Player of the day- Mario Balotelli

Italy will meet Spain in the final after beating Germany 2-1 which could well be called the Balotelli semi final.

Mario Balotelli produced one of the best performances in his career as he scored twice and was a constant menace to the Germany defence. His first goal was quite predatory as his clever movement managed to get him away from his marker and power home a header from about six yards leaving goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with no chance. The second goal was really poor defensively again from Germany as it only took one long ball from the Italians to create a chance. Balotelli was through and hit a powerful shot which once again Neuer could do nothing about. In the very last minute with Germany pushing forward they won a penalty and Mesut Ozil scored but there just wasn’t enough time for them to get an equaliser. It was a disappointing performance from Germany both defensively and offensively but they still created a fair few chances and especially early on they forced Gianluigi Buffon into a few saves. Italy deserve their place in the final with this performance and will give Spain a good game and they have a very good chance of beating them. They were given no chance to beat them in the group stages but they have got better and better as the tournament has gone on and the Spanish have got worse in my opinion.

Man of the match- Mario Balotelli- The Manchester City striker was in fantastic form and his two goals were just superb and in my opinion his performance was the best of any striker in the competition, especially in the first half. His partnership with Antonio Cassano worked well and is developing with them each create chances and now Balotelli grabbing the goals. His movement was the most impressive part of his game as the German defence who hadn’t really been tested that much could not contain him. He has all the attributes to be the best striker in the world one day and maybe now he will start to show his potential on a regular basis.

Balotelli scored 17 goals in 32 games for Manchester City last season

 

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Players of the day- Cristiano Ronaldo and Bastian Schweinsteiger

The first round of Group B games only produced two goals but the second games had much more action and goalmouth action.

Denmark kicked off their second game against Portugal feeling very good about themselves after beating Holland while the Portuguese needed to win to have a realistic chance of staying in the competition. The moment that changed the game in my opinion was the injury to Niki Zimling who had been playing very well and was outstanding in the first game against Holland, when he went off the team seemed to lose a little bit of their shape and the Portuguese capitalised on it. Pepe scored with a bullet header from a corner and then Helder Postiga scored from a Nani cross and it seemed as though Denmark were sinking without a trace. But Nicklas Bendtner pulled a goal back just before halftime after one of the best build-ups I have seen all tournament. The second half turned into a very tactical affair and Cristiano Ronaldo missed two one on ones, then Bendtner scored from a powerful header and the scores were level. However, Silvestre Varela had the last laugh and scored with his second attempt to break Danish hearts.

Man of the match- Cristiano Ronaldo- He may be remembered from this game for missing two one on ones but he shouldn’t be as his movement was sensational and every time he had the ball he created panic in the Denmark defence. He even put in a shift defensively and constantly tracked back against Lars Jacobsen, if he had took his chances it would have been a 10 out of 10 performance and everyone would have been saying he is the best player in the world.

Ronaldo scored 60 goals for Real Madrid last season

The second game was one of the most anticipated in the group stages with Holland taking on Germany. The Dutch really need to avoid defeat after the result from the earlier game and decided to start Robin Van Persie once more instead of Klaas Jan Huntelaar. They missed a few early half chances and Mario Gomez made them pay with a fantastic turn and finish from a Bastian Schweinsteiger pass. Gomez followed that up with his second of the game and his third in the tournament but goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg should have done better and not been beaten from that angle. In the second half the Germans were just strolling to victory until Robin Van Persie scored with a powerful finish and should have set up a tense last 15 minutes however the Germans didn’t allow it to happen and comfortably saw the game out.

Man of the match- Bastian Schweinsteiger- Mario Gomez may have got both the goals but the Bayern Munich midfielder set up both the goals with precise passes and ran the central area of the pitch from start to finish. When the game got scrappy he was in their battling and when it needed composure, he put his foot on the ball and dictated the play, sometimes picking up the pace and then other times, particularly towards the end, slowed it down.

Schweinsteiger has been at Bayern Munich his whole career

Who will be the next Birmingham City manager?

Birmingham City are looking for a new manager after Chris Hughton decided to leave for Norwich City and will be hoping the new man can guide them back to the Premier League.

Birmingham City finished fourth under Chris Hughton

First of all Hughton did a fantastic job at Birmingham and should be remembered fondly by their fans as he got them into the group stages of the Europa League and into the playoffs. This is remarkable seen as though they lost a lot of players last summer and he had to rebuild basically a whole new squad. He only lost 15 of his 62 games in charge but unfortunately they could not overcome Blackpool in the playoff semi finals losing 3-2 on aggregate. It was a difficult job when he took over and he has made it a lot easier for the new man so who will it be?

The favourite for the job at the minute is Lee Clark and he is quite similar to Hughton in a way because he would rather see his team pick up a point than try and get all three. This may seem a little bit of a negative tactic and it may be the reason why Clark couldn’t get Huddersfield Town promoted from League 1 but Birmingham do have enough quality in their side to produce some magic at any given time, so it could work out well for them. The only reason why they should be reluctant in giving him the job would be the fact he hasn’t managed in the Championship before.

Paul Ince is also in the running for the job and this does surprise me slightly as he hasn’t had a job since leaving Notts County in April 2011. The managers they are linked with suggests they don’t want to spend much money and are looking to give someone another chance at a good club. Ince, had a terrible time at Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, winning only six games out of 21 but this experience could have served him well and he may be able to get his career back on track at St Andrews. Personally, I don’t think hiring Paul Ince would be a good choice but he has achieved the board’s ambitions both at Macclesfield Town and MK Dons the first round so maybe he would be a success.

Finally, Alan Curbishley is linked with yet another job and he has been out of football for even longer than Ince so it won’t be easy for him to jump straight back in and challenge for promotion. But if the board are going to give him a few seasons to sort it out, I can see the former Charlton Athletic manager leading them back to the Premier League. After leaving West Ham United in 2008 he wanted to take a break from the game but nobody expected it to be this long and now it could be a huge risk giving him the job because football has changed a lot in the last few years. He did a fantastic job at Charlton for a very long time and a very underrated job in my opinion at West Ham United so why not give him another chance.

I do want to see Curbishley get another job and Birmingham could be a good fit for him as the fans are always very realistic and over the last few years have been very patient so he could be given the time to succeed and do well. I’m not sure what the target is for the coming season but I think it would be a little silly for the board to be expecting as much success next year.