EURO CLUB INDEX: All-Spanish tie takes Last 16 headlines

FOOTBALL – According to the Euro Club Index the all-Spanish tie between Villarreal CF and titleholders Sevilla FC was the highest profile matchup that resulted from today’s Europa League Last 16 draw. Of the 16 teams still in contention, Sevilla is the highest ranked (14th) team in the Euro Club Index. The index claims that Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v Ajax is the lowest profile tie on offer.

Continue reading

ANALYSE THIS: Should Europe be happy at 5-3 up in Ryder Cup?

GOLF – After one day of action at the 2014 Ryder Cup, Europe are leading the visiting Team USA by 5-3. It is the first time since 2006 that Europe have been in the lead after Day 1. Coming from a losing session in the morning fourballs, a good guess is that Team Europe will look back on Day 1 happy, having reversed a 2.5-1.5 deficit into a 5.0-3.0 lead. But should they be?

Continue reading

AWARDS SHOW: Iniesta is Best Player of Euro 2012

FOOTBALL – Andrés Iniesta has been named Best Player of Euro 2012 by UEFA. The mercurial Spanish midfielder was also one of only two players (Italy’s Andrea Pirlo being the other) in the tournament to pick up three Man of the Match awards – in both matches against Italy and in the encounter with Croatia. Iniesta takes over from teammate Xavi, who scooped up these honours at Euro 2008.

REVIEW – Spain v Italy 4-0

FOOTBALL – On Sunday, 1 July, Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 Final and became the first team to retain the European Championship title.

Spain 4-0 Italy

> Spain have joined (West) Germany as the only country to win the ECh three times and are the first to retain the title.

> Spain recorded the first ever win by a four-goal margin in a ECh or World Cup final. 

> The only team other to score 3+ goals in a ECh final was West Germany vs Soviet Union in 1972 (3-0).

> This is only the sixth time a team scored 4+ goals in a ECh or World Cup final: Uruguay (4, 1930), Italy (4, 1938), Brazil (5, 1958), England (4, 1966) and Brazil (4, 1970).

> Spain are unbeaten in their last 12 Euro final matches (9-3-0), a competition record.

> Spain have not conceded a goal in their last five ECh matches, a new competition record.

> Spain have kept a clean sheet in their last 10 knockout matches at a ECh or WC. Iker Casillas has therefore not conceded a goal in Euro or World Cup KO stages for an unprecedented 990 minutes.

> Spain have won their last 62 matches in which they scored the opening goal. The last time they lost when taking a 1-0 lead was in a 3-2 defeat at Northern Ireland in September 2006.

> Vicente Del Bosque became the 2nd coach to win a ECh and a World Cup title, joining Helmut Schön (Euro 1972, 1974 World Cup).

> Fernando Torres joined Mario Balotelli, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Dzagoev, Mario Gomez and Mario Mandžukic on three goals at Euro 2012. The only ECh with more players with at least three goals was Euro 2004 (8).

> Torres has played the fewest minutes of all players with three goals at Euro 2012 (190).

> David Silva has been directly involved in five goals at Euro 2012 (2 goals, 3 assists), more than any other player this tournament.

> The only other player before David Silva to score in a ECh final while representing a club from the Premier League was Fernando Torres (Liverpool) in 2008.

> Xavi is the 1st player to have an assist in 2 different ECh finals. He also assisted on the Fernando Torres goal in the Euro 2008 final. 

> Xavi also has the record for most assists in a ECh final (3). Rainer Bonhof had two assists for Germany in the 1976 final.

> Iker Casillas has won 100 of his 137 international matches, becoming the first player ever to reach a century of international wins. He also holds the world record with 79 clean sheets

> Busquets, Pedro and Piqué joined an elite group of players that have won the European Championship, FIFA World Cup, Champions Cup/Champions League and Intercontinental Cup/FIFA Club World Cup in their career. This group now contains 19 players.

> Pedro, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets, Juan Mata, Jesus Navas, Fernando Llorente, Víctor Valdés and Javi Martínez joined the list of players (23 GER, 23 ESP, 18 FRA, 1 ITA) that have won a ECh and a World Cup title. Spanish totals include tonight’s match.

> Casillas, Ramos, Torres, Fábregas, Iniesta, Silva, Xavi and Alonso joined a group of 13 players that have featured in two ECh finals.

> Fernando Torres and Juan Mata became the sixth and seventh players to feature in and win a Champions Cup/Champions League final and a European Championship final in the same year. The others are Luis Suárez (Internazionale and Spain in 1964) and Hans van Breukelen, Berry van Aerle, Ronald Koeman and Gerald Vanenburg (PSV and Netherlands in 1988).

> Six players from FC Barcelona were in the Spanish starting line-up. This was not a record, as there were seven Dynamo Kiev players representing the Soviet Union in the 1988 final.

> This was the second World Cup or ECh final in which both teams were captained by a goalkeeper. The other one was the 1934 World Cup final between Italy (Giampiero Combi) and Czechoslovakia (Franta Plánicka).

> Buffon and Cassano played their 13th ECh match tonight, equalling the Italian record by Alessandro Del Piero and Paolo Maldini.

> Buffon played his 25th ECh/World Cup match, most by an Italian goalkeeper (Dino Zoff 24). Only Paolo Maldini (36) and Fabio Cannavaro (26) have played more.

> Cassano has now been substituted eight times at European Championships after beginning in the starting line-up, breaking the tournament record he shared with Dennis Bergkamp and Mario Gomez.

PREVIEW: Spain and Italy meet again at Euro 2012

FOOTBALL – Spain and Italy are back to where Euro 2012 started for them. These countries met in the group stage, where they drew 1-1. This is fifth occasion in history of Euros, on which the same two teams have played each other the in group stage and also in the knockout stage.

The other repeats are Soviet Union – Netherlands (1988), Germany – Czech Republic (1996), Greece – Portugal (2004) and Russia – Spain (2008).

The competition in Ukraine and Poland is the 14th European Championship featuring the 13th different final fixture. The only repeated final at the Euros is Germany – Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia (1976, 1996). Twelve countries have already played in Euro finals, Germany tops them all with six appearances.

At the FIFA World Cup two fixtures were repeated in finals. Germany and Argentina played in two consecutive World Cup finals (1986, 1990), the other pairing being Brazil – Italy (1970, 1994).

France and Italy is the only pair to have played in a World Cup final and a European Championship final. France won at Euro 2000 and Italy at World cup 2006.

Analysis by Slavko Jeric (@lavkeri), a regular contributor to this website.

PREVIEW: Torres tries to tally in another Euro final

FOOTBALL – Fernando Torres is hoping to become the first player to score in more than one European Championship Final. He can also join three German players that have all scored two goals in a ECh final, however they all scored three goals in the same final. They are Gerd Müller (1972), Horst Hrubesch (1980) and Oliver Bierhoff (1996).