Day: June 10, 2012

Euro 2012: Italy 1-1 Spain

Two of the grand masters of European football cancelled each other out this evening in Gdansk in other match which gave away almost entirely nothing about where the Henri Delaunay Trophy will end up this year. Spain, about whom so many superlatives have been written that it is almost impossible to say anything new about them, and Italy’s enigmatic 2012 edition played out a 1-1 draw which at times had the feel of an exhibition match, a demonstration of technical ability at its absolute highest but which ultimately ended unresolved. A fair result on a bland, uncontroversial afternoon at the 2012 European Championships. Even the two goals came within minutes of each other. Italy took the lead after an hour had been played when, having only just been introduced in place of the largely ineffectual Mario Balotelli, Antonio Di Natale latched on to a pass through the middle from Andrea Pirlo and drove the ball under Iker Casillas to give Italy the lead. The shock of seeing this all-conquering, omnipotent Spanish side didn’t last for very long, however. Four minutes later, David Silva found a little space for Cesc Fabregas and Fabregas shot across the Italian goalkeeper Buffon to bring Spain level. Spain had made a tactically odd decision in their starting line-up in opting to start without any “strikers” (in the traditional sense), and the introduction of Fernando...

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Come On You Boys In Green! A Second-Generation Irishmans Euro 2012 Perspective

It’s a difficult choice. Are Italian boss Giovanni Trapattoni’s “well-drilled” Ireland team more difficult to beat, or to watch? Such is the quality of Ireland’s Group C opponents in Euro 2012 – numbers one, four and nine in the last FIFA world rankings I saw – that ‘Trap’s’ team could be difficult to watch in a “hide behind the sofa” manner rather than because of their reliance on Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan for central-midfield creativity. I’m not letting out any state secrets when I say that Ireland haven’t been “easy” to watch very often since the Republic of Ireland became “my” international team, after I was given a copy of the Jimmy Conway Football Annual back in the mid-1970s, the “Fulham and Eire (sic) star” being an occasional member of our parish church’s congregation. The annual was dominated by features of Ireland player-manager Johnny Giles’s dashing young team, which had beaten the Soviet Union 3-0 in a European Championship qualifier at Dublin’s ‘homely and traditional’ (trans: small and ramshackle) Dalymount Park in 1974. A hat-trick by QPR’s Don Givens had seen off the Soviets, who had been finalists in the previous European Championships. And Conway’s annual was full of black-and-white photos of that game, with a terrifyingly young-looking international debutant Liam Brady featuring as heavily as the hat-trick hero and the manager (television footage includes Brady turning two...

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