Football: Dutch and French win battles of European titans

Posted on
  • Thursday, March 1, 2012
  • by
  • in
  • Labels:

  • PARIS, February 29, 2012 (AFP) - Holland and France gained significant psychological boosts with 100 days to go to the Euro 2012 finals as they beat England and Germany away in their respective friendlies on Wednesday.
    The Dutch - European champions in 1988 - edged a vastly-less experienced England 3-2 at Wembley thanks to a double by Arjen Robben while the French - champions in 2000 - beat Germany 2-1 in Bremen.
    Elsewhere David Silva's first goal of the year and a hat-trick by Roberto Soldado helped defending champions Spain to a 5-0 win over Copa American semi-finalists Venezuela while Sebastian Larsson's double was instrumental in an impressive 3-1 win for Sweden over fellow Euro 2012 finalists Croatia.
    Another European heavyweight Italy slipped-up as they lost 1-0 at home to the Jurgen Klinsmann coached United States, Clint Dempsey getting the goal to give them their fourth successive win.
    The Republic of Ireland also showed they will be no pushovers at their first Euro finals since the 1988 edition as they fought back to draw 1-1 with fellow qualifiers the Czech Republic in Dublin.
    Milan Baros, a veteran of the outstanding Czech side that reached the Euro 2004 semi-finals, put the visitors ahead before Simon Cox levelled late in the second-half.
    Sadly there was to be no resounding tribute to the late Wales coach Gary Speed as the Welsh lost 1-0 to Costa Rica in his memorial match.
    England - who lost captain John Terry and coach Fabio Capello in the past month the former being stripped of the captaincy by the Football Association (FA) and the latter walking out because of that decision - were hit by two goals in a minute in the second-half.
    However, they fought back to level it in the late stages only for Robben to win it in time added on.
    England caretaker coach Stuart Pearce said that at least the game had proved useful in terms of learning things both for him and the players against a side that reached the World Cup final only two years ago.
    "Maybe there was a lack of belief, which is something we have got to get into the squad going forward," said Pearce, who is Under-21 coach and due to coach the Great Britain team at the Olympics later this year.
    "In the end we were a bit disappointed to lose the game, but we've learnt a lot and learned a bit about the individuals for the summer and that was always the intention for tonight."
    Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk meanwhile praised his side's performance as they banished the memory of their last international, a 3-0 defeat to Germany.
    "We lost against Germany on the counter-attack and we didn't want to lose on counter attack have to defend against England as they have a lot of very fast players and that's a weapon.
    "But we were happy to play our football, and the pitch was unbelievably good," he added.
    Goals by Olivier Giroud and Florent Malouda inflicted the first defeat on Germany since they were beaten by the same margin by Australia last March.
    Germany's Brazil-born striker Cacau scored a late consolation for the hosts, but the French deserved the win.
    It was a disciplined performance from France who open their Euro 2012 campaign against England in Donetsk on June 11 and Laurent Blanc's side dominated a weakened German team lacking five first-choice players.
    "I am very pleased with the game my team played, this was one of our better performances since I took charge," said Blanc.
    "From our point of view, everything went well, I was pleased with the way we pushed forward and, of course, I'm very pleased with the win."
    Loew was concerned by the manner in which his team hgad allowed France to run the game.
    "You have to be annoyed when you lose, but I was more concerned about the manner in which we lost," said Loew.
    "We didn't find our game and France were clearly better than us.
    "There was too much space between our midfield and defence and we were present enough at times in defence.
    Italy's lack of a potent striker - coach Cesare Prandelli has lost Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi to injury and dropped Mario Balotelli for his poor conduct on the pitch - cost them against the Americans.
    "For two years we played with two strikers (Cassano/Rossi), now without them we have to see which forwards can finish off the work from midfield," said Prandelli.
    "If we played every week I'd find (the answer) in a month, but I really believe we'll find it between now and the Euros."


    Please add comment to express your opinion, and share it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you in advance.