The group stage of Euro 2012 has been both captivating and lightning-quick---this first week has flown by, and with only four days left until the first knockout round is set, there's not much of a slow-down to deal with yet. The nice part about how fast it's gone is that there's been barely any Liverpool news to discuss, and while there's a bit to look at today, we'll mostly just be paying attention to the only group in which all four sides still have a chance to qualify.
For the first time in well over a week there's something to report on the Liverpool front, even though it's mostly talking about talking. Both hit on things that lots of folks have been...er, talking about, at least, with the new manager commenting on Gylfi Sigurdsson and John Henry responding to an email about plans for Anfield.
* One of the only ongoing players that most feel has a decent shot at coming in to Liverpool is the aforementioned Sigurdsson, who was the subject of some questions directed at Brendan Rodgers by the offal:
"First and foremost, Gylfi is a Hoffenheim player. I took him on loan for the second half of last season and he did very, very well. He scored seven goals and made a real, positive contribution. I wanted to sign him for Swansea but, like I've said to him and his representatives, that has to be his first port of call.
"If he comes into the market for whatever reason - and I'm sure there'll be a number of clubs interested in Gylfi - then of course I would like to be in a position to put our case here at Liverpool to sign him. But I've always said, I think he's a player Swansea have had an agreement with and they have to have every chance to try and sign him. That's only right. If anything changes from that, we'll look at it from there."
So we learn---or at least confirm---a few things, especially if you read the interview in full. One is that Rodgers is a man of class and dignity, and he's not going to get in the mix, at least publicly, when it comes to engineering a move to Liverpool for Sigurdsson, regardless of the fact that he'd love to have him. Second is the piece the isn't included above, which is that Rodgers has been "working...at Melwood until late at night." Talking the talk and walking the walk so far, and that's all we can ask for right now.
* Interesting stuff from the Anfield Wrap, who had a chance to correspond with John Henry via email about what sounds like a range of issues, and the post they ran yesterday included some lengthy comments on the stadium issue:
“A long-term myth has existed about the financial impact of a new stadium for Liverpool. Maybe it became a good reason for selling the club at one point. Whatever the reason, a belief has grown that Liverpool FC must have a new stadium to compete with United, Arsenal and others. No one has ever addressed whether or not a new stadium is rational.
“New stadiums that are publicly financed make sense for clubs. I’ve never heard of a club turning down a publicly financed stadium. But privately carrying new stadiums is an enormous challenge. Arsenal is centered in a very wealthy city with a metropolitan population of approximately 14 million people."
Not much comment needed other than to say that the entire response is worth reading, as it's an insightful and articulate comment from the principal owner, who's mostly been made into a silent film villain over the past few months despite not really putting a foot wrong.
Trying to get through a lot today, so a brief comment on yesterday's early match in Group D, with the late match with England's win over Sweden recapped in full yesterday evening.
Ukraine 0, France 2
FRA: Menez 53′, Cabaye 56'
It was a strange start for the day's opener, which was delayed at length after a strong storm moved through that brought heavy rains as well as thunder and lightning. After the restart it was relatively cautious, but the Ukraine managed a few chances, mostly notably from Andriy Shevchenko, who latched onto a ball over the top and forced Hugo Lloris into a good save on the far side. The French eventually took the match over, though, and got both goals from Karim Benzema assists. The first came after he pushed it to the right for Jeremy Menez, who twisted back inside and slotted at the near post, and the second as Benzema threaded one through to an onrushing Yohan Cabaye, who stalled to buy space and knocked a left-footed effort in. The win put France top of the group and ahead of England on goal differential, and they'll have Sweden next, who later in the day became the second team eliminated.
For today’s matches:
Czech Republic v. Poland
7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST
The Czechs stand alone in second place in Group A, which came as a bit of a surprise after their performance against Russia on the first day. A win tomorrow would seal prgoression, but they'll have a handful with Poland, who are just a point behind and would likely qualify with a win regardless of what happens in the other match. All eyes will be on the Dortmund trio of Łukasz Piszczek, Robert Lewandowski, and Jakub Błaszczykowski, as the latter pair are responsible for both of their country's goals in the tournament, and each of the three will have a part to play for the co-hosts. Tomas Rosicky and Petr Cech will be at the forefront for the Czech Republic, who've also benefitted from strong performances by winger Václav Pilař and fullback Theodor Gebre Selassie.
Greece v. Russia
7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST
Greece are the only side that need some help to get through---they can draw level on points with Russia or the Czech Republic on points, depending on results, but will need to win convincingly to have a chance. They're certainly not incapable of doing so, but with the way the Russians have looked thus far, it'd be a surprise to see the Greeks get through. It'll likely be the usual for Russia, who've relied on Alan Dzagoev and the suddenly inspired Andrei Arshavin for much of their attacking influence.
Reminder that the matches today kick off simultaneously, so you'll have to do some rigging with the TV and computer---or within your computer screen---to catch both. Hoping for another exciting day, and given what's at stake for all involved, no reason it can't live up to the standard that's been set.