Euro 2012: England must forget about potential Spain clash
Sharethematch.com looks at England's victory over Sweden and why Roy Hodgson's side must focus on the Ukraine clash
Let’s get past Ukraine first and then think about what’s next
England fans seem to be preoccupied with avoiding the possibility of facing Spain in the quarter-finals but, playing like they did last night, Roy Hodgson’s men do not have the luxury of looking past Ukraine.
Sure, the co-hosts looked pretty poor in losing comfortably to France in a rain-soaked Donetsk. They were, for the most part, outrun, out-thought and out-fought by Karim Benzema and company.
But that said, England failed to impress against the Swedes, surrendering a one-goal lead to two shockingly bad set-piece goals before only just rescuing the three points.
On the balance of play, the Three Lions just about deserved the win, but both Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck enjoyed a considerable slice of luck with their goals.
It was a key result which puts England on the cusp of the quarter-final stage, but the fact remains that only one point separates them and Ukraine in Group D – and the hosts have no reason to throw in the towel.
They also overcame Sweden, and will rightly feel that, with home advantage, there is no reason why they cannot pile the misery on an England which looks far from the finished article.
Hodgson, of course, has the dual advantage of welcoming back Wayne Rooney from suspension and knowing a draw will be enough to reach the knockout stages, but there is no room for complacency.
So never mind worrying about whether we draw Spain, Italy or Croatia in the last eight – England must make sure they get there first.
Ireland were never, ever going to beat Spain
The Irish were expecting a miracle against the holders but not a prayer or four-leaf clover could have prevented Thursday night’s outcome.
Giovanni Trapattoni was expected to be the master tactician and create a cunning strategy that would frustrate Spain and hopefully, with a little luck, stop them scoring.
You must ask yourself though what could the Irish have possibly come up with that all the other nations have not against the best passing side in the world?
The coverage of the Irish camp was so optimistic, filling our heads with false hope, and there was a feel that this wise-old Italian coach would somehow get a result from the game.
Well clearly the chance of that evaporated in just three minutes when Richard Dunne sluggishly failed to clear and Fernando Torres swooped in and smashed the ball past Shay Given.
All the talking in the week, all the plans they had made, all the hope disintegrated in that instant – there was no way the Irish would score.
And, after an identical start to the second half, David Silva was allowed to wiggle his right leg in the box around three Irish defenders and then, almost taking pity on them, slotted home.
In Euro history only twice has a team scored in the first five minutes of each half – Croatia and Spain against Ireland in 2012.
Did Trapattoni forget to tell the players that they need to start well, that conceding an early goal is criminal?
It was a sorry sight for the Irish who, despite being ranked 18th in the world, turned to Paul Green, a player currently unattached after leaving Derby County, for inspiration.
Spain, ranked No1, turned to Cesc Fàbregas, Barcelona’s £35m summer signing.
Credit to the Irish for qualifying but Trapattoni did not have the players or the belief that his side could cause an upset.