Croatia 3-1 Ireland: Ireland invite pressure, but deal with it poorly

June 10, 2012
Croatia 3-1 Ireland: Ireland invite pressure, but deal with it poorly

Croatia recorded a comfortable victory over Ireland and go top of Group C.

Slaven Bilic used Vedran Corluka in the centre of defence and played Darijo Srna in his traditional position of right-back in order to play Ivan Rakitic on the right of midfield, and used Ognjen Vukojevic as his holding midfielder.

Giovanni Trapattoni announced his XI days ago, and they started as expected (with 1-11 on their backs).

Set-pieces played a large part here, but Croatia were the better side – more inventive with their passing, cleverer with their movement, more ruthless in the penalty box. Read more »

Germany 1-0 Portugal: Gomez gets the nod upfront, and nods in the only goal

June 10, 2012
Germany 1-0 Portugal: Gomez gets the nod upfront, and nods in the only goal

The quietest of Euro 2012’s four games so far ended with a narrow German victory.

Jogi Löw had a few decisions to make – Mario Gomez, rather than Miroslav Klose, started upfront and Mats Hummels was picked over Per Mertesacker in the centre of defence. At right-back, Jerome Boateng played up against Cristiano Ronaldo, despite rumours that Lars Bender would be played out of position there.

There were no surprises in Paulo Bento’s team selection. Miguel Veloso played deep in midfield contrary to reports that Custodio would get a game, and Helder Postiga was the centre-forward.

This was a low-key, cagey match that never seemed likely to produce many goals. Read more »

Denmark 1-0 Holland: Krohn-Dehli goal provides the first surprise of the tournament

June 9, 2012
Denmark 1-0 Holland: Krohn-Dehli goal provides the first surprise of the tournament

Holland had the majority of possession and chances, but Denmark snatched the three points.

Morten Olsen chose the XI that was widely expected to start the game, in a rough 4-2-3-1 formation.

Bert van Marwijk’s starting selection was also as predicted, with Ron Vlaar in the side to replace the injured Joris Mathijsen. Jetro Willems became the youngest player in European Championship history at left-back.

This wasn’t quite the usual “park the bus and counter-attack” you expect from an underdog winning 1-0 – Denmark were simply outplayed for long periods in the first half, rode their luck, but then defended excellently in the final 20 minutes. Read more »

Russia 4-1 Czech Republic: Russia’s Zenit-style counter-attacking exposes Czech weaknesses

June 9, 2012
Russia 4-1 Czech Republic: Russia’s Zenit-style counter-attacking exposes Czech weaknesses

Russia made a terrific start to their Euro 2012 campaign with a high quality counter-attacking performance.

Dick Advocaat named his expected side – a 4-3-3 system, with Vyacheslav Malafeev in goal.

Michel Bilek’s side featured one alteration from the expected XI – Michal Kadlec moved to the left, where he frequently played during qualification, which meant Roman Hubnik playing at centre-back, and no place for David Limbersky.

Russia were simply the better side throughout the game – more organised defensively, and showcasing much more penetration going forward. Read more »