Sports journalist and Newton Aycliffe FC reporter Glen Robertson writes a regular Euro 2012 blog for Aycliffe Today…
DAY FOUR REVIEW
England 1-1 France
Roy Hodgson saw England concede for the first time under his management, but a point gained against a dangerous France side is a very acceptable start to the campaign. Joleon Lescott’s bullet-header gave England the lead but a superb goal from Samir Nasri levelled Les Bleus.
But there were plenty of positives to take from England’s performance. For once, they were organised and disciplined. Steven Gerrard sat in front of the defence, not sprinting off where he pleases, trying ridiculously difficult passes. Things were kept simple, and England impressed early on, before tiring as the game neared its conclusion.
Of course, they will need to improve if they are going to reach beyond the quarter-finals, but the nation can be satisfied with the opening.
Ukraine 2-1 Sweden
The moment of the tournament so far, as national hero Andriy Shevchenko scored twice for co-hosts Ukraine in their 2-1 defeat of Sweden. Shevchenko is already a legend in his home country and enhanced his reputation further still with two incredible headers.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Sweden and put in a good showing making a mockery of some critics who argue that he never produces in the big games. But the game belonged to Shevchenko, who is now 8/1 to be the tournament’s goalscorer with some bookies. Surely not?
DAY FIVE PREVIEW
Everyone has played once so we’re back to Group A. Co-hosts Poland look for a first victory against Russia (7.45pm), who were arguably the most impressive side in the opening round of fixtures. In the early game, Czech Republic look to recover from their mauling at the hands of the Russians as they face Greece (5pm).
Greece will be without their first choice centre-back pairing, as Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended following his red card against Poland and Avraam Papadopoulos will miss the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.
The losers will, likely, be going home. Czech Republic were knocked out of Euro 2004 by Greece in the semi-finals. This is their chance for a bit of retribution.
Game of the Day – Russia vs Poland:
Had Poland have held on against Greece in their opener, they’d have been happy with a point against Russia. But, especially if Greece beat the Czechs in the early game, they now need a victory.
Russia showed in their opener they are a formidable side that can create chances for fun. But they also leave plenty of gaps, which Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski will take advantage of.
In three games against each other, there have been 10 goals. The last meeting ended 2-2. Expect a similar amount of goals this time.
Key Battle: Lukasz Piszczek vs Andrey Arshavin
The Polish right-back is one of the best in Europe when it comes to bombing forward. As Arsenal fans know, Arshavin isn’t known for tracking-back. So we’ll get a cat and mouse game between the pair. Will Piszczek go forward, potentially leaving Arshavin with acres of space should Russia counter? Will Arshavin let Piszczek go forward unchecked and hang around on the left? Their decisions could have a huge effect on the final score.
Bets of the Day: Czech Republic to beat Greece 7/5
Robert Lewandowski first goal scorer vs Russia 6/1