Thursday, June 7, 2012

Five managers to watch at Euro 2012

Joachim Low – Germany
The German coach has been given assurances about his job, no matter what happens at Euro 2012, but knowing the way 'Jogi' works, he will be focused solely on the title. This is, after all, the man who gambled at the 2010 World Cup by opting for youth over experience – by picking Germany's youngest squad ever, Low took the team to the semi-finals. His decision to drop Michael Ballack for the World Cup was controversial, but Low's decision to let youth blossom under his guidance was vindicated.
Low, who has been in charge of Germany since Jurgen Klinsmann stepped down after the 2006 World Cup, has been credited with transforming Germany into an attacking football team. Key to this change was introducing a more flamboyant and aggressive style of play, a shift from the traditional way past German teams operated. With Low at the helm, the Mannschaft thrilled in Euro 2008 and at the last World Cup, and heading into Euro 2012 Low's squad has termed by none other than Der Kaizer Franz Beckenbaur as Germany's "best of all time".
Five managers to watch at Euro 2012
Bert van Marwijk – Netherlands
The Netherlands coach has warned his rivals at Euro 2012 – the team has been drawn into the tournament's Group of Death, featuring archrivals Germany, Portugal (who have traditionally dominated the Dutch) and Denmark – that the Oranje intend on playing attacking football. Marwijk and his team copped criticism for their guarded style of play at the 2010 World Cup, at which they reached the final, but the coach has vowed to come onto the offensive.
Boasting a team brimming with outrageous talent and technical prowess, the Ducth have been touted as one of the favourites at Euro 2012, but the challenge for Marwijk is to channel that talent into a trophy. The Dutch have almost always fielded highly skilled teams at major tournaments, but barring Ruud Gullit's 1988 heroes there has been no silverware to show. How Marwijk handles the talent at his disposal, including the EPL's top-scorer Robin van Persie, could prove one of the major attractions of Euro 2012, if not the tournament's success story.
Vincent Del Bosque – Spain
The knowledgeable and cultured Spaniard is the envy of his counterparts for the sheer talent at his disposal. Under Del Bosque, La Roja employ the usual 'tiki-taka' style of play that is similar to Barcelona's. Del Bosque prefers to go in with a 4-3-3 and taking the shape of a 4-5-1. The key personnel around which he builds the team is midfield duo of Xavi and Xabi Alonso who dictate tempo and proceedings at will. With wingers like Ander Iniesta, David Silva, Pedro and Juan Mata in his arsenal, Del Bosque he has nothing to worry about while attacking.
Having guided Spain to World Cup victory in 2010, as well as Real Madrid to the Champions League and La Liga titles, the former Real Madrid manager will have to draw on his vault of experience as he attempts to inspire the current Euro title holders to glory. Repeating the success of Euro 2008 will be a massive challenge, but in Del Bosque Spain have a shrewd tactician.
Laurent Blanc – France
When Blanc took over from Raymond Domenech after a disastrous 2010 World Cup, Les Blues were a team blighted by internal problems. Having failed to make it past the group stage in South Africa, the French team needed inspiration and guidance and it was Blanc – the former Bordeaux manager - at the forefront of their rebuilding. Marshalling a temperamental yet occasionally brilliant bunch of footballers, Blanc successfully inspired France to finish top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group. His tactic of publicly deeming France the underdogs of that group while stating that his aim was to win Euro 2016 at home worked wonders. Now France – who are unbeaten in 21 games - head into Euro 2012 as a formidable team, under the managerial skills of the player once known as 'Le Président' because of his leadership.
Roy Hodgson – England
Hodgson's task at Euro 2012 is a very difficult one, and considering the flak he has copped for leaving out Rio Ferdinand and naming Steven Gerrard as England captain the 64-year-old Brit will be under immense scrutiny. There is also the minor fact that England failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
Hodgson, who was preferred over Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp to replace Fabio Capello last month , has been forced to weather over the storm over Ferdinand's exclusion while watching three of his top players - Gareth Barry, Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard - ruled out of the European Championships due to injury. Hodgson has placed immense faith in the goalkeeper Joe Hart, but it will take more than faith to guide England past the league stage and forward from there. Whether or not Hodgson can bring about a change in fortunes for perennial underachiever England remains to be seen, but fror the sheer scrutiny and expectation on his shoulders, Hodgson is one of the managers to watch at Euro 2012.

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