Posted On Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 08:51:47 AM
The future should have been now, with a team that had supposedly matured into a tournament-winner since reaching the final of the 2010 World Cup. Instead, the Netherlands suffered three straight losses.
All the talk of lifting a major trophy for the first time in 24 years proved to be just hot air, inflating a bubble which soon burst at Euro 2012. For a squad boasting the lik `es of Van Persie, Huntelaar, Sneijder and Van der Vaart, a return of two goals from three games was way below par.
Poland’s 1-1 draw against Greece would have been something Szczesny might never want to think of again. The Arsenal goalkeeper’s first miscue, a goal by Greece, was the lesser of the two.
The second, reduced his team to 10 men. Shortly after substitute Dimitris Salpigidis had equalized for Greece by knocking in a loose ball in the 51st minute, the diminutive striker was taken down by Szczesny in the area. UEFA later banned the goalkeeper for one match
The team was supposed to lift the gloom caused by the worst recession in living memory but for their hopelessly optimistic fans it ended up adding to the despair and then some.
After three defeats in their group games, the Irish head home with little to show for their efforts.
|Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema
France came into the Euro boosted by a long unbeaten run and widely regarded as a dangerous outsider. They left with a whimper.
The French fell apart on the field and in the dressing room in their final group game against Sweden and then went down without a fight against defending champions Spain.
To top it all, the likes of Samir Nasri, who aimed expletive-laced rants at journalists, and star player Karim Benzema, who didn’t score even once, didn’t help either.