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Holland vs France – half time

Domenech – bring on Benzema at halftime for Gouvou – you need his heading ability as Henry can’t head.  Bring on Nasri for Toulalan or Maka at the 55 minutes mark if the score is still the same.  Evra needs to overlap more down the left flank.

Van Basten – get your team to counter attack with more speed.  You have to get one more soon or it’s going to be tough at the end.  France will come forward increasingly.  Bring on Van Persie or Robben.

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France lineup

Interesting that Benzema is not up there.  May not be such a bad call since Gouvou is a striker and having experience may be what’s needed to stem the intial Dutch onslaught…

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Holland vs France – updated pre-game prediction

With the Italy v Romania result, the group is wide open and France does not want to go into the last game having to beat Italy to go through.  I am changing my prediction.  France wins this game in an upset over the current darlings – the Dutch.

Pre-game prediction: France 2 Holland 1

CH12 feeling shaky now that the crystal ball is playing sub 500…

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Italy vs Romania – post game

That was an exciting game.  We saw more chances, in total and on both sides, than we have seen in any one other game.  It was tactical at times and end to end at others.  As tall as Toni is, if he were a couple of inches taller or his legs were a few inches longer, he would have had a hat trick.  He was so close on a handful of chances – and the one he scored at the end of the first half was wrongfully denied on a bad offside call.  Brilliant save by Lobont on De Rossi’s header.  Unbelievable penalty save by Buffon off Mutu.  Great finish by Mutu on Romania’s first goal.  The back four of Romania played quite well at the end of the day.

The coaches need to be commended as well.  Donadoni was brave in making as many changes as he did.  I would have put in Aquilani instead of Perrotta, but all in all it was a good lineup.  I actually thought that Cassano was more effective than Del Piero when he came on.  Romania also played a good game and had a ton of chances that would have made them winners if they were facing another goalie.

Both teams are alive.  If Italy beats France, they will go through if Romania doesn’t beat Holland and Holland gets a point off France.  Lots of permutations, so Buffon’s save was huge.  Players of the game for the two teams were Buffon for Italy and Mutu (in spite of the penalty miss) for Romania.  It’s tough to toil out there by yourself and he took the chance off Zambrotta’s mistake brilliantly.

Pre-game prediction: Italy 1 Romania 0

Result: Italy 1 Romania 1

Scorers: Adrian Mutu (Romania) Christian Panucci (Italy)

On to the Oranje and Les Blues…

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France vs Romania – pre game

While I still think France should pull it out, don’t be surprised if they labor or even get turned over by Romania.  Injury reports suggest that Henry and Ribery up front, and Thuram and Gallas in defense, are struggling.  This on top of Vieira being out.  Having said all that, they have a number of experienced younger players who can step in and maybe provide the freshness required after the long season most have played.  I am not sure why Domenech brought Boumsong and not Mexes – he could have used the latter if either of Gallas or Thuram are unavailable.  Boumsong is unreliable no matter his season at Lyon.

1 hour and 17 minutes to kickoff.  A bad start and the next round could be out for one of the teams….

 

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Portugal vs Turkey – post match

Form held.  Pepe finally had one count and Nuno Gomes tested the woodwork twice though the Turks had a couple of chances to equalize before Meireles put away Moutinho’s sweet turn and layoff.  Portugal looked better in the second half though the defense looked a bit shaky at the end.  I really like how Moutinho seems to be coming on.  If Deco doesn’t get to top gear, Moutinho looks like he can pick up the slack.  He looked very good in the box coming through on a late run and controlling and almost putting one away before blazing one over from outside the box.  His last turn and layoff for the goal was brilliant.  He might be one of the stars of the tournament if Portugal goes late into the tournament.

Pre-game prediction: Portugal 2 Turkey 1

Results: Portugal 2 Turkey 0

Scorers: Pepe, Meireles (Portugal)

Players of the game: Ronaldo for Portugal.  While Nihat and Kazim had a few moments, the big center back, Servet Cetin was my pick.

1 and 1 for the day, getting ready for Group B…

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