Sunday, June 24, 2012

Penalties...Aarrghhh


In the end it wasn't to be. The obduracy of the group matches couldn't be matched by the accuracy from twelve yards and England failed where Chelsea had succeeded - in a penalty shoot out.

There's no real sense of defeat as far as I'm concerned. Italy dominated play throughout and although there weren't that many clear cut chances created by either side you would have to be a very myopic England supporter to feel that some sort of footballing injustice had been served in Kiev tonight.

Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missed penalties for England, for Young it summed up his tournament, he had been useless from start to finish, for Cole it was a shame because he had been one of our outstanding players throughout. Andrea Pirlo dominated the possession stats so much you had to wonder whether or not he had some sort of force field in place around him. England could have scored early in the game but then again so could Italy, De Rossi hit the outside of the post whilst Glenn Johnson caused a brief panic in the Italian defence as he tried to scoop the ball in from six yards. Too many English players went missing for long periods of the match and it seemed that Cole, Gerrard, Terry and Parker were having to do the work that their colleagues seemed either unwilling or incapable of doing.

So England come home and leave the competition with mixed feelings. Nothing was expected and ultimately nothing as achieved, they qualified from their group which was the minimum requirement prior to leaving for Poland three weeks ago, but all the huffing, puffing and 'Bulldog spirit' ultimately counted for nothing.

Portugal and Germany have been the two most exciting teams so far and Spain and Italy the most technically accomplished, there's a certain football 'justice' that they make up the four semi-finalists.

The two matches have the potential to highlight some interesting clashes in styles and personalities. The first semi-final will see the internecine rivalries in Spanish club football highlighted, as the Barcelona players of Spain come to face to face with the Real Madrid players of Portugal and the Real Madrid players of both teams face each other. Germany would have had two extra days to recover than their opponents but I think the Germans have too much guile for the Italians and it should be the dream final that everybody was hoping for when Spain meet Germany in Kiev next Sunday.

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