Category Archives: Match reports

Player Ratings: Southampton 4, Aston Villa 1

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

A miserable second half performance sees Villa drop their third match of the season. I don’t have much to say about it.

Record: 1-1-3, 4 pts; 5 goals for, 9 against
Guzan – 6; Not really his fault we gave up four, besides the foul at the end, but hopefully he won’t be back on the bench next game.
Lichaj – 5; Poor defensively, but possibly even worse offensively
Vlaar – 6; Maybe not his best game, but it certainly wasn’t his fault the way Southampton carved us open in the second half.
Clark – 6; Like Vlaar, spent most of the second half trying to cope with attacking players allowed too much space by the midfield. Probably didn’t close Lambert down quickly enough on the first goal.
Lowton – 5; A fine attacking fullback who can’t defend. Seems to fall asleep at key moments (goals two and three, all the Everton goals). But hey, who else are we gonna play there?
El-Ahmadi – 5; Probably his poorest game of the season
Ireland – 6; Wasn’t particularly great in the first half, but we were much worse without him in the second half.
Bannan – 5.5; Was active at least. Has the tendency of trying too many long crossfield balls when the simple pass will do.
Holman – 5; Spent too much time trying to help out Lowton on the right and gave the ball away often when he had it. Good attacking player, but not a great midfielder.
Bent – 6; Scored a goal and was reasonably active, at least for him.
Benteke – 5.5; A threat on set pieces and had one nice long pass for Bent, but the team resorts to the long ball when he’s on the field, and it got them nowhere. Maybe better as an impact sub?
Westwood – 5; Didn’t look prepared for Championship level midfielders.
Agbonlahor – NR; Don’t recall him touching the ball. Where was he, on the left?
Bennett – NR; Didn’t look much better than Lichaj after replacing him.

It’s just one game, but it sure was disappointing. I don’t think we’ll get relegated, but this is going to be another long, frustrating season.
For the next match, I’d like it if we returned Weimann to the starting lineup and maybe gave Stevens or Bennett a runout at one of the fullback spots.

Match Report: Aston Villa 1, Everton 3

Goals: Aston Villa — El Ahmadi 75 (Lichaj); Everton — Pienaar 3 (Naismith) , Fellaini 31 (Jagielka), Jelavic 44 (Baines)

Shots: Aston Villa 9 (2 on target); Everton 22 (6)

Possession: Aston Villa 39 %; Everton 61 %

Everton crush Aston Villa – their first win over the team in their last 12 matches, and their first at Villa Park in seven years – behind first-half goals from Steven Pienaar, Maroane Fellaini and Nivica Jelavic. It was a horrendous performance from Villa, who see the optimism behind the appointment of new manager Paul Lambert rapidly diminishing – this team simply isn’t good enough to compete in the Premier League. Makes you long for the days where Everton were almost as good as us in the fight for European spots, doesn’t it? Karim El Ahmadi had a consolation goal for Villa, who actually were much better in the second half, but it really doesn’t matter. Everton will probably finish somewhere 5th-7th again this season, though I’d love to see them finish in a Champions League place. As for Villa, Lambert got his team selection wrong; they sorely missed the creativity of Stephen Ireland and Brett Holman, and the right-sided combination of Matt Lowton and Chris Herd was overrun, though in fairness, so was the rest of the team. Terrible.

Player Ratings

Shay Given, GK – 4; Tentative in goal. Arguably could’ve stopped either of the first two goals. Is it time to give Brad Guzan a start?

Nathan Baker, D – 6; Looked much more comfortable at left back, though he did let Jagielka get by for the second goal. More assured than Ciaran Clark in central defense once he replaced him.

Ron Vlaar, D – 6.5; Once again solid at the back. He looks composed on the ball too.

Ciaran Clark, D – 4.5; Outjumped for Fellaini’s header, sent off somewhat harshly for a professional foul in the second half. Needs to be better.

Matt Lowton, D – 5; Pienaar and Baines owned him on the left wing. Welcome to the Premier League, kid.

Karim El-Ahmadi, M – 6.5; Started off slowly and didn’t see much of the ball, but played better as the game wore on. He looks like a good signing, still.

Barry Bannan, M – 5; Performance will once again raise questions about whether he’s too lightweight for the Premier League. Brought little to the table.

Chris Herd, M – 5; Lambert’s decision to play him on the right raises the question of why he didn’t just start him at right back. Tried hard, but offered nothing going forward.

Charles N’Zogbia, M – 5; Probably leading the league in the most dribbles out of bounds. I feel like I say this every week, but at some point, he just needs to be dropped, no matter how much he cost or what he did before.

Nathan Delfouneso, M – 5; Another strange selection from Lambert. Probably not match-sharp, and certainly not an attacking midfielder. Replaced at halftime.

Darren Bent, F – 6; Once again, never got the ball, played no role. You have to wonder how long he’s going to want to stick around unless some decent players are signed.

Brett Holman, SUB – 6; Villa looked better with him on the pitch. Should be starting.

Eric Lichaj, SUB – 6; Brought energy off the bench. Probably will start on the left against Newcastle with Clark banned because of his red card.

Andreas Weimann, SUB – NR; Only on briefly; hit the post late on. Should be ahead of Delfouneso in the pecking order, you would think.

Grade: F. Though the performance late on with Holman, Lichaj and Weimann was better, overall, this was as bad – or worse – than any of the matches under Alex McLeish. In fact, I’d go so far as saying this is the worst I’ve EVER seen Villa play at home. Villa need four or five new signings, or they very well could be in the Championship next year. Suggestions for the next match: 1. Sign new players; 2. Start Guzan for Given; 3. Give Holman and Ireland back their starting spots; 4. Drop N’Zogbia; 5. Put Baker in the center of defense and see if he plays well enough to keep Clark out; 6. Start Lichaj either on the right or left; 7. Start Weimann instead of Delfouneso, or better yet, sign a striker

Match Report: West Ham 1, Aston Villa 0

Not a great start for Brett Holman (AVFC)

Goals: Nolan, 40 (Vaz Te, assist)

Shots: West Ham – 7 (1 on target); Aston Villa 13 (2)

Possession: West Ham – 34 %; Aston Villa – 66 %

The first match in the Paul Lambert era at Aston Villa and the first back in the Premiership for West Ham ends up being a pretty dull affair, with West Ham grabbing the three points thanks to a Kevin Nolan goal that was initially flagged for offsides. Aside from that goal, neither team really threatened to score. It was a bit of a weird alternate universe thing for Villa fans, who are usually accustomed to defending and looking for occasional counterattacking opportunities, but this time had the lion’s share of possession but couldn’t break down a well-organized West Ham defense. It remains to be seen whether Villa will be more of an attacking force against teams that play more open, expansive football, but on the evidence of this, they won’t unless the bring in a few more players.

Player Ratings

Shay Given, GK – 6; Didn’t have much to do except for the one goal, which wasn’t his fault

Nathan Baker, D – 6; Defended reasonably well, but didn’t offer any width at all in attack

Ron Vlaar, D – 8; Solid at the back. Even got a cut and bled everywhere, which is always a good sign for your central defender

Ciaran Clark, D – 7; Occasionally shaky, but didn’t do anything that led to a goal, which is good enough

Matt Lowton, D – 6; Showed less of the willingness to get forward than he did in preseason matches

Karim El-Ahmadi, M – 7; Combined well with Stephen Ireland, particularly in the first half, but had a few bad giveaways as well

Fabian Delph, M – 6.5; Looked a bit nervous initially, but had a couple uncharacteristic runs into the attacking half, which is a hopeful sign

Stephen Ireland, M – 7; Probably the most forward-thinking Villa player, but none of his through balls or shots came to anything

Charles N’Zogbia, M – 5.5; Another disappointing performance from N’Zogbia; you have to wonder how much longer he will start when he plays like this

Brett Holman, M – 5; Runs around a lot; unfortunately, looked more tentative than he had in preseason and put in a couple woeful crosses. Must be better.

Darren Bent, F – 6; Never got the ball, so it’s hard to give him a rating. Had one shot which was blocked. Needs better service. Same old story

Andreas Weimann, SUB – 6; Didn’t get the ball enough to do anything

Gary Gardner, SUB – 5.5; Didn’t impress when he had the ball

Barry Bannan, SUB – 6; Didn’t do much with the ball after coming on as a sub

Grade: C-. Opening day matches are always iffy – particularly in away games – but on the basis of this performance, Lambert has a lot to do to turn this team around, injuries or no. They passed the ball around well, but didn’t seem to have any idea what to do when West Ham was defending. Baker was fine defensively at left back, saving a certain goal late on, but offered nothing supporting the attack. N’Zogbia and Holman ran around a lot but offered zero penetration. Must be better.

Friendly: Philadelphia Union 0, Aston Villa 1

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Normally I’m bored by friendly matches, but since my team was playing this one, I thought it would be a good enough excuse to do a write-up. Villa opened their 3-match U.S. tour (the other matches being against the Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers) by playing the Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. I get the appeal of bringing European teams in for friendlies, but I imagine for the manager and some of the players, having to stop in the middle of the season to play a meaningless game against a team that will probably play reserves for half of the match has to be frustrating. But as the MLS continues to grow, we’ll see more of these. Anyway, on to the match.

Aston Villa’s lineup was made up mostly of players who will be expected to start, along with the odd wildcard (Nathan Delfouneso, Barry Bannan). They dominated the first half – particularly the first 20 minutes or so, and Delfouneso in particular had several chances to score he didn’t take. He ended up making up for it late in the first half, though, curling the ball into Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s top right corner after a layoff from new signing Brett Holman. In the second half, both teams made a flurry of changes, and the Union were probably the better team the last 25 minutes or so.

Overall, it wasn’t a particularly exciting game. Villa certainly looked like the better side for most of the match, though the Union had a couple players on the pitch who I don’t recall seeing in an MLS match. Villa will take heart in continued (after their preseason opening win over Burton Albion) strong play from new signings Holman, Karim El Ahmadi and Matt Lowton, and it seems like it has been ages since Delfouneso scored. It’s also nice to see Villa passing the ball around quickly after the drudgery of last season’s play under fired manager Alex McLeish. Next up is Chicago, who should provide much more of a test, at least depending on how many regulars get on the pitch for them. Philadelphia looked good in spots in this match, but you could tell they were struggling to keep up with the speed that Villa moved the ball around.

Euro 2012: Match Day 9-10 highlights

Despite his size, Futbal Kitty had no trouble keeping up with the aging Greek midfield

Sorry for the delay in updating, but if you’re anticipating regular, multiple-post-a-day type stuff the next couple weeks, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But I’ll do what I can. On to the games!

TV schedule

Group A

Greece 1, Russia 0: Greece improbably both qualifies for the quarterfinals and knocks Russia out on the final day, thanks to a goal from Giorgos Karagounis. Russia had 24 shots on goal but failed to score, and after a rousing start to the campaign, throttling the Czech Republic, whimpered their way out of the tournament after a draw with Poland and this game.

Poland 0, Czech Republic 1: The co-hosts continue their pattern of getting out to flying starts to matches, then gradually petering out at the end. In this case, they didn’t even escape with a draw like the last two matches and were eliminated at the first stage. Petr Jiracek scored the loan goal for the Czechs, who rallied satisfyingly to qualify for the next round, but don’t look like a very threatening team, particularly with Milan Baros as the lone striker.

Final Group A standings

*1. Czech Republic 2-0-1, 6 pts
*2. Greece 1-1-1, 4 pts
3. Russia 1-1-1, 4 pts
4. Poland 0-2-1, 2 pts
*Qualified for next round

Player of the Group

Giorgos Karagounis, midfielder, Greece. After one half of their first match, Greece looked dead and buried. After 10 minutes of their second match, Greece looked even more dead and buried. Starting their third match, Greece looked very unlikely to advance to the next round. Then Karagounis stepped up with the lone goal in the match to send them through and break Russian hearts, or at least, they would have if Russians had hearts. He’s 35, but exemplifies the “Never Say Die” (I hate myself right now) attitude that has the Greeks believing they can win this competition like they did in 2004, though let’s be honest: the Greeks aren’t going to win this competition.

Group B

Denmark 1, Germany 2: Arguably the dullest 3-goal match you’ll ever watch ended with the Mannschaft booking their place in the quarterfinals as expected. Goals were scored by new Arsenal signing Lukas Podolski and Denmark’s Michael Krohn-Dehli, then the winner for Lars Bender. It wasn’t a bad showing by the Danes, who were widely expected to finish last in the group and didn’t. Germany was imperious in this round and won’t be satisfied with anything less than the title, though obviously Spain will have something to say about that.

Portugal 2, Netherlands 1: Cristiano Ronaldo finally wakes up and fires Portugal into the second round with a 2-goal match. He probably could’ve had more – he had 12 shots on goal, only two less than the Dutch team. For the Netherlands, who got a goal from Rafael “Play defense? What? Me?” Van Der Vaart and faded meekly with no points from the competition. Considering they were the World Cup runners-up, this has to be considered one of the worst showings from a major team in this tournament in a long time. Well, since France in 2008, anyway.

Final Group B standings

*1. Germany 3-0-0, 9 pts
*2. Portugal 2-0-1, 6 pts
3. Denmark 1-0-2, 3 pts
4. Netherlands 0-0-3, 0 pts
*Qualified for next round

Player of the Group

Mario Gomez, forward, Germany. There were several candidates for this, and though Gomez didn’t score in the final group match, considering that he scored all of Germany’s goals in the other two, I think he was probably deserving. Gomez is often ridiculed by fans, both German and otherwise, but his combination of size and skill will make him extremely difficult for opposing defenses to deal with in this tournament moving forward. It’s saying a lot that his form is keeping Miroslav Klose (63 goals for Germany) on the bench.

Power Rankings

1. Germany (3-0-0, 9 pts). Beat Denmark 2-1. It wasn’t a pretty match, but all Germany had to do against Denmark was not lose. With *what should be* an easy match against Greece, Spain could be their semifinal opponent. Up next: Greece, June 21

2. Spain (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Croatia, June 18

3. Portugal (2-0-1, 6 pts). Beat Netherlands 2-1. No one was really expecting Portugal to advance to the second round, but they were excellent defensively and mostly opportunistic in attack (except for Ronaldo in the first two matches). Can they win this whole thing? Up next: Czech Republic, June 21

4. Czech Republic (2-0-1, 6 pts). Beat Poland 1-0. Group A ended up being much more entertaining than anyone expected, and after getting thumped by Russia, the Czechs made some changes to their squad, came back and were the best team in the group. They deserve their second round appearance, though Portugal will likely be happy to be taking them on. Up next: Portugal, June 21

5. France (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Sweden, June 19

6. Croatia (1-1-0, 4 pts).  Spain, June 18

7. England (1-1-0 4 pts). Up next: Ukraine, June 19

8. Greece (1-1-1, 4 pts). Beat Russia 1-0. After the second match, I thought there was NO WAY that Greece would advance to the next round. They’re missing both central defenders through injury, probably the worst forwards at the Euros, and their two starting midfielders are in their mid-30s. But, they’re in the quarterfinals. Up next: Germany, June 21

9. Ukraine (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: England, June 19

10. Italy (0-2-0, 2 pts). Up next: Ireland, June 18

11. Russia (1-1-1, 4 pts). Lost to Greece 1-0. Poor, poor Russians. How does this team look so dynamic to start the tournament, then so wasteful and ineffective by the end. And thanks to fan trouble, they have a six-point deduction in attempting to qualify for the next Euros. Yuck. Up next: отдыхать

12. Denmark (1-0-2, 3 pts). Lost to Germany 2-1. The Danes will be disappointed at having given up the late goal to lose to Portugal, because they could very well be in the quarterfinals now. Nonetheless, it was a mostly good performance by them, except Christian Eriksen, who was terrible. Up next: Enjoying whatever season they’re having in Denmark right now

13. Poland (0-2-1, 2 pts). Lost to the Czech Republic 1-0. The Poles looked lively in attack, speedy and skillful, but couldn’t score goals when it counted. Now there are stories of players blaming mismanagement and not getting enough tickets for their family for the defeat. On the bright side, uhh … I heard Krakow is very beautiful this time of year. Up next: A mess of consonants and ill-fitting vowels

14. Sweden (0-0-2, 0 pts). Up next: France, June 19

15. Ireland (0-0-2, 0 pts). Up next: Italy, June 18

16. Netherlands (0-0-3, 0 pts). Lost to Portugal 2-1. Europe’s six-year love affair with the Dutch is probably over now, so it remains to be seen whether their players will return to Dutch club teams like PEC Zwolle and RKC Waalwijk after playing in the Champions League with the likes of Inter Milan and Bayern Munich the last few years. Up next: In-fighting, bitter recriminations, accusations

Player of the Euros So Far Rankings

1. Mario Gomez, Germany
2. Karim Benzema, France
3. David Silva, Spain
4. Mesut Ozil, Germany
5. Pepe, Portugal

Euro 2012: Match Day 8 highlights

Footy Kitty says “That should be a meow-llow card!”

TV schedule

Ukraine 0, France 2: The French make up for slogging through their initial match with England by playing nice football against a very game Ukraine side. Goals were scored by Jeremy Menez and Yohan Cabaye. With the win, France is on the cusp of advancing to the second round, particularly since Sweden is terrible. Ukraine get to play England for the right to join them (assuming France beats Sweden).

Sweden 2, England 3: Sweden rallies to take the lead in the second half against England, then contrives to throw it away, just like they did against Ukraine. Danny Welbeck scored the winner for England. The English took the lead through Andy Carroll, then Sweden rallied thanks to a Glen Johnson own goal and one from Olof “The Beard” Mellberg. After that, substitute Theo Walcott scored for England. Sweden is eliminated. England are struggling to impress, but they should be able to beat or at least draw with the Ukraine, which will be enough to move on.

Group D standings

1. France 1-1-0, 4 pts
2. England 1-1-0, 4 pts
3. Ukraine 1-0-1, 3 pts
4. Sweden 0-0-2, 0 pts

Who will advance

France will advance with a win against Sweden, or if Ukraine fails to beat England.
England will advance with a win or draw against Ukraine.
Ukraine will advance with a win against England.
Sweden is eliminated.

Tomorrow’s matches

Czech Republic v Poland, 9
Greece v Russia, 9

Power Rankings

1. Germany (2-0-0, 6 pts). Up next: Denmark, June 17

2. Spain (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Croatia, June 18

3. France (1-1-0, 4 pts). Beat Ukraine 2-0. After a dull first match, France impressed against the Ukraine, and with the porous Swedes up next, should waltz into the second round. Up next: Sweden, June 19

4. Croatia (1-1-0, 4 pts).  Spain, June 18

5. England (1-1-0 4 pts). Beat Sweden 3-2. Up next: Ukraine, June 19

6. Russia (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Greece, June 16

7. Portugal (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: Netherlands, June 17

8. Ukraine (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: England, June 19

9. Czech Republic (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: Poland, June 16

10. Italy (0-2-0, 2 pts). Up next: Ireland, June 18

11. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Germany, June 17

12. Poland (0-2-0, 2 pts). Up next: Czech Republic, June 16

13. Greece (0-1-1, 1 pt). Up next: Russia, June 16

14. Netherlands (0-0-2, 0 pts). Up next: Portugal, June 17

15. Sweden (0-0-2, 0 pts). Lost 3-2 to England. Sweden were billed as a dark horse to … well, not win the tourney, but advance to the second round, but their defensive inadequacy resulted in them getting bounced after two games. At least the girls are pretty up there. Up next: France, June 19

16. Ireland (0-0-2, 0 pts). Up next: Italy, June 18

Player of the Day: Karim Benzema, France. The Real Madrid striker performed excellently in the target man role, notching assists on both French goals.

Disappointment of the day: Sweden. An attacking force they might be, but blonde Adonises (or in Zlatan’s case, not so much) can’t defend or control midfield to save their life and have an early trip home for their troubles.

Goal of the day: Danny Welbeck, England

Best Striker At the Euros So Far Rankings

1. Mario Gomez, Germany
2. Mario Manzukic, Croatia
3. Karim Benzema, France
4. Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine
5. Robert Lewandowski, Poland

Euro 2012: Match Day 7 highlights

Antonio Cassano: Totally straight

TV Schedule

Croatia 1, Italy 1: Heading into this match, a lot of the debate was about whether or not Italy coach Cesare Prandelli would bench Antonio Cassano for saying he hoped there were no gays on the Italy team. In the end, Cassano played, and Italy were very good in the first half – particularly Andrea Pirlo, who is a great player, even if he’s an old man with terrible hair. Pirlo scored the opening goal with a fantastic free kick that you’ll see in the highlight reels. Croatia were much improved in the second half and equalized through Mario Mandzukic, who now has three goals, tied with Mario Gomez and Alan Dzagoev for the tourney high. Croatia were probably the stronger toward the end of the game, but didn’t score – nonetheless, they are tied with Spain atop Group C. Italy now needs to win its finale against Ireland by at least two goals to advance.

Spain 4, Ireland 0: Fernando Torres reminded all of us why he was once considered one of the world’s greatest strikers by scoring twice in Spain’s predictable thrashing of Ireland. David Silva and Cesc Fabregas also scored. Lost in the bad scoreline was a very good performance by Aston Villa keeper Shay Given, who had a number of very good saves in the match. Ireland are eliminated. Spain should advance to the second round with a draw against Croatia.

Group C standings

1. Spain 1-1-0, 4 pts
2. Croatia 1-1-0, 4 pts
3. Italy 0-2-0, 2 pts
4. Ireland 0-0-2, 0 pts

Who will advance

Spain will advance to the next round with a draw against Croatia, as long as Italy doesn’t beat Ireland by five goals. They will also advance if Italy fails to beat Ireland.
Croatia will advance with a draw against Spain as long as Italy doesn’t beat Ireland by three goals or beat Ireland by two goals and score at least three. They will also advance if Italy fails to beat Ireland.
Italy will advance with a win against Ireland by at least three goals or a two-goal win where Italy scores at least three times, or a win against Ireland coupled with a victory for either Spain or Croatia.
Ireland is eliminated.

Power Rankings

1. Germany (2-0-0, 6 pts). Up next: Denmark, June 17

2. Spain (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Ireland, June 14

3. Croatia (1-1-0, 4 pts). Drew 1-1 with Italy. The Croats had most of the good play in the second half of the match against Italy, but will be disappointed not to win. Now they will have to play their best to beat the defending champs. Up next: Spain, June 18

3. Ukraine (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: France, June 15

4. Russia (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Greece, June 16

5. Portugal (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: Netherlands, June 17

6. Czech Republic (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: Poland, June 16

7. Italy (0-2-0, 2 pts). After a solid first half, Italy narrowly escaped from their Croatia match with a point. They will need to score as many goals as possible against Ireland if they want to advance to the next round. Up next: Croatia, June 14

9. France (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ukraine, June 15

10. England (0-1-0 1 pt). Up next: Sweden, June 15

11. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Germany, June 17

12. Poland (0-2-0, 2 pts). Up next: Czech Republic, June 16

13. Sweden (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: England, June 15

14. Greece (0-1-1, 1 pt). Up next: Russia, June 16

15. Netherlands (0-0-2, 0 pts). Up next: Portugal, June 17

16. Ireland (0-0-2, 0 pts). The Irish fought hard, but just don’t have the talent to beat most of the teams in this tournament. Up next: Italy, June 18

Player of the Day: Fernando Torres, Spain. It seems like ages since Torres had a good game, but with two goals could he be returning to his past form?

Disappointment of the day: Richard Dunne, Ireland. Realistically, Dunne at the height of his youth would’ve had trouble with this Spain team, but now in his 30s, he definitely couldn’t cope with their speed or skill.

Goal of the day: Andrea Pirlo, Italy

All-Euro All-Disappointing Rankings

1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
2. Christian Eriksen, Denmark
3. Ashley Young, England
4. Ibrahim Affelay, Netherlands
5. Robin Van Persie, Netherlands

Euro 2012: Match Day 6 highlights

Ronaldo pranced around the field like his teammates owed him in Portugal’s 3-2 win over Denmark

TV Schedule

Portugal 3, Denmark 2: Arguably the best match of the tournament so far. Portugal jumped out into an early lead thanks to goals from Pepe and Helder Postiga, then almost threw it away when Nicklas Bendtner scored twice on headers. In the 87th minute, though, Sylvester Varela took advantage of a broken play to score and give Portugal the three points. Obscured in the win was a horrible performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed two one-on-ones with the keeper and has only scored three goals in his last 15 tournament matches. Denmark were poor, but show great resilience. They’re like the Greeks, except with better players.

Germany 2, Netherlands 1: An efficient, dominating performance from the Germans reminds everyone why they’re one of the favorites to win the tournament. The Dutch, meanwhile, are *this* close to being eliminated, though they can still qualify – I’ll explain how in a bit. Mario Gomez scored twice for Germany, running his total to three in two matches, and Robin Van Persie scored the consolation for the Dutch, though it was another poor performance from him. Germany has essentially qualified for the second round, though maybe if Portugal and Denmark both win, they wouldn’t? Wait, that doesn’t seem right – they beat Portugal. I don’t know.

Group B standings

1. Germany 2-0-0, 6 pts, 3 goals scored, 1 goal against
2. Portugal 1-0-1, 3 pts, 3 gs, 3 ga
3. Denmark 1-0-1, 3 pts, 3 gs, 3 ga
4. Netherlands 0-0-2, 0 pts, 1 gs, 3 ga

Who advances? (I think I got this right)

Germany qualifies with a win or draw against Denmark, or if Portugal fails to beat Netherlands (loss or draw), or if they lose to Denmark by one goal but score at least two goals and Portugal score two or less in beating Netherlands. (Yeah, I know)
Portugal qualifies by beating Netherlands, or if they draw against the Netherlands and Denmark fails to beat Germany. They also would qualify if they lost to Netherlands by a goal, but only if the Netherlands scored 2 or fewer goals and Germany also beat Denmark.
Denmark qualifies if they beat Germany and Portugal fails to beat Netherlands, or if they beat Germany by at least two goals. They would also qualify with a draw if the Netherlands beat Portugal.
Netherlands will qualify if they beat Portugal by at least two goals and Germany beats Denmark.
Next Match Day: June 17

Power Rankings

1. Germany (2-0-0, 6 pts). Beat Netherlands 2-1. A powerhouse performance against Netherlands has the Germans in the driver’s seat to move on – they just need to take care of business against Denmark. Up next: Denmark, June 17

2. Croatia (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Italy, June 14

3. Ukraine (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: France, June 15

4. Russia (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Greece, June 16

5. Portugal (1-0-1, 3 pts). Beat Denmark 3-2. Portugal were dominant early on against Denmark, then nearly threw the match away before Sylvester Varela saved them. They might advance to the second round, but Ronaldo needs to play better. Up next: Netherlands, June 17

6. Czech Republic (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: Poland, June 16

7. Italy (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Croatia, June 14

8. Spain (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ireland, June 14

9. France (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ukraine, June 15

10. England (0-1-0 1 pt). Up next: Sweden, June 15

11. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Lost 3-2 to Portugal. The Danes were dreadful in the first half against Portugal, then almost came back and drew the match. They need to play better against Germany for the whole match to have any hope of moving on. Up next: Germany, June 17

12. Poland (0-2-0, 2 pts). Up next: Czech Republic, June 16

13. Sweden (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: England, June 15

14. Greece (0-1-1, 1 pt). Up next: Russia, June 16

15. Ireland (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: Spain, June 14

16. Netherlands (0-0-2, 0 pts). Lost 2-1 to Germany. Another match, another performance devoid of inspiration, good defending or team spirit. Don’t be shocked if the Dutch exit the tournament with no points. Up next: Portugal, June 17

Player of the Day: Mario Gomez, Germany. The often-maligned striker answered his critics with two well-taken goals. He might be the best striker at the tournament.

Disappointment of the day: The Netherlands. Sure, Cristiano Ronaldo had the worst individual performance, but for one of the favorites to win the tournament to be clinging barely to the slimmest hope of qualification for the next round after only two matches is just unacceptable.

Goal of the day: Mario Gomez, Germany

Player of the Tournament So Far Rankings

1. Andrei Shevchenko, Ukraine
2. Mario Gomez, Germany
3. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
4. Mesut Ozil, Germany
5. Pepe, Portugal

Euro 2012: Match Day 5 highlights

Soccer Cat thinks Greece might be the weakest team in the tourney so far.

TV Schedule

Czech Republic 2, Greece 1: After being overwhelmed by Russia in the opener, the Czechs score twice in the first six minutes through Petr Jiracek and Pilar (his second of the tournament). Neither team is great, but the Czechs have Tomas Rosicky, which was good enough to get them the win. Greece’s consolation came through Theofanis Gekas, thanks in a large part to another mistake from Petr Cech, who is not having a great tournament for the Cech Republic. The Czechs can advance to the next round with a draw against Poland coupled with Greece failing to beat Russia in the final group match. Greece’s only hope of advancing lies in beating Russia and hoping the Czech and Poles draw.

Russia 1, Poland 1: Poland captain Kuba rescues his team with a great goal after Alan Dzagoev had scored his tournament-high third goal in the first half. Poland could have won – Russia offered very little in the second half. This match came amid riots and marching outside the stadium for Russia Day. Apparently these two nations don’t like each other. Who knew? The only way Russia wouldn’t advance is if they lost to Greece and Poland beat the Czechs. Any other result would still see them go through. Poland will advance with a win next week. I’ll go over this again in a bit just to make sure you get it.

Group A standings

1. Russia 1-1-0, 4 pts, 5 goals scored, 2 goals against
2. Czech Republic 1-0-1, 3 pts, 3 gs, 5 ga
3. Poland 0-2-0, 2 pts, 2 gs, 2 ga
4. Greece 0-1-1, 1 pt, 2 gs, 3 ga

Who advances?

Russia qualifies for the second round with a win or draw, or a draw between the Czech Republic and Poland.
The Czech Republic advances with a win, or they must draw and Russia must win or draw against Greece.
Poland advances with a win.
Greece advances with a win and a draw between the Czechs and Poland.
Next Match Day: June 16

Power Rankings

1. Croatia (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Italy, June 14

2. Ukraine (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: France, June 15

3. Russia (1-1-0, 4 pts). Drew 1-1 with Poland. After a rip-roaring win against the Czech Republic, Russia started strong, then labored to get a point against Poland. They’re still odds-on to advance, but could be knocked out. Up next: Greece, June 16

4. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Portugal, June 13

5. Germany (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Netherlands, June 13

6. Czech Republic (1-0-1, 3 pts). Beat Greece 2-1. A few changes and the Czechs rallied impressively against Greece. They look like a really bad side without Tomas Rosicky playing, though. (He sat out the second half.) Up next: Poland, June 16

7. Italy (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Croatia, June 14

8. Spain (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ireland, June 14

9. France (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ukraine, June 15

10. England (0-1-0 1 pt). Up next: Sweden, June 15

11. Poland (0-2-0, 2 pts). Drew 1-1 with Russia. Poland will be disappointed to only emerge from their match with Russia with a point, but they at least have their fate in their own hands against a mediocre Czech team. Can they put in a full 90 minutes of good play? Up next: Czech Republic, June 16

12. Portugal (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost 1-0 to Germany. Up next: Denmark, June 13

13. Netherlands (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost 1-0 to Denmark. Up next: Germany, June 13

14. Sweden (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: England, June 15

15. Greece (0-1-1, 1 pt). Lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic. After another second-half fell short, Greece are left in a situation where they could conceivably win their last match against Russia and not qualify. But they don’t even look good enough to win. Up next: Russia, June 16

16. Ireland (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: Spain, June 14

Player of the Day: Theodor Gebrie-Selassie, Czech Republic. The Czech right back was the best player on the pitch against Greece, delivering the cross for the second (and ultimately, winning) goal. He will probably have some new teams trying to sign him after this tournament.

Disappointment of the day: Andrei Arshavin, Russia. Sure, he might not be completely match-fit, and Russia will still probably advance to the second round. But Arshavin’s performance was very reminiscent of his struggles in an Arsenal uniform the last couple years.

Goal of the day: Kuba, Poland

Player of the Tournament So Far Rankings

1. Andrei Shevchenko, Ukraine
2. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
3. Michael Krohn-Dehli, Denmark
4. Mario Mandzukic, Croatia
5. Tomas Rosicky, Czech Republic

Euro 2012: Match Day 4 highlights

Like Soccer Kitty, England were content to pass the ball around and not attack the goal

TV Schedule

Ukraine 2, Sweden 1: Another semi-upset with co-hosts Ukraine toppling the favored Swedes thanks to two goals from Andrei Shevchenko. Prior to the match (and during the first half), there was quite a bit of “Ukraine are giving in to sentimentality by playing Shevchenko,” so it was probably pretty satisfying for him to put his country in the drivers’ seat in Group D. Sweden’s goal came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played well, but didn’t get much support from his teammates. Both teams have a decent shot at advancing, since neither England nor France were all that impressive in the first game.

Power Rankings

1. Russia (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Poland, June 12

2. Croatia (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Italy, June 14

3. Ukraine (1-0-0, 3 pts). Beat Sweden 2-1. The unfancied, umm … Ukrainis? surprised some by beating Sweden, but they ARE the co-hosts. Why wouldn’t they be able to beat a mid-level European power? With neither France nor England looking dominant, can they finish first in the group? Up next: France, June 15

4. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Portugal, June 13

5. Germany (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Netherlands, June 13

6. Italy (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Croatia, June 14

7. Spain (0-1-0, 1 pt). A draw against a good team isn’t a bad way to start off the tourney, but the defending champs need to figure out who to play at striker if they want to advance out of this group, much less repeat. Up next: Ireland, June 14

8. France (0-1-0, 1 pt). Drew 1-1 with England. While it’s true that a point from their match with England would be more favorable to England, it’s hard to argue that France were not the more dangerous looking team. They must be better against Ukraine, though, or they are likely going home early. Up next: Ukraine, June 15

9. England (0-1-0 1 pt). Drew 1-1 with France. It’s not impossible for a team to play defensive football and have success in the tournament (see Greece, 2004), but England created very, very little against France. With Sweden coming up, they’ll hope to nail down qualification for the next round before their last game, even without Wayne Rooney. Up next: Sweden, June 15

10. Greece (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Czech Republic, June 12

11. Poland (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Russia, June 12

12. Portugal (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost 1-0 to Germany. Up next: Denmark, June 13

13. Netherlands (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost 1-0 to Denmark. Up next: Germany, June 13

14. Sweden (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost to Ukraine 2-1. No one really expected Sweden to lose the opener, but Ukraine played quite well, and the Swedes defended poorly. Their matchup with England will likely determine whether they advance. Up next: England, June 15

15. Ireland (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: Spain, June 14

16. Czech Republic (0-0-1, 0 pt). Up next: Greece, June 12

Player of the Day: Andrei Shevchenko, Ukraine. He might be ancient, but Shevchenko silenced the doubters with two well-taken headers. Now tied for the lead in goals scored, can he send the co-hosts into the second round at France’s expense?

Disappointment of the day: Ashley Young, England. With Wayne Rooney suspended, Young was considered the “danger man” going into the match against France. Instead, the English press will be talking about a “heroice” defensive performance as Young didn’t even get to do any of his trademark flopping. Will he still start the next match?

Goal of the day: Samir Nasri, France

Player of the Tournament So Far Rankings

1. Andrei Shevchenko, Ukraine
2. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
3. Michael Krohn-Dehli, Denmark
4. Mario Mandzukic, Croatia
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden

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