The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. A review of Euro 2012

So another tournament over and done with. This was no Euro 2000 or 2004 but it was ha enough entertainment and drama to keep us going. Rather than go through my earlier predictions and realise I got nothing right I’ve picked some of the good, the bad and the ugly between all the late nights, sleep deprivation, long lost friends contacting you because you have Setanta and neglect of your AFL team’s recent fortunes or those close to you (sometimes both).

THE GOOD

-GOALS! DRAMA! ENTERTAINMENT! It took until the knockout stages before we got our first 0-0 draw with only two out of 31 matches played resulting no goals. 76 goals in 31 matches with an average of around 2.5 goals a game means it wasn’t quite the most prolific tournament but it certainly wasn’t the most goal barren. The drama of the massive thunderstorm hitting the Ukraine V France game when the national anthems were sung was certainly something. That thunderstorm with THAT Ukraine National Anthem that was more Soviet than Soviet was like something from a new transformers film…it’s just this was actually good.

-Ruthless ruthless Spain. Apparently they’re boring. Apparently they wouldn’t have the hunger. Apparently they were blunt up front without a striker thanks to injury and poor form. Possession football rules all and Spain showed it in the final and throughout the tournament that they were are one of the great sides. Yes, they were like a python in some games and choked teams in to submission but you don’t win trophies being nice guys. Now all we have to do is wait for the tall poppy syndrome to kick in and hope they lose everything from now on. They are the greatest in the way they controlled and the way they adapted. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.

-In one of the very few things I predicted right before the tournament I said Italy would be unpredictable and worth watching to see what would happen (either a deep run in to the tournament of complete annihilation). An unexpected final for the Azzurri is what happened along with Balotelli stepping up at times and the evergreen Andrea Pirlo showing how it’s done in a probable player of the tournament effort that went beyond his arrogant chip in the penalty shootout win against England. The conflicting emotions for a lot of people I know still smarting/bitter over 2006 was there to see with an Italian side having a crack and not being your stereotypical black hat wearing bad guys in this tournament which won some hearts.

THE BAD

-The lack of an underdog to make the final 4 is a rare occurrence in this competition and with 4 strong teams making to there it robbed the tournament of some drama. Turkey and Russia both made the semis in 2008 along with Greece and Czech Republic in 2004 but this time there was none of this. This is what perhaps killed off a little of the hype heading towards the final but on the other side maybe a lot of the public want to see the best teams playing off for the final.

-The Netherlands were an abomination once again in a major tournament. They don’t have the populations of some rivals but going from World Cup finalists to squabbling toothless children 2 years later meant the loss of respect and a job for Bert Van Marwijk. Once again the Dutch have to rebuild and forge another team together from the wreckage of another failed campaign. The French must have also have been happy to see the Oranje crash and burn to not make their rabble of a campaign look not so bad. Sweden going out after only two games wasn’t deserved but then you see Zlatan Imbrahimovic and think it isn’t that bad they went out early.

-For the second tournament in a row both co-hosts failed to get in to final 8 which took a bit of air out of the tournament’s tyres but at least this time both Poland and Ukraine looked competitive. Poland’s lack of goalscoring prowess beyond Lewandowski cost the side in the end when they were mugged by the Czech Republic in the final game. Ukraine had a wonderful start to the tournament with the evergreen Andrei Shevchenko scoring a brace in an opening win. It’s just a shame their back four and fourth choice goalkeeper (the other three were either suspended for drugs or injured) meant they leaked goals like a sieve. The sad thing is France may be worse as hosts in four years time knowing them.

THE UGLY
-The violence and racism in the host countries was never to be tolerated even though most incidents were spot fires rather than major incidents. Germans, Croatians and especially Russians were all fined for their behaviour in the stadiums with the Russians caught on video being very nasty hate filled little shits. They have a lot of work to do in the 6 years before Russia host the World Cup. Of course UEFA being UEFA they gave a bigger fine for serial egomanic Niklas Bendtner showing his underwear. If only Niklas had beaten up on Polish stewards and thrown toilet paper at Portuguese players taking a corner then he would have saved some coin.

-Speaking of the powers that be, Michel Plantini may be one of the greats in the history of the sport but his potential plans to dissect and put back together the tournament like a mad professor trying to play god is a concern. His butchering of something that people love makes the AFL CEO look like small fries in comparison. The plan is already in place for 24 teams in 2016 which will mean more dead rubbers and teams worse than Ireland will make the tournament. The reasons why this tournament is so great to watch will be gone forever thanks to the great cashing in on what is about the be lost because of it. In the days leading up to the final Platini is now making noises about having a number of hosts for tournaments including up to 10 countries for 2020 too (I guess they have to use Ibrox for something). With such batshit stupid decisions being announced he has to be making a run for the FIFA job surely, it’s the only answer.

-No player with the exception of Pirlo really took hold of the tournament and dominated like what happens in great tournaments. Christiano Ronaldo and Mario Balotelli had flashes of potential to make it ‘their tournament’ but Spain put a stop to that when it mattered (or when Ronaldo wanted the glory for himself ahead of his team). There was no golden boot winner that completely took hold too with a number of players getting 3 goals. When Fernando Torres gets the Golden Boot that says something.

MY XI OF EURO 2012.

GOALKEEPER-Iker Casillas (Spain)
The win in the final was his 100th for Spain. He’s now captained two of the three recent final wins and won’t be going anywhere in a while. There were some fantastic keepers in this tournament but Iker took his side all the way. One of the greats.

RIGHT BACK-Mathieu Debuchy (France)
France had a poor tournament but Debuchy was immense at right back in the group stages. Lahm, Arbaloa and Johnson deserve a mention but Debuchy sneaks it.

CENTRAL DEFENDER-Sergio Ramos (Spain)
I’ll say this now, I used to loathe Ramos and never thought much of him as a player but his move to the centre of defence to cover the injured Puyol was a big risk and it paid off handsomely. A great tournament from the Real Madrid pretty boy. Perhaps having a hair cut was a reverse ‘sampson’ for Sergio.

CENTRAL DEFENDER-Pepe (Portugal)
He may be a brick with eyes that kicks anything that moves but he played a huge part in getting his country to the semis. He almost snuck a point for them in the first side too. Central defenders don’t have to play total football.

LEFT BACK-Fabio Coentrao (Portugal)
Another Real Madrid player in the back and someone who marauded the left side for Portugal. There were many left backs (like Alba) that could have taken this spot but this player was the quiet achiever.

RIGHT MIDFIELD-Mesut Ozil (Germany)
A player who looked a little knackered at times but stepped up in some important times for Germany in the group stage to get them through to the knockout stages. Ozil is still young and will hopefully be winning a tournament for Germany rather than papering over the cracks soon. Yes, he is also a Real Madrid player.

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD-Xavi Alonso (Spain)
Another strong tournament from the man with the stubble. His fantastic header against France sent Spain on their way to the last 4 and he was a cog in ‘that’ Spanish midfield. Yet another Real Madrid player might I add too.

ATTACKING MIDFIELD-Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
A fantastic tournament from one of the great players of his generation on the way out. The game against England and Germany in the knockout stages were a masterclass. The pictures of his tears following the final this morning were heartbreaking. It’s great when you see a winning team built around one player who is like an eye in a storm.

LEFT MIDFIELD-Andres Iniesta (Spain)
Ronaldo is the second best player in the world? Try Iniesta perhaps. He brings it to the big games and again this morning. He might be the ugly step sister to Messi and Xavi for his club and countless others for his country but the player of the final and tournament awards means he is the Cinderella again.

STRIKER-Mario Balotelli (Italy)
This will seem like a sympathy vote but his efforts in the semi and the way in which he scored his three goals announced his arrival for Italy. A serial nut job but 3 league titles, a champions league title and FA Cup at his age at club level already shows he may be something special if he keeps up the psych appointments.

STRIKER-Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
He led with gusto for Portugal like a captain should with some defining goals that almost had them in another final. It’s just a shame he had his name last on the shoot out list against Spain. His efforts for his country will only help his superstar status.

COACH-Cesare Prandelli (Italy)

Someone who can leave the sacred cows at home and go forward with new tactics and untested internationals after a horrible 2010 World Cup deserves a lot of credit. The former AS Roma manager had Italy punching well above its weight with only Pirlo looking like the player that will be missing in two years time. Anyone who can get the best out of Balotelli also needs a prize. Will be interesting to see if Prandelli can keep this momentum going.

SUBS (AKA players who also deserve a mention)- Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Daniele De Rossi (Italy), Ricardo Montolivo (Italy), Xavi (Spain), David Silva (Spain), Stephen Gerrard (England), Mario Mandzukic (Croatia), Alan Dzagoev (Russia)

About Dennis Gedling

Reporter for Football West. RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. WA Correspondent to Football Nation Radio. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Excellent job, Dennis. My own list includes moments: Sweden beating France; Russia’s performance against the Czechs; Ukraine’s second half performance against Sweden; the Irish fans noise; Robben’s huff; England’s exit; and Hodgson’s rise to worshipped hero. I agree too that this was the last really good Euros.

  2. Dennis Gedling says:

    I guess I’m doing the rose coloured specs when it comes to 2000 and 2004 etc as they were probably on par and not better. Another case of the hosts not making it far killed it a bit, it’s the second time in a row. The Italy V Germany semi was a major highlight even though that was my last bet crashing and burning, it was completely out of the blue.

  3. Rick Kane says:

    While I don’t want to take away from an excellent and exhaustive overview of Euro 2012 I do need to pick you up on the claim that, “The Netherlands were an abomination once again in a major tournament”. Yes, Oranje really dropped the ball this time out. It was not a good tournament to be wearing such a garish colour but wear it I did. However, in both the Euro and the World Cup I think it would be difficult to sustain the argument that they have been an ‘abomination’.

    From 1988 (when last they won the coveted Euro) in 7 Tournaments the Netherlands have, on four occasions, made the final four. That’s hardly abominable. They have fared even better in the World Cup, without winning the damned thing. From 1998, when 32 sides first played in the month long tournament Oranje has been in the final four twice, missing a golden opportunity for glory in South Africa two years ago. That’s not an abomination, that’s damned good. That is all.

    Cheers

  4. Dennis Gedling says:

    Okay, ‘abomination’ probably shouldn’t have been the word used but after the highs of 2010 it was an abomination like Euro 96 where they were all at war with each other and shouldn’t have really made the quarter finals but once again Scotland decided to mess it all up. This was a team that was coached by Hiddink of all people too.

    It’s just frustrating that a team that constantly has offered so much talent continues to never really go all the way. Deciding to go the hack in the final against Spain in 2010 is a prime example.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  5. Phantom says:

    Been sniffing the essence of ‘Tulipa gesneriana’ again Rick, calm down, keep your clogs on.

    I have a feeling that the Dutch are every one’s second team. I for one would not be concerned if they won a World Cup.

    Was it in 1974 they scored a goal against the Robots (eventual winners 2 – 1) before our Arian friends had even touched the ball?

  6. Phantom says:

    Speaking of Scotland messing it all up Dennis, aren’t the old oatmeal savages in a mess with the Rangers saga not yet resolved. To be voted on by the other clubs today I think.

    Celtic are sitting back grinning.

  7. Dennis Gedling says:

    Celtic are grinning until the TV money dries up but Rangers have to get punished for the massive rorts they’ve done, what they’ve done is illegal more than anything. It’s maybe a chance for Scottish Football to give more voting power to the other clubs rather than just have Celtic and Rangers collude and dominate every decision. Then again I support the said grinning Celtic so can’t really be seen as impartial in the debate/debacle.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18703183 explains it a bit better.

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