Day 12 review
Sweden 0 Russia 2 (prediction: 1-2)
We’ve seen some fantastic performances in the competition so far, not least from Spain and the Netherlands, but Russia put in a stunning shift against Sweden to run out comfortable winners. Arshavin and Zhirkov were the star performers, Pavluchenko saving his best performance for tonight too.
It could have been four or five-nil at half time with Sweden unable to keep up with the high-tempo game the Russians imposed on them. Ibrahimovic didn’t look fit enough and the ageing Swedish team just hadn’t got enough in them after their strong start to the competition.
Pavluchenko put them ahead after 24 minutes of domination, sliding home a center from Anyukov and Arshavin slid home Zhirkov’s pass to double the lead on 50 minutes after a great counter-attack. As Sweden pushed forward in vain, Russia could have racked up the goals but they were foiled from close range on a number of occasions.
They meet the Netherlands in quarter-finals.
Greece 1 Spain 2 (predicted: 2-2)
Considering all the Spanish changes and the fact there was nothing at stake this was just an exercise in pride for a Greek side who go home without a point. Angelos Charisteas put Greece ahead in the first half but two players brought in for the game – Ruben De la Red and Daniel Guiza – gave Spain victory.
Xabi Alonso, the unwanted Liverpool midfielder, almost scored from his own half and then hit the post in the second half. In any normal squad he’d be in the shake-up for a starting place in the quarter-finals but the compeition is too strong for him.
Charisteas hit a post late on before Guiza nicked victory when he headed home from close range. Staying clear of red cards and injuries was all the Spanish needed to do so mission accomplished.
Day 13 preview
It’s quarter-final time and here’s the line up
Day 13 – Friday 19th: Portugal v Germany
Day 14 – Saturday 20th: Croatia v Turkey
Day 15 – Sunday 21st: Netherlands v Russia
Day 16 – Monday 22nd: Spain v Italy
Let’s have a look at Portugal and Germany today. A week ago we might have said this would be tough to call but the Germans have looked ordinary since the opening win over Poland. Since then they were well beaten by Croatia and, despite being the better side against Austria, didn’t have that air of confidence about them.
I don’t know how much the touchline ban imposed on Joachim Low (which Portugal boss Luiz Felipe Scolari called on to be rescinded knowing full well that it wouldn’t be) will affect him or his team. I mean how many manager decisions made at pitchside are that important that they can’t be done by his assistant or by Michael Ballack?
I think Germany are in trouble though. Torsten Frings and Lukas Podolski are doubts; Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose are just not on their game. Gomez’s miss from a few yards against Austria could not have been good for his confidence.
Portugal will be back to full strength with Ronaldo, Deco, Simao, Petit and Moutinho returning and it remains to be seen if they go for Nuno Gomes or Alméida up front.
It’s hard to see that Germany will have enough about them but if Frings and Podolski play, and Ballack gets behind Petit, they will create chances. Something tells me though that Portugal will squeeze through, maybe after extra time.
Prediction: Portugal 1 Germany 0