Both games played out on the expected lines.
I thought Austria would surprise and they were distinctly unlucky not to get atleast a point against Croatia. After the first 20 min when they looked every bit the 'weakest link' of this tourney, they improved by the end of the 1st half. That fateful 20 minutes included a penalty for Croatia which was well taken by Luka Modric.
Austria played much much better in the 2nd half. They sent in 3 attacking substitutes and Croatia were on the ropes for sustained periods in the 2nd half. Austrians did everything except putting the ball in the net.
The had one last chance in added time but it was not meant to be for the co-hosts. They looked much better than the dire and boring Swiss.
Moving to the 2nd game of the day, one of the favorites Germany playing debutants Poland. As I wrote in the previous post, a lot has been said and written about this game. A lot of it unnecessary rubbish, as usual.
Germany started a very attacking lineup including 2 center forwards in Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose + Lucas Podolski on the left as a winger and the always dangerous Philip Lahm at right back.
The pace of the game was furious at the beginning. Both teams had sharp chances in the initial exchanges. However Germany seemed more dangerous purely because of the kind of clincial finishers they have in Klose, Podolski and Gomez. Poland moved the ball nicely until the 3/4 of th pitch but they lose posession very easily in front of the German box.
As expected Jens Lehmann had a couple of "lemon" moments :). But to his and germany's relief the Poles didnt have the means to exploit them.
Every time Germany attacked. they looked like scoring and in one of those attacks where Gomez gave a difficult pass with great technique to release Klose, who sees the keeper charging at him and passes it across to Podolski who was all alone himself to slot the ball into empty net. Great ball movement. The two poles(by birth) combined to score the first goal. As respect to his motherland and to not add more arsenic to the already hot controversial situation Podolski didnt celebrate his goal. neither did Klose. A sensible thing. In the situation it is very easy to rub it in by some ugly pre-planned celebration. It was refreshing to see something sensible.
2nd half didnt have the pace of the 1st half. Germany seemed to pull back a bit but they looked very very dangerous everytime they had the ball near the Polish box. There were a few rough challenges but nothing really serious.
Germany looked more likely to score the 2nd than Poland their 1st. Poland just didnt have the stuff upfront to make a move and score a goal. It was like watching a Ferrari race a drag-race car. Both had the break-neck speed but one can only travel in straight line and the other can do more sophisticated moves and avoid crashing into walls (the central defenders in this case :)).
And they did score towards the end of the match. Podolski again. Not much of a celebration. And soon after the Poles were put out of their misery.
After 4 games, I still have that empty feeling.
1. there are too many teams which wear red(home strip) in this cup. - Austria, Swiss, Czech, Spain, Turkey.
2. I dont like the fat blackstrip in the middle of the new germany jersey.
3. How many goals will germany score against Austria? 4 atleast :)
4. Alteast Kubica won his first GP, something to cheer for the Poles.
5. Rafa Nadal annihilated Roger Federer at Roland Garros. Alberto Contador won the Giro'd Italia last week. So is this the year of the Spanish? La roja? No no. all this means nothing. Just wait to see Spain struggle to score against Russia on Tuesday.
6. 4 games. 0 draws and only 1 team scored in each of the 4 games.
Worst Game(s) of the Cup(descending order)
>>Swiss X Czech game is easily the worst offering so far
>>Portugal X Turkey
Tomorrow >> France X Romania && Netherlands X Italy.
Romania is my dark horse. Mutu for Golden Boot :)