Posts tagged Euro 2012
Posts tagged Euro 2012
I read Paul Little on F365 today bemoan Roy Hodgson’s conservativeness at Euro 2012 in comparison to Stuart Pearce’s more extravagant GB team at the Olympics. The argument was that if Pearce could make a quickly assembled team play winning attractive football, why was Hodgson so adamant that fear induced defensive organization was the way to go for the Euros? Little was particularly keen to point out that such were the low expectations around England going into the Euros that he essentially had a free shot at the tournament – the opportunity was there to experiment with new expressive formations and players rather than revert to a model based on stoic defensiveness. Pearce’s GB side have been refreshing. Playing a possession orientated 4-3-3 with Ramsey, Allen and Cleverly controlling the ball in the midfield and the likes of Sturridge, Bellamy and Sinclair providing pace and guile in the attacking third, GB have been able to control games and employ speedy counterattacks to decent effect. Their defence has been at times ropey but this is perhaps due to a lack of availability of the better GB defenders and Pearce’s insistence on Richards actually being a good defender. But otherwise GB, since their being outplayed by Brazil, have been good to watch and impressive in qualifying top from a tricky group. So why couldn’t England have played a similar 4-3-3 and have been similarly attractive on the eye at the Euros?
Even had they lost last night, I don’t think anyone would have denied that the last 5 years have been dominated by the Spanish. Even if they completely fluffed their lines in Poland and Ukraine, Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup coupled with Barcelona’s three Champions League victories in six years (quite a monumental achievement when you consider how difficult it is to win that trophy) would have been enough to allow such an acclamation. There’s no doubt now after Spain won their third international tournament on the spin – an unprecedented achievement, which could be replicated in our lifetimes, but is a rare and impressive feat nonetheless. Considering how many teams could have been worthy winners of each of the last three tournaments, the fact that Spain have somehow kept their heads and their shoulders above the rest (they’re practically looking down at the rest of us on the ground from atop the heights of the famous Sagrada Familia) is undeniably brilliant. Are they as good as the famed 1970s Brazil team? Such talk is often ridiculous mostly for the fact that most people who make such claims were probably too young to remember, or not even born at the time. Furthermore there are other great teams that have been forgotten in the vagaries of time – the ‘Golden Team’ of Hungary in the 1950s were also said to be legendarily brilliant. Certainly the game is more competitive now – the art of defending in particular has improved across all countries while the competitiveness of non-European/South American teams is monumentality greater now than back in 1970. Plus, the athleticism that came with the tricks and possession of that Brazil team which gave them an advantage back then is now a common feature to all teams at the highest level now. So it’s impossible to compare between the 1970s Brazil team and the 2008-2012 Spain team.
Rosol beats Nadal 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 (Wimbledon 2nd round)
Germany 1 - 2 Italy (Euro 2012 semi-final)
Warning: a clichéd potentially over-the-top tribute to the wonder of sport.
Never think you know what’s going to happen, before the matches are finished. It’s never over till the rotund lady bellows. The supposed champions elect of Euro 2012 were blunted and outplayed. The 11 Grand Slam winning legend and world number 2 was knocked out by the little known number 100. The latter is stunning. The former was far, far, less surprising but a surprise to many nonetheless. Italy now take on Spain in the final. Lukas Rosol has just powered his way into the headlines from utter obscurity. Expectations? Scrap them. Predictions, however empirically justified, are just that, predictions, not necessary truths, but utterly contingent statements which have no guarantee of vindication. Just ask Mark Lawrenson.
Spain 0 - 0 Portugal (Spain win 4-2 on penalties)
Three major tournament finals in a row with the first two already won. Spain are undoubtedly one of the great international teams, and should they win on Sunday, the extraordinary triple would suggest they are the greatest. Of course the 1970 Brazil team are always touted as the great World Cup team, but for sheer consistency and know-how Spain would surely have done enough. Couple this with the multiple Champions League wins of Barcelona and the aura that shrouds their famous (or perhaps now infamous) tiki-taka style and you would have to say that this current era has been a Spanish one.