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Archive for June 23rd, 2012

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FT Germany 4 – 2 Greece

FT Germany 4 – 2 Greece

Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez have been replaced by Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose. With the right-back Lars Bender also making way for Jerome Boateng, who is available again after suspension, all of Germany’s goalscorers in the tournament are on the bench.

Greece make two changes from the side that bundled Russia onto an early plane. Sotiris Ninis comes in for Fanis Gekas and Grigoris Makos replaces the suspended captain Giorgos Karagounis. Giorgos Tzavellas starts at left-back despite a leg problem; Greece’s other left-back, Jose Holebas, is suspended.

At 39′, Lahm picked up a crossfield pass from Khedira in an inside-left position, moved away from a pathetic excuse for a challenge from Ninis and then, as the ball sat up perfectly 20 yards from goal, cut across a storming right-footed shot that swooshed into the far corner, through the outstretched fingers of the keeper Sifakis. Some might say Sifakis could have done better as he dived to his left, but it was beautifully struck. I don’t know if the keeper was culpable; the defenders certainly were. The original challenge on Lahm was woolly at best, and then nobody got out to block the shot. 1-0 for Germany.

At 55′, Salpingidis, the beard to be feared, surged down the right onto an excellent stabbed pass from Fotakis and then sidefooted a magnificent low cross between the German defenders and the keeper Neuer. Samaras, sliding in four yards from goal, forced it gleefully through Neuer and into the net before charging off to join an almighty Greek huddle on the touchline. What an astonishing twist. 1-1.

At 61′, Ozil freed Boateng down the right, and he took a touch before slinging a cross into a crowded area. It dipped over the head of a couple of players at the near post and then Khedira, arriving late in front of the static Maniatis, belted a right-footed volley into the roof of the net almost before the keeper Sifakis had started to move. That’s a cracking goal because it looked easier to go with the left foot, and the ball was also at a really awkward height. I’ve no idea how he got over the top of that volley, because 99 times out of 100 it would have gone high over the bar. 2-1 for Germany.

At 68′, Miroslav Klose scored for the 47th international tournament in a row, and ends the contest. It was desperate goalkeeping from Sifakis, who came into no-man’s land in an attempt to get to Ozil’s inswinging corner from the right. He was nowhere near, and all Klose had to do was jump above Papopdopoulous to head into the naked net from six yards. 3-1.

At 74′ ,Marco Reus has slammed in another volley to make it 4-1. Ozil’s subtle, silken through ball put Klose in on goal; his shot was blocked well by the advancing Sifakis and the rebound came to Reus, 15 yards from goal to the left of the near post, and he blootered his volley in off the underside of the bar. Three of Germany’s four goals tonight have been brutally emphatic. 4-1 for Germany.

At 88′, Fotakis’s cross from the left hits the outstretched hand of Boateng, and it’s a penalty to Greece. It might have been a harsh decision: Boateng had his back turned to play, although his arm was dangling away from his body. The Beard To Be Feared slides a cool low penalty to the right as Neuer goes the other way. He has had a terrific tournament. 4-2.

Germany go into their fourth consecutive semi-final at a European Championship or World Cup. They could have won by six, and I suppose there might be some frustration in that sense, but overall this was a fine attacking performance from a wonderful young team. Mesut Ozil was a joy to watch. Greece fought gamely in the second half, even though they were out of their depth. This was a 4-2 thrashing. Germany will face Italy or Two Banks of Four in the semi-final on Thursday.

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FT Portugal 1 – 0 Czech Republic

FT Portugal 1 – 0 Czech Republic

Painstaking research conducted by someone else reveals that the Czech Republic have been the most dynamic team of Euro 2012 so far, covering more grass than incontinent cows. And while Cristiano Ronaldo spent the first two matches of the tournament suggesting that he couldn’t hit one of said bovines on the backside with a banjo, the Real Madrid stallion found his range in spectacular style during his country’s third group game against the United Nations of Holland, thereby compensating for Portugal’s lack of a decent specialist striker and giving them the look of a top-notch side that is getting it together at exactly the right time.

Portugal’s opponents in tonight’s quarter-final are also drawing inspiration from Chelsea, as the Czech Republic intend deploying all of their dynamism to park a fleet of buses in front of Petr Cech’s goal. Tomas Rosicky will not be fit enough to start, and that no friendly wizard has magicked Jan Koller back into the fray and renewed whatever spell it was that made Milan Baros so deadly eight years ago. Their plot, then, seems to be for Cech to prevail on penalties again. For Portugal’s sake, Ronaldo better have been doing his banjo practice.

Teams:
Czech Republic: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky; Hubshman, Plasil; Jiracek, Darida, Pilar; Baros
Portugal: Patricio; Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao; Meireles, Veloso, Moutinho; Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo

At 79′, Ronaldo has done it! A fine diving header from 10 yards after Moutinho surged from deep to collect a pass and clip a cross in from the right. Lovely goal! 1-0 For Portugal.

Portugal deservedly swagger into the semi-finals, where they will pose a real threat to either Spain or France. Ronaldo was brilliant but he was not alone: Moutinho and Coentrao were great too. The Czechs defended very well for long periods and, of course, did well to get to this stage. But they never looked like going any farther.