Euro 2012: Early Heroes
Euro 2012 has been very exciting and now that the first round is over, it is time to look back and see the players that have etched their name it the tournament's lore. From Przemislav Tyton's PK heroics in the opening match to Andriy Shevchenko's two scores over Spain to give the win to the host squad, a handful of players have really made their mark.
A lot of stuff has transpired from Wroclaw to Kharkiv and I really hope that the rest of the tournament lives up to these four games.
I didn't expect much from Michael Krohn-Dehli and, frankly, I never really understood why Morten Olsen kept calling him up for the Danish squad. After his uneventful stint at Ajax, it seems that his return to Denmark has done him some good.
His goal against the Netherlands shows that, despite the stunning loss to Brazil in the previous weekend, the squad is confident on their defensive abilities and counter-attack to take them past the group stage.
Krohn-Dehli's score was a stunner as he went past two Dutch defenders to bury behind Maarten Stekelenburg's net. He's already an early runner for goal of the tournament.
This season was Robert Lewandowski's coming-out-party at the international stage. While Borussia Dortmund as team has yet to make a run in the Champions League, Lewandowski was one of Dortmund's brightest spots. For Poland, Lewandowski is their major hope for goals and he delivered on his biggest opportunity.
His score in the opening match not only ensured the happiness of the home crowd but, it ensured that the Wojciech Szczesny's unfortunate journey did have worse consequences.
Alan Dzagoev has been the best player for CSKA Moscow for a while now but, he never really stole the spotlight at a continental stage. Even though he's in the peak of his form, Andrei Arshavin was the one player people were watching.
Dzagoev's two goals propelled the Russians over the Czechs and left them on the ropes for this next round. Dzagoev has everybody's eyes on him and I hope that he can respond.
For me, it was nice that this tournament was hosted in part by the Ukraine because it is a nice way to crown Ukraine's best player ever. I thought this was going to be a sad goodbye for Sheva as the Ukraine would be shaken up from the beginning.
Well, I couldn't be more wrong. This tournament seems to be Shevchenko's pièce de resistance, rather than a sad goodbye. He scored twice and single-handedly propelled the Ukranian side over the Swedes. The 35-year-old is playing a smarter game, giving a clinic on how to be positioned inside the box.
His two goals ensured that the party was kept alive in Kyiv for another night.
I concede that Giorgios Karagounis shot wasn't the best but let's analyze the whole incident. Wojciech Szczesny was playing a nervous match and that culminated into the mistake that collaborated with Salpingidis' equalizer and with his biggest mistake to date, the PK. That PK got him sent off in his country's capital in the opening match of the Euro.
Well, the prognostic wasn't the best for the backup. Przemyslaw Tyton, had to face the Greek captain Karagounis as soon as he got on the field. That was no problem for Tyton. He got in and guessed the right side to make the save and bail out Szczesny, and bail out Poland.
Of everything that is still to happen in the tournament, years from now, we will remember the opening match when Przemyslaw Tyton came in and stunned Karagounis.