Shipped from Abroad, Euro 2012: Looking forward from Group D after Day 12

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source: AP

Grading out Group C

The extent to which each team met expectations.

England, A – Their best player missed two games, they suffered more pre-tournament injuries than any other team, controversy embroiled them before their first kick, and there was a general feeling that they weren’t that good to begin with. They’re clearly good (if not very entertaining), but in light of pre-tournament expectations, their seven points and first place finish is much more than anybody could have asked for.

France, C – This was the minimum they could have done within their range of expectations. It’s not so much about finishing in second. If somebody told Laurent Blanc that England would take seven points, he might have contented himself with a runners up finish. That they did so with four points – with as many losses as wins, as many goals and goals allowed – was particularly disappointing.

Ukraine, C- – It’s always disappointing to see a host bow out early, but they lost to England and France while defeating Sweden. Was there more they could have hoped for? Particularly give the doubt that surrounded them two weeks ago? In beating Sweden to open the tournament, they gave their nation a night to remember, with Andriy Shevchenko getting a final moment in the sun.

Sweden, D+ – They should have expected to reach the quarterfinals, but after two rounds, they were gone. Because of that, their tournament will be clouded in disappointment, but a closing match win over France will provide some room for the sun to break through. Ultimately, they finish with three points, an even goal difference, and some reason to think things aren’t so bad after all.

Crystal Ball: What Needs to Happen Next Round

England moves on to face Italy needing to find some way to create goals. Sound familiar, right? It’s moments like this I really wish vinyl records had never gone away (don’t email; I know they’re not done and they’re a better quality, etc.). Right now, England’s record is skipping: “More goals, more goals, more goals …”

The same could be said for Italy. We’re probably in for one of the worst matches of the tournament, particularly considering the safety net of penalty kicks. With each team likely to favor their goalkeeper in a shootout, England and Italy may continue proceeding with caution.

France’s stumble sees them draw Spain in the quarterfinals. It’s a horrible match for a team whose approach creates an unenviable like-for-like battle with the holders. Despite Tuesday’s loss, Laurent Blanc could be best served by persisting with a lineup closer to today’s, starting Yann M’Vila and Alou Diarra as a two-man shield.

Hatem Ben Arfa won’t be retained in the XI. Given Saturday’s opponent, you could see Samir Nasri go back to the right with Yohan Cabaye being brought back into the center, if in a deeper role. You may even see the Euro 2012 debut of Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi.

PST’s Euro 2012 “More Powerful” Rankings

Taking a long term look, toward teams’ title hopes.

1 (–). Germany
2 (–). Spain
3 (-). Portugal
4 (-). Italy
5 (+1). England
6 (-2). France
7 (-). Czech Republic
8. (NR). Greece

… and PST’s Player of the Tournament Wunderlist

1. Andres Iniesta, Spain
2. Mario Gómez, Germany
3. Andrea Pirlo, Italy
4. Luka Modric, Croatia
5. Mesut Ozil, Germany
6. Xavi Hernandez, Spain
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
8. Daniele de Rossi, Italy
9. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
10. Fabio Coentrão, Portugal

We’re still waiting for our heros to take center stage. You can take this last, add four other players, shake it up and come up with as convincing an order as I have. Hopefully, this stuff sorts itself out soon.

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.