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Day: June 28, 2012

Euro 2012: The Semi-Finals – Germany 1-2 Italy

On the seventeenth of June 1970, Italy and West Germany played out a World Cup semi-final at The Azteca Stadium in Mexico City so epic that earned itself the soubriquet of The Match Of The Century. Perhaps the finest tribute ever paid to an individual football match ever made can be found outside the stadium, a permanent monument to what became known as The Game Of The Century, a 4-3 win for Italy after thirty minutes of extra-time which contained five goals. Pause to consider that – a match so affective that it caused people thousands of miles from the two nations that played it out to mark the fact that it had been played on their home patch. We may never see the likes of it again. This match has set an exceptionally high standards for matches between the two sides, but Italy inflicted a traumatic defeat upon Germany on the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup in Hamburg, and tonight they put in probably the most accomplished performance by any team in this tournament so far in a match which ended with a scoreline that was, if anything, very flattering on a German side that was made to look very ordinary indeed. The headlines tomorrow morning will be written for one man, of course. Mario Balotelli is still two weeks short of his twenty-second birthday, but this...

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David Beckham Misses The Olympic Cut

People may, as we speak, be lighting candles outside Leytonstone Town Hall this afternoon. David Beckham, one of the more public faces of the London bid to host this summers Olympic games found out earlier today that he will not be in the squad for this summers matches, another layer of controversy added to a team which seems to be pleasing very few people at the moment. Coach Stuart Pearces rationale for leaving Beckham out is reasonably straightforward. The Olympic football tournament is a curiosity of a tournament, with squads made up on under-23 players and three over-age players allowed to take part in the competition. It had been expected in some quarters that Beckham would line up alongside Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs as one of the over-age players for the squad but Pearce, perhaps smartly, has opted for Micah Richards of Manchester City – who many felt should have been in the England squad for the European Championships this summer – instead. If anybody thinks that we are about to start piling the hate on Beckham, however, think again. The hysteria that surrounds his every move is not, by and large, of his making. It is a media creation at which he finds himself, whether he wants to be or not, at the centre. It is easy – probably rather too easy – to project any dislike...

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Euro 2012: The Semi-Finals – Spain 0-0 Portugal (Spain Win 4-2 On Penalty Kicks)

So it was all about Cristiano Ronaldo doing nothing. And I pilloried BBC commentators for fawning over him even while he was doing nothing, when they’d actually spotted the defining moment of Portugal’s tournament. “Look at Ronaldo, just waiting for his opportunity” said Steve Wilson, midway through the stultifying second half against Spain. An hour later, he was still waiting, as Cesc Fabregas’s scuffed spot-kick snuck in off a post, where Bruno Alves’s thunderously well-struck effort moments earlier had cannoned back off the crossbar. Spain’s victory was the inside of the width of the frame of the goal and Ronaldo could do nothing about it. “He fancied the big moment,” noted Gary Lineker in the BBC corner-flag cubbyhole, on Ronaldo being the fifth, rather than the first, Portuguese shoot-out penalty-taker. “I don’t understand it,” bleated Shearer, blandly unaware that he’d just heard the explanation. Portugal’s penalties had already raised eyebrows when burly centre-back Alves strode confidently forward to take their third kick, only to be overhauled in the final furlong by Nani, whose turn it actually was. The defender was blamed by the pundits for his stupidity, as they always do – hence the surprise that Sergio Ramos had both the composure and the intelligent to chip-drive his spot-kick down the middle of the goal. But Nani must have been at least as culpable. For once, though, the squanderer...

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