Sunday, June 8, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Day 2 Recap

Croatia 1, Austria 0
Germany 2, Poland 0

Much like fellow hosts Switzerland the day before, Austria dropped their opener 1-0, doing everything but netting the equalizer in a spirited effort to tie the game. The Austrians are expected to finish fourth in Group B, and after surrendering a fourth-minute PK goal to Croatia's Luka Modric, it appeared they were well on their way. But from there the Croats were underwhelming and Austria pressed forward with surprising enthusiasm. Despite their inability to get a result, Austria has to be more pleased with their opening performance than Croatia.

In the nightcap Germany continued their dominance of Poland with a 2-0 victory courtesy of two goals by Lukas Podolski. Many wondered if Podolski would crack the German starting 11, following a subpar season with Bayern Munich. But the breakout star of the 2006 World Cup was on target for his national side twice, taking a feed from Miroslav Klose to beat an offsides trap in the 20th minute and then cleaning up after Klose's shanked shot fell to his feet in the 72nd minute. Goaltender Jens Lehmann was rarely tested in the German net in posting the clean sheet.

Germany entered as the heavy favorites in Group B and nothing from today's matches alters that status. The Germans will look to book their passage to the knockout round Thursday against Croatia. Poland will face Austria, as both sides hope to stay in the tournament.

And since it's unlikely to happen too many more times, I'll point out that my predicted scores for today's games were both spot on, which makes three in a row including Saturday's Portugal game.

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