Friday, June 22, 2012

Dreamboat a driving force for the French

OK, so if this site is your sole source of footballing news (and if it is, you're mental), then you might be forgiven for not knowing that there's a major international tournament on at the moment. With the quarter-finals already underway, we'd probably best take a quick look at how those with Toon affiliations have got on thus far...

Let's start, most obviously, with Dreamboat. A fine performance in the opening draw with England, in which he troubled Joe Hart from distance on more than a couple of occasions, was followed by an even better one in the victory over hosts Ukraine. After play was suspended for an hour due to a freak thunderstorm, France took the lead and Dreamboat doubled it with a clinical strike using his lesser spotted left foot before rattling the post. His evening was curtailed on 68 minutes by a knock which then kept him out of the final game against Sweden, the French defeat only serving to underline his increasing importance to the side. While we can rightly be smug at having snaffled him up on the cheap last summer, we can't ignore the fact that these performances will be putting him firmly in the shop window whether we like it or not.

HBA, by contrast, has had markedly less game time. He appeared as a sub against England, running into blind alleys and surrendering possession cheaply on a couple of occasions, and then failed to spark when handed a starting place against the Swedes, hauled off just before the hour mark.

Still, he's fared better than Tim Krul, who sat twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines while his misfiring colleagues in the Netherlands side slumped to a truly shocking hat-trick of defeats, thereby making a mockery of anyone who predicted they would win the trophy - such as yours truly. Hopefully some good may have come from it, though, if Krul has been able to sweet-talk Luuk de Jong into contemplating a move to Tyneside.

Old boys Shay Given and Damien Duff had an even more horrific experience as the Republic of Ireland were sent packing pointless, Given forced to pick the ball out of his net no fewer than nine times over the course of their three matches. For England, James Milner and Scott Parker both started all three group matches, while Rocky was selected for the Sweden fixture, scored with a trademark header and can feel slightly aggrieved at being the fall guy for Wayne Rooney's return.

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