Man of the match: Leading up the tournament, France-born defender Damien Perquis had to justify his place playing for a country that has had a number of stars naturalized by other countries. On Tuesday, Perquis’ justification came on the field, where he was dominant breaking up play attacking Poland’s left channel and, in the second half, the man creating the turnovers that developed into counterattacks.
NBC Sports: Russia and Poland play out 1-1 draw in Group A
Packaged for takeaway:
- Poland coach Franciszek Smuda didn’t give Perquis and partner Marcin Wasilewski as much help as he could have. When the team sheet surprisingly had Dariusz Dudka in the team, it looked like he would pair with Eugen Polanski at the base of midfield, providing two players to break up counters and help as Andrei Arshavin and Alan Dzagoev cut inside. Instead Poland played 4-1-4-1 on defense (with Dudka deep), employing a defensive line high enough to dare Russia’s midfielders to hit a perfectly weighted ball. That never happened.
- Smuda made another astute change after half, swapping wide midfielders Ludomir Obraniak and Jakub “Kuba” Błaszczykowski. Błaszczykowski’s impact still came through the right, though. On a Poland counter, he and Obraniak were able to attack Yuri Zhirkov, turn him around on a Kuba run, and create a chance at the edge of the area. Błaszczykowski blasted the equalizer into the left of goal after a beautiful first touch that took a supporting Sergei Ignashevich out of the play.
- It was part of a mixed might for Zhirkov. He was dangerous going forward, provided the width Russia needed as they moved Arshavin in from the left, and drew the foul that led to Russia’s goal. Defensively, however, he is still a liability, so much so that he can be targeted by the opposition.
- It isn’t Russia’s only problem at the back. They remain very vulnerable in the air, with Poland defender Sebastian Boesnich nearly heading Poland in front in the 8th minute. On the night Boesnich would put two more dangerous headers toward goal, with Wasilkewski adding his own pair. Surely I’m wrong, but I can’t remember Russia beating Poland in the air on a corner or restart.
- Thanks to goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev, Russia never had to pay for their poor set piece defending. He made three good saves and had a brave 50th minute punch while giving the day’s best goalkeeping performance.
- At the other end, Alan Dzagoev scored his third goal of the tournament, redirecting an insanely good Andrei Arshavin cross in for an 38th minute opener. It was the best part of an up-and-down night for each man. Dzagoev spent too much time talking to officials in the second half (and was eventually yellow carded) while Arshavin was inconsistent in his decision-making and, at the end of the match, was seen directing the ball away from his flank as he was too tired to run the attack.
- When Arshavin did that, Russia had little idea what to do. In the attacking phase, they seem to have one tactic: Get the ball to Andrei. At the end of the match, its redundancy was tiresome. Russia would build down the right, play to Arshavin coming across the top of the area, and he’d either play it back out or be too fatigued to keep the ball. In the last third of the match, they never really challenged for a winner because they were wholly dependent on a spent Arshavin.
- Poland got a scare at the end of the match when Polanski, one of their two or three best players on the day, went knee-to-knee with Zhirkov. He went off for a few minutes, tired to come back on, but then had to be brought off. It was the type of collision that often ends with a major injury. Hopefully Polanski is fine.
- Going forward, Russia needs only a draw against Greece to advance. They’ll win the group with a victory on Saturday. Poland plays the Czech Republic needing a win to go through.
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.
MADRID (AP) Spanish third-division club Toledo says a Tunisian player who collapsed from heart failure during practice 10 days ago has regained consciousness.
The club says doctors removed sedative medication and Lassad Nouioui was responding well to treatment on Monday.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
They will consider removing the 32-year-old Nouioui from the intensive care unit if his condition keeps improving. Nouioui has played for a number of clubs during his 14-year professional career, notably a four-year stay at Deportivo La Coruna and a one-year spell with Celtic.
Nouioui collapsed on April 14.
The game against Real Madrid B the following day was postponed because of the problem with Nouioui.
GENEVA (AP) FIFA is forcing the pace on talks over a $25 billion offer to revamp the Club World Cup and create a global national team competition.
FIFA says President Gianni Infantino hosted a meeting last Friday with invited officials from some top European clubs.
[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Walcott strike ]
The European Club Association has strongly opposed FIFA’s hope for a four-yearly club tournament starting in 2021, which could rival the UEFA-organized Champions League.
UEFA has also proposed a Global Nations League. A similar project is tied to the FIFA-controlled $25 billion, 12-year offer from a consortium including investors from Saudi Arabia and China.
FIFA says it’s holding “informal ongoing discussions with different stakeholders on the topic of the future Club World Cups.”
Infantino is set to meet confederation presidents and general secretaries “in the near future,” FIFA says.
On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.
Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.
After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.
De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”
Four clubs remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League competition, and while two of the teams have been considered heavy dogs in the fight all year long the other two sides look to continue on their storybook run.
Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have found themselves in the semifinals of this season’s UCL, creating a strong mix of storylines as the tournament heads towards its most critical point.
[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Theo Walcott’s strike ]
Anfield will be the site for Tuesday’s first leg between Liverpool and Roma, with both sides still riding major highs from their victories in the last round.
The Reds enter the final four after having disposed of fellow Premier League side Manchester City in relatively dominating fashion. Meanwhile, Roma completed a seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona to progress in the competition.
Liverpool is led by three of the year’s top goalscorers, including Mohamed Salah — who has scored eight goals in the UCL and 41 across all competitions.
For Roma, much of the side’s success has been predicated on finding defensive strength at the right moments throughout the tournament.
Despite falling behind 4-1 in their first leg defeat to Barca in the previous round, Edin Dzeko and Co. rallied for a 3-0 win at the Stade Olimpico to stun the Catalan club by holding Lionel Messi and his side in check.
Manager Eusebio Di Francesco will have to find creative ways to halt the Liverpool attack though over the course of two legs, with the Reds boasting the top attack in this year’s UCL.
Liverpool has scored 33 goals in 10 UCL matches, while only conceding seven in the process.