Friday, March 24, 2023

Day two of Euro 2008. Austria 0-1 Croatia, Poland 0-2 Germany.

The second day of the European Championships followed a very similar pattern to the first.

The joint hosts Austria, like Switzerland before them, put up a decent showing against one of the ‘outside bets’ for the tournament, Croatia, who like the Czech Republic before them, looked far from impressive. The hosts lost the game 1-0.

In the second game one of the favourites, Germany, like Portugal before them, played well and looked pretty impressive against one of the outsiders, Poland, who like Turkey before them, huffed and puffed and played well, but had no penetration. The favourites won the game 2-0.

On the positive side, and most of it has been very positive so far, all four games have contained some excellent football. On the negative side, it has all turned out to be quite predictable in the end.

Today, the ‘group of death’ takes over and that will buck the early trend because nothing in that group is predictable. The games between Romania and France and particularly Holland and Italy are very difficult to call.

The facts from yesterdays matches are that in the early game Croatia were handed on a plate what proved to be a fourth-minute winner when new Tottenham recruit Luca Modric drilled home a penalty after Austria’s Rene Aufhauser clumsily fouled Ivica Olic in the area. It was an obvious foul and the Austrian protests were surely out of frustration at their teammate rather than the decision.

Croatia dominated for the next twenty minutes or so with Modric looking impressive but Austria gradually took a hold on the game. They played some excellent football and created a number of half chances. In the end they couldn’t find the net and ultimately paid for having a lack of real quality in the final third.

Although Croatia won the game, the same could indeed be said of their quality in the opponents penalty area. The team, who looked a long way from being potential winners of the tournament, don’t appear to have adequately replaced injured Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva.

In the later game, Germany had what was in the end a fairly comfortable victory against a spirited but ultimately limited Poland side. A goal in each half from Polish born striker cum wide man Lukas Podolski was enough to see the tournament favourites cruise to a deserved win.

Poland had a good period in the second half when they were only 1-0 down but they never seriously troubled Germany. As well as the two goals, Klose and Gomez managed to combine to make a total mess of one great chance, Gomez missed another good opportunity and Poland keeper Boruc made some decent saves and one stunning one to deny Chelsea’s Michael Ballack.

In the second half, Poland introduced Brazilian born Guerrero to the side and he looked the most likely player to unsettle Germany. One cross he provided was headed towards goal by Marek Saganowski, but Jens Lehman saved easily.

So, after four games we have seen nothing to suggest that the tournament will provide any major shocks. The group of favourites look about right, the ‘outside bets’ have won but not looked good, and the ‘no hopers’ have battled and played with pride but lost. It looks like the bookies have got it right, as usual.

One thing that I feel I should comment on after these first four games is the quality of the refereeing. With one or two exceptions when play has been prematurely stopped when the offended against team were in a good position and advantage should have been played, the standard has been particularly high. The referees have been under-stated. They have hardly been noticed. That is exactly as it should be. In the Premier League in England we are used to referees trying to make themselves the star of the show.

The four referees so far have not been ‘card happy’ and have run the games with a great deal of common sense. When players have fallen theatrically to the ground the refs have simply told them to get up and get on with it. When the referee was confronted with the difficult decision to award a penalty against the host nation after just three minutes yesterday, he didn’t hesitate.

The refereeing has been refreshing so far. The games have been refreshing so far. The football has been refreshing so far and the spirit in which the games have been played has been refreshing so far.

As an Englishman, I am truly hoping that all of the above is not true mainly because England aren’t there and we haven’t yet seen an English referee! That is what I’m hoping, but it isn’t necessarily what I believe!


Graham Fisher



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