Saturday, 16 June 2012

International Round Up Pt 2

With the second round of group games now completed, I thought I'd revisit the International Round Up and look at how our players have looked in their most recent appearances.

On Wednesday the Dutch took on the Germans in a much hyped contest featuring our Rafa. After the last game against Denmark where Holland failed to pick up any points I predicted Van Der Vaart may get the nod ahead of The disappointing Afellay but Van Marwijk named an unchanged line-up. With Germany two up at half time Van Der Vaart replaced Afellay for the second half. Whilst he failed to pull up any trees whilst he was on the pitch, there seemed to be a greater urgency and attacking threat after he'd been introduced and the Dutch managed to pull one back. Unfortunately for them they could not find the second goal and found themselves leaving empty handed once again.

Most teams to have lost their first two games of a major tournament would already be out, but Holland are still in with a chance of progressing to the next stages as runners up. With Germany to face the Danes and Portugal providing Holland's opposition, they will need to get the 3 points in their match and hope that Germany can also win. If this is the case it'll then come down to goal difference so a two goal win would be enough. Though I was wrong last week about Rafa starting versus the Germans, I believe that Van Marwijk will play him from the start this time around with the need for goals desperate.

In Group C the match between Italy and Croatia featured two Spurs players with Corluka and Modric both on show. Corluka was assigned the role of keeping Cassano and Balotelli quiet and did an admirable job as Italy's goal came from a free kick in the 1-1 draw, with nothing Vedran could do to stop it. Modric came up against Andrea Pirlo in a much anticipated match up, but his performance seemed to come up short compared to Pirlo. Fairly anonymous in the first half he upped his game a bit in the second half.

Next up for the Croats is a crunch game against trophy holders and tournament favourites Spain. With both teams on 4 points and Italy back on 2, either team could lose and still go through if the Republic of Ireland managed to take something away against Italy. After Corluka's performance this week, he is a certainty to regain his place at centre back for the tough test. Key man Modric will certainly start and will have to be at his best to try and match the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Silva.

England went into their game with Sweden with an unenviable record against the Scandinavians having failed to win against them in 7 attempts at major tournaments. Scott Parker and co were looking to put an end to the run and took the lead when Carroll nodded in. The Swedes then got back into the game with an equaliser which was then quickly followed by their second as slack marking at the back post allowed Olof Mellberg in to head past Hart. With the introduction of Theo Walcott, England looked a lot more hungry and goals from Theo and Danny Welbeck gave us the win so desperately needed. Parker put in his usual shift and even forced Isaakson into a good save in the Swedish goal early on. Unfortunately for Defoe there would be no appearance this week.

The final game of England's campaign is against hosts Ukraine and England will now that a point will be enough to take them through to the knockout stages. However with Spain likely to top Group C, England will want to beat Ukraine to give themselves a chance of topping Group D. Parker, barring injury, will no doubt start and have to watch out for the talented Yarmalenko. The youngster has failed to shine yet in the tournament but is a talented player and Ukraine's dangerman. With Rooney's return from suspension, Defoe will likely sit through the Ukraine game on the bench with Welbeck and Carroll also ahead of him in the pecking order.

With no teams guaranteed their place in the knockout rounds the next four days are certain to contain many twists and turns and it will be interesting to see how our lads fare under the pressure.

Finally on a side note, it's great to hear the news that Spurs legend Dave Mackay has been released from hospital. I know I speak for all of us when I wish him the best in his recovery.

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