Tag: Spain

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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Euro 2012: The Quarter-Finals – Spain 2-0 France

If Germany versus Greece or Portugal versus the Czech Republic didn’t quite scratch the itch after the end of the group stages of this summers European Championships, then this evenings blast of Saturday night fever from Donetsk surely must. Two heavyweights of international football – both of which have won back to back World Cups and European Championships over the course of the last decade and a half – squaring up to each other for the right to play Cristiano Ronaldo – sorry, Portugal – in the semi-finals of the competition. Yet neither of the two sides has been firing on all cylinders in this competition so far. Spain were held by Italy in their opening match and required a last minute goal to see off Croatia in their last, while France failed to beat a lack-lustre England side and then lost their final qualifying match against a Swedish side that had already been eliminated from the competition. In addition to this, there has been a degree of improvisation and confusion about the build-up to this match which is wholly out of keeping with for this stage of a tournament. Spain have opted, again, to play without a striker, while France, who have developed a habit for this sort of thing in recent years, have apparently been fighting amongst themselves again. Still, though, there is a sense of occasion...

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Euro 2012: Group C – The Final Day

Despite Group C containing three of its best teams, the tension of the final games nearly unravelled the quality with which Spain, Italy and Croatia have sprinkled this tournament to date. Spain’s light blue kit was, dare I say it, a bit scruffy, i.e. it suited players such as the Sergios Ramos and Busquets. They produced, for them anyway, a performance to match. And this made for one of the flattest games of the tournament to date. It was well-documented that a 2-2 draw would have knocked Italy out regardless of their result, just as it did in 2004 when Giovanni Trapattoni’s team went home despite being unbeaten with five points. But if Croatia and Spain had finished 2-2 after that first-half the fix would all-too obviously have been in. Among Spain’s best first-half efforts were long-range strikes by Ramos and his centre-back partner Gerard Pique, which spoke volumes. And Croatia would have gone into the break thinking “job well done,” especially with the shock news that Ireland were still 0-0 with Italy after five minutes. Indeed, Slaven Bilic’s side should have been ahead. The tournament hasn’t overly-suffered from officious officials. But their mistakes have been doozies. And Ramos’s studs-up leap at Mario Mandzukic was one of those tackles which “would have been a free-kick anywhere else on the pitch”, as ITV’s Craig Burley dutifully noted. Actually, Burley’s first...

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Euro 2012: Spain 4-0 Republic Of Ireland

Like they needed the help. Spain were only ever going to be denied victory over Ireland by the sort of rearguard action Giovanni Trapattoni’s men produced in the qualifying group game against Russia in Moscow. But whereas in Moscow the ball usually ended up rebounding off centre-back Richard Dunne’s arse, in Poznan, centre-back Sean St. Ledger ended up on his arse so often that you suspected he was wearing plimsolls. It’s these little details which make the difference at international level. Having spent much of the day pondering the incongruity of midfield match-ups such as Andres Iniesta against Keith Andrews and Xabi Alonso against Glenn Whelan, what transpired in Gdansk should not have been any sort of shock. Ordinarily, I’d have been admiring the speed and fluidity of Spain’s passing. Iniesta’s runs at Italy’s defence are probably my highlight of the tournament to date. But here, my reaction was frustration and fear, not least because the breathtaking close control Iniesta produced against the Italians simply wasn’t required against Ireland, his opponents simply didn’t get near enough to him. If you were in the mood for national stereotyping, you’d imagine that of all the languages in the world, Italian must have the most words for “keep it tight at the back in the early stages.” Yet they must all have deserted Trapattoni in Poland. It is easy to describe all...

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Euro Moments: Spain

This mornings cartoon for the run-up to the European Championships from Dotmund features Spain, and a goalkeeper with a very satisfying name to say who still goes to the supermarket in his full kit. Don’t forget, you can see plenty more Dotmund artwork here, and you can read his trenchant opinions on just about everything here. You can download the Twohundredpercent Euro 2012 spreadsheet here (for Excel 2007), whilst a version that will be compatible with older versions of Excel is available here. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking...

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