chalked up a guest appearance with three minutes to go, replacing Rooney. And he had a good opportunity late in the game on the counter attack. With Theo Walcott making up ground to his left, the youngster delayed and allowed the Ukrainian defender to make up ground and dispossess him. The Ox needs regular games to become the finished article and hopefully he’ll get that Arsenal next season.

In the other match, Sweden restored some pride by beating France 2-0. A fantastic overhead kick by Ibrahimovic and a late goal by ex-Gunner Seb Larsson meant France finished the group as runners-up and now have the unenviable task of meeting Spain in the quarter-finals. Yann M’Vila started in midfield next to Alou Diarra, a rather defensive move from Laurent Blanc considering Cabaye did quite well in both previous matches.

Yann made the most passes in the game, most of them recycling possession as opposed to trying to set someone running on goal. Still, that’s what M’Vila does and he does it well, as the 95% completion rate clearly suggests. If he were to arrive, he would slot in perfectly into the Arteta-role – which of course opens the debate about where Arteta would play and the future of Alex Song.

M’Vila Passes

I think Spain will be the happiest with yesterday’s results. Del Bosque’s side have struggled when denied space in the final third and will fancy France’s slightly more open structure to Roy Hodgson’s two banks of four.

At the other end, it will be interesting to see how Prandelli lines up the Italians against England. Both sides are set up to be reactive and have not been convincing when taking the initiative. It could be a cagey affair, low on quality but high on drama.

Back tomorrow with more thoughts.


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4 thoughts on “Euro 2012 Day 12: Lady Luck Smiles On Roy

  1. If we are playing 4-3-3, I could see us rotating M’Vila/Arteta/Song for 2 of the 3 midfield positions (which depends on the type of the opposition, for example if we faced a good offensive team and wanted to be more cautious we might opt for M’Vila-Arteta pairing) and Wilshere/Rosicky for the remaining position.

  2. jumpingpolarbear on said:

    Got to have some luck to succed in such a close tournament :).

  3. @septian – Agree. Then there’s Coquelin, Ramsey, Diaby, Frimpong and may Ox.

    @JPB – Too true. You feel they’ll need more of it!

    • Yeah, I would like to see Ox too in the CAM position, as he has said that that’s the position he sees himself instead of in the wing. Perhaps we could try this when we are playing 4-4-2, with M’Vila/Arteta/Song for the 2 CDMs and Wilshere/Ox for the 2 CAMs, supporting RVP/Podolski/Giroud for the 2 CFs. Really hope that Wenger will experiment with the tactical flexibility that this squad has.

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