Arsenal: 6 Stars Poised to Shine in Euro 2012 Quarterfinals
Arsenal had 10 Premier League players going into the Euros, the most of any Premier League club. Here is the list:
Of these, six remain in the competition and may play in the Quarterfinals.
I should explain what I mean by "poised to shine." It should be understood in terms of opportunity, by which it would mean "could shine" rather than "definitely going to shine" as the phrase might imply.
Thus, each player, given the opportunity to play in the quarterfinals, has the chance to shine, to make a name for himself as the circumstance might allow. But even here, the entire notion is steeped inevitably in subjectivity.
We must allow that it also has a rather endearing ring of naivety to it. Broadly speaking, each player at the Euro has the opportunity to shine, and to a degree, every one of them who has had the opportunity to play has ["shined"] shone.
More specifically though, "shine" connotes excellence, that stuff that makes stars, the above-the-average type.
"Shine" also connotes the average stars who break out in tournaments to become the above-the-average type, a number of whom continue on shining. Others combust, and with one last burst, hurtle downward fast to become grounded in the commonplace stuff, the normal threshold of the trade.
Mertesacker remains an unused sub at the Euros. Joern Pollex/Getty Images.
Let's take a stock of the remaining six Arsenal players in the tournament.
Of the 10 players listed above, Two (Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny) haven't even kicked the ball in any of the matches. In reality, Mertesacker is likely to remain on the bench in the Germany-Greece quarterfinal on Friday.
Laurent Koscielny will have his chance to shine in the France-Spain quarterfinal on Saturday as a replacement for the suspended Philippe Mexès.
Will he shine? That's the big question. Against the incessant attacking Spanish, there's no better opportunity for a center-back.
Two of the remaining players (Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) have only made brief (or not so brief) cameo appearances in the three matches that have been played so far.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in the England-France match and played for 76 minutes. He dazzled with his first opportunity on the ball wide right, but since England opted to defend in the match, ceding the ball to France, his opportunities on the ball were brief and far between.
In fact, I thought I saw a deliberate aversion to pass to him from the other players. I admit I could be severely blinkered.
AOC made brief cameos in the next two matches, but nothing of note came of this.
He might or might not start in the quarterfinal. The fact that Rooney is now available to play further limits AOC's chances. He could come on in the latter part of the match. Will he make an impact? It is difficult to say.
Walcott was the star of the England-Sweden match. Alex Livesey/Getty Images.
Walcott was introduced into the England-France match in the very last minute and did not touch the ball. It must have been annoying.
He came on in the third England match in the 70th minute and made no impact whatsoever. In fact, FourFourTwo thinks he made just one touch of the ball. By the way, I think it was more than that.
Walcott has been the one Arsenal player that has come close to making a star out of himself after coming off the bench in the second England match (against Sweden) and making a match-winning impact.
He scored the 25-yard stunner that drew England even with Sweden who had taken the lead early in the second half. His run on the right flank, past two Swedish defenders and the subsequent cross, set up Danny Welbeck for the back-heel flick for England's third goal.
He supplied one more dazzling cross that should have been converted into England's fourth goal.
Walcott is always at his best in open attacking play. He tends to be subdued in cagey matches.
Based on Roy Hodgson's preference for defensive organization, I don't see Walcott starting in the quarterfinal match against Italy on Sunday. He is bound to come on as a substitute.
Also, due to Italy's traditional defensive organization, Walcott is unlikely to make an impact in even skirmishes, but he is likely to be devastating if the match opens up. Therefore it'd be best for him to come on at a time when both sides are chasing for the winner.
In this case, Theo Walcott might make a star of himself.
Rosicky could yet shine for the Czech Republic if he regains fitness. Christof Koepsel/Getty Images.
Tomas Rosicky had a so-so match in Czech Republic’s opening encounter with Russia where they were severely spanked with Russia running away with a 4-1 score. There, Rosicky forced and hurried his passes.
It was a different story in the second match against Greece, where they came out blazing to take a first-half two-goal lead. Rosicky was masterful in possession.
His passes were calculated, effective and efficient. He tended to drop deep into the midfield, becoming an effective fulcrum between the three front men and the defense. He, thus, was a constant extra man in the midfield, and it was a huge advantage for the Czech.
Greece's resurgence in the second half was not unconnected to Rosicky's absence in this half due to an Achilles injury, and although the Czech won their last match against Poland, Rosicky's absence was still severely missed.
The following team news by BBC Sport puts him in doubt for the quarterfinal against Portugal on Thursday.
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky remains a doubt with the Achilles injury he picked up against Greece in the second group match.He did return to training on Wednesday but Daniel Kolar is again on standby to deputise, as he did against Poland.
If he regains fitness and plays in the quarterfinal, will he shine? Definitely. He could be the difference between Czech Republic's success here and failure.
The future is very bright for Podolski. Martin Rose/Getty Images.
Lukas Podolski marked his hundredth cap for Germany with a goal against Denmark. He has been solid on the left flank for Germany, but his success at the last two world cups has eluded him here.
This is partly because Germany are less direct in their game now than they were two years ago at the world cup or, for that matter, in the other two big tournaments—Euro 2008 and FIFA 2006 World Cup.
I believe the other reason is the emergence of Mesut Özil as the primary playmaker upfront. This has limited Podolski to a specific role on the left. He, in other word, is more defensive, being mindful of the oppositions' flank players.
Podolski is not likely to have the breakout performances he had in past big tournaments. His quality, though, is still without doubt. What's more, he could shine very brightly against Greece on Friday.
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