Wednesday, June 09, 2004
-----------------------Obligatory Euro 2004 Comments
"If you wanted to add to the vast fund of ill-will existing in the world at this moment, you could hardly do it better than by a series of football matches between Jews and Arabs, Germans and Czechs, Indians and British, Russians and Poles, Italians and Yugoslavs, each match watched by a mixed audience of 100,000..."
"Years have gone by and I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: 'A pretty move, for the love of God.' "
Its perhaps fitting that voting on European unity is taking place at the same time as the launch of Euro 2004, with one candidate already dying from a heart attack in the host country. Campaigning has been suspended there, which will probably come as a relief to the people residing in what is widely regarded as Europe's laziest country (Portugal's deputy foreign minister's response: it's true). Its the time of year when Europeans can put aside their nagging and spitfulness and become...well more nagging and spiteful. Everyone will root against Italy, Italy being Italy, and the Iraq war being all that. Turkey's failure to qualify prevented a possible embarrasment to the EU, with the upcoming judgement day in December and France's election campaigns in consideration. Not that they would have had a chance or deserve it in anyway, having been brought down to Earth by Latvia--my horse for this race. Latvia doesn't stand much of a chance, either, being in the worst group of all: with the Nedveds, the Ballacks, the Davids, and the Ruud Vans. What Latvia can do it is take advantage of an inattentive side and come back from behind. And Verpakovskis is the man to do it, having scored in almost all the qualifiers. Combined with the "nothing to lose" mentality, one can fantasize about a silver lining. If they were only grouped with Spain and Portugal they could stand a chance (both teams have a reputation of underperforming or being very unlucky ). But the dream is not dead yet.
Dammit, I should have bet on Greece when I had the chance. It wouldn't surprise me if they're feeling that pre-Olympics wind and being more awake as a result. Success here would make people forget about the pain the Olympics is causing them, both in the cities and in their wallets.
Notice repeated references to "poor finishing" by Spain. They bombarded Russia the entire first half, and couldn't get the job done until a sub scored the minute he stepped into the pitch in the second.
Spain – Greece: Tie
Portugal- Russia: Portugal
England- Switzerland: Tie
Croatia – France: France
Bulgaria – Denmark : Denmark
Italy – Sweden : Sweden
Latvia – Germany: Latvia
Holland – Czech: Czech