Top 10 Best Performances in UEFA Euro 2012
Alongside the World Cup, the UEFA European Football Championships is the pinnacle of a footballer’s career. Unlike the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Euro 2012 has been a scintillating tournament, full of great football, great goals and more than a sprinkling of drama. There have been some excellent moments that will stay both players and fans forever, but what have been the top 10 best performances in UEFA Euro 2012? Let’s find out…
See Also: Best Soccer Players 2012
10) SPAIN vs. Ireland
On their road to the final, Spain encountered their fair share of sticky situations, struggling against Italy, Croatia and Portugal. However, 14 June 2012 in Gdansk was a night where Spain showed the rest of Europe what total football is all about. Helped in part by defensive mistakes from Ireland, Spain cantered to a 4-0 win with Fernando Torres on the score sheet twice and further goals added by David Silva and Cesc Fabregas. Spain also enjoyed a massive 66% possession in this thoroughly one-sided affair.
9) RUSSIA vs. Czech Republic
On 8 June in the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Russia became the first team to really lay down a marker in the tournament, crushing a lacklustre Czech Republic side by four goals to one. A double from promising young talent Alan Dzagoev, one from Roman Shirokov and one from substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko provided the Russian goals as they dominated the game with some fine football orchestrated by Andrey Arshavin. Not even a goal from Václav Pilař could put a dampener on this display.
8) LUKA MODRIC vs. Spain
Going into the match between Spain and Croatia in Gdansk, all the talk was about how Slaven Bilić’s men could cope with a Spanish midfield consisting of world greats such as Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso. As it turned out, it was the Spanish searching for ways to stop Croatia’s Luka Modric from dominating the game. The Tottenham Hostpur midfielder ran the show for the entire 90 minutes with a superb showing of skill and passing ability and was unlucky to end up on the losing team as Spain snatched a 1-0 win late on.
7) CRISTIANO RONALDO vs. Netherlands
The Netherlands went into their game with Portugal on 17 June 2012, without a point and in desperate need of a win. Thing started well for the Dutch with a Rafael Van Der Vaart putting them ahead in the game. However, after that things went downhill as Ronaldo took the game by the scruff of the neck. The Portugal captain fired two goals to give his side a 2-1 victory and dominated the Dutch defence with his skill and desire.
6) DENMARK vs. Netherlands
The Group B opener between Denmark and Netherlands in the Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv was supposed to be about how many the Dutch could score, unfortunately Denmark failed to read the script. As Netherlands poured forward missing chance after chance they were made to pay with a fine goal from Michael Krohn-Dehli. That goal proved to be enough as Denmark defended doggedly and rode their luck somewhat to walk away with all three points.
5) GERMANY vs. Greece
Germany were many people’s fancy going in to the tournament and came through the so called “group of death” with a maximum nine points. There reward was a place in the quarter finals against Group A runners up Greece. Germany was expected to win and did so in fine style, running out 4-2 winners. Stunning goals from Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira and Marco Reus and a trademark Miroslav Klose header put the game beyond doubt after the slight scare of a Greece equaliser at 1-0. An unfortunate late penalty against Jerome Boateng was a blip in what was an otherwise stunning footballing performance.
4) ANDREA PIRLO vs. Germany
Italian maestro Andrea Pirlo came into the semi-final in the National Stadium Warsaw against Germany as many people’s player of the tournament after a string of wonderful performances, most notably against England. Germany though, would provide a tougher test than anything previously encountered. However, Pirlo is a player that has been there and done it and the 33 year old Juventus man turned on the style once again, dictating the pace of the game and using his velvet touch and pinpoint passing to pull Germany apart.
3) GREECE vs. Russia
Greece’s match against Russia in last round of fixtures in Group A on 16 June 2012 was supposed to be merely a sideshow to what was happening in the game between Poland and the Czech Republic. Greece had been less than spectacular in their games against Poland and Czech Republic and came into the game with only one point and needing a miracle to go avoid going home. The events that transpired shocked everyone as Greece produced a great defensive display and came away with a 1-0 victory thanks to a Giorgos Karagounis goal. The win was enough to book Greece a place in the quarter finals and group favourites Russia a plane ticket home.
2) ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO vs. Sweden
Joint hosts Ukraine were the last team to play their first group game in Euro 2012 and made their debut against Sweden in front of a passionate home crowd in the NSC Olimpiyskiy, Kyiv. After going a goal down to a Zlatan Ibrahimović goal, Ukraine was looking for some form of inspiration – step forward Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian talisman, who had purposely extended his career to take part in the tournament, called upon his old predatory powers to strike twice and give Ukraine a famous 2-1 victory. A truly great moment.
1) ITALY vs. Germany
Italy had come into Euro 2012 under a cloud of controversy related to match fixing in their homeland. As a result they were not fancied to go very far in the tournament. However, a solid showing in the group stage and a dominating performance, eventually winning on penalties, in the quarter final against England, put the Azzurri into the semi-final against favourites Germany. Against the odds, Italy produced a truly magnificent display of tactics, defending and disciplined football. Two goals from Mario Balotelli and a vintage performance from Andrea Pirlo saw the Italians advance to the final with a 2-1 victory.