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EM: Spain, Russia, Greece and Sweden

Published by marco on

Spain 4 – Russia 1

It was a miserable day in Innsbruck, but the steady downpour didn’t seem to have much of an affect on either side. There were more fouls early in the match, but far fewer once nerves had settled.

It started out as a pretty evenly-matched contest with both sides showing flair and imagination in controlling the midfield and penetrating the penalty area. Much to Russia’s chagrin, however, it turned into a Spanish clinic on goal-scoring. The Russians didn’t play poorly nor did they have horrendous defensive lapses like Italy yesterday. They just fell victim to a Spanish side that is, for once, living up the hype. They certainly looked like a favorite and seemed able to score nearly at will—especially David Villa, who came away with a hat trick.

The Russians finally put in a lovely header on a corner kick late in the second half, but Spain got their fourth just shy of extra time just to show that they could. All in all, it was an even more entertaining match than Germany–Poland and gave us the first game with goals from both sides.

Sweden 2 – Greece 0

Now it’s clear what happened to the Italian defense: Greece took it. Four across the back, along the top of the box, just like God intended. The first half ended in a scoreless draw, with Sweden making attack after attack and Greece actually venturing into the other half more than expected. Their coach, who only speaks German, was often shown screaming from the sidelines to a team that mostly speaks only Greek and a bit of English. It’s amazing the level of organization they have considering the team consists of players from over 20 different pro teams.

After knocking on the door countless times, Sweden finally cracked the Greek defense and Ibrahimovich put one in. With the Greek team showing some stuff on the offense, the defense suffered and the Swedes soon slotted another. That would be all for the game, but it was enough to hand the defending champions their first loss (and first conceded goal) in in over 400 minutes of Euro finals match time.

The Spain – Sweden matchup promises quite a bit of action.