You’ve gotta love the beautiful game, diving and all.
The Euro 2008 group matches have now concluded and it’s on the quarterfinals. First up is Germany v. Portugal, which kicks off in six hours or so. Then Croatia take on Turkey tomorrow. On the other side of the bracket, Holland meet Russia and then Spain play Italy.
My gut tells me that the winner of tonight’s contest — which I think will be Portugal — will have what it takes to defeat the winners of Croatia-Turkey (I like the latter) and get through to the June 29th final. I’d bet on Holland overpowering Russia, and then I think Spain will out-class an aging Italy but then fall to the Dutch. Holland are playing some scintillating football; a Portugal-Holland final would pit two attacking sides against one another, and while my heart would like Holland to win, I’d bet on the Portuguese taking home the title. We shall see.
Here’s some recent news coverage:
Rob Hughes in the IHT: “Russia grabs last quarterfinal slot, beating Sweden, 2-0.”
The final piece of the Euro 2008 fell neatly into place Wednesday when Russia comprehensively beat Sweden, 2-0, to claim a place in the quarterfinals of the competition.
With goals in each half, but with many more created and spurned, the Russians were too swift on the ground, too eager, and too darned young for Sweden’s aging team to hold.
The victory at Tivoli Neu stadium in Innsbruck, Austria, makes this the first time that Russia, as opposed to the former Soviet Union, has reached this far in European competition. How far will it go?
A question for the Dutch – indeed a double Dutch question because Russia next meets the Netherlands at St. Jakob Park in Basel, Switzerland, on Saturday, meaning that the coach now converting the Russians to be newcomers on the grand stage must find the tactics to outwit his own countrymen.
Sport, of course, is for players to win or lose, yet if ever there was a coach who finds a way to instill a way of playing in men from cultures and tongues so very far from his own, it is the Dutchman Guus Hiddink.
Telegraph.co.uk: “Euro 2008 Winter’s Word: Team of the tournament – so far”
A tournament so good that Michel Platini describes it as “sizzling”, Euro 2008 produced a multitude of terrific individual displays in the just-concluded group stage which deserve the formation of a Dream Team XI.
Time: “Euro 2008: The Energy and the Agony”
“Expect Emotions” goes the slogan to Euro 2008. We’ve certainly experienced some. First there was the realization that having ourselves arrived in Europe on Friday, our tickets for a Sunday match would be delivered promptly the following Tuesday. A visceral, sinking feeling, that — something Sweden must have endured in the waning seconds of its last gasp loss to Spain. Then we nearly got trampled by Russian fans swarming on to a stadium shuttle bus-a frightening feeling. That could well describe Italy’s experience when the Dutch ran riot over them in their opening match, 3-0. We also got hauled off the road in Salzburg by a motorcycle cop who insisted, in German, that our license plate was illegal. We nervously nodded and nodded in English and waited and waited until, just like the Greek team, he gave up and went home.