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 »

Poland 1-1 Greece: Poland start brilliantly but Greece adjust admirably after red card

June 8, 2012
Poland 1-1 Greece: Poland start brilliantly but Greece adjust admirably after red card

One goal each, one red card each, and one point each in an entertaining opening game of Euro 2012.

Poland went with their expected side – there were no real debates to be settled in the starting line-up, and Franciszek Smuda used his usual structured yet energetic 4-2-3-1 system.

Fernando Santos had two major decisions to make. The first was in goal, where Kostas Chalkias was chosen from Greece’s three distinctly average goalkeepers. The second choice was on the right of the front three, where Sotiris Ninis started over Dimitris Salpingidis.

This was a game of three phases: 11 v 11, 11 v 10, 10 v 10. Both sides looked in a commanding position at one stage, but a draw was a fair result. Read more »