Greetings fútbol fans! I am EA SPORTS Game Changer JBHuskers. When we left off, Ireland had a bittersweet taste in their mouth after their opening match against Croatia. Sweet because they did manage to get one point; however, bitter because three was probably needed as Spain and Italy were looming in the next two matches. Ireland is a great squad, a 4-star caliber team; however, both Spain and Italy have a 5-star caliber, and things will not be easy. First we'll start off with Match Day 2 against Spain, as seen in its entirety in the video below:
As you can see, Spain had no mercy right from the get go as Fernando Torres knocked one through at the 4' mark with some fancy footwork. Xabi Alonso added on at the 20' mark with a VERY long goal. I estimate that goal by Alonso to be around 25 yards out. It was an amazing shot. While Spain was getting space to create some open shots, Ireland couldn't get much going once they got inside 18 yards of the goal. Aggressive tackling and great defensive placement really shut down the Irish. Spain would tack on another goal to give themselves a 3-0 halftime lead. In the second half, the Irish defense was much tougher, but their offense failed to break through. Spain added one more goal on a breakaway by David Silva, and that would end in a result of 4-0.
Now let's compare the sim standings (above) with the real life standings (below) after Match Day 2:
Once again, Group A is spot on from the sim to real life from Russia all the way down to Greece. For Group B, the Dutch are surprisingly not showing up for this tournament as were expected. In real life, they're sitting at 0-0-2, but in the sim, they did capture a win in Match Day one. The one constant here is Germany is sitting with 6 points after 2 matches. Group C, where I'm participating in, is not matching up with the sim at all as Italy has underperformed in real life, while the Irish matched my 4-0 loss in real life to the Spanish. As for Group D, England and France are at the top, the only difference being a draw in the real-life match-up between these two squads.
As I go to Match Day 3 in my journey with Ireland, I had to hope for an outright win, and hope for Spain to take care of Croatia, or at least earn a draw. Half of that scenario played out as Spain and Croatia played out to a surprising 1-1 draw. Would I be able to hold up my end of the bargain against a tough Italy team? Take a look at the full match below:
The first half of my match against Italy gave me a glimmer of hope. Even though Italy was controlling the pitch for the most part, I was able to head into halftime tied at 0-0. I did have a few decent chances in the first half, more than I could say in my match against Spain. Unfortunately a draw would do me no good; however, a win would definitely get me into the Knockout Stage. Only one team came out of the tunnel in the second half, and it wasn't Ireland. At the 51' mark, a brilliant cross was headed in by Giovinco to give Italy a 1-0 lead. After that, the wheels fell off the wagon for Ireland. As the Irish were trying to save a ball from resulting in a corner kick, the save went right to Mario Balotelli who headed it in softly past the goalie to give Italy a 2-0 lead. A third goal was added in the 81' mark, and that was it for Ireland's run in the 2012 UEFA EURO Tournament. Let's take a look at the sim standings (above) and the real standings (below) after Match Day 3.
Greece's surprising defeat of Russia knocked the Russians completely out of the Knockout Stage in real life; however, the Russians moved on with the Czech Republic in the simulation of Group A. For Group B, the Dutch's disappointing run in real life ended without a single point; however, in the simulation they will move on to the Knockout Stage with Germany who breezed through with 9 points in both real life and the sim. Group C took a while to form in the simulation; however, it does match with the real standings with Spain and Italy moving on. In Group D, it plays out the same as well with England and France advancing to nobody's real surprise. This sets up the following match-ups for the Knockout Stage:
Knockout Stage - Simulation
Russia vs. Netherlands
Spain vs. France
Germany vs. Czech Republic
England vs. Italy
The knockout stage on my simulation played out like this:
Knockout Stage - Real Life
Czech Republic vs. Portugal
Spain vs. France
Germany vs. Greece
England vs. Italy
The simulation of the real-life knockout stage played out like this:
In my journey with Ireland, the Netherlands ended up defeating Germany in the final; which is interesting as the Dutch didn't even make the Knockout Stage in real life. Germany also gets the short end of the stick in the finals of the tournament based on the real match-ups in the Knockout Stage as the tournament there goes to Spain. My next blog will highlight the final match as I will play out the championship game prior to the finals, and compare the results with what happens in the finale on July 1st. I will leave you with a couple questions, do you agree with how the real-life results played out? Who do you think will emerge from this field of 8 as the champion?