Euro 2012: Eight Playmakers Who Must Step Up to Ensure Success
Today is Day 6 of Euro 2012 and many teams have made early statements in their opening matches. The difference between winning and losing always comes down to one or two plays making certain playmakers' contributions vital to their team's outcome.
Here are eight players, two from each group, that must play better by making a larger impact for their teams to ensure success at Euro 2012.
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Tomas Rosicky is the captain of this Czech team for a reason. With one game remaining the only thing standing in their way from a trip to the quarterfinals is a matchup against Poland. The Greeks have three points after defeating Greece two to one and must find a way not to lose the final game against Poland or their tournament hopes will vanish.
With this much importance on the final match captain Tomas Rosicky must step up for the Czechs. Rosicky has had some troubles with consistency during the Euro's but showed some signs of improvement yesterday against the Greeks. If Rosicky can play to form the Czechs will advance to the quarterfinals.
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Dimitrios Salpingidis is one of the main strikers behind the Greece attack. So far in two games at the Euros has been one of the few bright spots for the Greek squad. Dimitrios scored the only goal for Greece against Poland and must continue his efforts on Saturday.
The Greeks are in a very difficult position in Group A and need to find some offense in this tournament in order to make some noise.
Salpingidis gives the Greeks a great chance to score goals. The Greeks must win their final match against Russia and hope for some luck from the rest of Group A to reach the quarterfinals.
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In the first game at Euro 2012, midfielder Raul Meireles did not play well for the Portugese. Meireles is coming off a tough season with Chelsea and will need to play his best against Germany and Denmark if this team wants to advance.
Portugal is a very talented team with strikers and threats at multiple positions, but Meireles is the glue that makes this team role. If Meireles can get the strikers of Portugal the ball, then this team will succeed in the tournament.
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Netherlands played well in their opening game in Euro 2012 but will need their best effort to defeat Germany and Portugal. Arjen Robben is a quick and aggressive forward who has all the talent to attack opposing defenses with relative ease.
The pressure is starting to mount on Robben, who has received countless criticism for his poor decision making late in matches. Robben must play solid football if Netherlands wants to defeat the Russians and gain control of the group of death.
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Mario Balotelli had numerous chances to defeat Spain in the opening game of Euro 2012 but came up short. Balotelli's effort has been seriously questioned throughout the Euros and must improve as the tournament continues.
Balotelli is a very talented striker and must play a solid, consistent game for Italy tomorrow against Croatia. If Balotelli can attack the net and score for the Italians, they will be on their way towards clinching a spot in the quarterfinals.
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The Irish made life difficult for themselves after losing their opening game against Croatia. Now the Irish must play well against Spain and Italy if they want to reach the quarterfinals. The main issue for the Irish against Croatia was the lack of performance from their strikers, especially Robby Keane.
Robby Keane is the main striker for Ireland and must succeed like he did for the Los Angeles Galaxy. If Keane can score, he can captivate the large Irish crowd, making life difficult for Group C.
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Dany Welbeck is the main striker who must replace the production of Wayne Rooney for Friday's match against Sweden. In the first match at Euro 2012, Welbeck did not score and needs to play better for the English.
Welbeck will have no easy task against the Swedish but must find ways to use his speed and quickness to create opportunities for the English if they want to control Group D. This task will not be easy, but if Welbeck can provide a spark for the British, help will be on the way with striker Wayne Rooney set to return for the third match.
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the best players in Euro 2012, but if the Swedish want to win and advance to the quarters, striker Christian Wilhelmsson must step up his game. Wilhelmsson played decently in the first match but must play better to create a one two punch for the Swedish.
Wilhelmosson must create more chances for Ibrahimovic by possessing the ball and creating problems for defenses in Group D. If Wilhelmsson can attack the British defense, expect some scoring and a necessary win for the Swedish on Friday.