Euro 2012 News: Spain v Italy, The Irish have Long-Cox and Denmark defy Euro 2012 odds

Euro 2012 Day 3

After two close games in the group of death, Sunday sees holders and world champions Spain start their campaign, with a troubled Italy side first up for Vicente del Bosque’s men (get the best bets on Spain v Italy here).

Republic of Ireland and Croatia also meet to round off Group C today, whilst the British public start to look towards England’s game against France on Monday night. Here is the news that Soccerlens has picked up on Day 3.

Denmark stun Netherlands in Group B opener

Netherlands and Germany are the overwhelming favourites to progress from Group B, but apparently Denmark haven’t read the script. The Scandinavians punished a wasteful Dutch side on Saturday evening, as a first-half strike from Michael Krohn-Dehli proving the difference in a 1-0 win for Morten Olsen’s men.

With the likes of Van Persie, Sneijder, Robben, Van der Vaart and Huntelaar at Bert van Marwijk’s disposal much was expected of the Oranje ahead of the competition, but a nervy start and blunt performance will have the nation’s fans scratching their heads.

Holland boss Van Marwijk was rueful after the shock defeat, whilst also stating that he felt that his side should have been awarded a penalty in the second half. Despite this, poor finishing by the Dutch side was evident, with the usually assured Van Persie not showing the eagle eye that Arsenal fans have come to expect and demand.

The result means that Netherlands must get a result against Germany on Wednesday to avoid a premature elimination, in what is set to be an enthralling game.

Gomez seals slender German victory

A second-half Mario Gomez header proved the difference between Germany and Portugal in the second game of Day 2, in a close and tightly-contested fixture. Portugal looked much improved from recent mediocre friendly results, and gave as good as they got against one of the tournament favourites.

Real Madrid defender Pepe hit the bar for the Iberian nation on the stroke of half-time, whilst substitute Silvestre Varela had a glorious chance at the end to salvage a point for Paulo Bento’s men, but in the end tournament-ready Germany started with a victory.

German coach Joachim Low admitted that there was more to come from his side, whilst match-winner Gomez was delighted to get the nod to start the game and to repay his boss’ faith by grabbing the winner.

Racism rears its ugly head again

After the unsavoury monkey chants that marred a Netherlands training session in the build-up to the tournament, another incident of racism has been documented from the first day’s action. Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was said to have been abused by Russia fans whilst he went to take a corner in his side’s 4-1 Group A defeat on Friday night.

A section of Russian fans are also believed to have displayed a far-right “Russian Empire” flag during the game, whilst violence also marred Dick Advocaat’s side’s victory as fans clashed with stewards in a shocking video published in The Telegraph.

Racism is seemingly flowing as an undercurrent to the tournament, with Mario Balotelli also being slated on an Italian neo-nazi website.

Hodgson explains Ferdinand omission

Rio Ferdinand’s absence from the England squad has come as a shock to some, as the veteran Manchester United centre half has been overlooked for selection twice by new Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson.

The former West Brom boss has explained his reasons for not bringing the defender to the tournament in Ukraine and Poland, stating that he ‘wasn’t going to bring in a player of Ferdinand’s class as cover‘.

Meanwhile, Hodgson has also tested his England players to prove their worth when they take on France on Monday night, and urged them ‘not to let the nation down’ in their Group D opener.

Italy ready for Spanish challenge

Italy’s preparations for Euro 2012 have been impacted adversely by another betting scandal in the country, with a 3-0 defeat to Russia in their final warm-up fixture meaning that expectations of the Azzurri are low.

However, Cesare Prandelli has stressed that his men are ready to face the world champions and will enter Sunday evening’s fixture full of confidence despite recent setbacks, The Guardian reports.

The Spanish are surely the team to beat in the tournament given their recent glory, but The Telegraph have stressed that with the right tactics, La Roja can be beaten.

Irish look for Croatian victory

Republic of Ireland enter the fray on Sunday evening also, as they take on a talented and slightly unpredictable Croatia side. Both teams have had inconsistent form in the build-up to the competition, with Spain and Italy the favourites to progress from Group C.

Ireland’s main attacking threat comes in the form of veteran forward Robbie Keane, who has stated to Sky Sports that a win in their opening game is a must for Giovanni Trapattoni’s men. The LA Galaxy striker will go head-to-head with former Tottenham team-mate Stipe Pletikosa, who will start in goal for Slaven Bilic’s men.

Also, this Ireland banner from the Euros will take some…beating:

Also do not miss:

  • Poland full-back Lukasz Piszczek impressed in the tournament opener and is praised in The Telegraph
  • Ashley Young is looking forward to filling in for Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney against France
  • Slaven Bilic is looking for a last hurrah as Croatia boss in Euro 2012, as he prepares to step down after the tournament
  • Italy have a monumental task in trying to beat Spain according to The Independent
  • Harry Redknapp would have accepted the England job had it been offered to him
  • Vicente del Bosque speaks of the importance of Andres Iniesta to Spain’s chances
  • Robert Lewandowski avoids speaking about reports linking him with a move to Manchester United

With Spain vs Italy sure to be a captivating match and the Irish and Croatia in desperate need of a good start, Day 3 promises to be excellent viewing. Come back tomorrow for the latest from Ukraine and Poland.

Euro 2012 Group D: France favourites but England must survive till Rooney returns
Euro 2012 Group C: Spain and Italy need to prove themselves all over again