By Anastasiya Pershkina
The first round of Euro 2012’s group stage matches ended on June 11 with favorites scoring one point only. Its outcome was surprising indeed.
Poland v Greece draw was the first surprise. The hosts seemed to lack support and team spirit. Their second goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton was a hero of the game after Wojciech Szczesny’s red card for kicking a Greek striker. Tyton was thrust into action and took a penalty kick keeping the 1-1 score.
In the second Group A game, Russia defeated the Czech Republic. Alan Dzagoev was the star, scoring two goals, and was named the world player of the week. Roman Shirokov and Roman Pavluchenko secured victory scoring another two.
Alan is quite modest about his performance and is thinking only about the next game.
“This game has already passed and we need to prepare for a match against Poland. We scored three points and that’s it. I try to think about the game we have ahead.”
The major Group B sensation was Holland’s defeat from Denmark. Both teams can’t explain how this could have happened. Holland created all chances to score but failed.
Experts joke that the Netherlands may be allergic to white – last time they were defeated by white-clad Russian players and this time Danes wore the same color.
Germany and Portugal which played later were calm and reserved. Germany’s tactics bore fruit with Mario Gomez striking a goal – 1-0 – and bringing three points to Germany.
Group C surprise was Croatia that went on top after a win over Ireland and an Italy-Spain draw.
Group D top was suddenly taken by Ukraine. Its game against Sweden was already compared to historical Battle of Poltava. The match was dominated by Andrei Shevchenko who scored twice.
Kiev was so happy after as if the team had made it to the semis. Shevchenko gave a brief comment:
“I’m just happy. That’s better than any dream.”
Ukraine’s coach Oleg Blokhin was very pleased with the result.
“Before the match, I saw a dream of Andrei scoring a double. We had field and tactics advantages. Sweden seemed to be hoping for a draw and was quite passive.”
Group D favorites France and England ended in a draw.
June 12 is the second round of the group stage. Qualifiers to the first quarters will be held in Warsaw today. If Russia defeats the hosts it will score another three points and make it to the next stage.
Poles are quite determined and the game will be challenging. Polish media call the forthcoming match a battle of Warsaw and this may appear true.