The Gonzo Diplomat

Posts Tagged ‘Fernando Torres’

10 things we have learned from the first round of Euro 2012 games

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm

The first batch of games have been played. Issues like peer pressure, stage fright, good runs, bad runs and niggling injuries have been dealt with, and, as expected, there have been a fair share of surprises. With two games for each team to continue their run in the Euros, what lessons have been learned from Stage one, Round one?

1. Form mean nothing: A valuable lesson that always gets forgotten. The media loves statistics and indulging themselves with banal information prior to a major championship, but once the ball starts rolling, there is no time to see who has scored the most headers in the qualifying rounds, who has the best pass percentage, or who hasn’t lost in the last three months. You can ask Holland to corraborate that. Their form prior to the Euros was formidable, their key striker Robin Van Persie, on fire, and their playmaker Wesley Sneijder under heavy criticism. So suprise, suprise, Holland lost their first game to Denmark, Van Persie was nowhere to be seen, and the best player for the Dutch was Sneijder.

France’s recent form also saw them start the game against England as clear favourites, as did same against Italy, who had come from a 3-0 friendly defeat to Russia. In the end, the favourites couldn’t take all three points against the weaker side, and in Spain’s case, it took a lot of suffering to scratch the draw, with a goal against a team who, in another reference to form, had only let in two goals in the qualifying rounds.

2. Possession means nothing: If form means nothing, neither does possession. The three culprits mentioned in the first point are also proof of this. Holland’s 29 shots, and control of possession was to no avail against an organised and efficient Danish side. Spain’s tiki-taka football was contrasted by an aggressive and well structured Italian eleven that also posed a serious threat to Casillas. Funnily enough, as the French paper L’Equipe criticised Spain’s tactics and inability to score without a striker, the following day they did the same thing against England, controlling possession and the fluidity of the game, but seeing all their efforts break up, with Nasri and Ribery colliding for a central role outside the area, and Benzema having to drop wide to create spaces, thus leaving the area without a striker. Possession gives you control of a game, but without efficiency and effectiveness, and that bit of lady luck, it cannot guarantee wins.

3. One must still respect one’s elders: A lot has been said about the new talents in Euro 2012, yet some of the more veteran players are playing important roles for their country’s. Some are being more representative, like Robbie Keane for Ireland, but Casillas, Pirlo, Buffon, Di Natale, Dennis Rommedahl, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and more importantly, the oldest of the lost, Andrei Schevchenko, whose brace gave the Ukraine three points against Sweden.

4. Ukraine and Sweden hosted the most entertaining game: Thusfar, all the hype about Spain, Germany, Holland and France, have seen how the smaller, supposedly less significant nations have put the best football. France and Spain played the best midfield play of the Euros so far, but their inefficiency when it comes to scoring has turned all their passing and flair into a dull show of frustration and sterile football. Nonetheless, Italy vs Spain was entertaining, but not as much as the Ukraine’s battle against Sweden, where the lack of renowned stars was replaced with real football.

5: Russia are back to business: After missing out on the World Cup, Russia are back to playing the great football they showed in the last European championships. Back then, only Spain’s possession football was able to meet them (and twice), but on their way they disposed of Sweden, Greece and Holland. This year, after a 3-0 trouncing of Italy, the team’s 4-1 demolition of the Czech Republic, with Dzagoev in excellent form, shows that they must not be taken lightly.

6. England are not as disorganised as you would expect: They may not be favourites, and they still aren’t. However, England’s game against France showed that they can stil hold on and fight through a tough football match. Regardless of this though, England were clearly the inferior side, and whilst we have seen that possession doesn’t win you games, lack of balls and creativity, and perhaps an excessive hope placed on Wayne Rooney will not make things any easier for the three lions.

7. Torres…oh Torres..you suck: Yes, OK, the second Torres ran onto the pitch Spain’s football became dangerous and out Italy against the ropes, but was it Torres, or Navas opening wide that did the trick. With a striker, Spain found the spaces they needed to make Italy’s defence spread and run and Torres it great at finding spaces, the only problem is, he cannot score. His three chances against Buffon were blunders that a world class striker, especially one with 60 million, shouldn’t miss. His one on one with Buffon was the kind of angle that Ronaldo slots goals in frequently (such as Barcelona vs Real this season), and the final miss required a subtle chip that Raúl or Villa would have wished for. Yet Torres isn’t Villa, or Raul and it showed.

8. Germany quietly get the job done: Whilst Holland and Spain are being criticised, Italy praised, England judged and France too, the Ukraine are miracle winners, and the Russians are back in the limelight, Germany sit quietly, with three points, no goals conceded and waiting for their next rival. Their last game wasn’t the most convinving, but it was against a tricky Portuguese eleven, and it looks like this is just how they like it.

9. The grass may be greener, and will definifitely be dryer on the Spanish side: You cannot choose what kind of pitch you want to play in, it isn’t a given right you have. However, quicker pitches, wetter and shorter green carpets give better and more entertaining football that dry hay patches. The things is, many teams don’t want to play pretty football, they want to win games, and you can bet your bottom euro that Ireland, Croatia and whoever else may come, will prefer to play on long dry grass against the Spain, and will refuse to allow to wet the surface. Spain are not known for their physical ability, so the Irish and Croatians have a better chance of slugging it out against Spain will long balls and headers on a dry surface whilst the Spaniards struggle and stroll on long, arid surfaces.

10. People are going to get their heads bashed in: This isn’t football related, but it is repulsive and linked to the Euros. It has happened before, but the sights of thugs beating offices and fans in the head are hard to ignore. This time however, it isn’t the English, who people tend to pick out so quickly, but mainly eastern europeans, russians against ukranians who are giving a dire image to an important competition.

Ten Players Predicted to Flop at Euro 2012

In Sport on June 6, 2012 at 1:11 am

The European Championships are a perfect scenario for players to prove their worth, raise their price tag or make a final impression that may determine their club futures or their chances of winning coveted prizes like the Balon D’Or. However, too much pressure can often lead to disappointment, and as football isn’t always a one man show, too often we have seen extremely talented footballers fall short of their expectations during major tournaments. Here is my list of ten possible flops during Euro 2012.

Wayne Rooney: Whilst many of his team mates will almost certainly not fit the bill (see Kelly, Milner, Henderson, to name a few), Rooney has the pressure of being England’s most talented player. The fact that he cannot play in the first two games, and the expectation that may arise upon his return, Rooney has an impossible task of meeting up to the heroic hopes that have fallen upon him.

 

Fernando Torres: Spain’s tiki taka style of play means that, alongside Germany, they have the most formidable midfield in the Championship However, with Villa missing out on the Euros, Llorente being a poacher and Negredo being far from a world renowned striker, Del Bosque will hope that the striker most suitable for playing within Spain’s system is Torres. Truth be told, he is experienced in playing with this squad, but his lackluster season and constant slipping means that Spain’s goals are more likely to come from players like Silva, Iniesta or Llorente, than Torres.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The highly skillful swede has been responsible for netting Sweden’s most valuable goals since the departure of Henrik Larsson. However, Sweden´s team, formidable as it may seem, is not as strong as in other years, and sulky Zlatan is not a player who is known for carrying a team on his back.

Antonio Cassano: After a bad season due to serious health issues, Cassano’s return to the Azzuri squad is good news, yet his lack of performances, whilst leaving him fresh and with little fatigue from the season, may result in him losing some spark, and with Di Natale in great form and Pirlo as the brain of the squad, Cassano may fall from the limelight.

Luka Modric: The creative Croatian will no doubt be a key member of his team as they face difficult opposition against Italy, Spain and the Irish, yet too much may be expected of Modric, and if Spain keep the ball off the Croatians with their possession, and Italy play their defence as they are known to do, Modric may have two very quiet games in the Euros.

Gerard Piqué: Considered one of the best defenders in the world at the moment, Piqué’s season at Barcelona has left a lot to be desired and without his colleague Puyol by his side, the Ramos-Pique duo, who openly state they do not get along, are going to face some niggling problems.

Franck Ribery: He is one of the best wingers in the world, but unlike his Bayern colleague Robben, Ribery hasn’t stood out in major tournaments since Germany 2006. With France being somewhat unpredictable, it looks like the player who may make the difference for les bleus is Karim Benzema.

Mario Gomez: This is a risky one. His season has been fantastic at Bayern Munich and many predict that he may be the competition’s top scorer. This will mainly be due to Germany’s midfield assists, but the same way that Gomez is known for his  goals, he is also known to be a bottler, and even though he my get a few in his tally, his misses will be just as impressive.

Andrey Arshavin: He is already known in the Premiership, and his talent is undoubted. A key member of the Russian squad, he was also fundamental in their victory the other day against Italy. However, Arshavin is also inconsistent, and just when people will be expecting the most out of him, it is likely that he will do just as he did at Arsenal, and fade away.

Cristiano Ronaldo: This is his moment, there is no Messi to deny him from being the best player in the tournament, but Portugal’s mediocre form, despite being one of the best squads in the tournament, Ronaldo’s past form with Portugal and his recent penalty misses for Real Madrid and Portugal, show that he can also buckle.