Euro 2012 ‘Flop XI

Here we take a look at those who failed to make the cut at Euro 2012 despite  high hopes.

1. Goalkeeper:Wojciech Szczesny (Club-Arsenal,Country-Poland)

As goalkeeper of host nation Poland, the super-confident Szczesny found the eyes of Europe focused on him for the tournament’s opening game. He had a nightmare, directing a cross he should have mopped up into the path of Greek winger Dmitris Salpingidis to concede Poland’s equaliser.

It was to get worse, moments later he was sent off for bringing down the same man in the penalty area. His replacement Przemyslaw Tyton saved the penalty and the Arsenal star did not play again for the hosts, who were heading to an important victory before his double mistake.

2. Defender – Gregory van der Wiel (Club-Ajax, Country- Netherlands)

Gregory van der Wiel was tipped to shine in Poland and Ukraine, with a number of big name clubs watching on closely. However,  it was to be a disappointing 2 weeks, as for the entire Dutch squad. In an attacking sense he offered little.

He  got bullied by every winger he faced in the Group of Death. He could not handle the pressure of the left-wing and left-full-back combination of Denmark, nor was able to contain Ronaldo. His performance against Germany wasn’t good either.

3. Defender: John O’Shea (Club-Sunderland, Country-Republic of Ireland)

O’Shea struggled to cope for the under performing Irish.The 31-year old could not keep up with the pace in the Euros and also let Mario Balotelli get the better of  him during their group match against Italy, resulting in the young striker scoring one of the goals of the tournament from a corner kick.

The former Manchester United player made only one tackle in the tournament as Spanish and Croatian attackers made inroads down the left flank. He was equally ineffective going forward.

4. Defender: Joris Mathijsen (Club-Malaga CF, Country-Netherlands)

Mathijsen was part of the Dutch team that lost in the finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.He missed the Netherlands first game against Denmark through injury, and came in for Ron Vlaar the next game.He failed to find his feet when he returned to the starting XI.

The 32-year-old had a poor outing at the Euro just like the rest of his teammates and could do very little to save his team from being knocked out in the group stages without picking up a single point during the course of the tournament.His introduction to the team actually saw the Dutch defence get worse, as it was taken apart by both Germany and Portugal.The Malaga defender did not win a single tackle during Euro 2012.

5.Defender– Phillippe Mexes (Club-AC Milan,Country-France)

Mexes was nowhere near impressive. He was identified as the weak link for France going into the tournament, and the centre-back was exposed against Sweden. The 30-year-old was booked in two of France’s three group games as he fought against the tide to keep pace with opposition attackers. His bookings meant he missed France’s crucial knockout game against Spain, but for his reputation, it might have been just as well.

He was at fault for some of France’s conceded goals in the group stages. Laurent Koscielny did well against Spain when he replaced the suspended Mexes, but it was too late as France were knocked out.

6. Midfielder: Mark Van Bommel (Club-PSV Eindhoven, Country-Netherlands)

One man whose inclusion in the first team is said to have irritated a number of players is Mark van Bommel, son-in-law of coach Bert van Marwijk.Like many of his countrymen, Mark van Bommel was not at his best during Euro 2012. Usually so dominant and combative, the central midfielder averaged only 1.5 tackles per game.After losing two games he was dropped for Holland’s final clash with Portugal after fan pressure. Van Bommel had clearly had enough and after the country’s elimination announced his international retirement.

Many felt that a creative midfielder like Van der Vaart should have played alongside Nigel De Jong in the centre as he would have provided a better attacking option. Apart from tackling, Van Bommel, offered very little going forward and had a poor tournament.

7. Midfielder: Thomas Mueller (Club-Bayern Munich, Country-Germany)

Introduced in the Die Mannschaft squad by current manager Joachim Loew during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as a 20-year old, the lanky attacking midfielder had a tournament most players his age could only dream of having. The Bayern man has been a shadow of the youngster who went to South Africa and shocked the world to pick up the prestigious Golden Boot award.

He had a heartbreaking Champions League defeat on home soil to English side Chelsea in the finals last season, and one would have hoped he would make a huge difference to the German side during the Euros but was unfortunately given very less play time and failed to make an impact whenever he was brought in as a substitute

8. Midfielder: Christian Eriksen (Club-Ajax, Country-Denmark)

Eriksen was tipped to be one of the stars of Euro 2012, but made just two touches in the opposition’s box as his country failed to qualify from the Group of Death. The Ajax man was well below his best.In terms of midfielders playing from central areas it is fair to say that Denmark’s apparent creator-in-chief was rather subdued in a tough group to make his mark. Nevertheless, much was expected of the young Ajax playmaker and he failed to shine despite a spirited effort from the Danes.

He is one of the best young players in Europe and is attracting interest from many big clubs across the continent. Maybe that’s why the Danes were looking up to him to create a bit of magic in midfield. He was the youngest player to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.The 20-year-old could only muster 2 key passes and offered next to nothing in a defensive sense.  A promising talent but is clearly very inexperienced at the international stage which showed quite clearly in Poland and Ukraine.

9. .Forward  – Robin van Persie (Club-Arsenal, Country- Netherlands)

Headlining a trio of strikers, Robin van Persie had  a very poor tournament.He came to the tournament as the English Premier League’s top goal scorer with 30 goals.

The Dutchman wasted a number of great opportunities, with his tally of 4 big chances missed still representing the most in the tournament. He did manage to score once, with the hardest effort of his 15 shots at the tournament as Holland headed for an early exit.

10.Forward – Milan Baroš (Club- Galatasaray, Country- Czech Republic)

Another man who many had a poor tournament was ex-Liverpool striker Milan Baros.He was another player who was anonymous during the tournament.The Euro 2004 top goal scorer didn’t contribute much to the Czech Republic attack.

He then announced his retirement from international football.

11.Forward  – Aleksandr Kerzhakov (Club- Zenit St. Petersburg Russia)

Kerzhakov was portrayed as Russia’s big hope going into Euro 2012 but  the Zenit St Petersburg hit-man had a poor tournament. He did not hit the target once during Euro 2012, one of the key reasons why Russia failed to qualify from a modest Group A.Aleksandr Kerzhakov set a new all-time European Championships record with an amazing seven off-target shots in Russia’s win over the Czech Republic.

The Zenit forward was given the nod over Pavlyuchenko and Pogrebnyak in every game prior to Russia’s shock departure, and tried to repay Advocaat’s faith by getting his shot away whenever possible. The Zenit St Petersburg didn’t score in Russia’s remaining games either, and was subbed off at half-time in the nation’s 1-0 loss to Greece as the coach’s patience finally ran out.

Unfortunately for Kerzhakov none of his 14 efforts hit the target and his wastefulness in front of goal proved costly.


Subs: Shay Given (Republic of Ireland), Ron Vlaar (Netherlands), Stephen Ward (Republic of Ireland),Artem Milevskiy (Ukraine),Arjen Robben (Netherlands),Wayne Rooney (England),Mikael Lustig (Sweden), Alvaro Negredo (Spain), James Milner (England),Emanuele Giaccherini (Italy),Sotiris Ninis (Greece),Peter Cech (Czech Republic)

Cech was seen as an integral part of the Chelsea squad which won their first ever Champions League trophy. Cech showed glimpses of brilliance under the bar, but could not replicate his club form for his country consistently during the Euro.The experienced stopper made perhaps the howler of the tournament when spilling the ball straight to the feet of Greece’s Gekas and only one keeper has been beaten more often this summer.

Aston Villa and Ireland keeper Shay Given entered the tournament with a couple of injuries, and  it showed as the normally resolute Ireland shipped 9 goals in the group stages. Although the Irishman made the most saves in the group stages (17) and only fewer than Joe Hart overall thus far, a number of the goals he conceded would have been avoidable were he on top form, and concentration levels seemed a real issue for the former City-man.

Who would make your Euro 2012 ‘Flop XI’?

This article was written by Nana Abiri (@NOKA88)


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