|Dimitris Salpingidis changed the game for Greece|
I’ve well and truly been taken down by European Championship fever.
You know you’ve got it bad when Poland vs Greece – a fixture you wouldn’t usually pay any attention to whatsoever- takes on Champions League final-like significance. When your non-football loving friends ask you how you’re spending your Friday night you look at them as if it’s the stupidest question on the planet.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been starved of football for two weeks. Suddenly questions like, ‘Will Polish striker Robert Lewandowski justify being linked to Manchester United?’ Or, ‘Is the Greek defence – which conceded just five goals in qualifying – good enough to help them repeat their shock win in 2004’, have taken upmost precedent in my mind.
Football – or to be more specific – a major international tournament can do this to you. Spotting the ‘next big thing’ is too tempting, ensuring you do your best to watch every minute of every game, even it means sneaking out of work half an hour early to make sure you make the 5pm kick off times.
Most eyes were on Lewandowski during the opening game of the Championships. He certainly looks the part. His movement and touch make it clear to see how he’s scored 30 goals for his club, German champions Borussia Dortmund this season. His goal against Greece showed a striking instinct but the game also highlighted, like most strikers, he relies heavily on service. He is not the sort of striker to fathom something out of nothing and the 23-year-old went missing for long periods when his side needed him most. One thing is for certain the hosts will need him at his best if they are to progress to the quarter-finals.
Perhaps the power of the Euros is best summed up by the fact that Dimitris Salpingidis is now a household name. Before the match the PAOK forward was an unknown, now he could be a possible transfer target for half the Premier League after changing the game following his introduction at half-time to see the Greeks come from behind to draw 1-1.
I’d better get off and prepare for Russia vs Czech Republic. Why? To see if Russia’s Alan Dzagoev is the real deal and whether Andrey Arshavin has really rediscovered his Arsenal form of his first season. Why else?