UEFA 2012 European Championship: Day 17

Sunday 24 June 2012


Spain (1) 2 – 0 (0) France

Is it just me or did anyone else find last nights game a bit dull? Is it a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes or am I a football philistine? Yes Spain won the game comfortably, yes they controlled it, yes they were the better team on the night, yes they deserved to win it. But…but it didn’t excite me. Holding possession football is all very well, but it needs an end product. Once Spain went ahead in the nineteenth minute from Xabi Alonso, to me they didn’t go in search of a second to kill off the French. Instead they simply held the ball and simply denied France possession, which as a tactic worked. The second goal didn’t come until the final minutes when Alonso scored from the penalty spot. I accept this requires a skill, confidence and comfort on the ball from the entire team, but as a spectator last night it did nothing for me – I couldn’t even say I admired the way they played. Bottom line is that football is about results and Spain got the win they deserved and face their Iberian neighbours Portugal in the Semi-Final.

So to the last of the Quarter-Final games tonight…England v Italy. Only one previous encounter between these two teams and that was back in Euro 1980. In those days the competition was just eight teams, split into two groups. The winners of each group went through to the Final. In the first round of games, England had Italy had drawn their respective fixtures. Therefore the meeting between them at the Stadio Comunale in Turin was make or break for them both. The team were as follows:

England – Shilton, Neal, Sansom, Thompson, Watson, Wilkins, Keegan, Coppell, Birtles, Kennedy, Woodcock.

Italy – Zoff, Gentile, Oriali, Benetti, Collovati, Scirea, Causio, Tardelli, Graziani, Antognoni, Bettega.

The UEFA website provides the following report of the match. “…Marco Tardelli struck the only goal as Italy beat England 1-0 to set up a winner-takes-all encounter against Belgium.

Weak in attack during their opening goalless draw against Spain, Italy again took time to find their stride against England. Ron Greenwood’s team looked the more likely scorers for much of the first half but, without Trevor Francis, lacked the firepower required to puncture one of the world’s most astute back lines. Garry Birtles, earning only his second cap, was swallowed up without trace.

English heads were at least kept above water by Kevin Keegan, dredging up some of his famous energy. Exchanging passes with Ray Kennedy at high speed, he shot low just past the far post, then allowed a pass by Ray Wilkins to reach Kennedy, who hit the woodwork. In the last minute Keegan’s overhead kick was saved by Dino Zoff, Kenny Sansom so nearly scoring from the rebound.

By then, though, Italy had finally found their own killer instinct in front of goal. Giancarlo Antognoni gave the ball to Claudio Gentile out on the left, Phil Neal mistimed his tackle, Francesco Graziani brushed him aside and put in a low cross which Tardelli drilled in from close range.

Italy protected their lead in typically no-nonsense fashion but knew that just a one-goal victory meant they now needed to defeat Belgium in order to reach the final. For England, there was only third place to aspire to…”

Tonight? Well I’ll grab a couple of cold beers, sit back on the sofa, put my feet up and repeat the mantra that used to adorn the stands of Craven Cottage, “…In Roy we trust…”

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Posted June 24, 2012 by Editor in category "UEFA 2012 Euro Championship

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