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Euro 2012: talking points, day 8

Miguel Delaney reflects on a day that saw lightening strike in Ukraine… and we don’t mean an Andy Carroll goal.

Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll.
Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll.
Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

This is the most open, exciting European Championships ever

With only two teams eliminated after the first two rounds of games, it means that, for the first time ever in European Championship history, every single one of the last batch of group games will have something on the line. Unprecedented… and genuinely unpredictable. In terms of quality, this tournament may not be hitting the heights of Euro 2000 but it has arguably surpassed it in terms of excitement.

Roy Hodgson’s style need not be boring…

… of course, that is actually highly dependent on those executing the style not doing their jobs properly. Hodgson probably didn’t envisage coughing up two goals from set-pieces.  What did do, though, was create the need for a character-filled comeback and, in truth, what was by far England’s most exhilarating tournament game since the quarter-final of Euro 2004.

For a period in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was as often as if England were involved in the best games of every tournament, their admirable spirit and huff at least making many matches high tension and anxiety: take 96 against Germany, 98 against Argentina, 2000 against Portugal and, of course, 2004 against the same opposition. The latter half of the Sven Goran Eriksson reign and the sequence of managers since, however, seemed to sap some of the life out of team… until tonight, when a group of young players like Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck injected a unique enthusiasm to England’s play again.

France continue to build

Amazing to think it but France won their first tournament match in six years and their first in the European Championships without either Zinedine Zidane or Michel Platini in the team. Instead, it was the livewire Karim Benzema that ultimately brought victory, his input illustrating the new face of France. With such youth, they’re by no means the finished article. But Laurent Blanc’s side are steadily building moment and confidence. You wouldn’t fancy facing down their attack.

Good day for

  • England’s young guns: Andy Carroll, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott
  • France
  • Karim Benzema
  • Jeremy Menez

Bad day for

  • Sweden
  • Patrice Evra
  • Aerial challenges from defenders
  • Dryness

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