Hello there. I’m back from the Gold Coast and I’m feeling good. Hope you’re doing as well on this fine Tuesday.
Since I last posted the European Championships have begun and the first three days of the tournament have been filled with some decent football and a couple of interesting results. I managed to catch the entirety of the Czech Republic’s 1-0 win over co-host Switzerland in the opening fixture and was quite impressed with the performances put in by both sides.
By all reports Portugal were impressive in beating 2-0 while the Croatians, who I’ve tipped to make the semi-finals, were a little underwhelming in taking care of the other co-hosts Austria, 1-0 through Luka Modric’s early penalty kick. On the other hand, Germany only strengthened their grip as my favourites to win Euro 2008 after comfortably disposing of Poland 2-0.
France, my other tip to make the final were held 0-0 by Romania in last night’s early game while the Netherlands put in the performance of the tournament to beat World Champions Italy 3-0 in the best game of the tournament so far. I thought Marco van Basten got his tactics absolutely right in adopting a 4-2-3-1 counter-attacking formation against Italy and was rewarded with a win that leaves Holland with one foot in the quarter-finals.
One thing I have been a little disappointed with so far in this tournament is a serious lack of Arsenal players getting game time. Indeed, only Philippe Senderos, William Gallas and the outgoing Jens Lehmann have started for their respective countries while Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou and Lukasz Fabianski received little or no game time. Even Arsenal target Samir Nasri failed to get much time for France despite their inability to trouble Romania.
This looks set to continue again today with Cesc Fabregas likely to start on the bench if reports are to be believed. Obviously I will be hoping Fabregas starts if only to see what impact the little Spaniard has for his country. I think he deserves to but it will depend on what sort of approach Spanish manager Luis Aragones wants to take against Guus Hiddink’s Russia.
Either way I’m expecting Spain to kick off their campaign with a win over a Russian side missing key striker Andrei Arshavin through suspension. In the group’s other game I can’t see anything but a win for ex-Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg’s Sweden. And if the past three days are anything to go by then it should be quite a good night of football.
Aside from Euro 2008 there’s also quite a bit of Arsenal news that popped up over the weekend which I’ve very quickly summarised below:
- Theo Walcott has been speaking about the progress he made last season and his ambitions for the next campaign. It’s clear the English winger is hell-bent on starting the season as first-choice on the right and with the quality of performances he was putting in towards the end of last season are compared with those of Emmanuel Eboue you have to say he’s a pretty good chance.
- Alexandre Song has signed a new long-term contract. It’s very good news in my eyes, Alex has shown great progress this season and at only 20 years of age should be a valuable member of the squad for years to come.
- Croatia manager Slaven Bilic has suggested that Eduardo da Silva may return to Arsenal in July to begin pre-season training with his club. I’d tend to lean on the conservative side when it comes to this situation but it’s certainly brilliant news nonetheless.
- Alex Hleb has now been linked with a move to Bayern Munich by his agent Uli Ferber. As I’ve said before I don’t really care when he ends up so nothing more needs to be said about this one.
- Arsenal’s physiotherapist Gary Lewin has left the club to become the full-time physio of the England National Team. After 21 years of service at Arsenal he deserves a new challenge so good luck to him.
And that, my friends, is that. Keep enjoying yourselves. Hup Holland!
What do you think?
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