By Christopher Burn
Out of Liverpool’s 7 representatives at Euro 2012, only 4 managed to make an appearance in the final round of games of the tournament’s group stages, one of those being a 7 minute cameo for big Andy Carroll at the end of England’s crucial 1-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine.
I will start this round up with Andy Carroll, I was somewhat irked by his exclusion from the starting line-up for Tuesday night’s encounter with the Ukrainians, with a goal in the win against Sweden capping a fine performance leading England’s Front line I thought he was surely a shoe in. Roy Hodgson will have his reasons for leaving big Andy on the bench, one of them being quite understandable, Rooney, one of England’s mainstays coming back into the side needed a partner and Roy would obviously believe that his club strike partner would provide the best combination, like I say understandable.
Andy Carroll came into the game with 7 minutes remaining of normal time, replacing Wellbeck , who in my opinion appeared yet again to be out of his depth at International level. Wellbeck is clearly a talented player, but so far has somewhat failed to make his presence known to the defenders of the three other teams that make up Group D, Carroll reminded us in his short 7 minute run out that he has no such problem, he put himself about, instantly putting pressure on the backline of Ukraine, winning aerial battles, putting in well timed challenges, holding the ball and bringing the midfield players into the game. There were also shouts for a penalty as Andy was shoved to the ground when the Ukranians resorted to fouling the big man, not being able to meet his power in the air.
Only 7 minutes but yet another encouraging performance in front of the watching world, surely a shout for the Italy game.
Glen Johnson, another one of England’s Mr. Dependables at the back. Ukraine were barely a threat down the England right, mainly down to Johnson’s reliability, something that seems be missing in the eyes of many England supporters. Glen was always tight to his man, ensuring that a pass or cross worth of note was possible, he never looked flustered on the ball either, finding his England teammates with consummate ease as he had in the previous two matches.
Glen Johnson, much like Ashley Cole on the left is more noted for his ability going forward, overlapping and getting quality crosses into the forwards, he did not provide much of this part of his game on Tuesday night, venturing forward only a handful of times as Roy clearly put the shackles on him and likewise with Cole on the other side, not losing being the mantra. Glen however managed to venture forward a few times and supplied 3 Successful crosses and won 2 free kicks in the final third.
Glen is clearly a top notch Right Back and has been one of Englands better performers so far, offering a cool head and reliable defensive work, an obvious choice to start at right back in the Quarter Final.
Switching to Denmark for a moment, a team that includes our very own super Danny Agger. In my opinion Agger has so far been the tournaments best defender in one of the tournaments worst defenses, he has never put a foot wrong and has prevented Denmark from being on the end of some heavy defeats.
In Denmark’s third and final game of the Euros, Agger was Denmark’s stand out performer, making several last ditch tackles to halt the German’s impressive attack, cleaning up mistakes made by his Centre Back Partner Kjear and covering the gaping hole left by his ill disciplined Left Back Poulsen. On a number of Occasions Danny Agger went head to head with Gomez in the air and came out on top as well as making a nuisance of himself in the opposition area from set pieces.
What we know Agger for at Liverpool is his ball playing prowess, his ability to bring the ball out of the back and start an attack, he didn’t hide any of this ability as he played pass after pass after pass, whilst under the tireless chasing pressure of the German forwards.
I am definitely looking forward to seeing Danny Agger produce the same type of performances in the red shirt of Liverpool next season as part of a good Brendan Rodgers passing side.
Wow, yet again Super Stevie G shows the world why he is Captain Fantastic, putting in another top class performance, leading his team to victory in an inspiring way. Stevie has easily been England’s best player so far and certainly was in the final group game Vs Ukraine, playing a fifth of England’s passes at a success rate of 90.6%. Our Captain along with Parker worked very hard at protecting the England back line, he put in several good challenges, only giving away one foul (probably very unlucky to have seen the foul given and the yellow card received for it).
Stats are stats and only tell so much of a story, Stevie G’s leadership cannot be described solely by stats but also by what we see with our own eyes, throughout the game against Ukraine he was a constant communicator, telling his colleagues exactly where to be, where to pass, to pick up their effort. But Gerrard also leads by example, chasing a lost cause or injecting that one moment of quality, this came when in the 48th minute he found himself in possession of the ball on the right channel, he incredibly turned the hapless Ukrainian fullback inside out with a delicate touch and a powerful stride before delivering a devastating ball into the heart of the Ukrainian penalty area, such was the quality of the delivery even 3 defenders and a goalkeeper failed to deal with it enough to prevent the returning Wayne Rooney from greatfully nodding home from close range.
So going into Sundays Quarter Final match Vs Italy we know one thing, Super Stevie G will be there to rely on, to drag us and his team through their challenge, whatever the outcome may be.