Hullo and welcome to Duncan Jenkins' review of the euro 2012 group stages, with me Duncan Jenkins.
If the group stages is the equivalent of the starter in a posh four course meal, then what we have just eaten was surely something top draw like dough balls from pizza espress or even a kumquat salad. The steaks are huge in Poland and the Ukraines and it has been a superp tournament so far despite a complete and utter lack of penalty’s, with the possible exception of the one given to Greece in the very first game.
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The pre tournament broken leg loss of Bacary Sagna, who is coincidentally the spitting image of my G.F, was a big blow to France. However the good looking Matthieu Debuchy has done well in ‘attack’ and even better in ‘defence’ - not many opponents have gone past Debuchy on the left hand side.
I don’t want to bang my own trumpet but my “player to watch very closely” was Alan Dazgoev and he really came up trumps. Young Alan is the only man in Russia called “Alan” and he scored three in the first two games. I am delighted to announce he is now european football’s soup du jour of the day.
Even though i am a football expert i had never heard of Cezch left winger Vaclav Pilar, and anyone who says they had is telling porcupines. He’s been a fresh breathe of air in a team foolishly written off by most of my fellow pundits.
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“He used to be indecisive but now he’s not so sure”. that lovely bit of banter applies very much to Cezch netsman Peter Cech who has been a reliability for his team. He’s been lacking inconsistency of late and i doubt he can not get any worse.
Cech however has not been the worst goalie in the tournament. It will be a tough nut for him to swallow if he ever finds out about this but Shane Given is the dreaded “Duncan Jenkins worst goalie in the tournament”.
Even in a sewer the cream rises to the top and emerging from the poor quality group “A” are the Cezch Republics and Greece, who both fought like a phoenix through the flames. Greece manager Fernando Santos (who incredibly is Spanish) had been staring a dead horse in the face for much of the tournament but his men shocked Russia 1-0 to send Dick Advocat’s men on the next flight back to zenit airport.
In my last piece for goal.com i said the Cezchs were going home but i always had a privately held belief that they would go through and they did, proving me correct at the end of the day. They sent hosts Poland packing and the poles certainly wont have enjoyed there early flight home unless of course they flew first class, which they probably did.
Holland’s exit from the gruppa del morte was a real shock wasnt it. The turning point for them was the way they played throughout the competition, loosing all three games as they amassed just 0 points which was not enough to take them through. The Dutch pre madonna’s can expect be treated like leopards back home, and rightly so.
Germany kept there almost perfect 100% per cent record in tacked by winning three out of three games, scoring in all of them. “der manshaft” look the team to beat as they plummeted confidently into the quarter finals alongside Portugal, where they will be knocking out Greece and the Cezch republics respectably.
Defending champions los riojas oozed out of group “C” yet there brand of football, known as “tippa tappa”, has come under criticism. I am of the belief that is hog wash. Spain’s football is art and is definately as artistic as something like Michael Di Angelo’s ‘sixteenth chapel’.
Italy could only beat irish minnows Ireland 2-0 (at one point it was just 1-0) but they finished 2nd ahead of unlucky Croatia and will face the mighty England next.
HODGSON REEKS HAVOC
My friend Gary Neville (or ‘tea bag’ as we call him) is held in higher steam by everybody who knows him and i feel he has been key to England’s smooth progress into the last 16. Roy’s decision to go for a really big number two has eased some of the pressure he must of been feeling and proved to be a very wise move indeed. Another plus has been the goal scoring return of Wazza and especially his trendy new hairs. a hint of a quift, a little bit of blond and a lovely parting to the side. Wazza is back.
With all bar two of the rubbish teams knocked out, euro 2012 is really hotting up now and i can almost smell the quarter finals which are only just around the horizon.