Russia

Euro 2012: Group A Wrap-Up

Greece showed glimpses of their 2004 form

Euro 2012: Group A Wrap-Up

By: Henry Whitfield

Euro 2012 has been full of action and the last day of Group A continued the trend, with Poland and Russia crashing out of the tournament while underdogs Greece and Czech Republic live to play another day.

While Poland and Russia will be heartbroken at their early exits, the future for Greece and Czech Republic isn’t exactly bright, with their next round opponents emerging from the Group of Death.

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Greece 1  – 0 Russia

Greece struggled in both their opening matches, but took advantage of a first half strike by Giorgos Karagounis on the brink of half time to steal a spot in the knockout rounds.

Russia dominated play early on and the lone strike was completely against the run of play, with Karagounis taking advantage of a mistake by Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich.

The unlikely leaders held on after the break, being outshot 29-7 and having just 40% possession, but channelling the defensive mindset that shook the Euro’s of 2004, the Greeks were able to snatch the most unlikely of wins.

The lone black mark for the Greeks will be the suspension of Captain Karagounis for their next match, who was shown a yellow in the second half for what the referee deemed a dive.

Man of the Match: Giorgos Karagounis

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Petr Jiracek saved the day for the Czech’s

Czech Republic 1 – 0 Poland

Hosts Poland were unable to get the win they so desperately seeked, knocking the co-hosts out of the tournament while sending the Czechs through to the quarterfinals.

After a 4-1 drubbing by Russia in their opening match, the Czech Republic bounced back with a narrow 2 – 1 over Greece and after beating Poland they snuck up to top spot in Group A.

Both teams needed a win and they both fought for it in the first half, however,  it was a tale of two halves as the Czechs imprinted their dominance in the second half and the Polish team slowly faded away.

It was Petr Jiracek who sealed the Poles fate, slotting home a shot after being found wide open by former Liverpool frontman Milan Baros.

Petr Cech finally found his groove, stopping 9 shots on target and picking up a much needed clean sheet; the Czech keeper had allowed 5 goals in the first two matches.

Man of the Match:  Petr Cech

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Final Group A Standings: Czech Republic – 6 points | Greece – 4 Points | Russia – 4 PointsPoland – 2 Points

Our Group A Predictions:  Russia, Czech Republic, PolandGreece

 

Greece went on to ruin our predictions, but with a 50% start to the tournament we can’t be too upset. Not many thought the Czech’s could go through but our 2012 Darkhorse was able to seal top spot in the group.

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Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

 

BREAKING: Russia slapped with Fine, point deduction

Stewards attacked after Russia’s 4-1 win

Russia slapped with Fine, point deduction


By: Henry Whitfield

UEFA has taken swift action against Russia after their unruly fans attacked stadium stewards after their opening day match.

They were given a  suspended 6-point deduction, which will apply to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and were slapped with a 120,000 euro fine.

Video was released of the attack in the stadium, we wrote about the incident early this week right here.

These sanctions come on the back of huge unrest shown between Russian and Polish fans on Monday night, which may give further reproduction to the 2018 World Cup hosts.

Current numbers show 120 people arrested and at least 10 injured in yesterday’s fighting.

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Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Euro 2012 – Day 5, As It Happened

Veteran Petr Cech has struggled to find his form

Euro 2012 – Day 5, As It Happened

By: Henry Whitfield

The Czech Republic rebounded from their thrashing at the hands of Russia to beat Greece 2-1 and Poland stunned Russia with a late equalizer in Group A action.

Both results leave the group wide open heading into the last round of matches next week, with all four teams able to qualify for the knockout rounds.

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Czech Republic 2 – 1 Greece

The Czech Republic wasted no time putting their tournament back on track, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of play to take a 2 – 0 lead.

Before Greece knew what had happened, they were on the back foot and trailing. A disastrous start to a game that they needed a result in.

Petr Jiracek scored the first, tucking away  inch-perfect pass by Tomas Hubschman.

Then Vaclav Pilar followed it up with a goal from a few yards out, giving the Czech’s a lead they would hold onto for the entire game.

Pilar continued to boss the midfield and the 23-year-old continues to impress.

Fanis Gekas was able to claw a goal back just after half-time, but the Greeks were unable to draw even.

The only mark on this win for the Czech’s will be the play of veteran Keeper Petr Cech, who allowed his fifth goal of the tournament and has looked shaky in net.

Man of the Match: Vaclav Pilar

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Blaszczykowski was mobbed by teammates after his second-half goal

Poland 1 – 1 Russia

Host Poland kept it’s dream of quarterfinal action alive after Captain Jakub Blaszczykowski scored a crucial tying goal in the second half and draw 1 – 1 with Russia.

Rob Lewandowski shone through for Poland, scoring a goal 17 minutes in but was flagged for offside, disallowing the high-light real goal.

Andrey Arshavin was again the spark for Russia in the midfield, working tirelessly and showing the form that made Arsenal splash out on a £15m move in 2009.

It was the Arsenal man who set up the opening goal, his free-kick being redirected home by Alan Dzagoev in the 37th minute.

Poland continued to press, but couldn’t find the goal they so desperately sought, with Lewandowski testing the Russian keeper time and time again.

It was the Polish Captain who found a way through, scoring a screamer past Malafeev and into the top corner, a top class finish.

The result means Russia needs just one point from their final game against Greece to move on in the tournament

Man of the Match: Rob Lewandowski

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Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

May the Best Bid (not) Win

England Snubbed for 2018 WC

Two votes.

Out of a grand total of 22 votes that England could have garnered in the World Cup 2018 Host race, they received just two votes.

Shocked?

Don’t be, the decision to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar reeks of retribution and political gamesmanship.

Despite England garnering the titles of ‘lowest risk’, ‘most profitable’ and ‘strongest technically’ by reports released by FIFA, it appears that the governing body of the beautiful game has dealt a tough lesson to the motherland of football.

Rallying the heavy artillery, England 2018 sent David Beckham, Prime Minister David Cameron, HRH Prince William into the snake pit in Zurich to sway the FIFA Executive to vote on the merits of the bidding countries and not punish the Brits for their outspoken media.

Sure, Russia was a heavy favourite leading up to the vote; they were a new frontier to discover, somewhere for the Football world to spread towards and continue to build Sepp Blatter’s legacy of ‘spreading the game’ throughout the corners of the planet.

However, let’s not kid ourselves that in order to ‘spread the game,’ FIFA has awarded the World Cup to a country that did not have the best bid.

Look no further than the results of the 2022 race to see the intent behind FIFA’s two decision; denying an extremely strong USA bid for that of Qatar; the country deemed ‘highest risk’ by FIFA regulators and a country that would see it’s population grow by 25% with the influx of over 400,000 fans during the tournament.

Qatar bought the support of high profile athletes like Zinedine Zidane

When a country like Qatar has to pay stars and celebrities to endorse their campaign, Zinedine Zidane is being paid $15million for the successful bid, you have to question the reason’s behind the decision. Sending the World Cup to the USA in 2022 would help grow the North American game and would allow more people access to the games.

Meanwhile pundits are already discussing the possibility of the World Cup in Qatar being the least attended in the tournaments illustrious history, but don’t worry, as the government has more than enough Oil money to cover the costs and ensure that FIFA goes home with their pockets lined in fresh bills.

Then there was the buzz word of the two races: Corruption.

British media outlets News of the World and the BBC, each fought the crusade against the corruption that covers the global game; Payoffs, tickets being sold on the black market, voters taking bribes etc.

Not an issue?

Just moments before voting, Sepp Blatter warned those present of the ‘evil of the media’ and ‘recent events in the media.’ While, Cyprus voting member Marois Lefkaritis, said ““If the [England bid team] think they did not [suffer because of the media], then they are stupid and naive.”

Allegations that there was collusion between the 2018 Spain/Portugal bid and the 2022 Qatar bid to garner support for each in the separate votes will not help, with Qatar winning and the Iberian bid being a finalist in the 2018 race.

With so much controversy revolving around the final decisions and such strong bids obviously snubbed, it asks the question: Why are the best candidates being ignored?

And while there are many other questions to ask, some are already taking action.

England 2018 bid Chief Executive Andy Anson has called for reform, asking for more transparency in the decisions, stating that accusations of corruption have tainted the process.

“I would say right now don’t bother (bidding) unless you know the process is going to change,” said Anson.

“When there are only 22 guys that gives them too much influence.”

While England’s Football Association chairman Roger Burden resigned, stating that he could not work with FIFA as long as he did not trust them.

“I recognize that an important part of the role is liaison with Fifa, our global governing body,” he said.

“I am not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust and I have withdrawn my candidacy.”

Finally, Arsene Wenger was steadfast in his call for FIFA reform, “The way to decide looked to me, in fairness, a little bit from the Middle Ages. It doesn’t look right in

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger has joined the cry for FIFA reform

modern life that people have to go over there and lobby and say, ‘please believe in us’. Frankly, it looks a little bit that you have to flatter them to get the World Cup.

“I don’t think that is right. You would like to have much more technical than human criteria. It is difficult to explain to people that the technical bid of England was perfect but you get only two votes. That is not rational,” finished the Arsenal manager.

While FIFA will want to move forward and past their decision, it appears there will be a definite push for reform and transparency in the future.

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Henry Whitfield is an avid Mooseheads fan and you can find his thoughts on sports and more on his blog, or follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield. You can also listen to him on air as a regular contributor to the Bill McLean Sports show on 88.1 CKDU.