Thursday, June 19, 2008

European Championship 2008....Now For The Quarter Finals

As the championship moves into the quarter final stage we’ll see whether my hopes for the final four stand the test, and whether we maintain the entertaining standard set in the first round. Tonight’s game is full of promise, the Germans don’t look very convincing. Even Austria managed to make them look a bit fragile, although it was Croatia that really managed to outplay them. Meanwhile, the Portuguese are not just about Cristian Ronaldo, but he is probably the best bet to surprise the German defence.

Spain showed against Greece last night that they could win even with their reserves. Although “reserves” isn’t really a very accurate description, a team that contains players like Reina, Alonso, Fabregas and Güiza (the highest scorer in the Spanish league this season) is hardly weak. Any nation with less than 20 international class players shouldn’t have made it this far anyway. I can think of one or two that didn’t. Greece will not be missed, they are another side that places far more value on victory at any cost than on playing good football.

Talking of teams that fail to entertain, the Italians made it through in the end, sadly. Although at least they were finally obliged by necessity to come out and play against the French. This doesn’t mean they will do the same against Spain on Sunday. Tradition dictates that Spain fall by a single goal to a fellow Latin nation in the quarter finals, let’s hope it doesn’t hold this time as the Spanish have played far more good football than the Italians in this tournament. Turkey progressed in similar fashion to Italy, only coming alive and playing as well as they can once they fell behind. Hopefully Croatia will not be as generous in defence as the Czechs were.

My favourites to win, the Dutch, have to play a rejuvenated Russia but I can’t see the Russians doing to Holland what they were able to do against a disappointing and conservative Swedish side. The Dutch also showed that their second string side was good enough to participate in the tournament, with their victory over Rumania. A team that is prepared to make attacking substitutions when they are already ahead, as Holland did against France, deserves to get something just for attitude alone. It doesn’t always work out that way, as the Dutch know very well, but maybe this time will be different.

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