And then there were two
Djourou and Fabianski leave the Euros without any playing time to add to their CV`s, Gallas leaves as part of an embarrassed French side that looks past it`s collective sell by date and Senderos leaves without any damage to his reputation. Senderos would be content with that and Gallas should get himself a good holiday away from it all.
Which leaves Van Persie and Cesc still in the tournaments both playing for national teams that reflect much of the playing philosophy of their club side. Both the Dutch and the Spanish teams have played so far with quick movement, quick accurate passing and good possession. Both must feel quite at ease in those tactical formats.
Van Persie scored again tonight in the game against Romania having completed 90 minutes for the first time in quite a while. He looked to be feeling the effort on occasions in the second half but took his goal, late in the game, very well. Had he also taken the chance he created just after the second half kicked off no doubt he would be feeling even more satisfied with himself. Three seasons ago I wouldn`t have thought that he could play up front on his own as far forward as he did at times. Last season, with the absence of Adebayor in the early games, he played for us the role he played for Holland tonight. His touch, skill and vision with a physical toughness that he has developed allow him to do it very well.
Getting him back from this tournament fit and well would give an immeasurable boost to our trophy chances next season. He will allow us to vary our attacking style more than we were able to last season. If this tournament plays a part in building Robin`s confidence and regaining his playing peak then it will have been a risk worth taking and to some extent an investment worth making. With two goals in a total pitch time of less than 2 games he should be feeling pretty sure of himself.
Cesc`s position is a little different. As the premier league`s PFA young player of the year, leading assist maker and acknowledged pass master he would have gone into this tournament with a spring in his step. Except that he isn`t quite top dog in the Spanish side. That I think is a good thing. He isn`t an automatic first choice and as such has nothing to lose while still able to share in any glory that is going. Used wisely and sparingly he will come back with his international reputation enhanced, whatever Spains fate, as the young player of the future with the world still in front of him.
At this stage for Cesc, less is more but if fortune is with him van Persie could make a big statement.
Holland and Spain are among the teams to enjoy in this tournament and as long as neither van Persie nor Fabregas pick up any injuries it is football entertainment without the pain for gooner fans.
....and - as something of a footnote to this stage of the tournament - Lassana Diarra will have discovered that the end of the rainbow is never quite where you expect it to be.