Offshore drilling, Euro 2012: Denmark 1, Netherlands 0

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Man of the Match: While his contribution on the goal was mostly luck, it was amazing how many times left back Simon Poulsen both had the energy to get forward and was able to get back to be the man trying to push Arjen Robben outside. Dutch right back Gregory Van der Wiel is going to be thinking about Poulsen’s performance for a little while, and not only because he was the man often tasked with containing Poulsen’s ventures into attack. Poulsen played the way Van der Wiel’s supposed to.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • There are two ways to look at this match, already being billed as one of the biggest upsets in recent history:
    • The first is partially told by the numbers. The Netherlands outshot Denmark 28-8, and they had almost all of the good chances. They out-possessed the Danes (53-47) and had two legitimate penalty shouts. This view sees the game as a one-off. The Netherlands dominated and the Danes got a bit lucky,
    • The second notes how casually the Dutch approached the first quarter of this game, possessing without purpose. If Robin van Persie doesn’t drop back into midfield as often as he did in the first half – collecting passes and opening up the Danish defense, promoting some movement – what do the Dutch have? Anything? After an initial second half push, the Dutch resumed their stoic, stagnant play. We all knew the Dutch had moved away from total football. We didn’t know Spain’d assumed a monopoly on it. You can dominate the numbers all you want, but if you’re not putting the effort toward creating actual chances, it doesn’t matter.
  • That last statement is a bit deceiving because the Dutch did create chances. They just didn’t create enough. Ibrahim Afellay, who had a good game, had a couple of cracks at goal. Klass-Jan Huntelaar had a golden chance in the second half. Van Persie had three chances that he approached with the spirit of Kerzhakov. Arjen Robben nailed the post off a Danish turnover, and John Heitenga had a chance to convert a second half header.
  • With all those chances, the Danes needed a strong match from their `keeper. Stephen Andersen stepped up, particularly on a second half chance that ended with Huntelaar and van Persie stabbing at him as he held onto a ball 13 yards out. Stepping in for Thomas Sørenson, Andersen played like a number one.
  • Interesting that Denmark had eight shots and put all of them on frame. The one that mattered, though, was a combination of great execution and a Dutch defensive breakdown. Poulsen was allowed to carry the ball into attack, and while his cross luckily deflected to Michael Krohn-Dehli (pictured), the Denmark winger needing just a couple of touches to turn John Heitenga, get in on Maarten Stekelenburg, and provide an early winner.
  • It was almost a prototype smash and grab, and Morten Olsen is going to get a lot of credit for the result. Don’t be so easy with your praise. The Dutch had a lot of chances, more than any coach could have willingly permitted. Their central defense (Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer) alternated between dominant and shaky, hence all the chances.
  • The conservative approach left Christian Eriksen (Denamrks’ best player) a non-factor. Nicklas Bendtner was equally useless. It wasn’t their fault. It’s just the way Denmark played.
  • Only some timely interventions from midfielders Niki Zimling and William Kvist prevented a full siege. Denmark got the result, but this wasn’t a comprehensive lie in wait performance (ala Switzerland vs. Spain at World Cup 2010).
  • Credit to Wesley Sneijder, easily the Netherlands’ best player. He was forced slightly deeper from his starting position in order to find room away from the numbers deep in Denmark’s defense. Even from 40 yards out, he was able to consistently hit van Persie and Huntelaar. Sneijder deserved a couple of assists.
  • Looking forward, the Netherlands are in trouble. With Denmark having gotten three and Germany still on the schedule, there are a lot of ways the Netherlands go home, even if they don’t lose another game. Consider this: If Denmark beats Portugal, they’re through to the second round (not really, see comments, below). That means the Netherlands and Germany would fight for one spot.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.