Aycliffe Today Sports Editor and Newton Aycliffe FC reporter Glen Robertson continues his daily Euro 2012 blog…
Since there were no games yesterday, I’ll have to fill this space with something else. The one thing that’s guaranteed to get people worked up is to hand out a bunch of ‘group stage’ awards.
Joe Hart (England); Theodor Gebre Selassie (Czech Republic) Mats Hummels (Germany) Sergio Ramos (Spain) Philipp Lahm (Germany); Luka Modric (Croatia) Andrea Pirlo (Italy); Alan Dzagoev (Russia) Andres Iniesta (Spain) Vaclav Pilar (Czech Republic); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Mats Hummels. The Borussia Dortmund defender has been the best defender in Europe for the past two seasons. However, he plays in the Bundesliga so he hasn’t got the recognition globally that he deserves. But after three storming performances for the Germans, nobody is overlooking him now. Rock solid at the back and brilliant at bringing the ball out of the defence. And, yes, Bayern Munich did really release him on a free as a youngster.
Undoubtedly Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s superb scissor kick against France. Sweden may have already been knocked out, but the maverick forward was in no mood for giving up and going home. He was found in the centre and connected with the sweetest of volleys that left Hugo Lloris with no chance whatsoever. Special goal from a special player.
Roy Hodgson. Most managers have had at least two years to work with their teams, get to know the players and sort out a winning formation. Hodgson didn’t even have two months. But he has done the unthinkable. He has made England solid, organised and hard to beat. He has a four year contract, taking him up to Euro 2016. The early signs are very positive for England.
Home nation, rivals opposition, sold-out stadium, tensions running high and two sides going all out for the win. A superb game of football, containing perhaps the moment of the tournament when Jakub Blaszczykowski equalised for Poland with a stunning left-footed goal. Just a shame neither team qualified from the group.
Other than the fact Roy Keane and Jamie Carragher haven’t come to blows yet in the ITV studio, it has to be the Netherlands. If they could keep the attacking talent at their disposal, but lose the massive egos that come with it, the Oranje would be an irresistible force. Touted as one of the three clear favourites beforehand, they ended without a point.
Quarter-final 1: Portugal vs Czech Republic
Rejoice! Football is back tonight, as the quarter-finals get underway. Portugal have gone from outsiders to genuine contenders after escaping the ‘Group of Death’. I’m still not exactly sure how the Czechs survived their group, after their opening day mauling at the hands of Russia.
Portugal should have no problems seeing off the Czechs, providing Cristiano Ronaldo is in the kind of form he showed against Netherlands and not Denmark.
Czech Republic’s right-back Theodor Gebre Selassie has had a cracking tournament so far, but a night dealing with Ronaldo will be his greatest test yet.
Prediction: Portugal 2-0 Czech Republic
Bet of the day: Nani first goalscorer 9/1