Euro Cup 2012: third round recap


Editors note: Once again, this post comes rather late because I fell behind in the previous rounds due to finals, graduation and work. 

Unfortunately, my dream of watching every game of the Euro Cup came to end this round because UEFA scheduled each day’s games at the same time to prevent any sort of advantage. An asterisk (*) will indicate which games I watched.

GROUP A

Czech Republic vs. Poland*

I decided that this game would be more exciting than the Greece vs. Russia game (boy, was I wrong). Statistically, this game was more exciting in that it was evenly matched. Czech Republic held 58 percent of the possession, and both teams had seven shots on target (16 total for Poland and 11 total for Czech Republic). Poland stuck with its backup goalkeeper, Przemyslaw Tyton, who came in and blocked a penalty kick after starting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was given a red card for a bad tackle. After more than two-thirds of the game gone, the Czechs finally broke through. Petr Jiracek scored his second goal of the tournament in the 72nd minute. Co-host Poland was knocked out of the Euros.

Russia vs. Greece

Admittedly, I thought Russia would blow Greece out of the water and capture the No. 1 spot in Group A. However, Greece has pulled off some incredible comebacks and goals in the past few games. Russia held 62 percent of the possession and had 25 shots (10 on target), but as I’ve come to see time and time again, it only takes one counterattack, and that’s all Greece needed. Greece only had five shots on goal (two on target). One of its two shots on target went in and Greece got the three points it needed to be the No. 2 seed from Group A and move on to the quarterfinals. Greece has had the most dramatic road to the Euro Cup finals–coming back from one goal down with 10 men to tie Poland, almost coming back against the Czechs, and beating group favorite Russia.

The Czech Republic advances in the No. 1 spot; Greece advances in the No. 2 spot.

GROUP B

Portugal vs. Netherlands*

My brother is a Netherlands fan, and we chose to watch this game. The Netherlands needed to win this game by two goals if it had any hope of moving on after two disappointing losses. The Netherlands also needed Germany to win its game against Denmark to ensure the Netherlands a spot in the quarterfinals. The Netherlands started forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and attacking midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart. In previous games, the Netherlands had taken a more defensive stance, but knew it needed to attack the Portuguese back line to get the win. Van der Vaart gave the Netherlands the lead in the 11th minute off the assist from Arjen Robben. But Portugal struck back in the 28th mine and Christiano Ronaldo got his first goal of the tournament. The Netherlands already hard task was seeming more and more impossible. Portugal looked the best it has in the tournament thus far, and Ronaldo finally looked up to his usual form. Ronaldo put the Netherlands away for good with another goal in the 74th minute.

Germany vs. Denmark

As Denmark had shown in the previous two games, it was not to be underestimated or cast aside in the Group of Death. It had upset the Netherlands, who placed 2nd in the 2010 World Cup, and gave Portugal a run for its money, only losing in the final three minutes of regular time. German midfielder Lukas Podolski scored in the 19th minute, and Michael Krohn-Dehli evened things up five minutes later. In the 80th minute, defender Lars Bender added another goal for the Germans. Germany is the only team to win each of its group games and get the most points possible.

Germany advances in No. 1 spot; Portugal advances in No. 2 spot.

GROUP C

Croatia vs. Spain

Seeing as I am an avid Spain fan and have been rooting for it the entire tournament, it was a no brainer that I’d watch this game. With Ireland already out, the final three teams in Group C were fighting for the top two spots. Croatia did one of the best jobs defensively with Spain. Spain held 65 percent of the possession and took 14 shots against Croatia, but Croatia did not sit back defensively against Spain and interrupted its flow of play by stepping to 50-50 balls and challenging the Spanish midfielders. Finally, Spain’s quick passing and intricate passing broke through the Croatian defense, and substitute Jesús Navas became the hero of the game scoring the game winning goal in the 88th minute.

Ireland vs. Italy

Ireland was already out of the tournament, but it didn’t mean it had given up. Italy still needed a win to move on. However, Italy dominated Ireland holding 60 percent of possession and had 27 shots (17 on target). In the 35th minute, Antonio Cassano put one in the back of the net. In the 90th minute, controversial forward Mario Balotelli scored an acrobatic goal in the 90th minute.

Spain advances in No. 1 spot; Italy advances in No. 2 spot.

GROUP D

England vs. Ukraine*

Wayne Rooney returned to the starting lineup for England. After a slightly rusty start, Rooney broke through and scored his first goal of the tournament in the 48th minute. Rooney became the first player to ever score five goals in his first five games of the Euros (this is a streak that was started in the 2008 Euros). England held off co-host Ukraine and won 1-0.

France vs. Sweden

Sweden, after losing its first two games, was already knocked out of the Euros. But like the Ireland vs. Italy game, France needed the win and Sweden wanted to prove itself. In the 54th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his second goal of the tournament. Despite France holding 57 percent of the possession and taking twice as many shots on goal (24 to 12), Sweden added another goal in the 91st minute. Despite France losing to Sweden, it still moved on to the quarterfinals.

England advances in No. 1 spot; France advances in No. 2 spot.

QUARTERFINAL MATCHUPS

Portugal vs. Czech Republic

Germany vs. Greece

Spain vs. France

England vs. Italy

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