Category Archives: Euro 2012

Watch: Andrea Pirlo’s Beautiful Penalty Against England in Euro Semifinals

By Kevin Koczwara

England and Italy played to a dull 0-0 draw, the first scoreless game in this year’s European Championship. The game went to penalties and naturally the English lost. Italy prevailed. And Andrea Pirlo, the player of the game and maybe the tournament, continued his magnificent display with this penalty kick.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart tried to everything he could to put off Italy’s penalty takers during the shootout, but it didn’t work against Pirlo, the long-haired Jedi Master of the soccer ball. Watch as he scrumptiously chips in his kick. It’s just beautiful.

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Talking Belgium Footy with John Chapman

By Ryan Fleming

John Chapman has been living in Brussels for more years “than he can remember.” And he’s been covering Belgian soccer for as long. A contributor to the likes of FourFourTwo and others, Chapman is one of the experts and journalists covering Belgian soccer. He runs his own site, It’s Only Belgian Football, But I Like It, and gives the league the kind of exposure it deserves outside of Belgium.

And we wanted to get more insight into the Belgian Jupiler League and the Belgian National Team, a team getting a lot of praise and with loads of potential. So, we sent over some questions to get Chapman’s views on what’s happening in Belgium and what to look for from the national team int he coming years.

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In due time Belgium

By Ryan Fleming

With arguably the most talented squad in the world, the Belgium national team has a lot of pressure on it. From a country about the size of Maryland, the depth and young, emerging talent that the Red Devils own is incredible. But even with all the talent, Belgium is still missing the key ingredient that makes Emeril exclaim “Bam!” over.

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Bert van Marwijk Made Right Decision with de Jong

Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong has come under fire after he broke Newcastle United winger Hatem Ben Arfa's leg with a scissor-like challenge over the weekend. Courtesy Paul Blank

By Kevin Koczwara

Nigel de Jong’s tackle on Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa made me cringe. As de Jong slid into his challenge my mind shifted to Stuart Holden. The Netherlands and Manchester City midfielder broke Holden’s leg in a friendly between the United States and Holland on March 3.

Holden nearly missed this summer’s World Cup with the U.S. because he sat out six weeks with a broken leg. He landed on Bradley’s final 23-man roster, but he never saw the field for the Yanks in South Africa.

Xabi Alonso felt de Jong’s pain during the World Cup. He and Holden should head a committee on the Dutch midfielder’s lack of passion and reserve in the middle of the field. Alonso received a Lui Kang-like kick to the chest during the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. Alonso continued to play the rest of the match, which Spain won, 1-0, in extra time. de Jong recieved a yellow card from referee Howard Webb for the drop kick. It should have been a red card.

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Gerrard should be Capello and England's captain

 

Steven Gerrard has been Liverpool's captain for sometime now and he has displayed great leadership as his hometown club's captain. It's now time for Fabio Capello to name him the captain of England.

By Kevin Koczwara

When Fabio Capello began managing of the England National team in 2008, he the team’s most qualified players a chance to claim the captain’s armband by showing they could lead the squad on and off the field. One of the players Capello gave the opportunity to was Steven Gerrard, and the Liverpool midfielder could not convince the Italian manager.

Capello named Chelsea defender John Terry captain of the Three Lions, but Capello was forced to make an unexpected change.

When Terry’s extramarital affairs become public knowledge, Capello was forced to make a a tough decision and remove Terry from the captaincy. Terry’s affair affected the England locker room directly, his choice of mistress was a teammate’s ex-girlfriend. When the news broke about Terry sleeping with Wayne Bridge’s ex-girlfriend, the England locker room and brutal English press forced Capello to look for a new leader.

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France feeling Bleu

By Ryan Fleming

Nothing is right in the French world. Even the motivational Les Marseillaise, the French national anthem, whose words were handed to each player before the match, couldn’t inspire Les Bleus ahead of Friday night’s Euro 2012 qualifier. At France’s helm stands a confused and certainly frustrated Laurent Blanc, a manager that left a once-promising club, Bordeaux, with feelings of doubt after ending the ‘09/’10 campaign with a 2-5-2 record; failing to qualify for European play this season.

France international coach, Laurent Blanc, hasn't had much reason to smile. (Courtesy cvrcak1)

Les Bleus forgot what it feels like to win and their supporters, whose passions lie undoubtedly with their national team than any domestic club, are surely fed up after France’s 1-0 defeat to Belarus Friday night. After being embarrassed in the World Cup and equally humiliating the nation that they represent, Blanc has more pressure on him now than perhaps at anytime in his past.

“The hardest thing is football is scoring. We could not do it,” Blanc told Sky Sports. “The current situation is difficult, we have to fight on.”

The suspensions handed out after the almost-literal coup d’etat that occurred internally within the team during the World Cup this summer, has directly caused the team to suffer. With the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan and Franck Ribery out due to suspension, Blanc’s job is that much harder. Anelka’s situation, though, is a bit different.

The forward was suspended for 18 games after not showing up to a hearing in front of the French Football Federation, effectively ending his international career. A ban that Anelka laughed at.

“This whole thing is a nonsense, to turn the page because [new coach] Laurent Blanc needs to be able to work in peace,” Anelka told France Soir. “These people are clowns. I’m dying with laughter,” he added.

Anelka’s suspension is the lengthiest – 13 games more than Evra’s five-game suspension.

Despite the avalanche of trouble, there are signs of hope ahead for Les Bleus in their upcoming game against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Karim Benzema, one of France’s most lethal strikers, who was mysteriously left out of its World Cup squad, will be fit for Tuesday night’s clash. But for Blanc, he’ll need more than a striker and a national anthem to rouse his troops. The question is, when will he find it?

Ryan Fleming is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.

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