Recently in Euro 2012 Category
UEFA announced its top 23 man squad and there are some eyebrow raisers with Steve Gerrard and Daniele De Rossi included.
If we had to select an Englishman, then John Terry should have been a top choice and he finds a place in Soccerblog's XI. As centre back, Terry was brilliant against Italy and Ukraine. He probably single handedly forced Italy to the penalty shootout with at least 6 blocks of his own.
Why is Joao Moutinho so underrated? He can be Portugal's Deco or drop back deeper and hold midfield. The versatile midfielder did not have one poor game impressing in the opener against Germany and then organizing the attack against Spain in the semi-finals.
Euro 2012 didn't exactly shine a light on any particular right back. Philipp Lahm should have been a top choice but he was shown up by Mario Balotelli in the semi-finals as he was four years ago against Fernando Torres. Great going forward, questionable in his tracking back and taking care of business. Theodor Gebre Selassie made news as a target of racial abuse and that unsavoury bit aside, he shut down Ronaldo in the quarterfinals, as Portugal laboured to score. He provided the assist for Vaclav Pilar's goal that won the Czechs their match against Greece breathing new life into them and his energetic presence against Poland caught the eye as the co-hosts crashed out of the competition on Petr Jiracek's goal.
The rest of the selections are pretty self explanatory.
Soccerblog's Euro 2012 squad:
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Spain), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Stipe Pletikosa (Croatia)
Defenders: Theodor Gebre Selassie (Czech Republic), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Mats Hummels (Germany), John Terry (England), Jordi Alba (Spain), Fabio Coentrao (Portugal)
Midfielders: Andres Iniesta (Spain), Xavi (Spain), Joao Moutinho (Portugal), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Mesut Oezil (Germany), Sami Khedira (Germany), Vaclav Pilar (Czech Republic), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Luka Modric (Croatia), Cesc Fabregas (Spain)
Strikers: Mario Balotelli (Italy), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Marco Reus (Germany), Alan Dzagoev( Russia)
One of the highlights of the 2012 Euro. Jordi Alba actually begins this move and starts surging ahead even before passing to Xavi. It doesn't get more perfect than this as Alba without breaking his stride collects Xavi's thread through a eye of a needle and completes his 40 yard dash with that a strike that RVP would be proud of.
It took 15 passes to create David Silva's goal which as it turned out would have been enough to win the final. The illustration shows how Spain got the ball forward with laterals and back passes kept to a minimum. Spain barely edged Italy in total ball possession with 52% to 48%, after actually falling behind in the first half. In comparison, they averaged 65% in the rest of the matches. Here is the key stat: Spain completed 22 of 41 passes (53.7%) made into the box and scored three goals.
Thiago Motta's injury stopped any chance of a comeback as Italy forced to play a man down for 30 minutes as Spain enjoyed a 237-99 passes completed advantage. After the Motta injury, Spain also had a 17-0 touches in the box advantage.
The emergence of Jordi Alba cannot be overstated. Against France defying conventional wisdom, Alba bombed down the left channel turning in a cross for Xabi Alonso's first goal. Against Italy, Spain were a threat down the flanks through Alba and Arbeloa and this stretching force deformed the Azzurri's midfield diamond forcing Claudio Marchisio and Daniele De Rossi even wider into defending and opening up space behind them. Here is Alba's heatmap. He overlapped Iniesta every time an attack opened up down that channel.
Italy did possess a lot of the ball around and just beyond midfield but in a complaint usually aimed at Spain it was scattered and diffuse with few quality link ups into the box as Andrea Pirlo, easily had his worst game in a while completing just one of eight passes.
Great teams defy characterization, easy stereotypes, and rise to a challenge. Spain did all of this today erasing their often derided and poorly understood tiki taka with a display, fans of any stripe, race, religion, or nationality would recognize and acknowledge as magisterial.
Spain did this without playing any recognizable formation as Vincent Del Bosque made a mockery of conventional number 9's. Italy would have liked nothing better than the result they forced out of Spain in their opening group match and gone to penalties but Spain almost from the first minute showed that they were willing to risk playing open ended football. In fact, Italy had the lion's share of the football but it was Spain who showed what they could do when they had possession at every opportunity looking to go forward especially with Iniesta down the left channel. There were few reminders of the soporific tippy tappy laterals and backpasses. Just when it looked Spain could miss an actual no 9, Iniesta split open the Italian defense with a surgical stroke which ended with David Silva scoring a cracking header off Cesc Fabregas's lovely dink.
That goal led to an uncharacteristic sloppy spell of passing for about 15 minutes as the Italians came back and controlled the match. Spain were fortunate as they faded that Andrea Pirlo, the peerless one was not at his sharpest, with a couple of uncharacteristically mistimed passes and free kicks. They were also fortunate that Giorgio Chiellini had to leave with a knee injury, replaced by Federico Balzaretti. Spain again got back in rhythm and in the 41st minute, came a goal that should be investigated by Mulder and Scully. How on earth did Jordi Alba sprint unchecked 40 yards out of thin air and then receive a pass from Xavi that threaded the needle between three defenders right at his feet? A touch, a look forward, and then an exquisite curling finish with his left foot past Buffon. What a find this fellow has been and he's going to Barca after this. The cup runneth over.
The Italians looked like they had been hit with a collective haymaker while film makers will scramble to make a Minority Report sequel for this spectacular bit of pre-cognition.
The game was already over or was it? Teams that have scored first have gone onto win 10 out of the thirteen finals. Italy did come back into the second half with renewed verve as Antonio Di Natale with his first touch, a header that just sailed over, and then minutes later smashed in a shot from about 10 yards out which Casillas just about fended off and was fortunate to pluck out Di Natale's follow up chip as it ballooned over. At the other end, Spain were also having plenty of ball at the other end with Andres Iniesta, the MVP of this Euro and Fabregas causing all kinds of problems to the makeshift Italian defense. They were doomed once again as Thiago Motta introduced in the 57th minute lasted about four minutes and had to be stretchered off.
Italy played down a man for the next half hour and increasingly looked stretched and worn down. It was a matter of time Spain would pick their pocket this time Fernando Torres showing glimpses of the old version checking in with a goal as Xavi provided pin point service yet again. It was all over and Del Bosque brought out the supporting cast with Juan Mata making his first appearance in this Euro and getting rewarded with Spain's last goal after Torres drew out Buffon and in a sign of his rehabilitation smartly laid a pass for Mata to score Spain's final goal.
The 4-0 margin broke Germany's victory over USSR by a goal in the 1972 final. Spain marched on to become the first team in history to win three major competitions in a row. And Fernando Torres became the first striker to score in two finals and in a delicious bit of irony also became the Golden Boot winner for his three goals and an assist edging out Mario Gomez because of fewer minutes played.
Italy, the second best team, did not deserve to lose this way. They had the more compelling story. Beaten and battered two years ago at the World Cup, escaping a morale sapping match fixing scandal at home, restituting Pirlo a la Severus Snape as magician, and in Cassano and Balotelli; two bad boy strikers, one with heart problems, the other defying skin colour and racial baggage to become Italy's new hope. No one had given them any chance to make it this far but they did. They deserve plenty of praise.
Are Spain the greatest team in the history of the sport? The 1970s Brazil squad will have something to say about that but there is very little doubt as a team, Spain have few parallels. This is as good a football performance from a collective we can hope to seen in a lifetime. The mind boggling part to contemplate depending on whether you love or hate them? They look good for another three titles given that country's extra-ordinary level of talent.
As this ad tells us, he’s not Ronaldinho, Chris Waddle, Ronaldo, or Carlos Alberto Valderrama.
Nope, he’s Mario Balotelli.
To me, Balotelli’s life is a wonderful, inspirational story of courage and the ability to stand strong in the face of adversity. And, he’s just 21 years old.
Not only is he saving Italy from itself (the ignorance and stupidity of racism), he’s also saving the beautiful game. Go Super Mario!
Head on down to Who Ate All The Pies for a collection of Mario Balotelli inspired memorabilia. The City striker also dedicated his goals to his mother in a touching gesture. Well, he's kind of a sweet pushover behind that snarly exterior, isn't he?
Balotelli has also promised he's going to score four goals in the Panenka Masters classic this Sunday featuring Sergio Ramos vs Andrea Pirlo.
How about this for one of the most enduring images of the 2012 Euro? In the Germany vs Greece quarter-finals, Giorgios Samaras and Kyriakos Papadopoulos enact a manic Swan Lake pas de deux.
Samaras: Kyri, I have to confess, I'm actually Turkish and my name is Nestir Burcicoglu.
Papadapoulos: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
That didn't take too long although Van Marwijk had till 2016 for his contract to run out and by the looks of if the Netherlands association didn't do anything to force his hand. Well, this should please legend Johan Cruyff who has been critical of Van Marwijk's penchant for resorting to industrial tactics.
Looks like no one brought their shooting boots to this match. It was a bunch of John Arne Riise's outdoing each other in blasting the ball into the stratosphere after doing a nice bit of spadework to get into good shooting positions. Portugal were the much better side in the first half really pushing Spain back as Cristiano Ronaldo applied his pace and ball skills. But no goal.
The second half really underscored the haphazard shooting as Hugo Almeida the biggest culprit showed he couldn't hit a barn door. On a 4 on three breakaway, Almeida with plenty of options, elected to send the ball crashing into an event horizon.
There was plenty of Real Madrid on Real Madrid crime with Sergio Ramos and Ronaldo barging into each other and Xabi Alonso bringing him down.
Portugal could have ended it in the 90th minute when Ronaldo on 4 on three tearaway blazed a ridiculous shot over the crossbar. Expending all that energy in regulation seemed to have drained Portugal because they played extra time with heavy legs. Spain had succeeded in wearing them down and increasingly began knocking on the door through Jesus Navas and Pedro, both second half introductions. Iniesta had a great chance after Jordi Alba found him but Rui Patricio managed to stop his shot.
It was onto penalties. Four years ago, in another penalty shootout Spain managed to discard their perennial loser status by winning against Italy, 4-2 to reach the 2006 Euro semi-finals, kick starting their interrupted reign at the top.
This time it was Portugal, turned back through the same margin, Cesc Fabregas knocking in the winning penalty and thereafter revealing he implored the ball to make history. It was Fabregas who struck the winning penalty against the Italians in the 2008 Euro.
Cristiano Ronaldo didn't even figure seemingly designated to take the fifth (pun intended) and for all purposes, the winning penalty. But Iker Casillas saved Moutinho's effort and then Bruno Alves shot crashed off the bar ensuring there would be no glory for the Real Madrid record breaker. Ramos, his club team mate executed a perfect Pirlo panenka. Nice touch for a hard man.
Spain enters the Euro finals again but it is with an absence of momentum. Perhaps that is their greatest strength. They all seem to have understood Sun Tzu's Art of War.
" For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."
In the 2010 World Cup second round, Spain went with a 4-4-2 with Fernando Torres paired up with David Villa followed later by Fernando Llorente giving the Barca striker company. Villa scored the winner in the 63rd minute but it was Llorente who caught the eye with his physical and almost manic presence. Llorente has all but dropped out of sight in the Euro with Torres, Pedro, and Alvaro Negredo higher up in the pecking order.
Will Vincent Del Bosque go with Cesc Fabregas as false no 9 as he did against Italy and then France? He brought Pedro and Torres from the bench against France and the move paid immediate dividends when Anthony Revelliere brought Pedro down for Xabi Alonso's spot kick.
Del Bosque might go for the first option only to wear Portugal down as they push and probe with their suffocating possession and wait for Andres Iniesta or Xavi to crack one open. If Spain goes down hit on the counterattack which surely favours Portugal with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo speeding down those wings, then Del Bosque can go to Pedro and Torres in the second half.
Spain will like nothing better than cat and mouse possession whereas Portugal will obviously prefer an open ended game built on their speed and lightning thrusts. It sort of mirrors Real Madrid vs Barcelona. If there is a team that can solve Spain, it is Portugal, and they have to be ambitious on attack. Watch for Joao Moutinho who's been having an incredible competition. This should be a good one.
Fabio Capello said something that was absolutely true. There is so much of a disconnect between the Wayne Rooney who makes himself central to Man Utd's fortunes and the player who consistently underwhelms in his national appearances in the big competitions.
Rooney had to wait eight years between goals when he scored against Ukraine in the final group stage match. His last contribution was a brace against Croatia in the 2004 Euro as also another brace against Sweden and ending just behind Milan Baros as top goalscorer (5). England went out to Portugal on penalty shootout in the quarter-finals, a fate familiar to them.
We harp about Leo Messi not showing up for the Albiceleste but Rooney has to rank there in futility. This so far has been his definitive contribution to international folklore.
Roy Hodgson may call it a cheap shot but Capello is calling it as he sees it.
This is in such incredibly poor taste. Although the Gazzetta Dello Sport cartoonist explains this as a clumsy attempt at humour, it reveals on a subconscious level how conflicted Italians are towards Mario Balotelli. Besides how does a cartoon referencing a beleaguered King Kong sitting atop the Empire State Building subsequently falling to his death make any connection to the Italian domination of the English? He's an object of pity. Although he did get the girl in the end.
Balotelli has faced racism from the stands in the Serie and so the reaction is not confined to just Croatian and Spanish fans in this Euro. This is not unique to Italy. You see parallels in the many examples of racist imagery lampooning Barack Obama in the USA.
These are methods of delegitimization whether its the first African American president in US history or in Italy's case the first black player to represent that country. Whatever you do or become, you will never be one of us.
Update: The Gazetta issued a statement: "if certain readers found the cartoon offensive, we apologise." But they reject accusations that the cartoon was racially motivated. Okaay!
Marco Reus, the Borussia M'gladbach striker, who had such a breakout game against Greece was singled out by Arsene Wenger for some lofty praise. Wenger is at the 2012 Euro in the capacity of TV analyst for French station TF1. The French manager when asked if he was "on the case" with Reus, reportedly replied, "Yes."
Before we fall into an easy trap, lets say straight off, Wenger has been an admirer of many players. In January he said the same thing about Karim Benzema and everyone jumped on the story about the disgruntled Real Madrid striker finding a new home in the Emirates.
Wenger regularly salivates over strikers and wingers. It's not new. But they are all not going to come to the Emirates. Besides Reus just signed for Borussia Dortmund this January on a five year contract with the club losing Shinji Kagawa who is Man Utd bound. There is no way Reus will be available to come to the Emirates. Case closed.
Two observations. How on earth did England survive for 120 + minutes? And Andrea Pirlo has more creativity in the nail of his right foot's little toe than the entire England squad. That was the nail he used to execute that breath taking panenka to level the penalties, 2-2 en route to Alessandro Diamanti's game winning spot kick. As an Arsenal fan it brought back memories of his penalty with which West Ham drew level after the Gunners took a two nothing lead a few seasons ago, yet another painful example of the club's fragility.
The debate before the match was whether Mario Balotelli would start which was rather ridiculous to begin with because like Pirlo, there is no one in this England squad who could hold a candle to his talent. He was a force of nature in front of goal and only some wayward shooting and an excellent Joe Hart saved England from being embarrassed.
There was the matter of 4 minutes in the second half when Italy churned out 4 opportunities with Daniele De Rossi, Pirlo, Balotelli, and Riccardo Montolivo all coming close but ultimately their finishing, Hart, and the upright all conspired against them. Diamanti also hit the upright and in extra time England also survived a very close call when Antonio Nocerino was judged offside after his header beat Hart. In all Italy churned out 35 attempts on goal, 20 on target while hogging the ball 63% of the time. England had nine attempts of which 4 were on target.
Here is a stat that should impress those less impressed by the English defense. Twelve of those attempts were blocked. LeBron James could have done no better. At the other end, Glen Johnson looked more threatening than any of the forward men including Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney. For Rooney, this represents failure in three straight international competitions. Young so deadly down that left flank for Utd had a miserable campaign underscored by that penalty attempt where he used up all his power without paying heed to location.
One would love England to do well. It gave us this sport as we know it but it seems what it takes to succeed has largely escaped them but for a few instances since 1966. The last year England surprised the world with Sir Alf Ramsey's innovation of wingless wonders. Spain was a hard luck case too about 6 years ago but they figured out a way to win and one has to respect their tiki-taka even as it gets panned as a surefire way of curing insomnia. It's innovation that wins and England have not had one single creative idea in this sport since those days almost half a century ago.
Anyways, it is now Group B vs Group C, as Germany take on Italy and Portugal meet Spain in the semi-finals. Germany vs Italy is going to be a classic with the Italians dominating head to head in wins, 14-7, whereas Spain has the measure of their Iberian neighbours with a 16-6 margin in victories.
After France's disastrous 2008 Euro outing followed in quick succession by the 2010 World Cup debacle which saw France go through a self existential paroxysm as the country re-examined what constitutes being French (see Alain Finkelkraut), getting out of the group stage in the 2012 Euro might constitute improvement. But has it changed that much?
The 2010 World Cup French squad were a splintered group of demoralized individuals divided by dislike for Raymond Domenech and the racial tensions within the team. Moliere could not have written better farce with the French crashing out after making it to the World Cup on a grave miscarriage of justice through Thierry Henry's sleight of hand.
The FFF hung onto Domenech like a juicy bone for years as each succeeding squad expressed their diminishing belief in him, finally showing him the door. His replacement Laurent Blanc, the successful Bordeaux coach, and a deeply admired figure survived controversy when he green lighted what appeared to be a quota system based on racial lines. He expressed his philosophy through this quote, "The Spanish, they say 'we don't have a problem. We have no blacks'".
This was never a problem before; a team the French had dominated in big competitions before and whose 2006 World Cup coach, Luis Aragones was mocked as racist by Henry after he scored the equalizer in their quarter-final. As if to counter, Aragones turned to Marcos Senna, who became the fulcrum of the 2008 Euro winning team, a naturalized Brazilian, in an all white team. The larger message was Spain had successfully utilized a two holding midfielder system which was evident against France yesterday. Which proves you can't pigeonhole performances to racism although one can't dispute its expediency as an explanation.
Blanc got plenty of support from players like Patrick Viera and Marcel Desailly. The troublemakers were gone through retirement and non-selection. The overt racial tones were tamped down as France got back into the business of playing football for football's sake and not as a metonymy for the country's polarization. Except this time the "me first" culture hit them as a roadblock. Samir Nasri, showed chauvinism is not just related to sexual, national, or racial borders. The talent shown by him at Marseilles that saw comparisions to Zidane has not materialized in his further adventures at Arsenal and City, dictated it appears by base economics and a self serving attitude.
There was a flash when England met France under Blanc in a friendly last year when Nasri completely took over in the first half painfully underscoring the similar lack of talent in the opposition. But then he disappeared and England crept back in. The same was repeated in this Euro as Nasri scored the equalizer against England and then proceeded to celebrate against the real opposition, a critical French media. He didn't show up against Ukraine and Sweden, and was brought off the bench against Spain after becoming the centre of attention as a different kind of dysfunctionality divided the team. Nasri in his remaining minutes did not do anything of note as the French increasingly played without conviction or anything approaching urgency.
Tactically too, there were shortcomings, as Blanc opted to pair Phillipe Mexes with Adil Rami, a mismatch which was exploited by England and the Swedes, with Laurent Koscielny as a second option in a frail defense. He explained bolstering the right with two full backs as his reaction to stopping Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba's overlapping runs which as events proved failed spectacularly while shutting down any attacking options down that flank.
France's ouster has been criticized by the press but they have stopped short of calling for Blanc's head. The players are also cautiously optimistic. There is none of the doomsday forebodings after the World Cup which in retrospect might be the most tangible improvement. But France's Euro campaign can only be tarnished by this outburst between Nasri and the AFP reporter. Blanc's toughest decision might be whether to keep Nasri on that French squad. The media may have already made up their minds and Blanc might become a target in their crosshairs depending on that decision.
Samir Nasri gets the vote for the most disappointing footballer of this Euro. At least Franck Ribery can look back and say he put in the mileage albeit all in futility. But Nasri introduced in the second half to up the tempo and connect Karim Benzema to the centre showed no desire to impose his undoubted talent. He disappeared similarly against Ukraine and Sweden.
With Blanc opting to pair two right backs with Mathieu Debuchy joining Adil Rami because of Phillipe Mexes's suspension and Anthony Reveillere positioned to his right, there was serious lack of quality down that flank. Leaving Ribery down the left as the one consistent attacking option, Spain showed no problems corralling the Bayern Munich winger through two former Liverpool men in Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso.
Alonso in particular stamped his authority on both ends scoring a double in his 100th international appearance. Spain laid a familiar chokehold in the first half through their republic of Catatonia distribution of the ball. Just when it looked like the familiar theme of a Spanish late goal would play out, Iniesta broke down the left and dinked a pass between two French defenders to an overlapping Jordi Alba, who burst through leaving a stumbling Mathieu Debuchy on the turf and then hung an inviting cross across the face of goal leaving a completely unmarked Alonso to bury a header to Hugo Lloris's right. It was the 19th minute. In the 85th minute, Anthony Reveillere bundled Pedro off the ball as the striker entered the box and Alonso padded his resume by sending Lloris the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.
Spain had over an hour to fill the game between those two goals with its sterile domination and France had to abandon its Chelsea lite plan and start attacking. But apart from Yoann Cabaye's free kick which Casillas took care off and a Debuchy header which sailed marginally over the bar, France at no instance looked threatening enough even as Spain tailed off its midfield precision. Blanc's decision to introduce Nasri and Jeremy Menez did not provide the necessary lift. Vincent Del Bosque subbed off David Silva for Pedro and then Fabregas for Fernando Torres to revert to a more conventional and direct 4-4-2 from his starting 4-6-0 formation. The move materialized in the Alonso penalty.
There is plenty of criticism of Spain's sterile version of tiki taka which is at odds with Barca's tiki taka with its trademark eye pleasing forward urgency. But before we introduce another club vs country wrinkle, remember Barca have Leo Messi to provide all those delightful exclamation marks. Del Bosque's perambulations with his attacking force is a result of having to choose between a misfiring striker and largely untested ones.
A note to Arsenal fans: Laurent Koscielny continues to impress. Olivier Giroud strongly rumoured to make an Emirates move so far has seen few minutes but didn't really look impressive. Yann M'Vila, another projected Arsenal target was invisible and was subbed off to make for Giroud. M'Vila was one of the big reasons why there was no central presence with Benzema drifting deeper and deeper. A pair off Arsenal alums were also on display. Gael Clichy failed to make his bombing runs while Cesc Fabregas continues to remind us why we miss him.
The Germans at this point are a bit spoiled for talent. Jogi Low went to Miroslav Klose, Andre Schurrle, and Marko Reus in place of Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski, and Thomas Mueller. Wouldn't you like to have such a quandary? The Greeks were overachievers getting out of Group A but against the Germans, as did the Czechs against Portugal, they were simply outclassed.
In fact, both semi-finals have been one way streets and one sort of half wishes Russia and Poland would have made it because Russia vs Portugal would have been more compelling as would have Poland vs Germany, simply because both teams had more attacking talent to match up with the countries in Group B.
The Germans were wasteful in the first 15-20 minutes with at least three chances going waste. Oezil was guilty on a couple of chances. He really is the David Gower of football. Just a pleasure to watch as he effortlessly puts together a stunning sequence of moves but all done with a insouciance where he couldn't be bothered to exert himself when needed or when presented with an opportunity. We know how well that went down with Geoffrey Boycott. We got a gander at Reus who was impressive. Pacy and skillful on the ball with a nose for goal. Philipp Lahm got the scoreboard ticking with his swerving shot fooling Sifakis. A very relieved Jogi Low nearly relieved himself on the pitch.
The second half saw Greece equalizing through Giorgios Samaras to some hyperbolic venting by commentators at how the goal had wiped out the Greek debt. Samaras is now being sought out by Roberto Mancini for a glorious City return.
Jogi Low looked like he had eaten a moth eaten drapery for lunch. But Sami Khedira summoning the winds from the Maghreb sallied forth with a magnificent shinned volley from a cross by Jerome Boateng. All was good. It was golden a few minutes later as Klose was on target with his header. Reus also got into the act with his volley as a galvanized Germany put Greece in a headlock. The handball by Boateng and the subsequent penalty converted by Dimitris Salpingidis restored some Greek pride.
Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou aka Vangelis (Chariots of Fire) collaborated with Jon Anderson of Yes, he of the seraphic voice (Owner of a Lonely Heart) in the early 80s recording four albums. "I'll Find My Home" reached #6 in the UK top hits in 1981. Vangelis is one of the pioneers of electronica and Chariots of Fire is an anthem.
In 1970, Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider formed Kraftwerk, defining techno pop for the next generation. "Das Model" released in 1980 reached #1 in the UK charts. Their looks and highly stylized music is an art form celebrated recently at the MOMA where Kraftwerk played for a week in a series of sold out shows.
The Lazio striker is apparently Jogi Low's first choice over Mario Gomez because of his big match production. He ranks second only to Gerd Muller's 68 goals with 63 scored in 119 national appearances. In Klose, Mesut Oezil will have a partner who can feed off those one-two's. However, the real weapon against the Greece may not be who the Germans have on the pitch or their football tactics.
"Here's a secret tactical tip," one user suggested. "Every German player takes a few euro coins onto the field and lets one fall when things get tough. The Greeks will be so busy picking them up that the players can continue to kick the ball unobstructed."
It all comes back to the Euro crisis. And Germany is the big dog in the fight policing Greece for scraps and bones. But if we're talking history, the Greece are not to be taken lightly. The Greeks fierce resistance to the Axis in World War II was a thorn in Adolf Hitler's side throughout their occupation. In footballing terms, allow the inevitability of occupation but then make life uncomfortable enough for the possibility of a spectacular heist. See the Kidnapping of General Kriepe.
Joao Moutinho's 79th minute cross was met emphatically by Cristiano Ronaldo as he rifled a header past Petr Cech, an old foe from his Premiership days. Moutinho and Nani were the pick of the players as the Portugese midfield dominated the second half proceedings with the Czechs increasingly hemmed in their own half. The 1-0 scoreline flatters as the Portugese could have scored at least on three other occasions with the woodwork denying Ronaldo twice.
The first half saw Ronaldo at his petulant best as he came close but couldn't quite deliver.
At the half he had the look and demeanour of a disgruntled seal beaten to a school of fish by a more aggressive rival. His already prominent shoulder blades flared out in resignation, his greased hair looked even more beaten down; he exited the pitch barking at his team mates for better service.
The first half highlights here >>
Ronaldo is easy to caricature but in this competition he's come through when Portugal needed him. He's on course to becoming the Euro's top scorer with Mario Gomez his main competition. We will see the Bayern Munich striker in action tomorrow against Greece.
Portugal will be without Helder Postiga in the semi-final against Spain or France suffering a hamstring injury that saw him stretchered off in the first half and subbed by Hugo Almeida.
The Czechs had a lot of the ball in the first half in the opening 15-20 minutes but were unable to create many chances. Only one attempt on target compared in to Portugal's eight. They have some bright sparks. Attacking talent in Vaclav Pilar and Petr Jiracek while David Limbersky and Michal Kadlec shone in defense.