Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spain to Euro Final !

From Sports:

"Spain is just one victory away from making history with a third straight major tournament win.
Spain labored to a penalty shootout win over Portugal to reach Sunday's final, where only Germany or Italy can keep it from an unprecedented trio of victories.

The record run is on course even if Spain's attack hasn't exactly lived up to high expectations, with the team's ability to grind out results becoming its trademark in Poland and Ukraine.

Spain is the only team besides West Germany to reach three straight finals, and the team can go one better than that West German side from the 1970s with a victory in Kiev.

''Spain has already made history and now we continue making it,''captain Iker Casillas said. ''I hope people remember this all their lives because who would have thought we could achieve this four years ago.''
The Spanish, who won the Euro 2008 and World Cup in 2010, remain on course after Cesc Fabregas netted the decisive penalty after Wednesday's game ended 0-0 after extra-time.

''I had an intuition. In the afternoon I was thinking about it, that I would have a unique opportunity and I told (assistant coach) Toni Grande that I didn't want to shoot second, that I wanted to shoot fifth,'' Fabregas said at the Donbass Arena. ''I think I spoke to the ball, I know what I told the ball. I said 'I think we'll be together right to the final.'''

Vicente del Bosque's team has an extra rest day over its opponent, something that will be appreciated as the Spanish coach admitted that he replaced Xavi Hernandez against Portugal because of fatigue.
And there are no preferences for the world champions in the final.

''In either case, whichever team gets out of the semifinal will be a great team,'' Del Bosque said.

Spain's biggest concern going into the final will be its starting attack after surprise choice Alvaro Negredo failed to gel with his teammates against Portugal. Fabregas or Fernando Torres are the favorites, with the pair having scored two goals each and each starting twice in five games.

Despite its inability to find the back of the net, Spain remains upbeat about its chances.

''Spain keeps making history, nobody has done what we have and now if we win Sunday's final we can add the exclamation point to this era,'' said defender Sergio Ramos, whose audacious soft chip in the penalty shootout helped put Spain in command. ''I hope people appreciate how difficult it is to get to where we are. Spain won't always win every game, but we hope that's not the case on Sunday.''

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DC United On a Roll !


Moments before entering the field of play, substitutes off of D.C. United’s bench receive a brief series of last instructions.  With Head Coach Ben Olsen presiding over on-field activities, assistants Pat Onstad and Chad Ashton are usually left to deliver the all-important final message.

That message was crystal clear in the final quarter-hour of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Philadelphia: HOLD THE BALL.

“That was obviously the idea,” Lewis Neal said of his assigned duties after coming on in the 61st minute.  “It wasn’t really happening for us all over the field.  It was one of those times when [D.C.’s technical staff] were trying to get us on to just get a hold of the ball a little bit and keep it.  I thought we did an OK job of that.”

Eleven minutes after Neal replaced rookie Nick DeLeon, Branko Boskovic joined the Englishman as another set of fresh legs in midfield.  The pair combined to complete 24 of their 26 attempted passes as United denied Philadelphia any prolonged spells of possession at a time when the Union were pushing for a score.

“Those guys are real possession guys,” Olsen noted when asked about his second-half midfield reinforcements.  “I thought they bought us some real time on the offensive possession, and that was key down the stretch.”

Boskovic’s effort in a central role was particularly impactful.  The Montenegrin picked up his third assist in as many outings while completing all eleven of the passes he attempted during an 18-minute stint.
“He controlled the midfield,” Dwayne De Rosario said of Boskovic.  “He found the little pockets when I was underneath and we started to knock the ball around and keep possession in [Philadelphia’s] half, which was lacking a little bit."