Saturday, June 14, 2008

European Championship 2008....The Dutch Show Off

Down at the communal soup kitchen where Madrileños queue for their daily ration of thin gruel, there was only one topic of conversation this morning. Are the Dutch already the European champions? Having beaten both finalists from the last World Cup by clear three goal margins, Holland seem to be one or two levels above anyone else in the competition. To be fair, both their results have been slightly flattering, but at the same time they have given an exhibition of precise, flowing football which is for once combined with some lethal finishing. Italy are still only in the competition because Buffon saved a penalty against Rumania yesterday, and frankly who would miss them if they went out? France are in the same position and despite putting on a reasonable performance yesterday they don’t look very convincing. Rumania were supposed to be just making up the numbers in the “Group of Death”, but they could now find themselves taking the place of the French or the Italians.

Elsewhere, the Croats – egged on by a trainer who clearly feels part of every move that happens on the pitch – showed against Germany that they too have been underrated. Germany need to get something in their last game against an Austrian side that need to win. Fortunately for the Germans, an enthusiastic but limited Austrian team doesn’t look like it could score a goal in open play even if the opposing defence and goalkeeper had been kidnapped. Portugal are already through after an entertaining clash with the Czechs. Until I saw the Croats beating the Germans, the Czechs had been my favourites as a potential dark horse that could cause surprises. Unfortunately, they also suffer from limitations in attack.

Then today we get Spain playing their second game, and true to form the optimismometer that measures the feelings of the Spanish about their national team has shown a wild swing following their demolition of Russia. Personally I think Sweden will provide tougher opposition than the Russians did, but the Spanish did look good the other day with their clear superiority in midfield being complemented nicely by the sharpness of Villa in attack. Time for another dodgy prediction, I think this afternoon’s game will see a 2-2 draw. My last prediction looked good for about 70 minutes of the game. Based on current results and the possibility of the Spanish winning their group, a potential semi-final line up could be Portugal, Croatia, Holland and Spain. More of a wish list than a prediction, it would give us something to look forward to. Thanks to the humanitarian aid now reaching the city, my fridge is full of beer again in preparation for the next round. Just as well, it’s starting to get strangely hot in Madrid.


leftbanker said...

Good call on the draw; it held for 92 minutes. Too much Villa for Sweden. I'll say it again, Spain knows how to score goals. I am wildly optimistic.

Graeme said...

Well the more goals you predict, the longer the prediction stays possible :). The thing that really wrecked it as a possibility was Sweden's decision not to try and win the game. Having lost Ibrahimovic they just tried to hold out for a draw and got justly punished for it. More importantly, Spain avoided Holland in the next round.

Nick said...

Looks like your semi final predictions will come to pass. It's certainly been an amazing tournament for once. I've got money on Portugal but as you say, Holland are playing total football at times. But Croatia could be the real dark horse. If they beat Portugal in the semis, and remembering how this competition does sometimes tend to throw up unlikely winners, who would bet against them beating Holland or Spain in the final.