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Monday, June 23, 2008

Eurocrash: The fall of giants in Euro 2008

Deservingly so for some, unfortunate and sad for others. Italy belongs to the first category while Holland would be my pick for the second. Italy played with much of its anti-football of old that scraped into world cup finals in the past and only rarely showed the form generated by their club sides. This refers to constant fouling, retention of the ball, low scoring and a general focus on defense. Only against France did Italy show enough resilience. Romania deserved better but Buffon showed why he's the world's top 'keeper by stopping Mutu's PK. For once I agree with Jamie Trecker on the general form exhibited in this game and why so many Americans just don't like soccer. It was slow, it was boring, it was low scoring and ties ties ties (to quote Homer Simpson). It was a game akin to those in the 1980s and 1990s and even more so to the famously slow paced anti-football of England 1966 (England's only ever win in a questionable game).
I'd also have to agree that Italy's play was much like that of Greece in 2004 with their low-scoring and ultra defensive mindset that was enough to get them through to the final and an eventual win. I never liked Greece or the way they played and I'm glad they were revealed for what they really are--a poor team that won with defense, a good (albeit boring) coach and also a bit of luck.
Spain is also to blame for the game yesterday. Their congestion of the midfield prevented the ball from getting to Torres and David Villa with enough frequency and pace to make life difficult for Buffon. They were, like the Italians, playing not to lose. But, as luck and a bit of redemption would have it, Spain got through their June 22nd jinx and we hope that they can bring the flair back to the game against a resurgent Russia (they won the earlier match 4-1). Guss Hidink might have its opponents well studied at this point and we cannot rule out another stellar Arshavin performance that will surely make his stock rise. An incredibble shocker it was to see them beat the Netherlands. So many of us out there had a special place in our heart for the clock-work orange. Sometimes flair and early form just aren't enough if you underestimate your opponents and overestimate yourself/
And on the other hand we have Germany and Turkey. I loved the Turkey game. I actually cheered more at the end of that match than I did when the US beat Mexico at the Gold Cup. But their side is depleted due to injury and suspension. Germany has the tools to make it past the Turks and only a real miracle will save the Ottomans this time.


Alastair McCandless said...

I would love to see the Turks win, but I agree, with all the suspensions, they appear to be out of miracles. What is your opinion on the rule that gives suspensions to a player who has two yellow cards over four games? The process seems harsh to me.

R. Mera Velásquez said...

I actually happen to agree with that one. Two yellows always equals a red regardless if it's in the same game or not. It used to be 4 yellows=suspension. People were being really careless and also getting nasty, career-ending fouls up to the mid 90s. In my view the frequency of fouls has lessened (especially bad ones), the game is faster and also much cleaner. There's so much at stake in terms of money nowadays that few people want to risk not playing. No yellows in semifinals now, though, so that everyone's available for the final. Hopefully that rule will be adopted at the World Cup. In 2002 Michael Ballack couldn't play because of a suspension... maybe things could have been different.