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The First Ever MISSY (Making Interest in Soccer Soar, Y’all) Euro 2012 Awards Show!

Soccer Kitty Says: “Until 2016, meow friends”

I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog, but on our Facebook page, I had a Euro 2012 Pickem contest, which was won by, well, my wife. I promise I didn’t help her cheat. Congrats, Missy! Anyway, the reward for winning the pickem contest was having your name mentioned on the blog in conjunction with Euro 2012, blah blah blah.

Best Player in a Championship-Winning Role: Jordi Alba, Spain. It’s tough to pick one player from Spain, because pretty much the entire team are really good, and several had very good tournaments. Alba gets our vote, though, as it was his speed, his threatening runs from deep and his overall threatening play on the left wing which gave a fairly ponderous Spain attack that extra bit of sizzle they needed to win their third straight major title.

Best Player in a Non-Championship-Winning Role: Andrea Pirlo, Italy. More so than probably any player in the tournament, Pirlo willed Italy not only into the knockout stages of the competition but all the way to the final, scoring an excellent free kick against Croatia, dominating England before scoring *that* penalty kick and slicing up a previously unchallenged Germany defense in Italy’s surprise semifinal win. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get the ball often enough in the final to really affect the game.

Best Player not Mentioned a lot, but Nonetheless Integral to his Team’s Success: Bruno Alves, Portugal. Most of the acclaim for Portugal was made in the direction of Cristiano Ronaldo and the team’s two fullbacks – and justifiably so – but a defense that conceded just four goals in the competition while facing four Top 10 ranked sides should get some credit, and Alves rarely made a mistake while making the penalty box a dangerous place for opposing attackers.

The “I’d Rather You All Forget I Played” Award Goes To: Samir Nasri, France. It’s true that France advanced to the quarterfinals and that Nasri scored the equalizing goal against England, however, his petulance on the field and negativity off it – including cursing a reporter in front of cameras after their loss to Spain – only served to alienate him from his teammates, the French public, and manager Laurent Blanc, who was removed from his position, probably a bit unfairly, after yet another meltdown from one of the stronger teams in the tournament.

All-Euros Team

GK – Gianluigi Buffon, Italy
D – Jordi Alba, Spain
D – Sergio Ramos, Spain
D – Pepe, Portugal
D – Joao Pereira, Portugal
M – Andrea Pirlo, Italy
M – Xabi Alonso, Spain
M – Mesut Ozil, Germany
M – Xavi, Spain
F – Fernando Torres, Spain
F – Mario Balotelli, Italy
Bench: Iker Casillas, Spain; Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal; Mats Hummels, Germany; Gerard Pique, Spain; Daniele De Rossi, Italy; Giorgios Karagounis, Greece; Fabio Coentrao, Portugal

Five Players Who Raised Their Stock

Jordi Alba, Spain; Alan Dzagoev, Russia; Joao Pereira, Portugal; Michael Krohn-Dehli, Denmark; Mario Mandzukic, Croatia

Five Players Whose Stock Dropped

Andrei Arshavin, Russia; Arjen Robben, Netherlands; Christian Eriksen, Denmark; Philippe Mexes, France; Wayne Rooney, England

Player Who Will Be THE Star at the Next Euros: Andre Schurrle, Germany

Temporarily on holiday …

This isn’t really me.

I didn’t post this earlier this week, because I thought I’d have more time to update than I have, but I’ve been at a conference the last five days, and I’m going to Minnesota for family business the next five. I will update as I can, but don’t be too upset if it’s a bit few and far between. Make sure you check (and like) our Facebook page here as it gets updated slightly more often than the website. More soon, promise.

-Jeremiah

Euro 2012 quarterfinals: Portugal 1, Czech Republic 0

Ronaldo’s goal deserves a cute elephant with a soccer ball picture!

Cristiano Ronaldo’s million-dollar haircut headed Portugal into a semifinal meeting with either Spain or France with a 1-0 win over a very, very lackluster Czech Republic. Clearly the Czechs were playing for penalties, and they were just, oh, 40 minutes short. Nice try, guys. Portugal outshot them 19-2 and probably should’ve won by three or four goals (Ronaldo hit the post twice). Now we’re at the point where I can start spouting cliches about anything being possible at the Euros and so on. This Portugal team is decent, though they’ll have to ride their luck (and hope Ronaldo keeps scoring) to beat the likes of Spain and France.

Man of the match: Ronaldo. There is no denying his ability to score goals, even if he occasionally does so in an extremely whiny, petulant manner. He now has three in the tourney.

Tomorrow: Germany vs. Greece, 11:45 a.m., ESPN

Euro 2012 quarterfinals preview

Just give us a chance, coach!

Alright folks, the first round is done. Sorry I didn’t get in the final two days of highlights, but they were mostly anticlimactic anyway, except for maybe the disallowed Ukraine goal and the two very good goals from Balotelli and Ibrahimovic. Anyway, on to the quarterfinals! All times Pacific.

Thursday, June 21

Czech Republic vs. Portugal. (11:45 a.m., ESPN) Probably the least expected – and also least boosted by star power of the four games. Which is amazing, considering His Hair Gel is playing. Yes, I mean Cristiano Ronaldo. Nonetheless, it should be a good match. Portugal is favored, but the Czechs have been very good since their tourney-opening thumping at the hands of the Russians. Since neither team could really be called an offensive juggernaut, what happens is pretty much down to how successful the Czechs (and right back Theodor Gebrie-Selassie, who has been quite good so far) contain Ronaldo. The winner of this takes on the winner of Spain-France. Prediction: I want to pick the Czechs, but I just can’t. Portugal 1-0.

Friday, June 22

Germany vs. Greece. (11:45 a.m., ESPN) The other big shock of the tournament so far, with the Greeks coming back to knock off the heavily favored Russians. If they pulled off the upset again, it would be a really really really big upset. It’s not impossible, but this is an aging Greek team, not as defensively sound as in the past, with arguably the worst forward pool in the competition. Germany, meanwhile have stars at every position and are probably the most unstoppable attacking force in the tournament. But hey, it could happen, right? The winner takes on the winner of England-Italy. Prediction: Germany 3-0

Saturday, June 23

Spain vs. France. (11:45 a.m., ESPN2) This is the one game in the quarterfinals that is on ESPN2 – we can only presume that the Tennessee high school girls’ championship is on at this time. The media seemed pretty shocked that France, which was basically qualified by this point, didn’t seem all that upset to lose to Sweden in their final match, thus ceding the group to England and meaning France takes on Spain. Here’s the thing, though: France would probably have to play Spain at some point in the tourney anyway, and the winner takes on either the Czechs or Portugal, far less daunting than a possible semifinal date with Germany. So in a way, it makes sense. the defending champs haven’t lost a match yet, but aside from a 4-0 win over hapless Ireland, they haven’t been convincing. Prediction: France pulls the upset, 2-1.

Sunday, June 24

England vs. Italy. (11:45 a.m., ESPN) As kind of noted in the Spain-France preview, I thought people’s reactions to the seeding from Group D was curious. England fans cheered wildly with news that they were getting Italy instead of Spain in the quarterfinals. It’s true, Spain would probably beat England, but Italy are also very good. There is a question whether an England team with a not quite fit Wayne Rooney, an underperforming Ashley Young, and well, Andy Carroll (I think Danny Welbeck is decent, so I’m not including him) will be able to break down an organized Italian defense. They struggled to do just that against France (no shock there) and Ukraine, and both teams were inept defensively in the match with Sweden, so this will be the English team’s first chance to show they can score goals against a good defensive team. Italy aren’t high scoring, but Andrea Pirlo has played well, and their rotating cast of forwards has shown at least one guy can pop up and put the ball in the back of the net. Prediction: 1-1, Italy wins on penalties.

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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