Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThree themes from Euro 2012 so far - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Three themes from Euro 2012 so far - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Three themes from Euro 2012 so far

This would usually be the part where this blog post talks about last night’s England game and how we fared and my opinions and how a change of system would have made it better (hint, no matter what we did, it probably wouldn’t).

But here’s the snag; I didn’t actually see the game, relying on a live text updates for the first half in the office and Twitter for the second half in a local council meeting . Envy my fast-paced, sexy, local journalist lifestyle?


Anyway, as this blogger will probably be conked out by the time the re-run on the Beeb finishes, what I thought I’d do is, now that the first round of group games have been completed (and I’ve seen most of them), let’s have some reflections generally rather than on specific teams.


With the general trend towards 4-2-3-1 or some similar variant on the form over the last ten years or so, resulting in pretty much all the teams in the 2010 World Cup deploying such a system (apart from perhaps Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile), it’s good to see some variation.

Albeit, variation expressed in just one game in Group C. Italy deployed a 3-5-2 formation, building on the success of that system enjoyed in Serie A this season with Napoli and Juventus in particular whilst Spain played with no real strikers, although Fernando Torres was eventually sent on when Vicente Del Bosque decided he needed a focal point. To a lesser extent, Portugal went against the grain with something of a traditional Portuguese 4-3-3 but it shall be interesting to see whether these nations stick to their guns.


After the negative build-up to the tournament with regard to the behaviour of the host countries’ fans and fears over racist or anti-semitic abuse, there was probably always going to be not as much (thankfully) as was anticipated.

The terribly-handled  furore over Dutch players allegedly being racially abused at one of their open training sessions, reports of abuse directed at the Czech right back Gebre Selassie and the sight of Russian fans attacking stewards aside, thankfully this tournament has been not too heavy on the negative side of fan culture and long may this continue. In the build-up to tournaments, much is made of the dangers of travelling to the host nations (remember how everyone was going to get mugged in South Africa?) but thankfully no massive problems have yet to show themselves.

A slight downer, although not such a big issue as the above would be, is the empty seats in the stadiums where the lack of travelling fans has not been compensated by home fans filling the gaps, often due to expensive ticket pricing.

Star players

In international football where defensive solidity is the most prized possession, sought for on the training ground as attacking fluidity takes longer to produce, the influence of key, creative attacking players to unpick them becomes ever more important.

Russia’s win over the Czech Republic owed much to the sublime assisting of one Andrey Arshavin whilst Italy arguably having the better of their 1-1 draw against Spain had much to do with the fact that Andrea Pirlo dominated the midfield battle (with a lot of help from Thiago Motta). These were probably the two most impressive performances so far in the tournament as Croatia’s 3-1 win over Ireland had a lot to do Irish mistakes rather than inspiration Croatian attacking football.

Meanwhile, the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil struggled to make an impact in their respective games and their team’s performances and results (in the case of Sneijder and Ronaldo) reflected this.


So, there are three thoughts on the tournament thus far. What themes would you add to the list?

And on the subject of key players performing in the big games, here is probably the best example of it there will ever be (and this from a guy who does not like the bloke one iota).

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