24 June 2012


Marchisio swapped passes with Abate down the right and pulled an out-swinging cross to De Rossi. Standing centrally 30 yards from goal, the Roma midfielder caught the ball on the bounce with a spectacular left foot shot, cutting across the ball, and it thundered off Hart's right post. Johnson played a one-two with Milner before slaloming his way in between Balzaretti and De Rossi, he passed to Young as he drifted inside the box, Young laid off to Milner and his low centre clipped off Bonucci's heels and fell to Johnson, he got the ball caught in his feet but nonetheless got off a shot, Buffon slapped the ball down with his right hand before jumping to catch it before Rooney could follow-up. Fantastic save. Buffon punched out a Milner cross straight to Parker but he dragged his admittedly ambitious shot wide. Abate made a brilliant clearance to deny Rooney as he threw himself at a Johnson cross on the edge of the six yard box. The Italian defence stuffed a Milner cross and Pirlo picked up the ball in his own box, he strode forward 20 yards then chipped a longball to Balotelli, who was played onside by Johnson, Balotelli pulled the ball down then touched it to his right and Terry steamed in with a trademark block tackle as he shot. Montolivo, standing side on, dropped a glorious first time pass over the England defence and with the ball bouncing Balotelli leapt in the air and volleyed but failed to trouble Hart with a tame shot. His passed up a third chance ten minutes later. Cassano headed a Pirlo cross down into the six yard box but Balotelli shot over as Terry and Lescott dived in with tackles.

Marchisio turned the ball back into the box after Hart punched out a corner and De Rossi shot wide from six yards. De Rossi caught Hart by surprise with a ferocious shot from distance, Hart parried, Balotelli trapped the ball before shooting - straight at his Man City team-mate and Montolivo volleyed the rebound over. Young had a chance on a rebound after Abate sliced a cross but shot at Carroll's backside - so he can hit a cow's arse with a banjo. De Rossi made way for Nocerino on 80 minutes and he had a late chance to win it but Johnson made a super block tackle after the Milan midfielder killed a Marchisio cross with his left and volleyed with his right. In what would have been the greatest travesty in football since Cardozo failed to convert that penalty against the fucking Spanish at the last World Cup, Rooney caught Pirlo napping, played a one-two with Carroll and spread the ball wide to Young, Young played in Cole on the overlap, Cole overhit his cross, Carroll headed down and Rooney shanked an overhead kick way over.

In the first period of extra time Diamanti, who had replaced an out of sorts Cassano, clipped the outside of a post with a cross and in the second should have prevented a shoot-out but ballooned over Balzaretti's centre.

Balotelli - bottom left after a stutter
Gerrard - carbon copy without the stutter
Montolivo - Prandelli's pet shoots wide of the left post
Rooney - To the left again, hit with pace but at a poor height
Pirlo - A PANENKA but very low! Goal of the tournament, well amost
Young - Smashes the ball against the underside of the crossbar
Nocerino - Bottom left again, Hart's face pulling routine isn't working
Cole - Right of centre, Buffon simply fell to catch it
Diamanti - To the right again

All of Italy's penalties were to Hart's right - the same area Nasri beat him for the France goal. A definite weakness.

Italy should have won this in normal time. A victory by a three goal margin wouldn't have flattered them. They produced the best football of the tournament. Hodgson should have sat Parker on Pirlo. Allow him to dictate play and you're asking for trouble. England went toe to toe with Italy for about 15 minutes then retreated. When was the last time a team that was playing for penalties actually lost a shoot-out?

Germany have two extra days rest on Italy but unless the game goes to extra time that won't be a factor. I strongly fancy Italy. Boateng is a weak link. I don't think Ozil can handle being pressed which leaves mighty Schweinsteiger. Germany probably won't put a man on Pirlo so as long as Cassano doesn't turn in a performance like this, Italy will cause Germany, who haven't looked too good at the back, all sorts of problems. Prandelli still hasn't got his selections right. Montolivo is a bit like Aquilani, he's a soft touch and not good enough for this level. Nocerino has to play.

Italy win 4-2 on penalties.

Attendance : 64,340
Assists : n/a

23 June 2012

SPAIN 2 (Xabi Alonso 19, Xabi Alonso 91 Pen)

Fittingly in this steaming pile of shit of a match Xabi Alonso marked his 100th game in a Spain shirt with both goals. Iniesta played a great pass inside Debuchy to Alba, Debuchy decided the best course of action when defending a through ball was to attempt a diving header, Alba skipped past his lame challenge, put in an out swinging cross and Xabi fucking Alonso arrived to plant a header inside the left post. Casillas tipped away a Cabaye free kick - the only noteworthy effort the anaemic French managed on goal. Mr Disingenuous passed up the chance to dive in the box after Lloris raced off his line and shut down a Xavi through pass. Another of the Barcelona bastards, Pedro, dived under minimal contact with Reveillere to win the penalty.

Benzema should hang his head in shame. I think he's only drew one difficult save from a goalkeeper in four games. Even when it's clear the Barcelona players have gone to ground theatrically referees see the sadness and despair in their tiny little eyes and can't help but to award penalties.

Spain - taking the joy out of football one tournament at a time.

Attendance : 47,000
Assists : Alba, Pedro (won pen)

22 June 2012

GERMANY 4 (Lahm 39, Khedira 61, Klose 68, Reus 74)
GREECE 2 (Samaras 55, Salpingidis 89 Pen)

To show how seriously Loew took Greece he rested Gomez, Muller and Podolski, fielding Klose, Schurrle and Reus instead. Ozil wasted the clearest of the few early opportunities Germany created with a sissy finish. Schurrle and Khedira failed to take advantage of two Ozil centres as the Real Madrid man finally began to weave his magic, albeit against shitty Greece. Lahm bounced an Ozil cross off his chest and took a couple of steps before sending a right foot show sweeping into the bottom corner - like a forehand hit with massive topspin, brilliant shot. Fotakis intercepted an overly ambitious first time pass and released Salpingidis with a ball down the left flank, Salpingidis curled a centre beyond two German defenders and Samaras turned it in at the back post. Germany worked the ball from left to right, Ozil with the penultimate pass to Boateng and Khedira ferociously volleyed home his cross to restore German superiority. Klose headed in the third after Sifakis flapped at an Ozil free kick. Sifakis did a lot better on Klose's next chance, unfortunately for him Reus was on hand to blast in the rebound after he saved at the Lazio's strikers feet. Salpingidis converted an extremely charitable penalty awarded for a Boateng handball.

A fourth consecutive tournament semi-final (World Cups & Euros) for Germany. The Italian or English midfields won't afford Ozil this much space.

Attendance : 38,751
Assists : Ozil, Salpingidis, Boateng, Ozil, Klose, n/a

21 June 2012

PORTUGAL 1 (Ronaldo 79)

The Czechs struggled to clear a Moutinho cross, Pepe kept the ball alive with a pass from the edge of the box (illustrating Portugal's territorial dominance) Ronaldo shaped for an overhead kick but shot well wide of the left post. With his back to goal Ronaldo took a Meireles crossfield pass on his chest and while it was still in the air flicked the ball away from a defender, as he completed his turn he rattled a half volley against the right post. Desperately unlucky and it would have been a magnificent goal.

In the opening minutes of the second half the awful Almeida, who had replaced the equally awful but injured Postiga, headed a brilliant Pepe cross wide from just six yards out. Shocking miss. Ronaldo dipped a free kick through a poor Czech wall and against the left post. Nani and Moutinho worked Cech with shots from distance before combining for the winner. Nani pushed a ball inside Pilar and Limbersky, Moutinho raced past Plasil onto his pass and despite his momentum carrying him right he still managed to cross in the opposite direction and Ronaldo pounced with a diving header.

Thoroughly deserved. The Czechs were awful, really, really awful.

Attendance : 55,590
Assist : Moutinho