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EURO 2012: The Attackers Who Cannot Be Written Off

Last night a ball was threaded through by Bastian Schweinsteiger from the edge of the box. Defender hinted at converging, but before they could the ball was whirled from its trajectory, helped forward and then slammed through the hand of a spread eagled Maarten Stekelenburg. Mario Gomez looked fairly happy with the precision of his work and the velocity he did it at.

He went on to score another against Holland, helping Germany bustle past their aimless and out of synch rivals. Remember this is the same Mario Gomez that put in a performance so inept in front of goal in the Champions League final that many felt had boots made from traffic cones.

This, it must be said, is the problem. We have short memories.

All of our opinions seem to be made up from watching the English Premier League ‘big four’, El Clasico and the knock-out matches in the Champions League. We see the big money transfers at the big clubs and we say “Has the big fella scored 30 yet?”

Look at Andriy Shevchenko.  Captaining his beloved Ukraine in this tournament he scored a sensational counterstrike brace against Sweden. This is a man who is on the cusp of 36-years-old. He was in a minor road accident following that game, but has still declared himself available for the game against France tomorrow.

When Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich first started lending Chelsea money he demanded Shevchenko was bought. At that time he was hammering in goals for AC Milan and was terrifying defenders all over the European continent.

The Chelsea fans heard this and salivated. They were also hearing myths of how he first moved to Milan little known and fresh-faced, and finding himself locked out of the training ground he began doing sprints in the dirt.

Fast forward two seasons and he is branded a flop and a failure. He was not suited to the physically punishing trauma of the EPL, and so slinked off.

However, rolling back the years for those he loves and that love him in return he forgets his aching joints and crashes headers in instead. His critics mean less to him that Ukrainian glory. He will still be dangerous for anyone who stands in front of that.

Also in that group is Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden. He is derided in England for never having a barnstorming game against stifling English opposition, despite having proven himself all over the world. He has had impressive moments in Holland’s league, Spain’s league and for three different clubs in Italy’s league. He has scored with flicks in EURO 2004 for his country and he has bullied opposition in unique and jaw dropping ways.

He may still leave his mark in this tournament, despite detractors…

The list goes on and there are plenty of examples. The memories are short but in EURO 2012 so far class and skill has seemed to shine through. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example has dominated games in England and Spain, but he is labeled as someone incapable of doing it on the big stage, despite having already scored in a CL final.

Yesterday he put in a driving performance with ball at his feet, but neglected to defend and missed several clear cut chances to put Denmark to the sword. When his other Portuguese teammates scored he looked genuinely upset that it was not him taking the applause.

Yet this is the kind of arrogance that wins more often than not when it is twinned with superb skill and the ability to sprint with a ball on a string tied to your foot. He is only young and has opportunity to redeem himself against the Dutch.

In fact Nicklas Bendtner scoring two goals in that same game almost proves the exact same point: you cannot sum someone up on what little you have seen.

There is still time to see Europe’s new hero at this tournament and anyone could go down in history as the man of EURO 2012. Milan Baros shone for one brief moment in 2004. Someone can still pick up the mantle and there are no age limits on headings such as these. There are also no ways of stopping form, even if those that have it do not play for Barcelona every week or have not scored in an FA Cup final.