Friday, July 6, 2012

Euro 2012 song by Jim Daly


Text of Euro 2012 song by Jim Daly:
Another summer of football at an end
Another summer where Spain win again
They with no striker but had no problems scoring
Some even had the nerve to label Spain a bit boring
Balotelli always had a smile on his face (apart from in the final)
Ronaldo's hair was rarely out of place (grease ball prat)
His head had more grease than a piece of donna meat
The Greece team collapsed quicker than their economy
Some fans wore red and some fans wore blue
When Ronaldo scored he fondled a pair of invisible boobs
Karagounis was angry he's the same height as a small boy
Joachim Low spent his time bullying ballboys
Ireland were so shit their fans couldn't bear to see
Thousands protested at Martin Keown's commentary
The Poles started strong in their opening games
And no-one could pronounce any of their names
But then for Poland it all fell apart
And Ukraine, well they also had a good start
But Shevchenko and kids with terrible hair
Couldn't take them through, England progressed instead
When it wasn't raining like the apocalypse
When players weren't punching the turf cos their team were shit
For picking on kids, Low's Germany were sent home
Balotelli played a game of musical chairs on his own
In the final Spain gave Italy a lesson
Thanks to their interplay and their heavy pressing
They scored the most goals ever scored in a final
They didn't even need to start with any strikers
Silva tried to eat his own arm thats a bit strange
Surely you're not allowed to balance balls on your head during games
Even Andy Carroll scored, Sweden were ashamed
That guy for Poland scored a belter, can't remember his name
Here the trophy with a Spain shirt falling
Here's Jordi Alba happy after scoring
Here's a Spain fan dressed as a Matador
And now a replay of Alba running through to score
And so we have to celebrate Spain's glory
Another chapter in a legendary story
Even though their counter' finances are in dire straights
Watching this team play the game seriously priceless

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

High-quality Euro 2012 leaves lasting impression


With an average of 2.45 goals per game, Euro 2012 was the most low-scoring European Championship for 16 years, but what it lacked in rippling nets, it made up for in excitement and technical quality.
After a build-up dogged by concerns about infrastructural problems and the potential for fan violence, the competition caught the attention from the opening game.
Robert Lewandowski claimed the tournament's first goal for co-hosts Poland at Warsaw's National Stadium, but their opponents Greece secured a 1-1 draw in a breathless game that saw both sides finish with 10 men.
Poland were to entertain again, sharing a thrillingly open 1-1 draw with Russia in their second Group A game before falling to the Czech Republic and exiting the competition.
Fellow hosts Ukraine also bade their farewells in the group phase, but they could at least treasure the sight of 35-year-old national icon Andrei Shevchenko claiming a match-winning brace in the opening 2-1 defeat of Sweden.
By the mid-point of the group stage, journalists were already beginning to draw comparisons with the 2000 tournament in Belgium and Holland, widely seen as a high watermark in the recent history of European football.
Portugal let slip a two-goal lead over Denmark in Group B, only to prevail 3-2 through an 87th-minute strike from Silvestre Varela that provided the spark that would take them to the last four.
England also came from behind to beat Sweden 3-2 in Kiev, with substitute Theo Walcott lashing home an equaliser and then motoring down the right flank to tee up Danny Welbeck for a cunning improvised winner.
Penalty shoot-outs were required to separate England and Italy in the quarter-finals, and Spain and Portugal in the last four.
They made villains of Ashley Young, Ashley Cole and Bruno Alves, and heroes of Cesc Fabregas and Andrea Pirlo, who tipped the balance of the shoot-out against England in Italy's favour with an audacious chipped spot-kick.
Cristiano Ronaldo suddenly found form to score twice in Portugal's 2-1 win over Holland, before repeating the trick with the only goal against the Czechs in the last eight.
Pirlo and Spain's Andres Iniesta graced the turf wherever they trod, while Pirlo's 21-year-old team-mate Mario Balotelli came of age in stunning fashion with an emphatic brace against Germany in the semi-finals.
There were also several high-profile flops; most notably Holland's Robin van Persie and England's Wayne Rooney, who missed the first two games through suspension, scored against Ukraine, but then disappeared from sight.
Beaten finalists at the last World Cup, the Netherlands vanished amid a cloud of in-fighting and insinuation after three consecutive defeats, with Bert van Marwijk losing his job as coach shortly after.
France, meanwhile, failed to live up to expectations that they could prove to be the tournament's dark horses, with Laurent Blanc leaving his post as coach following a campaign marred by stories of off-pitch squabbles.
Les Bleus did at least end a six-year wait for a major tournament win by beating Ukraine 2-0 in a game held up for over an hour by a massive thunderstorm at Donetsk's Donbass Arena, but fell 2-0 to Spain in the last eight.
Germany also met a disappointing end, strolling through Group B and crushing Greece 4-2 in the last eight before wilting meekly against Cesare Prandelli's increasingly assured Italy.
In contrast to the Germans, Italy seemed to grow in strength with each match, before their legs and their luck deserted them in the final.
Spain found themselves unexpectedly assailed by complaints about the tediousness of their football, but there was nothing dreary about their record 4-0 demolition of the Azzurri at Kiev's Olympic Stadium on Sunday.
Despite a high-profile blunder in Ukraine's group game with England, when Marko Devic's goal was not awarded even though the ball clearly crossed the line, the trial of extra officials behind each goal-line was a success.
Their eagle-eyed presence seemed to afford greater freedom of movement to attackers, with only four penalties awarded over the duration of the tournament.
The Adidas Tango 12 match ball was a notable improvement on the unreliable Jabulani from the 2010 World Cup, with Balotelli's thumping second goal against Germany the pick of a collection of fine long-range strikes.
"Poland and Ukraine organised an exceptional tournament, that will stay in people's memories," said UEFA president Michel Platini.
"It was one of those unique moments that brings people together."
The Euro will expand to 24 teams in France in four years' time, but the 16-team format bows out having delivered a rich concentration of highly watchable matches that may prove impossible to repeat.

Euro 2012 champions return home


Swathed in the red-and-yellow colours of Spain, hundreds of thousands packed central Madrid to give a hero's welcome Monday to "La Roja" — the national soccer team that erased the country's gloomy mood by winning the Euro 2012 Championship with such flair.
With the celebrated team back home on native soil, it was time to party for a second straight night.
King Juan Carlos and members of the royal family congratulated players at the Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid within hours of their returning from Kyiv, where they crushed Italy 4-0 to defend their title Sunday night. The Iberia plane that brought them to the Spanish capital bore the logo "proud of our national team."
Team captain and goalie Iker Casillas proudly held the tournament cup as he emerged from the plane in Madrid with coach Vicente del Bosque.
In the palace gardens, the king, Prince Felipe, his wife, Princess Letizia, and one of the king's two daughters, Princess Elena, chatted and laughed with the players while two of the monarch's grandchildren gazed at and touched the cup.
"Congratulations on behalf of the family and the whole of Spain," the king said. "You have made the entire country happy."
In town, a multitude jammed the paths and roads along a near five-kilometre route chanting "Champions, champions Ole, Ole, Ole!"
Blowing horns, they put up with a baking evening sun to catch a glimpse of their heroes as they paraded by on an open air bus ride for a victory rally in the central Cibeles plaza. The players were escorted by police on horseback and motorbikes. Thousands more fans cheered on from apartment balconies.
The players danced and sang, raised the trophy and sprayed sparkling wine on the screaming, flag-waving crowds below as the bus crawled along at a snail's pace.
In Cibeles plaza, organizers sprayed the crowds with water hoses to help them keep cool as they awaited the team's arrival.
The team's elegant performance in the Euro 2012 final raised spirits across a country drowning in financial woes and rampant unemployment. It also made them the first team ever to bookend a World Cup championship (2010) with two Euro Cup triumphs (2008, 2012).
"This is historic and I'm here to support the team. They just might be able to do it again so we can win the (2014 World Cup) in Brazil," said Jose Luis Clemente, 47, a bus inspector clad in the team jersey. "It's a rare positive point against such a terrible crisis in my country. It gives you some relief."
Still, he was realistic.
"No football win is going to solve the crisis. That's work for the economists and the politicians," he added.
The victory even had some Spaniards offering a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: Why not have the players run the country instead of Spain's feckless politicians?
In one newspaper cartoon, del Bosque is surrounded by Casillas and other stars such as Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, who are all dressed up in suits for a new line of work.
"The solution to our problems: the government of prime minister del Bosque and his ministers," read the vignette in El Mundo.
As the country recovered from a national hangover of elation, pride and booze, Spaniards soaked up sweet memories of a night no one will forget. For a few hours, the realities of 25 per cent unemployment, a grinding recession and a banking bailout from the European Union to the tune of up to C100 billion (C$128 billion) were put aside.
"No team has ever done what they have done, and it helps you to stop thinking about the crisis for 90 minutes during the game and the next day for the party," said Carlo del Pino, 25, a university student.
Del Pino said he hopes to teach physical education and coach one day but prospects are grim for graduates now with cutbacks in education funding, teacher pay cuts and layoffs of temporary teachers.
"I don't know where I will be working when I graduate, whether it's in Spain, Portugal or some other country," he said. "But all the Spanish kids who are here cheering the team may want to do sports because of the victory, so that could help me."
Retired air force officer Ramon Ramirez, 76, looked a bit out of place, dressed smartly in long sleeve formal shirt and pressed jeans amid a sea of folks decked out in red and yellow as he waited for the team to pass.
"For Spain, the headlines around the world have finally changed to good instead of the bad we've seen for months. Let's hope it continues," he said.
Maria Jose Herraiz, a 54-year-old homemaker, was so nervous she had to listen to the game on the radio instead of watching it on TV.
"When I heard people scream 'Goal!' I would run to the TV," she said.
She called the victory marvellous, a potent shot of mood-boosting adrenalin for people sorely in need of it, but said reality would come back soon.
"It will be a sort of flower that blooms for just one day, because economic problems do not go away just because Spain wins," Herraiz said.
Her two adult children — aged 26 and 28 — are both still living at home. They are struggling on rock-bottom salaries as low as C300 ($384) a month for half-day work despite being a computer scientist and a physicist.
Still, for one night, they came home just before dawn after a rousing celebration, their faces painted in red and yellow.
Fans welcome runner-up Italy
A thousand fans cheered loudly, applauded and sang the national anthem when Italy coach Cesare Prandelli and his players returned to Rome after having lost the European Championship final.
The squad was first greeted by about 200 workers Monday as they stepped off the plane at Rome's Fiumicino airport before departing on one of the four coaches reserved for the Italian delegation.
Italy lost 4-0 to Spain in the final on Sunday, and captain Gianluigi Buffon says "we are still bitterly disappointed, but we know that we had a great European Championship," adding "we played the final against the strongest team and not in the best conditions."
The loudest cheers were reserved for Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and, above all, for Prandelli, who was beaming broadly.
— The Associated Press


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Euro 2012 final


Vicente del Bosque is primarily an organiser, a communicator and a father figure. His talents shouldn’t be underestimated – he’s won the World Cup, and did so because of some excellent strategic moves – but he is more concerned with creating a harmonious dressing room, and making the most of Spain’s cohesive footballing identity.According to him, Spain’s success has “foundations in many things – in the structure of our football, in the academies, and in better coaches.” He downaplays his own role: “When the players are good, the manager is good.” It’s his usual modesty, and it’s partly to deceive the opposition. But it’s also partly true.
Prandelli is not dissimilar. He focuses upon getting his side to play a positive, attractive brand of football and avoids game-to-game switches based around the opponent. Granted, he’s changed formation completely from a 3-5-2 to a diamond in this competition, but in natural tactical terms, moving away from a three-man defence for the Ireland game was an unconventional move. The 3-5-2 thrives against a 4-4-2 – whereas Italy’s diamond had problems against it, particularly down the flanks. Listen to why Prandelli changed formation – “We maintained a certain balance over the last few games…the team that opened the tournament had a different approach, but over time we found fitness and the balance we had been looking for, so rediscovered the certainty we had lost before the competition” – and it’s all about his own players being comfortable, rather than because of the challenge of specific opponents.
But this is a challenge for Prandelli – Spain are both the favourites and the more predictable side. The tactical battle is all about how Prandelli can stop Spain, and exploit their weakness – he’s spoken at length about this in pre-match press conferences.
Spain formation & selection
To a certain extent, it’s the same as always. The first nine names on the teamsheet are unquestionable (despite some reports Xavi could be dropped) but the balance and feel of the side changes according to the names of the centre-forward and the right-sided attacking midfielder.
The centre-forward – if you can call him that – seems likely to be Cesc Fabregas. You can take it as a process of elimination – Fernando Llorente hasn’t featured yet, Fernando Torres hasn’t convinced, Alvaro Negredo was invisible against Portugal – but it’s probably more accurate to look at the midfield battle. In basic terms Italy have a 4 v 3 in that zone, and having struggled to cope with Andrea Pirlo when it was a 3 v 3, del Bosque will want the extra midfielder to compete there, and possibly to put direct pressure upon Pirlo.
The right-midfielder will, in all probability, be David Silva. He’s started all five games, but so frequently the introduction of a proper winger, Jesus Navas, has made Spain more dangerous. The previous meeting against Italy was a fine example – OK, it was against a three-man defence, but with Italy’s full-backs likely to lack protection from ahead here, a natural wide player would stretch the play and create gaps for others. Silva will probably start the game but not finish it.
Italy formation and selection
Will Prandelli consider moving back to the 3-5-2? “In all honesty, no, I haven’t considered it,” he says. “We maintained a certain balance over the last few games, although we understood that during the match we can switch to a 3-5-2 if we want to.” That settles that.
Giorgio Chiellini should continue at left-back alongside his Juventus centre-back colleagues, and the real question is on the other side. Ignazio Abate is the natural option, but might not be fit. Christian Maggio is naturally right-sided, but is more of a wing-back than a full-back, so Federico Balzaretti is more likely to continue – he played well there against Germany, though is probably the weakest of the three players going forward from that flank, as he’s played at left-back for the past few years.
Elsewhere the only slight question is at the top of the diamond. Thiago Motta did well against Spain in the first game, but lost his place to Riccardo Montolivo because of injury. There’s no reason he should get it back – Montolivo’s forward-playing destroyer role worked brilliantly against Germany, although this drains his energy, which means Motta has a good chance of replacing him midway through the game.
Mentalities
Spain will do their usual – relentless ball retention, moving it quickly between players, but rarely moving it forward with any speed. They’ll attempt to tire Italy in the first half, before attempting the breakthrough with greater penetration after half-time. It always feels like del Bosque would be happy with a 0-0 at the break (even against much weaker sides), safe in the knowledge Spain will have conserved energy, and have more options from the bench.
Italy’s approach is more uncertain. Prandelli says Italy are “not so arrogant as to say we’ll control the game from start to finish,” andaccepts that “Spain will go into the game as favourites.” Italy are likely to take a hybrid approach, not seeking to dominate possession wholly, but trying to minimise Spain’s dominance to frustrate them. When Spain do have long periods on the ball, Italy are likely to break forward quickly through the forwards. “Our tactical approach will be positive and attacking, where the first objective is to close space to get the ball back. Obviously where we try to win back possession will depend on our attitude and Spain’s performance,” Prandelli states.
Key battlezone 1 – the midfield zone
Spain’s usual area of strength is in midfield, but del Bosque will be concerned about being outnumbered in that zone. As a result, expect to see others playing drifting there – all three attackers are likely to drop even deeper than usual to make up the numbers. This means Spain will lack width high up the pitch, and who will provide runs in behind Penetration will be an afterthought.
Prandelli is looking to “create superiority in midfield” and knows that “the other midfielders work in such a way as to allow Pirlo to control the midfield.” This probably means that Prandelli wants Daniele de Rossi, Claudio Marchisio and Riccardo Montolivo to push back Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso, creating space for Pirlo to dictate the game from. Getting him free is the key, and if de Rossi has to drop in and allow Pirlo forward, Italy will use that approach too.
Key battlezone 2 – the advance of the Spanish full-backs, and the space in behind
Del Bosque will need to make the most of the full-backs’ freedom. This is a tricky battle, because the more the full-backs advance, the more Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano will drift wide (Pirlo’s diagonals will find them) and drag the centre-backs out of position. Therefore, moving only one full-back at a time would make sense. Jordi Alba could push forward more permanently and attack down the left, leaving Alvaro Arbeloa to effectively form a back three, keeping a spare man.
Against Spain in the first match, and then again against Germany after they went 1-0 up, the Italians forwards took up very wide positions. They’ll probably look to block off a simple pass to the full-backs, but not actually track them – simply making them nervous about moving forward. Then, when Italy win possession, Balotelli and Cassano should be in a position to break quickly into the channels.
A related tactic against Spain was how Italy looked to attack the space to the side of, and in behind, Gerard Pique when Arbeloa was high up the pitch. Both strikers moved more to the left of the pitch than to the right; one would drop deep and try to bring Pique out, then the other would sprint in behind. Their first goal against Germany was vaguely similar – it depended upon the German right-back being dragged up the pitch (Silva must watch Chiellini), then one centre-back being dragged towards Cassano on the left, and Balotelli headed in. Despite the fact the ball won’t spend much time there, that zone in and around Pique could be the most important on the pitch.

Spain vs Italy rematch in historic Euro 2012 final


And so they meet again at Euro 2012.
This time, however, Spain and Italy are playing for the European Championship and a place in the history books.
The Mediterranean rivals meet Sunday in Kiev's Olympic Stadium, three weeks after they drew 1-1 in their opening match of the tournament's group stage.
As the defending champion and World Cup holder, Spain is bidding to win a third straight major title, cementing its place as one of the greatest national teams. It would also match Germany's record of three European Championship titles.
Only the unpredictable Mario Balotelli and a surprising Italy team — orchestrated by Andrea Pirlo — stand between Spain and what many see as its destiny.
Even Italy coach Cesare Prandelli reckons that Spain is the best bet to lift the trophy.
"At the moment, even if I open my eyes, I am still dreaming," Prandelli said after his side's 2-1 victory over Germany in the semifinals, when Balotelli scored both goals.
"Spain remain favorites because of the years of hard work that they have put in. They have been dominant in every game they've played so far."
Spain hasn't lost in a European Championship since 2004 and has already matched West Germany as the only defending champion to return to the final after winning the World Cup. The West Germans managed it in 1976, but subsequently lost to Czechoslovakia following Antonin Panenka's famous chip shot in a penalty shootout.
This final brings together teams with players brazen enough to have successfully copied Panenka's audacious spot kick during their penalty shootouts in the knockout rounds. Spain defender Sergio Ramos used it in the semifinal win over Portugal, after Pirlo employed it against England in the quarterfinals.
It also features the tournament's best defensive team against one of its most exciting attacking squads.
Spain has not conceded a goal since that opening draw with Italy and hasn't been scored upon in nine elimination games at major tournaments. Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Pirlo are leading one of Italy's top attacking teams in recent history.
"We always just tried to play, I think that is our strength," said Prandelli, whose team is bidding to give Italy its second European title, the same number as Spain and France.
"When we started off at this tournament, we were convinced that by working in a certain way we could become a proper team — not just a quality team, but also a team with the right spirit."
Though Balotelli's selection had been in doubt due to troubles both on and off the pitch at Manchester City, the 21-year-old Italian of Ghanaian descent has scored three times at Euro 2012.
"I waited a long time for this moment, especially because my mother came all the way here and I wanted to make her happy," he said after the victory over Germany.
"This is the greatest evening of my life, but I hope Sunday will be even better," added the striker, who has a chance to finish as the tournament's top scorer with one more goal.
"For the final my father is coming, too," he added. "So I hope to score . . ."
Along with their players, the Azzurri also have an encouraging statistic on their side: Spain hasn't beaten Italy in a competitive match that didn't end in penalties since 1920.
Spain's attack has featured a rotating cast of forwards, with attacking midfielder Cesc Fabregas usually being preferred to striker Fernando Torres. On Sunday, coach Vicente del Bosque is likely to repeat the 4-6 formation he first deployed against Italy on June 10.
Substitutes Pedro Rodriguez and Jesus Navas have had impressive tournaments, and Del Bosque certainly values the contribution of players who don't feel slighted by being on the bench.
"When you send out a substitute who is upset it always makes things more difficult. When you send out a player who is happy and ready to play one minute if that's what's needed, that is very important," said Del Bosque, who can match West Germany's Helmut Schoen as the only coaches to have won a European Championship and a World Cup.
Del Bosque admitted that Portugal not only made Spain look sloppy for over an hour, but had taken his players "to the limit."
However, his team's extra day of rest compared to the Azzurri will help with preparations, while Italy is keeping an eye on any injury problems after Balotelli came off in the second half against Germany due to cramps.
"We're proud of what we are doing and, of course, we hope to achieve what no one else has done before," Del Bosque said, before touching on what victory would mean with an economic crisis back home.
"It would be good for everyone, for Spanish football and for our country."