England broke our hearts in the World Cup and we could take no more heartache and so the fans gave up on the national team, few travelling to the old Eastern Block and so our loss expected and so dismissed. Yes it was the same old quarter-final penalty exit but the difference this time being that we didn't think we would make it that far and so the hurt less painful. But it always hurts. The penalty misers of Young and Cole have already signed up to do the pizza advert.
I think it's fair to say that the opening ceremony was predictably dull, a blueprint of previous ones, like an acid trip - watching ii and creating it. The stadium was pleasingly packed full for host Poland's first game, surely CGI as most of their fans are actually in Northampton. The atmosphere was pleasing, more like Twenty20 cricket than international football, pop songs between the action and a countdown to the kick off. It helped to set the positive tone. I hope we see that here.
The BBC studio was outside in sunny Warsaw, authentic crowd noise from the square below. But it wouldn't be long before a bottle or two were hurled up at messes Lawrenson and Hansen from a drunken Pole or two or a big storm would wash them away, Wimbledon tennis style.
ITV's pre-match pundit position was down below with the prole's on the same market square, noisy but egalitarian, the aesthetically challenged Adrian Childs sandwich between the token ethnic and somewhat inaudible pundits Gordon Strachan and Patrick Vierra, alongside the excellent Roberto Martinez. I'm surprised the Poles didn't get their jobs on the cheap!
The expected racism reared its ugly head before we had even started, the open Dutch training session suffering monkey chants. Cruller people in the game would say it came from the white players in the team, the Dutch team - allegedly - racially divided for a long time now. Their performance in the tournament would suggest the team were not united.
Group One ---
Poland 1 Greece 1
A poor referee did his best to help the host through with some dreadful decisions, sending off a Greek player for two soft fouls after Bundaslega star Lewandowski gave Poland the lead on 17. But that card incensed a dreadful Greek team to a 51st minute equalizer through Salpigidis on 51 minutes and nearly won it when the Polish keeper had to go after conceding an obvious penalty for a red card, but the Greeks missing it with ease. Good game though.
Russia 4 Czech Republic 1
My dark horse tip Russia overran an average Czech outfit with four superb goals. Most of their squad is based in Russia and the first eleven mostly cut from two or three teams, record cap and goal scorers a plenty in the starting line up. They play domestic summer football over there and very experienced in footy in June, Arsharvin and Pavlyuchenko superb. 20-1 outsiders look strong.
Group 2 --
Denmark 1 Holland 0
Denmark provided the big shock of the tournament by beating Holland as Michael Krohn-Dehli smashed the ball through the keeper's legs from an angle. The orange machine now has to at least draw with Germany and beat Portugal in their last two games to stay alive.
Germany 1 Portugal 0
A rather negative Portugal side sat back for two long and eventually let Gomez in for a towering header for one-nil. The tanks were up and running and can now illuminate Holland from the tournament with another win. Germany are efficient if not brilliant.
Group 3 --
Italy 1 Spain 1
Spain went without a striker and Italy went with six at the back but still an exciting game. Di Natale grabbed the lead before Spain struck back with an intricate Fabregas goal two minutes later from a great pass from City's David Silva. Torres came on and missed loads of easy chances, why they didn't play a striker, you presume. Balotteli surprisingly stayed on the pitch, no red card or threat to walk off or the obvious racist abuse heard.
Ireland 1 Croatia 3
Ireland made the fatal mistake of thinking they can play international football and so gave the silky skilled Croats all the space they needed to run the Irish ragged. Like the Czechs, they could get to round two on their attacking skills alone. Everton's Jelavic's hit a classy winner.
Group Four --
England 1 France 1
It was relief not jubilation in Donetsk as England competently survived the French artisans, Lescott's towering header quickly annulled by Nasri beating Hart on the near post. You already get the feeling England are a one goal a game team and sit on that. For the first time I can remember there were empty seats at an England match. A Ukrainian jail is a long way from home if you do kick it off.
Ukraine 2 Sweden 1
The host got off to a great start in the packed full national stadium with a superb atmosphere with a brace from their talisman Andrei Shevchenko, and good goals to, the monster that is Ibrahimovic opening the scoring for Sweden. If England have to get something in the last game against these guys and the crowd it won't be easy.
Czech 2 Greece 1
Very poor game of mistakes saw the Czechs two up in ten minutes before the Greeks nicked one back from a dreadful mistake by keeper Czech. No one will be sad to see the Greeks go home. Chelsea may have to think about getting a new keeper as this guy has clearly gone over the top.
Russia 1 Poland 1
There is history between the two countries, make no mistake, and not just the war. A plane carrying most of the Polish government mysteriously crashed in Russia, the Poles all but blaming Putin of mass murder. That hate was on the streets of Warsaw as violence kicked of before and after the game, the Russian fans organizing a goose-stepping through the city burning Polish flags. But the game was fabulous, cheap David Beckham version Jakob Blaszczykowski with the splendid equalizer after early domination by Russia saw Dzagoev's 37th minute strike put them on top. Those four points for Advocat's side may already be enough as the Greeks were up next.
Portugal 3 Denmark 2
The second game means catch up time and Portugal duly delivered the win they would have penciled in at the start of the tournament, although Ronaldo again off form, as he is every tournament. Portugal did blow a 2-0 lead in a pulsating game and rescued only by a late winner from Valera.
Germany 2 Holland 1
Germany still looked the favorites after putting Holland away in a top quality encounter, Gomez early brace halved by Van Persie's first goal of the tournament. In the group of death its Holland having the life squeezed out of them. Germany are crunching through the gears.
Italy 1 Croatia 1
Italian football loves draw and if you have read any books about their domestic game you will know they actually got bonuses for getting draws in the 1970s and 80s in Seria A and B. That attitude has fed through to their international team over the decades and earned them four World Cups and one European Championship. If you don't get beat you go forward in these competitions. Italy led here but the plucky Croats leveled it late on, Mario Bilic, not Balotelli, the decisive factor this time.
Spain 4 Ireland 0
As expected a one-sided match saw Spain pass the Irish into the ground, 859 of them to be precise, a tournament record. Torres started, and then finished, twice, classy goals too. Fabregas also double his tally with a fierce smack across keeper Shay Given before Silva rolled it in like Tiger Woods for four.
Ukraine 0 France 2
The Ukraine is a country of two halves, the East that speaks Russian and the Orange Revolution West that's speaks Ukraine, never the twain shall meet. Donetsk, tonight's venue in the West, usually sees the visiting fans from the east of the Ukraine booing the home team, as happened in the qualifiers. But it was the thunder storm that provided the big noise of discontent, angry forked lightning looking like a black hole opening up above the stadium, having the players running for their lives, the first time I have ever seen an international stopped for rain. But they completed the game and it was a perfunctory victory for the French, the Ukraine guys tiring on the boggy pitch to two quality strikes.
England 3 Sweden 2
England finally beat Sweden in an international tournament and a dramatic game too. It was third division tactics from Hodgson early on with put it on the head of the gormless Andy Carroll stuff, who met it perfectly for 1- 0 on 28 minutes, but Sweden going 2-1 up with the same tactics by the 60th minute. Carroll was like the angry giant in the fairytale, throwing off the little people as he drew players away from Welbeck. But once Walcott came on the game turned back England's way and his excellent long strike for 2-2 and the pass for Welbeck to flick it in sealed a thrilling victory. Rooney returns for match three.
Group One Deciders --
Greece 1 Russia 0 & Czech 1 Poland 0
I think it's fair to say these were not the expected results, Russia and Poland failing to go through. Who honestly thought the Czech would top the group after losing 4-1 to the Russians? But the count back system puts you above a team you beat if you finish level on points and that was Russia's problem, a shock goal just before half-time by the Greek captain throwing the group on its head. Poland had chances against the Czechs but not enough talent to convert them, no competitive international football their problem, still no wins in the European championships after 80 years of the competition.
Group Two Deciders --
Portugal 2 Holland 1 & Germany 2 Denmark 1.
Germany won all three games and Holland lost all three games, letting in the improving Portuguese, powered on by a superb Ronaldo performance, the players finally conceding to his giant ego and just giving him the ball, as did the Dutch. Germany did enough to finish off the Danes.
Group Three Deciders -
Italy 2 Ireland 0 and Spain 1 Croatia 0
Routine in the end with a poor Ireland going home without scoring and Spain seeing of Croatia. Both sides did enough and Mario Balotteli even found time to score, gesticulating wildly to coach Lippi on just how good he thinks he is even though that was his first touch.
Group Four Deciders ---
England 1 Ukraine 0 and France 0 Sweden 2
The returning Wayne Rooney had the simplest of headers to open the scoring and, rather oddly, his first tournament finals goal since he exploded on the scene in Euro 2004, drawing a blank in the World Cups of 2006 & 10 and England absent from Euro2008. The Ukraine equalized with one of those that seemed to cross the line with the goal line official clueless on what to do. He clearly didn't want to make the call and so what's the referee to do? I can't see Blatter staying with these fourth officials as they don't do anything in the game, especially spotting shirt pulls and line decisions. Presumably refs tell them not tot make the calls. France suffered a surprise defeat to Sweden so to avoid Italy and earn Spain in the quarter-finals.
>>>>>>>>>>>Quarter - Finals<<<<<<<<<<<<
Portugal 1 Czech Republic 0
Ronaldo led from the front with another brilliant performance, the way he did for United and does for Madrid, heading down and in for the winner. The Czechs were never in it and expected to lose.
Germany 4 Greece 2
A perfunctory win in the end and the most one-sided quarter-final I can remember. The Germans are so arrogant on the ball they don't fear losing it or the match, always able to equalize. They were so confident they rested players for the match, almost unheard of in international knockout stages. But its 16 years since they won anything?
Spain 2 France 0
Somewhat bizarrely Spain have never beaten France in a competitive match, until now, a feeble Le Bleu seen off comfortably by the World and European champions, a brace by Alonso enough to do the job.
England 0 Italy 0 (Italy win on pens)
Same old really, England holding out in the heat against far superior opposition, technically and tactically outplayed. Pirlo's arrogant penalty is what we had when we had 'Gaza' and Waddle but that's been coached out of kids for the last twenty years and now we have Andy Carroll, the hod- carrier of international football.
Italian football is riddled with corruption and performance enhancing drugs and yet the footballing Gods let them progress every time. But if you show fear as England on every game you don't deserve to win. And when I say fear I mean scared to concede by attacking.
Spain 0 Portugal 0 (Spain win on pens)
Spain knew if they stopped Ronaldo they stopped Portugal and it proved the case, the great one even denied the chance to take a penalty by his own ego, opting to take the fifth one and glory. Spain had won 4-2 by then.
Germany v Italy
Germany has never beaten Italy in the knockout stages in major tournaments and they made it eight -out-of-eight here with a Balotelli brace killing them off. It's almost as if they are freed up from the match fixing shackles of domestic Seria A football they are chained to and so get to express their passion, patriotism and freedoms in internationals. Orzil popped a late penalty in but Italy and Pirlo were still running the show.
Spain 2 Italy 0
Perfunctory was the best way to describe Spain becoming the first team to get a hatrick of international tournament victories, proclaimed as best the international team ever in some quarters. Silva struck an angled and reaction header to open the scoring and then Alba raced on to a through ball for the second. The Italians risked all their subs early to get back in the game but when they lost one of them to injury the ten me were out passed ad the score doubled in the last twenty minutes, Torres clipping it past Buffon third and so claiming a surprise Golden Boot and then team mate Mata wrapping it up at the last for that 4-0 score line, the predominately Barcelona-Real Madrid team on top form. Italy were not great and again resorted to the long ball to Balotelli all match. But for me Brazil of the 1970s and 1980s remain the best team ever though.
So the violence quickly faded once the thug supporters teams were knocked out and we had a good tournament. Spain won and the Germans didn't and the circus moves on to qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil. Now that will be well worth the two year wait. But will England make it? I don't think so.
Hark; I can here the distant thunder of heavy galloping thuds, Cheer a plenty in this neighbourhood. England, England screamed by hoarse vocals - those female cries of utter anguish, their bottom lip trembling mercilessly - it's nearly here again. Euro 2012 is on the horizon - fear not our brave lions - for you are now my dark horse - nostrils flared, brown eyes wild, hooves pounding the hard green turf in Poland and Ukraine. To be a man is to face your fears; you've faced your fears, gallant, victorious men on German soil, defeated the enemy and prospered - Feed off the glory of glorious Chelsea, the British Champions of Europe. They're not a mere horticultural show any longer, but a football force. Thank thee to Drogba a stallion among men - Chelsea's glory will rule for 365 days and nights. Gold has fallen at their feet, 100 million pounds Stirling - Thou Engerland yee must bask in their triumph, the time has cometh. Forget those tired limbs, the number of noughts in your bank accounts. Yes, the schedule has been tough - the long season has taken its toll. Losing the workhorse Lampard to a thigh injury, it is a time to dig deep, kick turf, and show your gritted gnashes. Bellow your big vocals of encouragement; mop the beads of effort from your fellow countrymen. Stand firm, chin up, shoulders back when thee national anthem plays with familiarity and gusto. Except this time, in Jubilee year, it'll mean that little bit more.
Dear friends, standby Gerrard our dependable captain, a man chosen by the great tactician Roy Hodgeson; his reputation not tarnished by frilly glamour or celebrity unlike the chiselled jaw of Beckham before thee, who'll dance to a different beat, the 'Olympics'. Labouring about like decrepit old lions, aided with their oxygen tanks. Alas, real men (not including Madrid) will shy away from such jolly ribbon gaieties. The hardened head of Terry, a defence extraordinaire; a football mind reader - the face for 'King of Shaves' for men - indeed; his experience on and off the pitch is an example to the young and easily led. If it doesn't kill you, you'll grow stronger because of it. Never a truer word has passed a philosopher's lips. King Henry V would've knighted his focus and tenacity - albeit, King Roman has given Terry the Midas touch - all wags beware. Now for fire in the lion's cannon, the England has, Cole, everyman's jealousy. Gifted on the pitch, as well as off - he can't do no wrong with the Geordie beauty; 'our Cheryl'. Now yee conquer Europe, now make thee fellow countryman proud, son - Go forth and double up the silverware - you to Cahill, yee smelt the glory - get a scent for it. Be like Sir Alexander Ferguson, success doth indeed warms up exposed cockles beneath his Scottish clothe of tartan.
England has been blessed for having Young - a fearless lion who moisturises - the sharpest of our strikers, other young-guns whose namesake resemble food brands; Oxlade - Chamberlain - and Baines will tread the turf with a purpose, eager to make a stud mark on the battle grounds. Terraces in Poland and Ukraine filled with red mist, harbouring rage and intensity beyond what our brave lions have experienced as far - Like all men; good men, a stiff upper lip will be on their brow. All honoured representing their nation, up for the battle. That's the spirit; my dark horses. Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. 2010 is long gone, a 'bygone error'. Don't let the ghosts of Sepp Blatter who're scared of goal-line technology, rear its ugly head and spook the dark horse's progress. Now yee have mastered the penalty shoot-out thee Blatter is now tinkering with the concept of the golden goal - Engerland; rise above those that tinker. Step away from the Old People's Residential Homes Rooney, considering you're suspended from the first two battles. You are still our ultimate lion. Young enough to remember being young and wealthy enough to buy Moldova - England still look upon you as our saviour flag-ship superhero, our lion-heart - albeit you've done nowt for years. You gotta have faith! Just ask George Michael next time you're in London's 'Hyde Park'.
And where success rests sweetly in our Hart, after defeating our red devils, we ask you all to be like a band of brothers for the next five weeks. Don't be disheartened by Englebert HumperDinck's Eurovision espionage; he is doing well as a piece of Eurovision museum artefacts. There is no time to pity mediocrity when you're beckoning for greatness. Our countrymen and women are straining upon the start. The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge, Cry 'God for Gerrard, England, and Saint George!'
What I really want to know is why in heavens name given that England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland failed to qualify for this tournament do TV channels insists on using prime time television slots to show a bunch of foreigners play football even if they are better at it than we are. The other night I settled down to watch Gavin and Stacey only to find BBC three showing some match between two teams which to make matters worse according to my boyfriend it did not matter who won because one team was already knocked out and the other team had qualified.
Given that we have specialist sports channels these days that show non stop sport surely it would make more sense for them to show the majority of these games with only the final stage games shown on terrestial chanels.
The tournament is made up of the top 16 countries in Europe who are divided into four groups who play each other once on a league basis. The top two teams go through to an eight team knock out system resulting in a final. The defending champions Greece are already out and tonight either France or Italy who contested the last world cup final will be knocked out, in fact they both could go. I know all of this because the boyfriend is part Italian which menas he will be cheering them on and over the past week I have often had to sit there and listen to hm swear at the TV, unfortunately this is in English as the only Italian he knows in Mama.
According to him the most likely winners are Holland who I like because the fans all dress the same in orange however you can never trust the Germans and Portugal look quite strong. As for my opinion well I just want to know when it will be all over although apparently that just means the football season will be starting again.
As an Englishman and huge football fan i was obviously gutted when that clown Steve McClaren failed to get England to the Euro 2008 finals. However, as i love football i was always going to watch the tournament and as i am part Polish, put a £2 bet on Poland at 40-1 at the start of the tournament and supported them.
The following is my view on every team competing in the tournament, how they have performed and how i feel they may perform.
For me these have to be considered as one of the favourites, before the tournament began, i considered them the strongest team in it and their performances thus far, especially the performance against Turkey in the opening game did little to convince me otherside. Ignore their 2-0 defeat to Switzerland as they had already qualified and fielded a weakened team. They are a firm favourite.
Key Player/s: Cristiano Ronaldo, Moutinho, Pepe.
An underrated side in my opinion, they were strong against Portugal in the opening game despite losing and i thought they may come through and get second place after that game and they have proved me correct. Their hugely impressive comeback against Czech republic from 2-0 down to win 3-2 with time firmly against them showed great courage and i would consider them a potential dark horse.
Key Player/s: Nihat, Sanli Tuncay.
In the past, these were the team i always considered as the dark horse in both this tournament and the World Cups. I feel now however that they are very much in a transition stage and really lack the pace and cutting edge they once had to be a threat.
Key Player/s: Cech, Ufalusi.
They were always going to be against it coming into this tournament being a small footballing nation and having the pressure of being hosts behind them. I feel however that they did themselves proud, especially with the Portugal victory and i felt very sorry for them for the manner they lost to Turkey in. One thing that cried out to me was why Hakan Yakin wasnt started in the first game as he was superb in the later two games.
Key Player/s: Frei (unfortunately injured early in first game), Hakan Yakin.
Before the tournament began, everyone in the media was considering this team to be THE dark horse of the tournament and i was unconvinced. After their opening victory against Austria i was still unconvinced as they looked shaky but their performance against Germany changed my view of them. They pass the ball superbly at times and i feel the game against Turkey in the quarter finals could now go either way.
Key Player/s: Krankjar, Olic, Modric.
A team considered by many, including myself, to lift this trophy. They came out and absolutely destroyed Poland in the opening game much to my disgust! with their smooth passing and clinical finishing. A blip against Croatia meant they had to win on the final group day but they did, securing a mouth watering quarter final tie with Portugal. I back the winners of that game to make the final.
Key Player/s: Podolski, Klosse, Frings.
The smallest footballing nation competing in the finals have done themselves proud. They didnt record a victory but held Poland to a draw, again to my disgust! and they were not embarassed in any of the games and can hold their heads high.
Key Player/s: Ivanschitz, Pogatetz.
For me, not just as a fan, just as a general football fan, Poland are the flops of the tournament. I thoroughly expected it to be very close between Poland and Croatia to join Germany in the quarter finals. A huge dissapointment from the Poles especially as the strongest qualifiers.
Key Player/s: Boruc, Guerriero.
Without doubt the star show so far in the tournament. I expected them to be good but not great before the tournament but they have come out and looked absolutely world class. They ripped apart current world champions Italy 3-0 and another huge side in France 4-1 and i fear for Romania going into the final game (i write this on the night of 16th June - Group C and D final games not yet played) They are my pick to go all the way and win the tournament and based on their performances i would back them for a Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 double.
Key Player/s: Sneijder, Van Nistlerooy, Robben.
The suprise package of the tournament for me, the media tipped them as 12-1, suggesting that they were outsiders and i heavily disputed this before hand. However the 0-0 draw with France and the 1-1 draw with Italy have shown me what they were talking about. I admire the courage in their play and am now a fan of them and hope they go through at the expense of France and Italy, this can happen if both games are drawn on the last day, or if Romania win they are through. However despite this, i wouldnt expect them to go past the quarter finals.
Key Player/s: Mutu, Chivu.
The old men of the tournament. Always technically brilliant and they showed after the destruction from Holland that they were still technically great against Romania, however they had no cutting edge and i think Italys time has gone as they looked too slow and unable to cope with the pace of other teams. If they go through, which i hope they dont, i do not think they will get any further than the quarter finals.
Key Player/s: Buffon, Camoranesi.
I do not understand France. They have technically superb individuals in their side yet look hopeless at times against strong sides. They had no cutting edge against Romania and were torn apart by the talent of Holland. Like Italy, i feel that their time has been and gone. I do not believe they will progress from this group and if they do. like Italy i do not feel they would get any further than the quarter finals.
Key Player/s: Gallas, Henry.
The famous underachievers in world football. I expected them to do well but not greatly in this tournament and i feel this may still be the case. They destroyed Russia in the opening game and looked sensational but then struggled to defeat Sweden and were quite fortuitous to do so in my opinion. A semi final appearance will be their final hurdle i feel as i believe Holland will beat them to the final. However, they do have the ability to prove me wrong and win the tournament if everything clicks.
Key Player/s: Villa, Xavi, Torres.
The Swedes have always been a favourite side of mine. Being an Aston Villa fan (that may cost me a crown haha!) i have always had interest in them because of Olof Mellberg the ex Villa player being a Sweden regular as well as Marcus Allback for the same reasons. I also respect them as a nation as the people and country seem to be very nice in general and i always wish they do well. Anyway, they have always been a strong side and i felt odds of 33-1 were very harsh. They were far superior to Greece in the opening game and deserved to take a point from the Spain game. I feel they will draw with Russia tomorrow, which would take them through due to superior goal difference. However i do not expect them to go further than the quarter finals although i hope they do.
Key Player/s: Ibrahimovic, Mellberg.
A team that varies from game to game, can destroy the best one day and fall to the weak another day. I think the Sweden game will prove how good they actually are as they were ripped apart by Spain and winning the last two games in their group would show great courage. I firmly believe they would fall at the quarter finals.
Key Player/s: Pavlyuchenko, Semak.
Greece: All i can say about Greece, is they were exposed completely for the boring, terrible football they play and did exactly as i expected them to! Terrible.
Key Player/s: Tough to say - Karagounis, Charisteas i guess.
Overall, the tournament has been fantastic so far and will only get better in the quarter finals onwards to the final. My pick to win the tournament is Holland although im sure many people will have their other favourites.
I advise that you tune in and watch the remainder of the games if you have yet to watch any!
Euro 2008 is quadrennial football tournament hosted for European countries in of course a European country. These times round the hosts are Austria and Switzerland.
The tournament is only been going since 7th June with 16 teams playing in group matches. There are four groups. Look at the tables which are after the review. Anyway this tournament is absolutely fabulous; matches have been much better than any one would have imagined. The outstanding team so far is Holland. It has beaten world champs Italy and France in its group. Other teams to look out for are Spain, finally showing some class, Portugal and of course old Germans. These are the top teams. But anyone can surprise as have been the case in the past with Greece and Denmark winning.
Euro 2008 is the 13th tournament held so far. It is only second best to the world cup as the class of teams is far superior overall to those in any other corner of the world.
Two things sadden me about this tournament. England failed to qualify and both of the home nations are out. Other than that party one dudes because we are going to see some of the best footy on the television screens.
Tables will be updated later so come back and check.
I want to thank BBC for using their information in the form of the tables.
16 June 2008 09:44
P GD PTS
3 2 6
3 0 6
3 Czech Republic
3 -2 3
3 0 3
16 June 2008 21:40
P GD PTS
3 3 9
3 2 6
3 -2 1
3 -3 1
13 June 2008 21:47
P GD PTS
2 6 6
2 0 2
2 -3 1
2 -3 1
14 June 2008 21:37
P GD PTS
2 4 6
2 1 3
2 -2 3
2 -3 0