Saturday, June 21, 2008

Euro 2008: Everyone stand back, the maestro is here

He missed the first two games of Euro 2008 through suspension but since his return, Russia have been dazzling.

Andrei Arshavin is a genius! His performance against Holland in the Quarter-finals was mesmerizing. As was the entire performance of Russia; they were faster and more agile than the Dutch. Russia passed the ball nicely and tried to carve open Holland on numerious occasions while Holland were pedestrian and only threatened to score a goal via free-kicks or crosses. Holland didn't deserve to tie the game up with 4 minutes left on the clock, but not to worry. Russia ran them off the park in extra-time and deserved their 3-1 win.

Holland for all their counter-attacking football in the first two games could not manage a decent passing move in the entire 120 minutes against Russia.

A new star has arrived. Ofcourse, Zenit St. Petersburg have known that for a while as was demonstrated by Arshavin's displays in their UEFA Cup victory.

Soccer to Arshavin: Welcome. This game has needed someone like you!!

I started watching the game back in 1988/89 because of Marco Van Basten; his goals and attacking play got me hooked to soccer. But pity that 20 years on as coach of the Dutch team, he lined up a team designed to counter-attack and not attack. He has used 2 holding midfielders so far in the tournament(Orlando Engelaar, Nigel de Jong) and against Russia, he once again went with the pair along with Kuyt up front. That meant that Holland had three players who were more useful for fouling opponents as opposed to breaking down defenses with clever play. And it showed. Holland were woeful against Russia and fully deserved to go out. Against Italy and France, when the Dutch took leads, they sat back and benefitted from the desperation on part of Italy and France to get an equalizer. But today against Russia, when they needed to do the hard part themselves, Holland were clueless.

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