UEFA Euro 2012: Ranking Group A After Day One
The first two matches of Euro 2012 have been played and the tournament has set off to an explosive start.
Some fantastic football and some great drama has resulted in an extremely successful opening afternoon for Euro 2012.
But who played the best football tonight?
Greece faced Poland and Russia faced Czech Republic in the opening contests.
What looked to be the least exciting group has thrown up some world-class goals and some exciting play.
I have ranked the four teams form Group A on how well they played in their respective games.
Greece were loose at the back today against Poland and their sloppy defensive tactics let them down as Robert Lewandowski headed in a beautiful goal for the Polish.
This lack of defensive prowess coupled with an aggression that provoked Spanish referee to dole out three yellow cards (one that resulted in a red for Sokratis Papastathopoulos).
They did not have a good outing, especially in the first half where Poland picked holes in them for fun and they were lucky to have only gone one goal down.
They never found a good rhythm in their play and though they half redeemed themselves in the second half—taking their game play to another gear—it was not enough to make them look like a viable threat to any of the other group members.
The missed penalty was the salt in the wound and this disappointment cost them what would have been an extremely lucky three points.
As it is, they never really looked like winning. They did not look like a tight, cohesive unit and it is for this reason I believe they are the weakest team after day one.
They certainly have a lot to prove if they are to recreate their 2004 glory.
3. Czech Republic
Czech Republic found it extremely difficult to hold onto the ball in their game against Russia.
Poor passing and a loose defence meant that Russia were able to constantly attack from the wing—a mistake that cost Czech Republic their first two goals.
The defence was all over the place—creating unrivaled amounts of space for Russia to capitalise on.
They managed to break Russia in the second half where they arguably upped their game, but it was not enough as Russia recomposed and fired two more past Petr Cech.
The goal certainly came from nowhere, but was finished perfectly by Vaclav Pilar.
This superb bit of football combined with their unrelenting spirit puts them ahead of Greece in terms of who looked the strongest today.
The co-hosts of Euro 2012 put on an excellent opening display, igniting the crowd by proving they can play world class football.
They were all over Greece during the first half of their match which saw an outstanding Polish goal and a red card for Greece.
They continued their remarkable outing in the second half when substitute goalkeeper Premyslaw Tyton saved a penalty which would have dashed Poland’s hopes of gaining at least a point from their opening match.
Poland has never won a game in the Euro finals, but with signs of some exquisite play tonight, they may well make history at some point against Russia or the Czech Republic.
Russia played with spirit and heart today as they hurtled past Czech Republic in a 4-1 extravaganza.
All four goals were brilliant. Three scorchers were fired past Petr Cech as well as a nifty chip by Russian midfielder Roman Shirokov, resulting in a score line which certainly reflected the dominance that Russia displayed over the Czechs.
Their fluid football matched with dangerous counter attacks meant that Russia secured their place at the top of the group and sent a message to everyone else who may have considered this group a weak force in the tournament.
Russia not only showed that they will dominate group A, but they also showed they stand a good chance if they make it past the group stages.
They definitely played a better game than any other team in their group.
They may well be the dark horse of this tournament.