In the past week, Arsenal has sold their captain, Robin Van Persie, and one of their most consistent players, Alex Song. This continues the trend of Arsenal selling their best players. Most of Arsenal’s big sales were to Barcelona or Manchester City, but during Arsene Wenger‘s time at Arsenal there has never been an Arsenal player sold to Manchester United.
What makes the sale of Van Persie to Manchester United so different? Simply Manchester United is one of Arsenal’s most hated rivals (Tottenham is right up there as well). There was a period not too long ago, way too long ago if you are an Arsenal fan, where Arsenal and Manchester United the two top dogs in England and fighting each other tooth and nail for major domestic trophies. So, that Arsenal was willing to sell their captain to Manchester says a lot about how far down the totem pole Arsenal has fallen.
If you are a team who is truly competing for trophies, you don’t sell your best player to one of your chief domestic rivals, especially one who has had your number in recent seasons. Arsenal has not won a major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup- if Arsenal keep on selling their top players to the teams who are finishing ahead of them in the table, it’ll be another seven years until they win another major trophy.
It’s nice that Arsenal has good economic sense in these rough financial times, but fans want trophies. 8-2 defeats to Manchester United cannot happen again.
- What Robin van Persie’s move to Manchester United will mean for Arsenal (telegraph.co.uk)
- Robin van Persie has already been replaced, says Arsene Wenger (thesun.co.uk)
- Arsenal had ‘no choice’ over sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United, says Arsene Wenger (telegraph.co.uk)
- Song may leave Arsenal – Wenger (bbc.co.uk)
- Arsenal Transfer News: Why Song’s Departure Should Serve as Catalyst for Change (bleacherreport.com)
- Robin van Persie secures £22m move after Manchester United and Arsenal agree on a fee (telegraph.co.uk)
Uefa president Michel Platini has caused a shock by coming up with the daftest idea so far during Euro 2012.
The French moron suggested Euro 2020 be spread out across 24 to 32 cities throughout Europe for reasons which are obviously idiotic and wrong.
It has increased speculation that the dipstick might have suffered a heavy fall recently which impairs his thinking, or whether he headed one too many balls when he was playing.
It’s time for my EURO 2012 semifinal predictions. Going 4 for 4 with my quarterfinal picks after my miserable group stage showing made me feel a lot better about myself.
Let’s keep this streak going!
The Battle of the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is trying to be the first to win three consecutive major titles while Portugal is trying to win their first major football title.
Both teams came through in 1-0 victories against opposition who weren’t up to the challenge. I don’t see that being the case in this match.
Portugal is playing like people have expected them to for years, one of the best teams in the world. Like every other team in the world against Spain, Portugal will be playing counterattacking football in this match. A key point to watch throughout this match is how deep are the Portuguese going to defend (the deeper the line the more difficult it’ll be for them to advance).
Unlike any other team during this era of Spanish dominance, Portugal actually defeated Spain handily in their last meeting (4-0 win in Lisbon in 2011 which was Spain’s worst loss in over 40 years).
Of course this was a friendly, so it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Portugal sports another edge that very few teams have against Spain, they have the best player on the pitch in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo and the Spanish team are well acquainted with one another with Ronaldo being a dominant force for Real Madrid in La Liga.
It has been reported that Spain will man mark Ronaldo throughout the match, something that is quite common for Ronaldo to face; however, Spain is a different animal.
If Spain is allowed to dominate possession in their attacking third as they almost always do, I just don’t see Portugal beating them. There is just too much experience for the Portuguese to overcome here. Ronaldo needs to score for Portugal to win, there are just more options at Spain’s disposal.
Spain 1 Portugal 0 (The typical Spanish scoreline)
Spain 19/20, Draw 23/10, Portugal 7/2
A match between two sides who make a living in this stage of international competitions.
This time is somewhat different though which Germany being a dominant side who was widely tabbed at being on of the favorites of this competition while due to the match fixing scandal in Italy there was talk before the tournament that Italy might withdraw from the competition.
Germany has been very good so far in this tournament, but they still haven’t reached their peak. If Italy was more efficient in front of goal in this tournament they very well might be favorites in this match.
Both of these sides are much more free-flowing than they’ve been in the past. Germany has more overall talent in their squad, but Italy is more dependable in the back. For a team that has won a nation’s record 15 straight competitive internationals, Germany does allow an awful lot of goals (somehow they allowed two to Greece in the quarterfinals).
If these Germans are misfiring in front of goal this will give Italy the opportunity they need to defeat them. The Germans will not keep a clean sheet in this match.
I don’t see the Italians scoring more than once, but the Germans are very capable of scoring 3 or 4 if they are efficient in front of goal.
I am very interested to see what the German starting XI will look like tomorrow (whether Ruus or Klose will get the start tomorrow after their solid quarterfinal showings)
I think these Germans are on a mission and will get to another major final.
Germany 2 Italy 1
Germany 10/11, Draw 12/5, Italy 7/2
Portugal 1 Czech Republic 0
Game at a glance
- Cristiano Ronaldo will be mentioned often here, but the first mention will centre on the rivalry the Portuguese superstar has been stoking with a player who is not even eligible to play at Euro 2012. Comparisons between Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi have become a storyline this month, and that will likely remain the case after Ronaldo found a television camera after scoring the game’s only goal on Thursday.
After years of tip-toeing around the issue, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has finally admitted that goal-line technology is a necessity in modern football. Ironically or not, what caused Blatter to say this was an overlooked goal that went in favor of England.
This overlooked goal that went in favor of England was part of a 1-0 win for England against Ukraine in their final group stage match. This match has been overshadowed by Ukraine shot which crossed the line and would’ve tied the match 1-1. (Note: prior to the shot going over the line Ukraine should have been called for offside.)
Maybe it took two years for goal-line technology to truly be reassessed so England could benefit from the lack of goal-line technology in a major tournament. (Note: A Frank Lampard clearly crossed over the line in 2010 World Cup quarterfinal match against Germany.)
A final decision is already set to be made at International Football Association Board‘s meeting on July 2, let’s hope they make the right decision!
It’s time for my EURO 2012 quarterfinal predictions. After looking at my pre-tournament predictions, I don’t know what to think after the group stage. Going 3 for 8 picking teams to advance to the quarterfinals is simply awful.
Time to make amends!
Portugal v. Czech Republic
This is a matchup between a Group of Death survivor against a Group of Life survivor. I think death has the advantage here.
Portugal was the second best team in their immensely difficult group while the Czechs won their much weaker group. Portugal is getting stronger as the tournament is progressing while the Czechs have been labeled as one of the weaker teams in the tournament and their captain is injured. However, the Czechs have also made significant progress in this tournament after their 4-1 loss in their opener.
The team which the Czechs faced in this tournament which is most like the Portuguese is Russia. The Czechs were thoroughly destroyed by Russia, this could be an ominous sign for the Czechs.
Ronaldo finally scored which could be a start of good things to come for Portugal. Portugal will dominate the proceedings in this match.
If Portugal puts away their chances they will advance. I believe that they will and will advance to their third semifinal in their last four EURO appearances.
Portugal 2 Czech Republic 0
Portugal 4/5, Czech Republic 4/1, Draw 5/2
Germany vs. Greece
This is a matchup between the weakest team left in the tournament, Greece, against a pre-tournament favorite, Germany.
The Group of Life survivor, Greece, is fortunate to be in the knockout stage. However, they escaped with a victory against Russia so all power to them.
The winner of the Group of Death, Germany, won all of their group stage matches but haven’t reached their top stride yet.
The Germans are by far the better side here and will dominate proceedings throughout this match. I see the Greeks having 10 people behind the ball for long periods of time in this match.
This match will come down to whether the Germans will be able to put away their chances. The Germans will of course put away enough of their chances, they are German which synonymous in football with ruthless and efficient.
Germany 3 Greece 1
Germany 4/11, Greece 9/1, Draw 15/4
Spain vs. France
This is the first heavyweight fight of the knockout stage with the defending EURO and World Cup champions facing off against the last side to knock them out of a major international tournament (2006 World Cup).
France looked to be the favorite in Group D until they collapsed in the second half against Sweden in their final match. Spain definitely hasn’t played their best up to this point in the tournament, but still finished at the top of a pretty difficult group which included Italy and Croatia.
If France isn’t at their best, Spain will win simple as that. France’s back four looked shaky in their first true test against Sweden plus Philippe Mexes will be missing out due to picking up his second yellow card against Sweden.
Spain in this match, as always, will dominate possession. If Spain is able to finish their chances, they will go through. However, they are missing their best finisher in David Villa and Fernando Torres is not in the best form at the moment, so it isn’t a given that Spain will go through
Karim Benzema needs to play like a number 9 in this match and stay up front. If he continuously drops into the midfield, something he does regularly, France will struggle to keep possession against the Spain.
France will perform better against Spain than they did against Sweden, but it won’t be enough. Spain as they’ve done the past two major tournaments will do enough to reach their third consecutive major semifinal.
Spain 1 France 0
Spain 17/20, France 15/4, Draw 12/5
England vs. Italy
This is the most intriguing of all the quarterfinals for me. The English performed admirably without Wayne Rooney in their first two matches, but then were disappointing in their 1-0 win against Ukraine. The Italians performed very well in their opening two matches against Spain and Croatia and finished with a very Italian performance in their final match to progress to the knockout stages.
Both teams are quite capable of scoring a goal and sitting on a 1-0 lead. This is why the first goal, if there is one, is key in this match. Whoever scores first in this match will advance.
I really don’t know which way to go here, I see these sides as being evenly matched. Since I have to pick though, I think Italy deserve the nod due to their past successes.
Italy 2 England 1 (a.e.t)
Italy 17/10, England 15/8, Draw 21/10
Arsenal and Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner was fined €100,000 (~$125,797) and suspended for one World Cup Qualification match for improper conduct. This improper conduct in this case was revealing a pair of bookmaker-sponsored underwear (Paddy Power) after scoring his second goal against Portugal in their EURO 2012 match.
Bendtner was also reprimanded by the Danish Football Association (DBU) and ordered to wear those the bookmaker-sponsored underwear in Denmark’s final group stage match against Germany.
Following the opening of disciplinary proceedings concerning the improper conduct of Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner at the UEFA EURO 2012 Group B match against Portugal in Lviv on Wednesday 13 June, the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body has decided to suspend the player for one competitive fixture.
This suspension applies to the next 2014 FIFA World Cup match, including the qualifying competition, for which Bendtner is eligible. The player has also been fined €100,000. An appeal can be lodged against this decision within three days of the dispatch of the full written decision.
During this same tournament, the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) was fined €25,000 ($31,449) for throwing fireworks and missiles and invading the pitch during their group stage match against Ireland. In addition, the Russian Football Union was fined €125,000 ($150,054) for stadium violence after their group stage match against the Czech Republic.
UEFA has shown yet again that the most important thing to them is money. Bendtner’s hefty fine and suspension was because he advertised an unapproved sponsor when he showed his bookmaker sponsored underwear.
Although UEFA claims differently, for them it’s all about the money.
Midfielder Emir Bajrami has been included in Sweden’s starting line-up against France in place of the ill Rasmus Elm. Coach Erik Hamren made two changes from the team who lost 3-2 against England and are already eliminated from the tournament, with Ola Toivonen replacing the injured Johan Elmander up front. Hamren said on Monday that Elm was ill and a decision on his participation would be made on Tuesday, while he had already announced that Elmander would be rested so he could continue his recovery from a broken foot.
With Yohan Cabaye training separately from the rest of the France squad as he carries a knock sustained in the 2-0 win over Ukraine, Yann M’Vila may come into the midfield for his first start of the tournament. Striker Karim Benzema faces competition from Olivier Giroud for the role of lone striker after failing to score in his previous two games. Arsenal defender Laurent Kocielny could also be in line for a first competitive start ahead of Adil Rami.
France and England both need a draw to be sure to go through, Ukraine need to win and Sweden are out. Of course, it is never quite that easy.
France can afford to lose and still advance if Ukraine do not beat England. Even then a single goal defeat by Sweden would still see the French through on goal difference.
In exceptional circumstances, England could also lose and still qualify.
If Sweden beat France, it would come down to goal difference between England and the French as they drew their direct encounter.
As it stands France hold a one-goal advantage but if Sweden win by two goals or more and England fare less badly against Ukraine, they could still make it.
Erik Hamren: “We feel sad to be leaving Kyiv and Ukraine. We have had a fantastic time here – we could happily have stayed in our hotel a lot longer. When we lost against England, the squad were very down, and if we had been in a bad place they would have really felt that, but we had a great day on Sunday. We trained earlier so they could have a relaxed afternoon and evening. We’re sad to be going.”
Laurent Blanc: “There’s always the danger that you may take your eye off the ball. So it is up to us to prepare seriously. We also need to be very aware of what we want to achieve. We were very happy following the Ukraine game, rightly so, but as I said to the players, we now need to prepare for the next game, as a game like this against Sweden demands it.”
England have won three and lost one of their four previous meetings with Ukraine, though Ukraine did win the last game 1-0 in World Cup 2010 qualifying.
The Three Lions have only conceded two goals in four previous games against Ukraine.
England are winless against EURO hosts in the history of the finals with two defeats (against Italy in 1980 and Sweden in 1992) and a draw (against Portugal in 2004).
England only need a draw to ensure progress to the quarter finals whilst Ukraine need to win to make it past the group stages.
Roy Hodgson and Oleh Blokhin are the two most recently appointed managers at EURO 2012: Hodgson took charge of England in May 2012 whilst Blokhin was named as Ukraine boss in April 2011.
England are unbeaten under Roy Hodgson, winning three games and drawing one.
After England (23 out of 23), Ukraine have the most players currently plying their trade in their domestic league (21 out 23) among teams taking part in EURO 2012.
England have converted 4 of their 21 shots (including blocked shots) at EURO 2012 (19%), the best ratio of the tournament after two rounds.
Ukraine’s shooting accuracy is the lowest at EURO 2012: they’ve tested the opposition goalkeeper with 21% of shots.
Three of England’s four goals at EURO 2012 have come from a cross.
Ukraine have made the most tackles at EURO 2012 after the first two rounds of matches (50).
England’s outfield players have blocked the most shots at EURO 2012 after two rounds of games (14).
England have conceded the fewest fouls after two rounds of matches at EURO 2012: 17.
Only Greece had fewer shots on target (3) than Ukraine (4) after two rounds of games at EURO 2012. Three of the four shots were by Andriy Shevchenko.
Wayne Rooney will take part in his first EURO 2012 game. He scored four goals in four games in his only previous participation at the European Championships, back in 2004.
Theo Walcott has scored a goal, delivered an assist and completed all his passes (eight out of eight) in only 30 minutes of action at EURO 2012.
Andriy Shevchenko has scored four of Ukraine’s seven goals at major international tournaments.
Sweden 9/2, France 4/6, Draw 11/4