Friday, June 27, 2008


Russia 0-3 Spain

It started quite equally but Spain began to dominate in the second half to win the match. I was expecting more of a close fight but it was not to be in the end. Spain will face Germany in the final and I hope they can beat them!

It was raining heavily and we could see lightning striking too in Wien (Vienna) in the early part of the match. I was worried the match could be suspended. Spain was playing with far more offensive tactics than when they face Italy. The urgency to score in the early part of the first half showed how serious they want to win the match. Russia slowly started to gain possessions 15 minutes into the match.

Ramos was doing far more right wing attacking runs in this match. I am always worried when defenders involved too much in attack. It could easily invite a successful counter-attack when the ball is lost too deep in the opponent's half. David Villa tried some good shots at the early part of the first half, one from the left wing and the other from the freekick.

The excessive involvement of attack from the right caused less activity from the left and centre. Hence, we saw far less action of Villa and Silva. Pavluchenko tried a shot and was slightly wide on the right. Villa was down around the 34th minute and Fabregas came in for the substitution. I do like him coming in as it will create more creativity in the middle. Pavluchenko came into the penalty box with a ball from Zhirkov and tried a dangerous shot which went wide. Marchena and Puyol were there but I believed if Pavluchenko had given himself more time to balance the ball before shooting, it could be a goal. I think it was the best chance to score for the first half for both teams.

Spain kept attacking from the right but they were all not dangerous moves. Fabregas and Silva were still very less involved in the game. Xavi however was doing great just like during the match against Italy for the whole half. The half ended without a threatening shot to get a goal. Eventhough Spain had more possessions, I would say Russia had far more pontential shots to score. Torres as always was heavily marked too. He needed to find the spaces more. Sienna was also playing very well for the whole half.

The second half started off slowly. Iniesta finally brought in a good assist from the left on the 51st minute by getting through two defenders. Xavi got the ball and his right foot shot was enough to score it. It was great to see Xavi playing deeper in front to give Torres support. Spain attacked more and Russia made their first substitution by getting in Bilyaletdinov (Alright, I agree they have easily a lot of long names in comparison with Germany's Schweinsteiger) and bringing out Semshov.

By the 60th minute, Fabregas sent a pass to the right from the centre of the penalty box for Iniesta to cross in but was forced out. Ramos sent in a ball for Torres but he shot it far right. He gave Torres another cross and he wasted it with a hit on his knee and the ball went out. It was a very good opportunity as he managed to free himself in front of goal away from Ignashevich.

As we reached the 69th minute, Xavi was substituted for Xabi Alonso. Torres was substituted for Daniel Guiza. Just a while later, Fabregas tried a shot that was tipped over by goalie Akinfeev. The resulted corner gave Xabi Alonso a good shot which was punched away by the goalie. In the 73th minute, Fabregas sent in a nice chip assist after a pass from Ramous for the latest La Liga golden boot winner (27 goals with no penalty shots at all) Daniel Guiza to score. This is his second international goal from 3 matches I believe.

Russia did not look like they wanted to fight back to equalise. There was no room to fight back as their passes were broken down easily. Iniesta sent down a ball for Fabregas to run down the left and he sent a ball over to Silva to score in the 82nd minute. It seemed like it was very hard for the Russians to have any potential comeback to the game and I could say it was more or less the end for them in the competition by then. The Russians looked tired and giving up already, playing with not much intentions anymore.

By the 89th minute, Casillas was finally called into action for the quiet second half for him by saving a dangerous header by Sychev from a Zurianov cross. Guiza was again given a good ball by Ramos but the Russian goalie, Akinfeev blocked his shot. Two minutes added but it finally ended with a convincing win to Spain.

If you compare against Germany, Spain has far more stability in defence as well as more organized in play. I love the understanding between Ramos and Casillas. It is definitely the advantage from playing together in Real Madrid. Iniesta still wasted lots of good passes and chances on goal but he played much better than the match against Italy. It is no surprise that he was voted the man of the match. If I am Aragones, I will play one more midfielder against Germany to give Fabregas some space. I will choose Villa to play upfront and drop Torres. Torres to me is just not in form and always heavily marked. I hope Spain will be able to go all the way to the end of the competition victoriously.

On another matter, I heard Lippi is back for Italy. Good for them!

Anyway, the McDonald's advertisement about eating the BigMac and fries to watch football is just so wrong. As an official sponsor of the EURO2008, they are portraying people watching live matches in McDonald's. It is very weird to watch football in McDonald's.

About the ad, the lead guy was enjoying his Big Mac while watching the match at home when his mom complained about the time he spent watching football matches late at night. She was worried about him getting a wife with his kind of lifestyle. He convinced his mom he would find one but she said that girl would have run away when she found out about his football watching habit.

Suddenly, he lost reception and so he took his car and drove to McDonald's. He stood in front of the screen and blocked the view of the lead gal. She complained and that's how they started the conversation. She confessed she is a football fan too and enjoy watching live football matches. He sat down beside her and they shared the french fries while watching the match. His potential future wife maybe? Going for dates watching live football matches to me is the coolest thing in the world!

OK, I found the ad below.


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