The first round of matches at Euro 2012 are over, with a few interesting results thrown up. To analyse each respective cluster of games, we take a look at the movers and shakers from Week One:
Andriy Shevchenko – You couldn’t have written the script any better. An absolute wow of a performance from the 35-year-old veteran who has waited a very long time to cover himself in glory on the biggest international stage. He may not have the pace over long distances any more, but look at him move in the penalty area. Two superbly taken headers have the Ukraine up and running and the country is buzzing.
Denmark – Never, ever listen to the critics. Apparently the Danes didn’t stand a hope in hell in the supposed Group of Death. They’ve thrown a spanner in the works now though. People seem to have overlooked the fact that they’re ranked ninth in the world. They also saw off Portugal in their qualifying group. Take that pre-tournament predictors.
Borussia Dortmund – Poland have a lot to thank the German club side for. They’ve turned Robert Lewandowski into an absolute goal machine, while Lukasz Piszczek looks a real danger down that right hand side. It was the first ever opening goal scored at a tournament made and scored by two players from the same club.
Cesare Prandelli – The Italians have had a tough tournament build up under the cloud of the match-fixing scandal. They will be delighted to hold the defending champions in the opening game and let’s be honest, they could have had more than a point having squandered a few chances. Prandelli set his side up well and the introduction of Antonio Di Natale was inspired. Should be on their way to the knockout stages.
The Russian midfield – The team performance of the tournament so far. Russia were absolutely splendid, inspired by their midfield who created a hatful of chances for their wasteful strikers. Andrey Arshavin had a point to prove and proved it well, providing two assists. Roman Shirokov also got himself on the scoresheet while Alan Dzagoev looks a fine player after notching two superbly taken goals. Tournament dark horses?
The Heat – Eastern Europe isn’t always considered a popular sunbathing hotspot, but maybe people should start to reconsider. Players were visibly flagging during certain games, especially in Donetsk for England and France. Brings back memories of the Far East World Cup in 2002.
Stephen Ward – When drawing your opening game with a side like Croatia, the last thing you want to do is slice a clearance across your six yard box. Especially to a man as deadly as Nikica Jelavic. Oops.
ITV Pundits – Surely having had two years to prepare for a major tournament, ITV could have worked on attracting or training some pundits to provide insightful or even vaguely interesting analysis. If it isn’t bad enough normally having to listen to Andy ‘Honestly I’m Irish’ Townsend or Gareth ‘The Personality’ Southgate, then the addition of Jamie Carragher for the England game was the final straw. Talk about stating the obvious. Oh and someone please give Adrian Chiles a gag.
Alexander Kerzhakov – Call it an off day or just call him useless. Seven attempts on goal, all of them off target. Still, that’s more efforts than England managed as a team.
Mario Balotelli – You’d have thought an international tournament and the end of season debacle at Manchester City would have helped Mario get his brain into gear and grow up just a little bit. Or maybe not. His casual ambling for that one-on-one chance was simply embarrassing and highlights exactly why his attitude may continue to hinder his talent throughout his career. Italy should start with Di Natale.