The more vigilant among you may have noticed my regular Euro 2012 punctuality has been stalled as the tournament wrapped up sunday. The Euros are like a delicious sweet, you gorge on all that’s available and then you hit your limit and go overboard, wishing never to revisit again. I was so full of statistics and player opinions that to talk about the tournament and the final felt like just having that last fizzy cola bottle.
But that time is over now. After a few days where the giant empty vessel that is my football hunger was not quenched by the small measures of Wimbledon, I feel it is time to wrap up Euro 2012.
The final was fairly routine. Record setting routine that is; highest winning margin in a European or world final, first team to successfully defend a European title, and first team to be in possession of three major titles at once. Spain are the best team in Europe and probably tied with Brazil in terms of best team worldwide.
I can’t even remember the final that well, only the inevitability of it. The fallacy that Italy began with was just that, the possession slipped away from them and their forwards saw less of the ball as time went on. Their unwillingness to pull ‘a Chelsea’ was more than likely going to result in a flattering scoreline for Spain.
Not that the Spanish didn’t deserve it mind, their vast array of talent all looking comfortable playing at this level of football. Moreover all the players looked hungry. Spain were criticised for their ‘boring’ football and not going for the jugular throughout the competition – this wasn’t the case at all in the final.
Once Italy went down to ten men you knew it was a matter of keeping their loss margin down, rather than harboring any winning thoughts. Pirlo? Tell it to the Xavi.
For the young Mario Balotelli, he can look forward to a long and promising career in many more tournaments for Italy (providing he cuts all the crazy stuff out), and for a veteran like Pirlo, well I’m sure he can find solace in his World Cup winners medal.
Overall I was left with a good feeling from Polkraine, it was like a night out where you have good time in every place you visit and no one throws up on your shoes. So it was like no night out. There were goals galore (only genuinely boring England producing a 0-0), some cracking team performances (Russia’s opening game), and some outstanding personal performances (Ronaldo against Holland).
Let’s look at some stats because… stats.
Spain or ‘boring Spain’ as the morons called them managed an average of two goals a game (joint top with Germany), with only Italy having more shots on target on average. Perhaps people didn’t like how one-sided they made it – an average possession of just over 60% per game.
Xavi may not have been having an ultimate Barcelona night all tournament but he was pretty bloody good: 127 successful passes from 136 attempts in one game, 592 successful overall, two assists and numerous other chance creations make him the midfielder of the tournament.
Holland actually managed a better pass success rate than Spain. Too bad they sucked.
Ronaldo was as shot happy as ever with 37 efforts, unfortunately only nine found themselves on target. Even more unfortunate, he is now the all time woodwork rattler of the Euros.
Italy will certainly feel that justice was done in the penalty shootout against England: 31 shots to 8, 815 passes to 320, Pirlo making more passes than any three England players combined. England’s most successful passing combination? Joe Hart to Carroll of course, big Andy didn’t come on until the hour mark too. How we’ve moved on from the 50’s…
Shevchenko really showed what it meant to be a lethal striker in his incredible performance against Sweden with two goals. Total time in possession? 15 seconds.
Denmark can join Russia, and to a lesser extent Italy, in feeling hard done by – all three had 31 shots in a single game and failed to win.
Karagounis now has eight yellow cards in ten European games – have some of that!
On your ‘ed! These games set the bar for nodding one in, 29% of goals came from headers, the most of any Euros.
On to Team GB, a few Premier League seasons and then World Cup 2014 in Brazil then!