Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Madridistas in Euro 2008 (I)

As all the nations complete their first game in Euro 2008, those Real Madrid players involved in the tournament made an immediate impact. Well, those who weren't injured, at least:

Pepe (Portugal): scored his first international goal in his first major championship and opened up a potentially tricky tie against Turkey, momentarily taking everyone's attention away from Cristiano Ronaldo. Pepe and Carvalho are probably the best pair of central defenders in the competition and gave the Turks few options.

Metzelder (Germany): sporting a dense beard, Metzelder showed that he's still a long way from full match fitness. Had Podolski not made the match safe, Metzelder's slowness part way through the second half might have cost Germany dear.

Cannavaro (Italy): Alas, though Fabio made the team, his ankle injury in pre-competition training meant he is ruled out for around two months as he recovers from surgery. Watching his team-mates lose 3-0 to Holland made painful viewing from the sidelines for il bello.

Sneijder (Netherlands): Wesley Sneijder shrugged off an injury scare in training after he was tackled perhaps more vigorously than required by team-mate Robin van Persie to put on a sensational display for his country on his 24th birthday. This included a truly memorable goal from a seemingly impossible angle past Buffon to cap a great day for Holland and a miserable start to the tournament for Italy.

Robben (Netherlands): Though he was his country's most consistent performer in the run-up of friendlies to the tournament, Arjen Robben limped out of training on Saturday with a groin injury that will keep him out for around a week to 10 days. This may not see him join the fray until (and if) Holland reaches the next stage.

Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands): Gave the Italian defence all sorts of trouble, and, although his opener for Holland was thought at the time to be offside by most observers except the referee, UEFA General Secretary David Taylor later confirmed that, according to the rules, he was actually played on side by Panucci, though the Italian was off the field when the goal was scored. In fact, Van Nistelrooy could argue that he was unlucky not to add to his tally, as he had a couple of decent penalty appeals waved off by the referee.

Casillas (Spain): Did not have a lot of work against Russia for the most part, although the two shots that hit the woodwork would have beaten him. Looked unsure on some of the high crosses, although he was not helped by his defenders in this area, and there was little he could do in Russia's goal.

Sergio Ramos (Spain): Probably one of the worst performers on the Spanish side, though the final result made that irrelevant. He looked nervous and lost a lot of balls. He will have to improve to make an impact on the tournament, although there is no natural replacement, so Aragonés is unlikely to bench him.


john said...

Excellent write up, Gonzalo. Pepe has really impressed me, his defense was almost flawless against the unfortunate Czechs today. It wasn't unti half-way through the match that I realized the guy standing next to him was Carvalho - which is quite the complement to Pepe.

I'm also glad you pointed out Metzelder's poor form against Poland. Several others have speculated that he's still out of sorts from his off-time/injury. I never paid attention to him before he signed with Madrid, but can you assure me that he was ever much better before the surgery?

Anonymous said...

Metzelder was poor against the Croats as well. I'm really worried to be frank. Hope there is a change in fortune for him. But like John and you have said, Pepe has been brilliant. But so has been Sneijder. Despite having such a long season, his work rate against the Italians was amazing and I cannot wait to see Robben link up with Wesley and Rutegrus. Sad that Canna has to miss out. Sergio Ramos has been quite shaky if you ask me. He wasn't the best player on the pitch surely and was close to the worst. Casillas didnt have much work to do. His posts saved him twice though. So basically all of them are having a pretty decent and more importantly safe tournament so far. Hope it remains the same till the end!