x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Euro 2012: Prandelli ponders changes as Portugal blame the ball

Jose Mourinho, Spanish complaints and Portuguese profligacy all feature in our round-up of the latest Euro 2012 news.

Spain complained about the lenght of grass on the pitch for their 1-1 draw against Italy.
Spain complained about the lenght of grass on the pitch for their 1-1 draw against Italy.


Polish FA chief Grzegorz Lato has played down Spain's complaints about the pitch after Sunday's 1-1 draw with Italy at Euro 2012. Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta and coach Vicente del Bosque complained that the pitch was too dry. Polish media also reported that organisers judged after the match that the grass was too long and ordered for it to be cut. "What nonsense! The grass was the perfect length," Lato said. "The thing is that often one waters the pitch for the game. But you need agreement from the two teams. The Spanish wanted it to be watered, the Italians did not agree," he added.


Cesare Prandelli, the Italy coach, has ditched his famous purple puffer jacket for an elegant suit at Euro 2012 and he wants his side to be smarter too despite matching holders Spain in their Group C opener. "Now I will look with great attention at Croatia [Thursday's opponents] and then we'll decide," he told reporters. "I will most of all look at who is the calmest, the fittest. I will understand what player is ready for this important game, which is decisive for the group."


Jose Mourinho's stellar ability to predict the outcome of a football match was in evidence again in Gdansk. Interviewed by Italian television station RAI ahead of Spain's unexpected 1-1 draw with Italy, the Real Madrid manager calmed fears of an Azzurri defeat. "Don't worry," said Mourinho. "Today Italy do not lose." After the Group C opener Mourinho critiqued Spain's "sterile" tactic of starting without a specialist striker. "It's not good to keep on passing between Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Cesc] Fabregas without creating a big threat on [Gianluigi] Buffon's goal," he said. "I think Italy can go far in this tournament. They played with big discipline in the defence. Spain failed to stop [Andrea] Pirlo, and when the latter plays comfortably he makes a lot of problems."


Portugal have finally got to the root of their goal-scoring problems, saying it is simply the case that "the ball does not want to go in." "It's the reality. We have created a lot of chances but the ball doesn't want to go in," midfielder Miguel Veloso told reporters. His teammate Nani agreed that the ball was not being cooperative. "The ball will not go in," he said. "In the next few games, maybe our chances will go in as they have done at other times." Portugal have scored just one goal in four games this year.


Fernando Santos, the Greece coach, says his team will not settle for another draw against the Czech Republic in Group A today. Ten-man Greece held co-hosts Poland to a 1-1 draw last week. They will be missing defensive duo Avraam Papadopoulos and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Santos, who typically plays with three strikers, described the Czechs as "fast and compact," insisting their opening 4-1 loss to Russia had not changed his plans.