Day: June 8, 2008

Germany 2-0 Poland

So, four matches, four wins for the favourites, and none of the underdogs have managed a goal yet. Euro 2008 is still waiting to come to life. In one respect at least, this is no bad thing. There had been fears of serious crowd trouble in the small town of Klagenfurt – the smallest town ever to host a European Championship finals match, and a peculiar choice for a potentially tense match between two rivals such as Germany and Poland. As things have turned out, though, there has been no major trouble there apart from a scuffle last night that ended up in seven arrests. However, it is more of a concern on the pitch, where four matches have carefully and assiduously followed the script. The Swiss and the Austrians gave it a good go and Turkey showed some resilience against Portugal, but this Polish side didn’t show too much to indicate that they are going to be anything other than cannon fodder for the Croatians. On the pitch, then, tonight’s match was proof (as if we needed such a thing) that Germany have lifted themselves out of the torpor that has characterised their recent performances in the finals of the European Championships. Prior to this evening they hadn’t won a finals match since the final match of Euro 96 twelve years ago, but the result was seldom in...

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Austria 0-1 Croatia

Some tournaments are feel-good tournaments, and some aren’t. I’m starting to get the feeling that Euro 2008 isn’t going to be one of these. In the opening match yesterday, Switzerland pressed and pressed the Czechs, but were unable to find a way through their massed defence. Earlier this evening a feeling of deflation fell over Vienna as Austria were narrowly beaten by a Croatia team that scant deserved all three of the points from an entertaining match in which they were often the second best team. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that scarcely twenty-four hours into the competition, both of the host nations sit on the brink of being eliminated from the tournament, and such an elimination may prove to be damaging to interest levels later on. It looked, at the start of the match, as if it was going to be a stroll in the park for Croatia. Just four minutes had been played when Rene Aufhauser clumsily clattered into Ivila Ovic, and Spurs’ new signing put the penalty away, although even the penalty was dangerously close to goalkeeper Jurgen Macho, even though he was diving away from the ball. After that, Croatia dominated the early stages of the match, and had several chances to kill the game off for good, most notably when Mladen Petric shot over the crossbar with a first time shot when...

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Portugal 2-0 Turkey

It was comprehensive and uncompromising result and, in many respects, the only major questions emerging from last night’s match between Turkey and Portugal is one of whether the Portuguese will peak or have already peaked too soon because, with an easier draw than most of the serious contenders for this tournament and having played the way that they did last night, there is now a powerful case for saying that Portugal might just be able to go all the way at Euro 2008. It wasn’t that Turkey were a weak side or that they couldn’t live with their opponents. They might have looked a little light-weight in attack, but ultimately they simply couldn’t live with the vast array of attacking options that Portugal had. By the last fifteen minutes, the Portuguese were effectively playing four men up front and all four of the seemed to be trying to score the goal of the tournament. They were, to be frank, not a major taking a major risk since the Turks were, without Hakan Sukur, lightweight looking up front (although Colin Kazam looked spritely, living up to his billing as “The Man In The Premier League Shop Window”), and Portugal were never seriously in danger of their lead. Indeed, the delightful, artful second goal that Portugal scored right at the very death was the mere icing of the cake that was...

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