After 12 days of group games in the test day will be a welcome break for the many journalists covering the event live in Poland and the Ukraine. It is time for a resume on the action so far. Who were the biggest surprise in a positive and negative way? Which team played the best football and who bored spectators and TV audiences to death? A review.
The co-hosts Poland opened the tournament with a confident first 45 minutes in their match against Greece. The first half saw Poland take the lead through Robert Lewandowski of German champions Borussia Dortmund while Greece sat back and tried to limit the damage. Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off just before half-time with a second yellow card. Both cautions looked very harsh but it was the referee’s decision, made in a split second. The second half Greece were the better team ad levelled, deservedly through Salpingidis who came on at half time. The tie was levelled when Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for a foul on Dimitrios Salpingidis but his replacement Pzremyslaw Tyton saved a poorly taken penalty by Georgios Karagounis. It stayed 1-1, a deserved draw for both of them.
Russia meanwhile tore the Czechs apart in their opening 4-1 victory which saw them playing the same brand of football which saw them to the semi-finals in 2008. Andrey Arshavin looked impressive and conducted his side’s attacks. The second round of games saw the Czechs bouncing back with two quick goals against Greece to secure 3 points and to gain some confidence. Poland took the lead against Russia and looked better but a 1-1 draw was all they could achieve.
It was down to the last group game to decide the fate of the teams. The biggest shock was certainly the 1-0 victory Greece recorded against Russia. At the same time the Czech Republic were controlling their game against Poland confidently and cruised to a 1-0 victory, too. Perversely, this meant Russia were eliminated due to their head-to-head record with Greece in the tournament. Both, Greece and Russia had 4 points from 3 matches, but as Greece have scored a goal against Russia, they progressed. It was the first big upset of the tournament and surely there are more to come as Euro 2012 progresses.
Group B: Group of Death
Group B, labelled the ‘Group of Death’ after the draw in December 2011, was indeed a snake pit of a group and was decided just like Group A in the final rounds of matches. But it started with a bang when Denmark, seen as the team most likely to go out without much fuss, created just that when they beat Holland 1-0, against the run of play. The Dutch had 32 shots on goal, only a quarter of that figure, 8 were recorded for Denmark and yet they scored the goal and won the game.
With the same score Germany saw off Portugal in an even game, yet Mario Gomez, the scorer of Germany’s goal was nonetheless heavily criticized in the German media for his playing style. Admittedly, it is old fashioned the way he plays and some argue, even out dated. However, he scored goals and that is what counts at the end of the day.
The clash with Holland proved to be decisive for Germany. Again Gomez scored, twice and L