Tough start for glamour guys in Euro 2012 top scorer skirmish
Robin van Persie revives WC2010 form, Miro Klose tries the bench
Few foresaw Russia and Croatia providing the pacesetters in the Euro 2012 top scorer marathon and most who did likely fancied best league in the world-tested Roman Pavlyuchenko and Nikica Jelavic over Alan Dzagoev and Mario Mandzukic.
Their delight was characteristic of a first weekend in which, in keeping with international tournament tradition, several high-profile candidates scuffed and stacked their way around as less lauded team-mates flourished.
For Holland, Bert van Marwijk disappointingly – an adverb used only because this writer had money on class Klaas – favoured the more feted of his club goal-getting goliaths over the one who actually scored more and performs better for Holland.
Robin van Persie offered his backers a reminder of his dissatisfying contribution to a pretty special attacking quartet at the World Cup, in which he struck once in seven line-leading starts by finding fresh ways to screw up any opportunities that fell his way against Denmark.
They paid for his wastefulness and Arjen Robben’s trademark greed with a shock 1-0 defeat in which Huntelaar, given only 20 minutes to conjure some magic, couldn’t alter the trajectory.
He will hope that the fear factor that he has generated in Germany through his exploits for Schalke will earn him a start for their all-important second game against the Group B favourites, but remains far from certain to be chosen.
Italy showcased another example of a glamorous Premier League star being chosen ahead of a more prolific and in-form player in a less hyped division, Mario Balotelli over Antonio Di Natale.
Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli was willing to change things up a lot swifter, making the switch in the 56th minute and being rewarded as Di Natale scored four minutes later.
Top scorer betting: Mario Gomez 6/1, Karim Benzema 9/1, Alan Dzagoev 9/1, Mario Mandzukic 14/1, Robin van Persie 16/1, Antonio Di Natale 16/1