Yeah, I guess you could say that I enjoyed watching my favorite team in the tournament beat the crap out of my least favorite. I enjoyed being on the right end of a typically disinterested performance by Thierry Henry as opposed to having to root for the guy. (The fact that he interspersed one great finish in with 89 minutes of sulking just makes the sulking harder to take.) I enjoyed the excessively conservative French being totally exposed. Raymond Domenech, you were two goals down in the second half of a game you had to win or at least get a point. What the hell were you doing playing four defenders and two defensive midfielders for the entire second half? Did you enjoy the whole world realizing that you are an excessively defensive tool when Claude Makelele, the player you should have pulled off at the half and certainly when you were down 2-0, fluffed a shot in the box because, you know, he never shoots?
(One aside: in the same way that Roberto Donadoni goofed by deploying the entire AC Milan midfield after a bad season for the Rossoneri, Domemech goofed by deploying all of his Barcelona players in the opener against Romania after the Blaugrana were crap this year.)
Conversely, I loved Marco van Basten being rewarded for going for the jugular. Up a goal at the half, van Basten threw on Arjen Robben (and attacking winger) for Orlando Engelaar (a defensive midfielder). Robben promptly scored one and assisted a second in the second half. Euro '08 has been a terrific tournament and not just because my two favorite teams - Holland and Spain - have been playing well while my least favorite team - England - are watching from vacation. The tournament has been marked time and again by coaches being rewarded for going for the jugular, as opposed to getting a goal and then trying to make it stand up for an hour. After Greece bored the rest of the continent into submission four years ago, this is a useful tonic. Instead, the Cinderellas this time - Croatia and Turkey - have all advanced while playing attractive football. Yay for progress!
The ultimate sign of progress will be if doddering former powers Italy and France play out a meaningless game tomorrow because Romania are beating the Dutch. The match presents an interesting problem for Holland. On the one hand, they ought to try to win because it's the right thing to do. Strategically speaking, the best outcome for Holland would be to force Spain to play France or Italy, both of whom give the Spanish a complex. On the other hand, the Dutch must be concerned with injuries to key players, especially when a number of their attackers - van Nistlerooy, van Persie, Sneijder, and Robben - have been brittle this year. The second choice Dutch attacking four - Huntelaar, Robben, van Persie, and Affellay - would be more than enough to threaten Romania, but does van Basten risk the brittle Robben and van Persie, knowing that they are his super subs? And surely Marco wants a look at a keeper other than van der Sar since Edwin can't play forever.
Spain have never been noted as the kind of team that can gut out a game in which they are playing below their best, so kudos for getting three points on Saturday. That said, the defense still looks shaky. I watch a fair amount of Real Madrid and I don't remember Sergio Ramos being this vulnerable as a defender, so maybe I need to be paying more attention. How he paid so little attention to a striker with Zlatan's reputation is beyond me. Also, Sweden showed future Spanish opponents the gameplan to negate La Furia: overload the middle and harass Xavi every time he gets the ball so he can't get the pendulum started. Sweden did a nice job of nullifying the Dutch. Of course, the fact that they had to sacrifice their own offensive prowess to do so meant that the worst that Spain would do in the game would be 1-1.
I think I speak for most of the non-Greek world in saying that I will shed no tears over the Greece being out of the tournament. The fact that they went out on a defensive blunder is fairly comical.
Simply one of the best games I've ever seen. The first half wasn't great, as the Czechs completely dominated and created all of the good chances. Whatever Fateh Terim said at the half must have worked because the second half was a completely different story, with the exception of the chances that the Czechs created when Turkey was down to ten men. A lot of attention has been devoted to Petr Cech's howler and it was a colossal mistake, but the larger picture is that Turkey was creating all the chances for most of the half. After the Turks got the goal to get back to 2-1, they were coming at the Czechs in waves, stringing great passes together on a consistent basis. Would the Czechs feel better if Cech wouldn't have fumbled a cross, but they would have surrendered the lead on Servet's free header minutes before. It's hard to say that Turkey did not deserve the equalizer, regardless of the way that it arrived. And then Nihat's winner was simply outstanding, both in terms of the timing of his run and the quality of the finish.
You think a Turkey-Germany semifinal might be interesting, given the number of Turks living in Germany?