16 June 2012

Matches 17 & 18

Ridiculous day of football. Dear god.
At first I was worried we were going to get our first 0-0 game with both matches heading there close to halftime.
And then all hell breaks loose.
I admit I expected Greece v Russia to not even be a contest so I watched Czech Republic v Poland. And after awhile, when there were quite a few chances for the Czechs that they kept missing and Poland didn't seem to be doing much, I would switch over to the other game, where Russia (!!) didn't seem to be doing much. Incredible. I am still amazed that Russia played so poorly against Greece; they simply looked out of steam and/or ideas. And Greece did what they did in 2004: defend defend defend and nick a goal.
It's a shame though that Russia are out. I was really looking forward to seeing them up against a really good, quick-paced side, someone like Portugal maybe, and see if Russia could really show us their capabilities. But alas, in this funny old game of football, surprises like this always happen in these big tournaments so I guess I should have seen this coming.
Ciao Russia, and thank you Dzagoev for all the fantasy points. I look forward to see you guys at the next tournament.

Don't you miss The Treble, part 3?

(I'm watching Czech v Poland while Jenny is watching Greece v Russia.)

Jenny:  half time on one

 me:  yup

 Jenny:  sokratis
not socrates
sokratis is hot

 me:  gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool
i have 2 russians on my fantasy team

 Jenny:  yjjjjjjjjjjref

 me:  they better get it together in the 2nd half

 Jenny:  the greeks are hotter
i'm cheering greece

 me:  hahahaha
nice reasoning
time for the traditional halftime cuppa

 Jenny:  i'm nothing if not logical

Uefa acts!

Good news finally emerges amidst all the troubling reports of racism at the tournament so far: Uefa has officially opened disciplinary proceedings against Croatia for the numerous reports of racist chantings & banners from their fans in the game against Italy. Hopefully they will also look into the banana incident as well.
This follows Uefa's actions against the Russian federation earlier in the week which was for "improper conduct" and sees a suspended 6 point deduction hanging over them if their fans continue to cause trouble.
Is Uefa developing a backbone??

15 June 2012

Matches 15 & 16

Well those matches left me breathless! What a crazy day of football.
First there was the Ukraine v France game which was suspended & delayed because of a pretty spectacular thunderstorm with some scary-looking lightning, But once it was safe to resume play, the game was an open, back & forth affair. Both teams had chances but it was France's two goals in a crazy four minutes in the second half that made the difference and the Ukrainian team just couldn't get back in it. 
And because of the delay, as soon as that game was finished, it was straight away time for Sweden v England. And if we thought the first game was crazy, this one was even crazier. Back & forth, great goals, bad defending, actual attacking play... it was a little bit difficult to remember that this was an England game. Honestly, I can't recall the last England game that was as entertaining as this one and am still amazed they didn't give up a third goal. As it is, Sweden becomes the second team to be knocked out of the tournament but the other three teams all still have a chance to make it to the quarter finals.
And we still haven't had one 0-0 encounter after two full rounds of matches!

Trouble in Paradise, part 5

Sadly there is yet another report of a racism, this time during the Italy v Croatia game. Once again it involves Balotelli and it is good to see he didn't react (if he was aware of it on the pitch).
On a lighter note, the Ukrainian PM is in trouble because he made a footballing bet with a Swedish fan and when Ukraine won, he shared the beer he won with the fan in his office.... where drinking alcohol is banned. Whoops. (And that's my kind of PM!)

Alexi Lalas

As the rain falls in Donetsk and we awaiting the restart of the Ukraine v France game, the ESPN commentators are having to improvise. Alexi Lalas has stepped up and has shown he should have been an honorary member of The Treble. The cameras shown the French manager Blanc chatting in the tunnel with Sheva and Alexi proceeded to fabricate a whole conversation between the two. It was excellent. And it was exactly the sort of thing we did on The Treble all the time. We did interview him once on the show and were so pleased when he willingly gossiped about the vanity of the Italian players from his time as a player there. Top man.

14 June 2012

Matches 13 & 14

Typical f'cking Italy. Looking good, impressing, scoring and then.... DOING ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NOTHING. And so Croatia score & then they wake up and are like "Oh? What? Wait? Where are we?" and by then it is too late. After years of watching the national team I can not be surprised, just disappointed. Again. Balotelli looked better than Cassano did in this match but still didn't score. But the best Italian moment was Gigi really feeling the national anthem, eyes squeezed shut tight & belting it out.
And then there was poor Ireland. Bad timing facing Spain when the European/World champions felt the need to prove their worth so to speak. A great 4-0 win for them with my little blondie bear getting two goals. See what happens when you play a striker?
I can't wait for the final games of this group. The Irish playing for pride while Italy needs the win to advance and Croatia going all out for a win against a resurgent Spain. Should be fantastic!

Don't you miss The Treble, part 2?

The build up to the Spain v Ireland game:

Sent at 11:12 AM on Thursday
Jenny:  keanooooooo
 me:  your people are DRUNK
Jenny:  shhh
stop judging
 me:  i'm spanish
it's what i do
spanish inquisition much?
Jenny:  inquisition
 me:  hahahaha

13 June 2012

Matches 11 & 12

Great games in the Group of Death today. The Denmark v Portugal game got crazy, lots of goals, lots of chances, and lots of missed chances from CR7!!! What happened to Christiano?? Forget his shooting boots this tournament? Too much pressure leading the team?
And then there was the much anticipated Holland v Germany which luckily wasn't too touchy but also had plenty of bite.... just not from the Dutch. There didn't seem to be any real urgency or passion from them until later in the second half when they finally scored. Germany was really threatening to overrun the Dutch once they were 2-0 up and I was a little afraid that it was going to be a slaughter.
Even more exciting, technically everyone in this group is still in the running for the knockout stages. Yes, it would be difficult for Holland but never say never.

A Different Kind of Crowd Trouble

Way to be Irish guys... keep it up. (Seriously, click on those two links.)

12 June 2012

Matches 9 & 10

Good games today. Nice to see the Czech Republic get back on track but this might be it for the Greeks. They now HAVE to win against Russia to move on to the knockout round and on the basis on what we've seen of Russia.... it looks bleak.
And then there was Poland v Russia which was yet another ridiculously entertaining draw (and still no 0-0 games in this tournament!!) and continued to showcase the skills of the young Russian striker Alan Dzagoev. So will Chelsea & Man City battle it out with the big bucks this summer to sign him? Will Real Madrid swoop in instead? Or will he stay in Russia? It will be interesting to watch the speculation rise as his star continues to rise; I guess we'll just have to wait & see.

Trouble in Paradise, part 4

So, we knew the Russians and the Polish had a bit of history... to say the least. And unfortunately, tensions broke out between the fans even before the game started.
And then there's Cassano and his big mouth.
On and then there's another historically bad-tempered match up coming tomorrow with the Holland v Germany game.
Thank god I found the Shiba Inu puppy cam today; I need a little bit of happiness.

Don't you miss The Treble?

Taken from Jenny's & Nikki's gchat:

me:  ok
how made up do these names look!!???
Poland (4-2-3-1): Tyton; Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch; Dudka, Polanski; Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak; Lewandowski. Subs: Sandomierski, Wojtkowiak, Kaminski, Matuszczyk, Rybus,
Wawrzyniak, Sobiech, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Brozek.

Russia (4-3-3): Malafeev; Aniukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Shirokov, Denisov Zyryanov; Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin.
Subs: Akinfeev, Sharonov, Izmailov, Pavlyuchenko, Kombarov, Kokorin,
Granat, Pogrebnyak, Nababkin, Glushakov, Semshov, Shunin.
 Jenny:  i think someone had a sneezing fit
 me:  hahahahahaha
i think you are correct

11 June 2012

Matches 7 & 8

Honestly, I'm just happy with a draw for the England v France game. A win and the English media would have been overboard with praise & excitement; a loss would have meant more negative press than one team could possibly handle. A draw is just about right even though it was France's for the taking. Seriously, the French should be the ones to wake up to bad press. They had loads of chances and they really should have won this.
The Ukraine v Sweden game I touched on earlier; neither team look bad but neither look like they could beat Spain or Italy (or Croatia for that matter) in the knockout stages. And I think both France & England will be wary of the next round and meeting either a flying high host nation or a team licking its wounds but still looking dangerous. This group finally has me excited.

The Beautiful Game

I wasn't even particularly looking forward to Ukraine v Sweden; I thought it might be the first 0-0 of the tournament.
The first half didn't really assuage my fears and then something magical happened in the second half; a true legend of the game stepped up and made this match memorable.
In his & his country's first ever game in the European championship at 35 years old, Andriy Shevchenko, captain & talisman of the Ukrainian team, scored a brace & won Ukraine's first game. The crowd went wild with both goals (this young boy is already becoming internationally famous) and the players looked close to tears in their happiness. It was an amazing thing to watch and a game, a simple game of football, suddenly meant a little more than 3 points and a win: pride and glory and love for a country and its people erupted and I admit that I got teary-eyed. How lovely for Sheva. How lovely for Ukraine. And how lovely for all of us football fans lucky enough to be watching such a spectacle.

Trouble in Paradise, part 3

Sadly, here is a report of racism by the Spanish fans against Balotelli during the Italy v Spain game. It's a credit to Balotelli that according to these reports, he did hear the chants and he managed to not react on the pitch. I hope Uefa opens an official investigation on this asap.

ESPN coverage

Usually, by now, I'm already bitching about the American coverage of an international football tournament.
But, for once, ESPN has got it right: the dynamic duo of Alexi Lalas and Michael Ballack is endless entertainment. Seriously, let's have Ballack on all the time, even chatting about American sports, in all his Germanic glory.

10 June 2012

Matches 5 & 6

And so Croatia top the group that includes the current Euro champions and previous World Cup winners. Oh and Ireland.
Poor Ireland. All the press build up towards this match was about their strong defensive capabilities and then they just fell apart. And Croatia, as always, looked good. For the past dozen years they have always been good - not great - but good & solid & with a couple of players that are truly special. So really it should be no surprise that after this first round of matches they sit on top of the table.
And no real surprise that an Italian team with a makeshift backline (my De Rossi as a defender?) and a Spanish side with no striker cancel each other out. Especially with both Balotelli and Torres misses chances handed to them on a golden plate.
Spain v Italy has always been the battle of the hotties (the past classic of Maldini v Raul in particular comes to mind) and while this year was true to form, I spent most of the game spotting Sergio Ramos with his new haircut and would think "Who is that??" before it clicking; at least he was using less hair gel than Fabregas. Those were some serious spikes.

Trouble in Paradise, part 2

So, another night at the Euros, another fight.
This time apparently 14 fans were arrested after a massive brawl broke out in Poznan.
Can't we all just get along??

Gli Azzurri

I am a fan of Italian football. Their national team was the first team I ever "followed." AS Roma is my obsession, my first true football love. I still miss Maldini, Baggio, Zola, Vieri, Panucci....
So what I say now is out of love: it is time to kick Italy out of Uefa until they clean house.
It is shameful that yet another match fixing scandal is out in the open; and I say out in the open because we all know it was never completely cleaned up after the last time. This isn't something new. This is the same old corruption and deceit and lies that has been in Italian football for years now. And the only way that it is ever going to get better, the only way the Italian FA will take direct action, is if there are some serious consequences for their actions. And the loss of the revenues from all the Uefa competitions, both club and country, is exactly the kind of punch in the gut that Italian football needs right now. Severe? Yes. Needed? Yes. How else will they ever get the impetus to really change the ingrained attitudes in their footballing culture? How else will they ever regain respect in the football community? And we know that Uefa does not have the balls to do something this drastic, this radical, so Italy needs to step up and own up to their faults. The Italian FA should voluntarily withdraw all of their teams as a show of respect for the game, clean house, and come back all the stronger for it.