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Friday, June 15, 2012

Euro 2012 Day Seven Round Up – Spain in Driver's Seat, Ireland Knocked Out, Croatia and Italy Share Spoils

El Nino justifies his selection
Spain showed just why they are being billed as the No. 1 favourites to lift the European championships with a resounding 4-0 demolition of a hapless Ireland.

Fernando Torres scored either side of David Silva’s goal while substitute Cesc Fabregas completed the rout as La Roja got their campaign on song while the Irish became the first team to be eliminated from the competition.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque tweaked his line up a bit dropping Fabregas to the bench in favour of Torres who showed glimpses of his ability in the 1-1 draw against Italy in the first match.  

And the former Liverpool man justified his selection with a man-of-the-match performance against the Irish at the PGE Arena in Gdansk. The defending champions dominated the game right from the onset and took the lead with just four minutes on the clock. Some suspect defending from Richard Dunne saw Torres pounce on a loose ball before riffling it into the roof of the net to give Spain the lead.

La Roja’s passing game was simply overwhelming for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side who were making only their second appearance in the competition, and first in 24 years. The gulf in class was all too evident as The Boys in Green were made to chase possession by the team ranked No. 1 in the world who could have put the game beyond reach were it not for some stunning saves from Shay Given in goal. The half ended 1-0 to La Roja.

It took another four minutes into the second half for the world champions to double their lead. Andres Iniesta stung Given’s palms with a drive from just inside the area. The Irish and Newcastle custodian’s punch was weak and fell into the feet of David Silva who showed patience and control tandem to his class before slipping the ball through Dunne’s legs and into the net.

Spain never let their foot off the gas constantly probing and testing Shay Given. They made it 3-0 in the 70th minute. Torres, who scored the winning goal in the Euro 2008 final, doubled his tally after latching onto a David Silva through ball before outpacing the Irish defence and slotting past Given.

The Chelsea forward soon made way for Fabregas who scored his second goal in as many matches with a tight-angled shot from the right side in the 83rd minute to complete a superb evening for Spain.

La Roja are always never too quick to get off the blocks. In the 2010 World Cup, they lost their first match against Switzerland and looked like they were in deep trouble but a run of six consecutive victories saw them win football’s most coveted price. It was barely a case of déjà vu this time round as they secured a point against Italy but they are now firm and in control of Group C.

Meanwhile Mario Mandzukic’s 72nd minute strike earned Croatia a 1-1 draw against Italy in Poznan. Andrea Pirlo curled in a delicious free-kick in the 39th minute to give the Azzuri the lead but it was the Wolfsburg striker who had the last word on the game netting his third goal of the tournament to give the Vatreni a crucial point and leave the Italians in danger of exiting the competition.

The last round of Group C matches will be played Monday the 18th. Spain need only a point to advance to the knockout stages while Italy will hope Spain beat or draw with Croatia but they will have to score more than two goals if the latter happens.

Day 8 of the championships takes place Friday June 15. England know that only a win against Sweden (a team they have failed to beat in 7 competitive attempts dating back to almost 24 years ago), will give them a chance to advance. France tackle co-hosts Ukraine at the Donbass Arena in Dontes’k in the other encounter. A surprise win for Ukraine against the French will see them advance to the quarters.

You can catch all the scores and updates from Day 8 here.

My Predictions

England 2-1 Sweden

France 2-0 Ukraine

And That's thesteifmastertake!!