Euro 2012 daily: Thursday 21 June
1JOE Hart believes England can go all the way; large-scale storms are forecast for Warsaw tonight, where Portugal will take on the Czech Republic in the first of the knockout games and Croatia face the possibility of further punishment from Uefa over fans’ conduct.
• England goalkeeper Joe Hart believes England are capable of winning the tournament. In a press conference earlier today, the 25-year-old Manchester City keeper said: ‘The whole point in coming here is not to keep people happy and off our backs. We are here to win.’ Hart and England face Italy in the quarter finals.
• Inclement weather in the Polish capital of Warsaw tonight could see the National Stadium’s retractable PVC roof closed, following the temporary suspension during the France vs Ukraine game at Donetsk’s Donbass Arena last week. Heavy storms are forecast for this evening, and officials may take the decision to ensure the game is not disrupted. The National Stadium is due to host tonight’s game between Portugal and the Czech Republic, and one of the semi finals.
• Attacker Tomas Rosicky looks set to start from the bench tonight, as the Czech captain has been struggling with an Achilles injury. Daniel Kolar is set to deputise in the starting XI. Meanwhile, Portuguese duo Bruno Alves and Raul Meireles should shake off the knocks they picked up in their 2-1 win over the Netherlands in the final group match.
• Meireles has also warned his team mates that there are ‘no favourites’ in their quarter final clash with the Czech Republic. Meireles will line up against Chelsea team mate Petr Cech tonight, who firmly believes that the Czechs are the underdogs. ‘We’ll be trying to prove that the favourites don’t have to necessarily always win,’ said Cech.
• Dutch veteran Mark van Bommel has retired from the national side following the Oranje’s early elimination from the tournament. The 35-year-old commented that he felt it was time to make way for the next generation. The midfielder made his international debut in 2000, making 79 appearances.
• Ukraine striker Andriy Voronin has followed team mate Andriy Shevchenko’s decision to retire from international football, putting his reasoning down to the fact he feels he isn’t young enough to be able to combine both club and international roles. 32-year-old Voronin scored eight goals in 74 games for the Ukraine.
• Investigations into the conduct of Croatian fans is continuing, with Uefa having already fined the country’s football federation the equivalent of £64,561 following improper conduct displayed by fans in the match against Italy. Mario Balotelli was the subject of racist chanting, and a banana was thrown onto the pitch. A Uefa statement made reference to the setting-off and throwing of fireworks and supporters displaying racist banners and symbols.
• The mayor of Gdansk has suggested that Poland should build on its joint hosting of the Euro 2012 Championships by submitting a similar bid for a World Cup tournament, with Germany or the Czech Republic. Pawel Adamowicz feels that Poland has shown it can handle big events, with the country spending around €20 billion on infrastructure and stadia prior to the tournament.
• FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed goal-line technology is now a ‘necessity’ following Ukraine’s disallowed goal against England. Marko Devic thought his shot had crossed the line before John Terry cleared the ball - which replays and pictures seemed to back up - but the Hungarian officials waved play on, sparking protests from Ukraine manager Oleg Blokhin and his team. Blatter took to Twitter with his opinions, stating: ‘After last night’s match, GLT (goal-line technology) is no longer an alternative, but a necessity.’
• Scottish referee Craig Thomson has been appointed fourth official for Saturday’s quarter final match between reigning champions Spain, and neighbours France. Uefa confirmed on Wednesday that the Scottish contingent - comprising referees Thomson, Euan Norris and Willie Collum, along with linesmen Alasdair Ross and Derek Rose - would be kept on at the finals.
• Spain boss Vicente del Bosque has defnended his somewhat unorthodox tactics of using midfielder Cesc Fabregas as a ‘false no 9.’ The Barcelona player has been utilised there at club level, and del Bosque seems happy enough to continue with his plans, adding that he has plenty of players capable of playing in more than one position. Still, out-and-out striker Fernando Llorente, who netted 18 times for Athletic Bilbao last season must be feeling a bit aggrieved...
• Stefana, a cow living and grazing somewhere in the countryside of the Czech Republic, has predicted that her homeland will triumph in tonight’s match. In a similar vein to the now-legendary psychic German octopus Paul, who predicted scores during the 2010 World Cup, the bovine medium is given two buckets of food, with the buckets representing the two teams. Watch the compelling footage here, as Stefana predicts victory for the Czechs
TODAY’S MATCH SCHEDULE
Czech Republic v Portugal
National Stadium, Warsaw, 7.45pm, BBC1
ONE TO WATCH - Cristiano Ronaldo
We know what you’re thinking; bear with us on this one. The fiery Iberian has been guilty of underperforming on the international stage, but his two goals against the Netherlands in the final group match suggest that perhaps Ronaldo is finally replicating his extraordinary league form with Real Madrid. Something of a letdown in the matches against Germany and Denmark, the Portuguese captain was all too vocal in criticising his team mates, the pitch or anything apart from himself - but his brace against the Dutch will have boosted his confidence, and his petulance was severely reduced in that match. Not bad for a player who used to relieve frustration by putting televisions in a tree and firing footballs at them until they fell out of the tree and smashed. Cristiano Ronaldo could be a key performer in tonight’s match if he can harness his ability and keep a handle on his frustration. Don’t bet against him grabbing the headlines.
Over 8km worth of sausages, more than 200,000 litres of beer and 12,000 ice creams have been consumed by hungry fans in Kyiv alone.
MEMORABLE GOAL OF EUROS PAST
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden 1-1 Italy, Euro 2004
A Taekwondo afficionado in his youth, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is known for occasionally employing these acrobatics in football matches, which he exhibited to great effect in this group match against Italy in Euro 2004. With time running out, a corner from the left was knocked across goal, and missed by every Swedish player in the box - except Zlatan Ibrahimovic. What appears to be a back heel at first glance, is actually - incredibly - a flick with the side of Ibrahimovic’s foot. It’s even more impressive when you consider that, not only does he have his back to goal, but he’s also being tightly marked and manages to slip it over the head of the defender on the line.
Mario Gomez 13/8
Cristiano Ronaldo 7/2
Fernando Torres 5/1
Cesc Fabregas 16/1
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