The first half of the 2012 UEFA European Championship is through and already there have been two shocking collapses, controversy off the field, and controversy on it. Here, we take a look at the top disappointments from the group stage.
While Petr Cech should be the pillar of the Czech Republic squad, he has been a liability at times. His mistakes have already resulted in two goals (against Croatia and Poland) and he has hardly been the game changer he needs to be for the underdogs.
UEFA officials and local authorities have had a bad time of dealing with local fans, especially the Polish and Russian fans that faced off in the streets. Russia was fined for its fans’ abuse of stewards in the stadiums as well.
As mediocre as the defense was, it was the duds from the Premier League and Bundesliga top scorers (Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jean Huntelaar) that was most shocking. The Dutch high power offense flaunted before the tournament only scored two goals in three matches.
While UEFA insisted racism would not be a problem, there were reports of racist chants in a Dutch practice as well as taunts directed toward Mario Balotelli and Theodor Selassie in their group stage matches.
The Netherlands has been the biggest disappointment by far of the tournament. Drawn into the so-called “Group of Death,” no one expected it to flounder as badly as it did with mediocre defense and three straight losses.
The Croatian fans always come out to support and, without generalizing, they caused delays in all the Croatian games after lighting flares in the stands. The same actions also resulted in fines for the Croatian federation.
The absence of David Villa has been glaring, first with the failed lack of true striker against Italy, then a tough outing by Fernando Torres against Croatia. At least they took out some of their frustration on meager Ireland.
The officials again became the story when they did not call a goal for Ukraine when the ball clearly crossed the line. There have been other inconsistencies at play when it comes to calling fouls, but that mistake has been the most glaring.
After a 4-1 thumping of the Czech Republic, Russia seemed to justify its calling as the favorites to advance from the group stage. But its shocking loss to Greece eliminated it after a 1-1 draw with Poland in the second game.
UEFA again showed its lack of self-awareness when it decided to fine Niklas Bendtner more for showing underwear with unofficial sponsors than for the racist and violent incidents that have occurred in the tournament so far.
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