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.
Leaving Manchester City is proving difficult for longtime backstop Joe Hart.
The English No. 1 is heading out on loan to Torino after dropping down Pep Guardiola‘s depth chart at the Etihad Stadium after 348 appearances for City.
[ MORE: Deadline Day’s done deals ]
Hart needed to play, as he’s still in Sam Allardyce’s plans for England, and couldn’t wait around for a chance in Manchester.
That didn’t stop the 6-foot-5 keeper from a very emotional goodbye in his last City start, last week’s win over Steaua Bucharest in the UEFA Champions League.
Days later, the goalkeeper is trying to put it all into words, saying in a Facebook post that he will miss Manchester:
I am very grateful that Torino has given me this opportunity to play for their great club. But the feelings I felt during the recent Steaua Bucharest game will live with me forever. You can’t buy that and I will struggle to replicate them. So thank you for that and all the amazing memories.
Hart joins a Torino side with European aims, and is not the only big name loan on the books. Leandro Castan and Iago Falque have joined the Turin side from AS Roma.
AFC Bournemouth have secured the biggest signing in club history on Transfer Deadline Day.
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere, 24, has signed for Bournemouth on a season-long loan deal at the Vitality Stadium.
Put your jaw back in its correct position.
[ LIVE: Every Deadline Day deal ]
Wilshere only became available on Tuesday after holding talks with Arsene Wenger and the outcome was that he wouldn’t get regular minutes with the Gunners this season.
The England international is a star talent and as soon as he became available over 22 teams registered their interest in taking him on loan. Three front-runners emerged early on Wednesday with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and AS Roma all keen on Wilshere.
However, tiny Bournemouth won the race in the Wilshere stakes to dish up the biggest shock of the transfer window so far.
This is a massive transfer coup for Bournemouth.
In only their second-ever season in the Premier League they have landed a star midfielder with vast UEFA Champions League and international experience.
Yes, Wilshere has a history of injuries but now he has the chance to prove everyone wrong and play in a sustained run of games for the Cherries (he was likely fifth or sixth on the depth chart in Arsenal’s midfield this season) as he aims to get his career back on track after several injury-hit seasons.
It is thought that Wilshere preferred playing for Bournemouth over the likes of Palace and Roma due to the style of play of Eddie Howe‘s side as the Arsenal academy product loves to pass and move the ball. He will fit in very nicely for the Cherries on the south coast and will become an instant hit with the Bournemouth faithful as his signing gives them a massive boost after a tough start to the season.
Nobody could’ve predict this move. The madness of Deadline Day lives on.
Tipped for several Premier League destinations, Islam Slimani has joined Algeria teammate Riyad Mahrez at Leicester City.
Slimani, 28, spent the last four seasons as Portuguese powerhouse Sporting Lisbon, scoring a career-best 31 goals last year.
[ MORE: Sissoko to Everton for medical]
He scored two his 23 international goals at the 2014 World Cup, netting against both South Korea and Russia.
Slimani said Mahrez helped with his decision:
He added: “My friend Riyad Mahrez spoke to me about the Club and about the atmosphere the Leicester fans create at King Power Stadium. I will give absolutely everything I have on the pitch for them and for my team-mates and I hope that together we can achieve something special.”
Get the jersey ready. Slimani, Mahrez, Vardy, and Musa could be a deadly bit of depth as Leicester strives to strike hard in the UEFA Champions League.
West Ham United has strengthened their flanks with the addition of two-time UEFA Champions League winner Alvaro Arbeloa.
The 33-year-old back played in the Premier League with Liverpool from 2006-09 before skipping town for Real Madrid.
[ MORE: Sissoko off to Everton for medical ]
Arbeloa has been with Real since, scoring six goals and making 233 total appearances. His appearance dipped to just nine last season, and he’ll finish his time at the Bernabeu with
He also was a part of Spain’s EURO-World Cup-EURO sandwich between 2008-2012.