Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Euro 2012 Matchday 10: Who Will Survive the Group of Death?

June 17, 2012 — by Suman2


If Group B’s closing matches today is anything like yesterday’s crazy conclusion to Group A, we’re in for a doozy. The two unlikely outcomes–1-0 victories for Greece and Czech Republic over Russia and Poland, respectively–led to those two teams advancing to the quarterfinals.

The combinatorics of the Group of Death are just as convoluted as they were for Group A. Via wikipedia:

On the last match day (17 June) the teams advancing from this group (winner; runner-up) will be:[6][7]

If: Portugal win draw Netherlands win
Denmark win Denmark, and Portugal or Germany1 Denmark; Germany Denmark; Germany
draw Germany; Portugal Germany; Portugal Germany; Denmark
Germany win Germany; Portugal Germany; Portugal Germany; Portugal or Netherlands2
  1. Positions determined by score of Denmark v Germany
    (a) Portugal; Denmark – if Denmark win 1–0
    (b) Denmark; Germany – if Denmark win by 1 goal and score at least 3
    (c) Denmark; Portugal – if Denmark win 2–1 or by at least 2 goals
  2. Portugal will be runner-up if they lose by 1 goal; otherwise the Netherlands will be runner-up.


6. “Euro 2012 Diary: Mathematicians to work out who qualifies from Groups A and B“. Betfair. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
7. Johnson, Dale (13 June 2012). “Euro 2012 Group permutations“. ESPN. Retrieved 15 June 2012.


The fixtures:

17 June 2012
Portugal Portugal Netherlands Netherlands
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA) – Stadium: Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv (UKR)
Denmark Denmark Germany Germany
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP) – Stadium: Arena Lviv, Lviv (UKR)


Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Matchday 9: Group Stage Enters Final Round–Greece-Russia & Czech Republic-Poland Today

June 15, 2012 — by Suman


The last round of group stage matches starts today, with the last two matches in Group A–meaning that we’ll have our first two quarterfinalists by the end of the day. It also means the day’s two matches are played simultaneously. So get your picture-in-picture ready–or put one on your TV and stream the other on your computer.  Or better yet, head to your local footy-friendly watering hole–we’ll try to watch at least one of the next few days at our local spot, WoodworkBK.

The match to watch today is Czech Republic-Poland. Poland will be playing in front of a partisan home crowd in Wroclaw, while Czech captain and playmaker (and GunnerTomáš Rosický (“the Little Mozart of football”, as we detailed in an extended postscript to this post) is doubtful following an Achilles tendon injury suffered against Greece.  So Poland are perhaps the favorites–but they have yet to win a match, and the pressure will be on them. For Poland the focus and onus will again be on the Dortmund trio–attacking right back Łukasz Piszczek, right-sided midfielder (and captain) Jakub (“Kuba”) Błaszczykowski, and striker Robert Lewandowski.  In addition, goalkeeper (and another Gunner) Wojciech Szczęsny returns after a one-game suspension for the red card he received in the opening match against Greece.

In the other match, Russia, a team that has impressed, should beat a Greece side that hasn’t. But the Russians have a reputation for losing interest and focus–and remarkably Greece would advance with a win.  For Russia the standout performers have been captain Andrei Arshavin (still on Arsenal’s books, but went back to Mother Russia in January on loan to his home club of Zenit St. Petersburg) and youngster Alan Dzagoev–who is, as Eastern European football expert Jonathan Wilson writes today, finally meeting Russia’s expectations.

See below for Group A standings and today’s fixtures (via, and below that a scenario analysis (via wikipedia) of which teams advances in each of the 9 outcomes (3 possible outcomes in each of the 2 matches implies 3^2 = 9 possible outcomes). Although it’s even more complicated than that, as certain of those scenarios bring into play goal differential (the first tie-breaker).

In fact, it appears that not only do all four teams have a chance to advance, but that each of the six 2-team combinations is still a possibility. No wonder writes: “I’m not too sure who will be more interested in the final round of group matches in Groups A and B: football fans or mathematicians. To say things are tight is an understatement. To say they’re complicated is a fair statement.”

Group A

Teams P W D L F A +/- Pts
Russia Russia 2 1 1 0 5 2 3 4
Czech Republic Czech Republic 2 1 0 1 3 5 -2 3
Poland Poland 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
Greece Greece 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1
16 June 2012
Greece Greece Russia Russia
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE) – Stadium: National Stadium Warsaw, Warsaw (POL)
Czech Republic Czech Republic Poland Poland
Referee: Craig Thomson (SCO) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, Wroclaw (POL)

Scenario analysis via UEFA Euro 2012 Group A – Wikipedia:

On the last match day (16 June) the teams advancing from this group (winner; runner-up) will be:[1][2][3]

If: Czech Republic win draw Poland win
Greece win Czech Republic; Greece Greece and Russia or Czech Republic1 Poland; Greece
draw Czech Republic; Russia Russia; Czech Republic Russia and Poland2
Russia win Russia; Czech Republic Russia; Czech Republic Russia; Poland
  1. Positions determined by score of Greece v Russia
    (a) Russia; Greece – if Greece win by 1 or 2 goals
    (b) Greece; Russia – if Greece win by 3 to 5 goals
    (c) Greece; Czech Republic – if Greece win by at least 6 goals
  2. Poland win the group if they win by at least 4 goals (3 if they score at least 4 more than Russia); otherwise Russia win the group



  1. ^ Peter Katsiris (13 June 2012). “UEFA EURO 2012: The Math behind Group A”. Football Hellas. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  2. ^ “Euro 2012 Diary: Mathematicians to work out who qualifies from Groups A and B”. Betfair. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  3. ^ Johnson, Dale (13 June 2012). “Euro 2012 Group permutations”. ESPN. Retrieved 15 June 2012.

Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Matchday 8: Ukraine-France & Sweden-England

June 15, 2012 — by Suman


The last day of the 2nd round of group stage games, with Group D in action today. Yesterday’s Group C matches were a contrast–a tight match between Italy and Croatia that ended in a 1-1 draw, followed by a blowout 4-0 win for Spain, eliminating Ireland.

On to today: France travels to far eastern Ukraine to take on the co-hosts (can Ukraine build on King Sheva’s fairytale first game, and continue his quixotic quest to the Kyiv final?); and Sweden plays in England in the Ukrainian capital (read Brian Philips’ new piece in Grantland–“Englands of the Mind: The sound. The fury. The mediocrity.” and BBC on Roy Hodgson – The Sweden Years; although the latter is available to UK users only, so instead read Hodgson’s own words about his Sweden years here)

The fixtures:

15 June 2012
Ukraine Ukraine France France
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED) – Stadium: Donbass Arena, Donetsk (UKR)
Sweden Sweden England England
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN) – Stadium: Olympic Stadium, Kyiv (UKR)

Hit us with some comments if/when you watch the matches:

Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Matchday 7: Yesterday’s Group of Death Wrapup, Italy-Croatia & Spain-Ireland Today

June 14, 2012 — by Suman5


The Group of Death finally lived up to expectations yesterday, with a thrilling match–probably the best of the tournament so far. But it wasn’t the big cross-border rivalry matchup that everyone was eagerly anticipating, but rather the Denmark-Portugal match. It ended 3-2 for Portugal, but only after former Arsenal man Nicky B nearly lived up to his self-image by scoring 2 headed goals to bring the Danes level–and after equally self-regarding superstar Cristiano Ronaldo choked on two breakaways that could have put the game away.  It fell to Porto striker Silvestre Varela to recover a much-needed win for the Portuguese, via a spectacular 87′ strike.

In the late game, the Dutch were again very disappointing–failing to rise to the occasion. They missed a couple early chances–most conspicuously, again, by Robin Van Persie, who failed to connect with a lofted ball over the top from Mark van Bommel (unlike his memorable goals for Arsenal this past year, where the lofted ball usually came from the foot of Alex Song)Germany scored two too-easy goals.  The finishes, both by Mario Gomez, weren’t easy, but the buildup that put him through was. In both cases, it was Bastian Schweinsteiger who unlocked the shaky Dutch without much difficulty–in great part thanks to the fact that he drifted into an attacking position completely unmarked. Back in the Netherlands, no doubt, there will be questions about the Dutch midfield, and about manager Bert van Marwijk’s decision to go with largely the same selection that failed to impress nor produce against Denmark–in particular his decision to start the destructive duo of van Bommel and Nigel de Jong in defensive midfield, while leaving Klaus-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart on the bench until the 2nd half.

So the Grim Reaper is knocking on the Dutch door (they’ll need an unlikely combination of events Sunday to claim 2nd place in the group–including help from the Germans). But on to today’s Group C fixtures–two interesting tactical matchups:

14 June 2012
Italy Italy Croatia Croatia
Referee: Howard Webb (ENG) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Poznan, Poznan (POL)
Spain Spain Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland
Referee: Pedro Proença (POR) – Stadium: Arena Gdansk, Gdansk (POL)

The early match has Croatian manager Slaven Bilic, who is “seeking one last hurrah from Croatia” before moving to Moscow in the fall, matching up his 4-1-3-2 formation against Prandelli’s much-discussed 3-5-2, which worked to great effect against Spain on Sunday.   For Croatia, most of the focus is on Tottenham Hotspurs midfield playmaker Luka Modrić. But their squad is peppered with players who have made names for themselves at relatively “big” clubs abroad: strikers Nikica Jelavić (Everton), Mario Mandžukić (Wolfsburg), and Eduardo (now Shakhtar Donetsk, previously Arsenal); midfielder Niko Kranjčar (also Spurs), Ivan Perišić (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakitić (Sevilla), and Danijel Pranjić (Bayern Munich); and defenders Darijo Srna (also Shakhtar) and Vedran Ćorluka (Bayer Leverkeusen).

Check back in between matches, when we’ll try to get some notes about Spain-Ireland up in this space.  Meanwhile, join us in the comments below for match commentary.

Euro 2012PreviewSchedule

Matchday 6: Group of Death Round 2

June 13, 2012 — by Suman

Two good matches in Group A yesterday (Poland 1 – 1 Russia – see here, here and here); and Czech Republic 2 – 1 Greece).
But today it’s the Group of Death. Already an instant classic in the first match of the day, and a yet another huge match in perhaps the biggest intra-Euro rivalry in the 2nd match:
13 June 2012
Denmark Denmark 2-3 Portugal Portugal
Referee: Craig Thomson (SCO) – Stadium: Arena Lviv, Lviv (UKR)
Netherlands Netherlands Germany Germany
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE) – Stadium: Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv (UKR)

In addition to our review of the history of this rivalry (“The Spit Hits the Fan“), a few additonal links about Netherlands-Germany:



Euro 2012 Matchday 5: Russia Invades Poland

June 12, 2012 — by Suman3


Yesterday’s match: France and England drew 1-1 in a desultory affair, while Ukraine beat Sweden in a thrilling match at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, in front of a delirious home crowd.

Today’s Group A action–the first time we’re seeing teams play their second set of matches: Greece-Czech Republic was the early match, with Czech Republic rebounding from their “Russian concussion” to win 2-1, and put themselves back in contention for 2nd at least.

But the big match of the day is between two nations with a lot of historical baggage that’s being brought to Warsaw today–Russia versus Poland.

Here are the fixtures–scroll down for some preview notes:

12 June 2012
Greece Greece 1-2 Czech Republic Czech Republic
Referee: Stéphane Lannoy (FRA) – Stadium: Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, Wroclaw (POL)
Poland Poland Russia Russia
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER) – Stadium: National Stadium Warsaw, Warsaw (POL)

The NYTimes provides some historical context to today’s tense match, in a article headlined “In Poland, Match With Russia Goes Far Beyond Soccer“:

Poland is enjoying its turn on the European stage, co-hosting the prestigious European soccer championship, which the country’s leaders hoped to use as a coming-out party for their newly confident nation. There is only one problem, and it is a familiar one: Russia.

Centuries of enmity have defined the relationship between Poland and Russia. Their history is filled with war, conquest and occupation. More recently, a significant minority of Poles have come to believe that the Russians were responsible for the plane crash in 2010 that killed President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 others.


Add to the mix the plans that Russian fans, celebrating their national holiday, Russia Day, on Tuesday, have made to march to the stadium before the game. Some are said to be planning to wear T-shirts featuring the Soviet hammer and sickle.

“Let’s wait and see what happens on Tuesday, but if Russians decide to promote any Soviet symbols, it’ll be an unprecedented scandal and a real affront to Poland,” said Mariusz Kaminski, 46, a senior member of the opposition Law and Justice Party. “It would be as if Germans visited Tel Aviv sporting swastikas.”

The threat of an outburst from either side, or both, is all the more unfortunate to many Poles because the tournament, from its years of preparation to last week’s opening ceremony, has been such a point of pride.

The European championship was their moment to show off the highways and train stations built in anticipation of the event, as well as top-of-the-line soccer stadiums. Up to now, nearly all of the negative publicity has been directed at the other host country, Ukraine, and its imprisonment of a former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.

And from the Ukrainian press, “Битва за Варшаву. Анонс матча Польша vs Россия” (roughly: “The Battle of Warsaw: Russia vs Poland Match Preview”):

 …if the plans are fans of the Russian Federation, as reported by the media, with the emission of paper airplanes on the field with a hint of a plane crash with the Polish president Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Smolensk – the truth, the degree of control at the National Stadium in Warsaw will pass far beyond the mark of a boil.

Approximate composition:

Poland: Tyton – Pischek, Berkey, Wasilewski, Behnisch – Dudka, Murawski, Polanski – Blaschikovski, Obraniak – Lewandowski

Russia: Malafeev – Anyukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov – Denisov, Zyryanov, Shirokov – Arshavin, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov

We’re hearing reports now of violent clashes between the Russian and Polish fans within the last couple hours, with Warsaw police making 50+ arrests. Let’s hope things are calm within the stadium and on the pitch for the next couple hours.


Euro 2012EuropePreviewSchedule

Kicking Off Euro 2012, Part 1: Calendars & Fixtures

June 8, 2012 — by Suman4


Part 1 of our Kicking Off Euro 2012 series: a couple nice interactive calendars–and below them, the full fixture list:

  • Actually, first off, for us US viewers, here is ESPN’s fixture list along with details of their television coverage.  The majority of matches are on ESPN, with a handful on ESPN2–and all of them will be available for streaming on! (Which is great not only for those of us without cable, but also because it means all the matches should be archived for replay after the fact–particularly helpful since kickoff times are 12pmET and 2:45pmET.)
  • Ok, on to the fancy interactive calendars.’s “tournament map” might seem  a bit dense at first glance, but that’s because there’s a lot of information there–it nicely gives you all the groups and fixtures in one view:'s Euro 2012 "Tournament Map" (click for larger image)


Click on the image above for a better view, but better to click thru for the interactive version on UEFA’s site–rolling over a given group, team, date or venue highlights those particular matches. Even better: clicking on a particular group, team, fixture or venue brings up a pop-up box with details and links to the rest of UEFA’s copious Euro 2012 coverage.  We’ll likely have this tournament map open in our browser the rest of the month.

(Some notes on the design: it’s a 2D matrix with dates across the top, groups/teams on the LHS, and venues on the RHS. Which highlights the rational design of the tournament: each group plays its matches in just two venues, and the group stage fixtures rotate through the four groups in order: first two Group A matches on the June 8, then Group B on June 9, Group C on June 10, Group D on June 11; then the second set of group matches (Groups A-D on June 12-15, respectively) and the third and final set of group matches (Groups A-D on June 16-19, respectively)).

  • As they did for World Cup 2010, has produced a beautiful and elliptical interactive calendar for Euro2012.  You can again view fixtures by team, date, group or venue, by rolling over the points on the inner perimeter.  It’s available in English or Spanish—and conveniently you can set your timezone for kickoff times.  By rolling over the segments in the outer perimeter, you can also bring up a map Poland and Ukraine with the venues, or a map of Europe with the competing nations:'s elliptical Calendario


Finally, here’s the full fixture list:

Friday, June 8
Warsaw, Group A: Poland v Greece (12pmET)
Wroclaw, Group A: Russia v Czech Republic (2:45pmET)

Saturday, June 9
Kharkiv, Group B: Holland v Denmark (12pmET)
Lviv, Group B: Germany v Portugal (2:45pmET)

Sunday, June 10
Gdansk, Group C: Spain v Italy (12pmET)
Poznan, Group C: Republic of Ireland v Croatia (2:45pmET)

Monday, June 11
Donetsk, Group D: France v England (12pmET)
Kiev, Group D: Ukraine v Sweden (2:45pmET)

Tuesday, June 12
Wroclaw, Group A: Greece v Czech Republic (12pmET)
Warsaw, Group A: Poland v Russia (2:45pmET)

Wednesday, June 13
Lviv, Group B: Denmark v Portugal (12pmET)
Kharkiv, Group B: Holland v Germany (2:45pmET)

Thursday, June 14
Poznan, Group C: Italy v Croatia (12pmET)
Gdansk, Group C: Spain v Republic of Ireland (2:45pmET)

Friday, June 15
Kiev, Group D: Sweden v England (12pmET)
Donetsk, Group D: Ukraine v France (2:45pmET)

Saturday, June 16
Wroclaw, Group A: Czech Republic v Poland (2:45pmET)
Warsaw, Group A: Greece v Russia (2:45pmET)

Sunday, June 17
Kharkiv, Group B: Portugal v Holland (2:45pmET)
Lviv, Group B: Denmark v Germany (2:45pmET)

Monday, June 18
Gdansk, Group C: Croatia v Spain (2:45pmET)
Poznan, Group C: Italy v Republic of Ireland (2:45pmET)

Tuesday, June 19
Donetsk, Group D: England v Ukraine (2:45pmET)
Kiev, Group D: Sweden v France (2:45pmET)


Thursday, June 21
QF1: Warsaw: Winner A v Runner-up B (2:45pmET)

Friday, June 22
QF2: Gdansk: Winner B v Runner-up A (2:45pmET)

Saturday, June 23
QF3: Donetsk: Winner C v Runner-up D (2:45pmET)

Sunday, June 24
QF4: Kiev: Winner D v Runner-up C (2:45pmET)


Wednesday, June 27
SF1: Donetsk: Winner QF1 v Winner QF3 (2:45pmET)

Thursday, June 28
SF2: Warsaw: Winner QF2 v Winner QF4 (2:45pmET)

Sunday, July 1
Kiev: Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (2:45pmET)

Champions LeaguePreviewSchedule

Champions League Final, Bayern vs Chelsea–Today!

May 19, 2012 — by Suman


The culmination of the European club season is upon us. Bayern Munich takes on aging interlopers Chelsea in the Allianz Arena–which happens to be Bayern’s home ground.  (For US viewers: kickoff is at 2:45pmET, and the match will be televised on Fox’s main network.  In fact, the Fox networks are going full bore with almost-Super Bowl levels of TV coverage–see below for the full schedule.)

And what a season it’s been–especially the past month.  Recall that it was just (over) a month ago that the Champions League semifinals started, with Bayern defeating Real Madrid at the same venue, and with Chelsea shocking the world with a 1-0 win over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge. The return legs the following week were even more dramatic. Chelsea even more unbelievable result at the Camp Nou, eliminating the defending Catalan champions; and the next day Bayern downing Madrid in PKs at the Bernabéu.

At some point we’ll have to revisit those extraordinary matches, as well as the ensuing events (Pep Guardiola’s announcement that he will step down, and the dramatic events in the various domestic leagues and cups).

But with kickoff just hours away, here’s a pregame reading/listening list to get you ready for today’s match:

If Chelsea did an ‘Inter 2010′ in the semi-final against Barcelona, they need to repeat the trick here – Inter went onto beat Bayern in the final that year.

Jose Mourinho’s side played extremely defensively in the final two years ago, essentially continuing the strategy they’d used at the Nou Camp a few weeks earlier, despite the fact they were playing a much more attacking game in Serie A at the time. Will Chelsea do the same?

Broadly the same approach makes sense. No-one plays quite like Barcelona, but in terms of ball retention, Bayern are the closest thing. Barca lead the way in terms of average possession and pass completion rate across Europe’s major five leagues, but Bayern are second in both categories. Though they’ve always been a side with fine passers, they’ve become even more about retention since the final two years ago – then, they mixed possession play with direct play down the flanks from Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Those two are still in the side, of course, but tend to find themselves trying to break down packed, deep defences more frequently.

Zonal Marking's probable lineup for the 2012 Champions League Final

The 2012 UEFA Champions League final isn’t just a contest for the greatest prize in club football; it is the latest instalment in a never-ending tactical argument.

Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern belong to the grand tradition of Bill Nicholson, Jock Stein, Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola in which teams dominate possession, take the initiative and feel obliged to win in style, as Danny Blanchflower once put it.

Roberto di Matteo’s Chelsea stand for a different, no less valid, tradition in which teams seek to draw the opposition out and punish them on the counter.

Bayern Munich vs Chelsea - Jupp Heynckes vs Roberto di Matteo
With the game being played in Munich, and the home side having the duel threats of Ribery and Robben to throw at Chelsea, Bayern are clear favourites to win the trophy.  But they are susceptible to teams who counterattack well – as last weekend’s 5-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund proved in the German Cup final – and they will be wary of the English side who knocked out Napoli and Barcelona in previous rounds with the odds stacked against them.  There is bad news and good news for Chelsea in terms of player availability – both Ivanovic and Ramires miss out through suspension; but so too does John Terry.

The team in white celebrated wildly. Reduced to 10 men in their semi-final second leg on 24 April at the Camp Nou, they’d held on for an improbable 3-2 aggregate victory over Barcelona to reach the European Cup final.

Earlier in the season they’d looked in disarray. An upstart young manager who was supposed to oversee the rejuvenation of the squad had been ousted after alienating a core of senior players, but a safe pair of hands everybody assumed was a short-term appointment had arrived, soothed egos and reawakened some of the old fire.

The league was beyond them, but doggedly they’d scrapped their way through to within one game of the prize – the greatest prize – that had eluded them through all their years of success. In that final that side in white faced Bayern Munich. Undone by some scandalous refereeing, they lost and were never the same again.

The similarities with Leeds United in 1974-75 and Chelsea’s success at the Camp Nou 29 years later are striking.

Here’s the full day’s US televeision schedule, via WaPo’s SoccerInsider:

1 p.m. ET: Pregame show on Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes

2 p.m.: Pregame show on Fox’s main network

2:30 p.m.: Match coverage on Fox’s main network and Fox Deportes

5 p.m.: Postgame show on Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes

5 p.m.: Match tape on

8 p.m.: Match tape on Fox Soccer

10 p.m.: Match tape on Fox Deportes

Sunday at 3 a.m.: Match tape on Fox Soccer

Sunday at noon: Match tape on Fox Soccer

Sunday at 5 p.m.: Match tape on Fox Soccer Plus