Euro 2012, Group C: Blue Skies Amid Red Fury?

Croatia vs. Spain. Italy vs. Ireland–with it’s own subplots.

Who goes through, who gets upended? Check out our takes here.

20 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/18 at 5:54 AM

    The one thing we can count on today is another Roy Keane rant. In fact, I am looking forward to it almost as must as the actual game. Almost…


    • If Keane’s “rants” came from anyone else they might actually be seen as being sensible.

      But coming from him….it seems to just set everyone off sideways. Good fun.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/19 at 10:33 AM

        To be honest, I sort of agree with the general content and underlying principle. It is a little misplaced given the lack of talent Ireland has. But I love it when he gets fired up.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/19 at 11:38 AM

          It’s funny because a lot of Keane’s rants are accurate. He was right in 2002 that McCarthy was a terrible manager, he was right in 2005 when he said that the youth at Man Utd wasn’t good enough and he’s right now. He just has the worst possible way of delivering that information so it allows people to focus the issue on him rather than on the problem.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/18 at 8:06 AM

    Tremendous game by Ronaldo yesterday.

    Made himself active off the ball early and picked his spots allowing the defenders to close on him…which opened his teammates for opportunities. When the Dutch started paying more attention to Robben and Sneijder, Ronaldo took over again.

    Fantastic effort. Didn’t know he had it in him–the game management that is.

    That said, the Dutch were awful.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/18 at 8:09 AM

      Ronaldo did what he should have done against the Danes and actually finished. The Czechs should be very worried that the Dutch allowed Ronaldo to get on the scoresheet.

      Most of the impressive play from the Portuguese was down to the Dutch defense being absolutely awful.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/06/18 at 8:25 AM

        Ronaldo’s missed sitters. That’s for sure. But if you watched Portugal’s attack it more a case of Ronaldo’s off ball movement that got it going. I think he had 12 shots, 2 goals and I would say of those 12 shots, he had no business getting to 3 or 4 of those balls.

        I didn’t watch the Danish game closely so I can comment, but for a player that I often feel is petulant on the field and falls into “me-first” tendencies way too early, it was a very good effort in a game that mattered.


        • He definitely was petulant in the beginning of the game – specifically there was a ball crossed in to him that a defender got a head to, pushing it wide to Miereles. Miereles (sp?) took a touch and sliced his shot into the outside netting instead of putting it back across goal where Ronaldo was, and he immediately went into pouty-face/wild gesticulation mode. It was a shot that CR7 himself would’ve attempted 9.99 times out of 10.

          The only fault I saw with Miereles was that he didn’t shoot across goal – that could be what Ronaldo was ranting and raving about but one assumes not given his typical petulance.

          After that incident the petulance died down and he started dominating the offensive flow for Portugal making runs, getting open shots on goal, scoring, and most impressively (IMO) was his passes to set up his teammates. CR7 played above himself in a way that the Dutch team could learn from.


  3. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2012/06/18 at 9:25 AM

    I’m not going to say who I’m going for or my predictions because I’ve been jinxing teams.

    just looking forward to the beautiful fans


  4. Posted by narkid on 2012/06/18 at 11:19 AM



  5. Posted by Jared on 2012/06/18 at 1:55 PM

    Am I the only one that is over the current Spanish style of play? It’s great that they can keep the ball for 75% of the game but they never do anything with it. At least with Barca there is the genius of Messi to take advantage of the possession with great attacking play.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/06/18 at 5:43 PM

      The style isn’t as thrilling as it could be, but I think it’s the point. Think of the other football and a team like Alabama. Boring as sin, but it wins. Why? Because it sucks the variance right out of the game.

      Instead of creating tons of half- to good- chances, Spain concentrates on creating a few REALLY good chances. But–unlike a bunker/counter team, which also concentrates on creating a few really good chances–it controls the ball and hence controls the game in the meantime.

      Unlike most teams, it runs a true system: i.e. the way they play has equal effective implications for both offense and defense. Most teams run an offense and a defense and the two don’t interact.


      • Jared and dth,

        “ It’s great that they can keep the ball for 75% of the game but they never do anything with it. At least with Barca there is the genius of Messi to take advantage of the possession with great attacking play”

        I understand your frustration but it is not fair to say Spain do nothing with the ball.
        Spain, without Messi, has won a Euro, a World Cup and could win another Euro. This is a big deal and the second Euro would be an unprecedented feat. Obviously Spain would rather have him than not but Argentina has won nothing with Messi so I would say Spain has done better without Messi than Messi has done without Spain.

        What they do, as dth might have been getting at, is play keep away. What this “does” is:

        • Play the ultimate defense since you cannot score if you do not have the ball

        • Tire you out by forcing you to play high intensity defense when Spain/Barca have the ball.

        The key is skill on the ball at high speed and of course, good team work, again at high speed. Simple concept, not so easy to implement as Mr Klinsmann can tell you.

        Messi, Iniesta and most of the Barca or Spanish players are so quick that even if you do take the ball off them, you have to be constantly looking over your shoulder since they transition so quickly from offense to defense and back again. This does not necessarily produce a lot of goals (Spain’s World Cup group games went a rocky, 0-1, 2-0, and then 2-1, before finishing up with four straight 1-0 wins) against good teams but it makes Spain very tough to beat.
        Barca tends to meet more “weak” teams than Spain did in the World Cup and against this “lesser” opposition, Barca has enough skilled players to slice you apart once they have taken your legs away.

        It could be argued Route One football of the sort that England or Ireland sometimes practice could be made to work the same way (especially if you have a great long ball passer like Gerrard ) but because the long ball is a lower percentage pass, it will always be much harder to maintain the level of possession and consequent pressure that you can do with the Spain/Barca style. And it can be more fun to watch.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/06/19 at 6:23 AM

          I know exactly what Spain do with the ball and exactly what they don’t. They don’t score enough for the possession that they generate. They were very fortunate not to concede against Croatia and it will be a similar game plan to that done by Croatia that will beat them this time around. I’m not saying that what they have won isn’t impressive but I get little enjoyment out of watching them grind out 1-0 wins. I appreciate all of the skill involved but you go into a game involving Spain knowing exactly what you’re going to watch for 90 minutes pretty much regardless of the opposition.

          It wasn’t a coincidence that the game changed so much for Spain when Navas came on. I think that Navas and Llorente on the field together would make the Spanish nearly impossible to beat as teams wouldn’t be able to clog the middle of the field and just pick off passes.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/06/19 at 7:01 AM

            They played Germany and Netherlands in the last WC and pretty much reduced the No.2 and No.3 ranked teams in the world to playing 10 men behind the ball.

            I understand what you’re saying, but it is very difficult to break these teams down. Not sure how many teams could live with Spain playing an open game. Even England, who do not possess the talent of Germany or Netherlands beat Spain, albeit in a meaningless friendly. Not sure what the possession stats were, but it wasn’t pretty.

            It is much harder to be creative and proactive than be detructive and reactive.


            • Posted by dth on 2012/06/19 at 8:13 AM

              I think the combination someone will eventually try out is destructive and proactive.

          • Jared,

            “They don’t score enough for the possession that they generate.”

            History will tell you that possession is one thing, scoring is another. You need look no further than Chelsea’s recent win over Barca in the Champions league.

            The way Spain/Barca play is primarily defensive. Once they get a goal up on you, it is really hard to come back.

            Spain/ Barca have been on this run now since about 2008. Four years is a long time and the basic core may be wearing down. Plus, everyone else has had the time now to figure out how to slow them, if they can.

            Perhaps the single biggest thing, and you touch on it when you spoke about Navas and Llorente, is Torres and Villa are AWOL. In 2008, when they won the Euros Villa and Torres were fantastic. Maybe the two of them don’t amount to one Messi but they were pretty dammed good. Now of course, Torres is a shadow of himself and Villa is injured Barca still has Messi, though I think they really missed Villa.

            This new crop of Spanish strikers haven’t yet shown (or maybe have not been given the opportunity to show) if they can replace the dynamic duo. Del Bosque must not have a lot of faith in them if he brought Torres back from the dead seemingly because of that Champions League run.


  6. Posted by EFG on 2012/06/18 at 2:28 PM

    If you are wondering if I rushed home after work to put on my Balotelli jersey, the answer is Yes. It’s always yes.


  7. Posted by narkid on 2012/06/19 at 9:20 AM

    i think you can only truely appreciate spains soccer game after having witnessed a bullfight in the plaza de torros or some other venue. it is then, that a person really gains an understanding of how spain plays.


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