We’re now exactly half way through the group stages of the competition, and already we’ve had a good opportunity to see each team’s key men. Here’s my opinion on the players that have already made a big impact.
Poland – Robert Lewandowski
Lewandowski scored the opening goal of the tournament in his side’s 1-1 draw against the Greeks, since then he has been extremely impressive. His movement off the ball and his hard working mentality makes him a key player for the Polish national side. Against both Greece and Russia he created a real threat whenever he had possession.
He currently has one goal to his name and I wouldn’t bet against him scoring again. Poland will need to win their last game for any real chance of qualification from the group stages, and the Borussia Dortmund frontman will be anxious to make sure this happens.
Czech Republic – Petr Jiraceck
Before this tournament I certainly hadn’t heard the name ‘Petr Jiraceck,’ but I’m sure following his performances in the opening fixtures he’s now a recognizable player. In the first half of the the Czech Republic’s match against Russia, he came to my attention. He seemed the one player in the Czech team that had the ability to keep the ball from the opposition, any chance of a goal was likely to come from him. This never happened, as Arshavin and co dominated proceedings for the majority of the match.
However, against Greece his chance came in the opening 5 minutes, as expected he dispatched clinically. The 26-year-old midfielder shone throughout the match as his team fought to a 2-1 win.
Russia – Andrei Arshavin
A loan move back to former club Zenit seems to have regenerated Andrei Arshavin. With three assists in the tournament already, he has been the catalyst in Russia’s surge to the top of group A. His national side are now being considered as potential winners of the whole tournament.
Clearly Arshavin thrives at international level. He’s now replicating the form that attracted the initial interest from Arsenal during the 2008 European championships. He hasn’t contributed to Russia’s goal tally as of yet, but for me, there’s much more to football than just hitting the back of the net.
Greece – Dimitris Salpingidis
It was tough choosing Greece’s star player up to this point. For me, none of the squad have particularly excelled.
However, the best of the worst, Dimitris Salpingidis came off the Bench against Poland and earned his side a point. His emergence in the second half seemed to motivate the squad – at one stage it looked as if the Greeks were going to steal a win.
Against the Czech Republic, the midfielder rarely had the ball, as his side were dominated by their confident opposition.