Sunday, June 15, 2008

Isn't it Only Great?

I don't know what has got into the managers or teams at this Euro 2008 tournament but the abandon with which teams have been attacking (and counter-attacking) has ensured that it will be remembered as a classic, and we're not even out of the group stages yet. The Dutch have been the most glorious of the sides so far, but credit also to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Romania and Croatia after their shaky starts. Much as I would love to see Holland add to their 1988 title, I think they will come unstuck, as their dodgy defence gets found out against sides more clinical than France were the other night. Edwin van der Sar can only save them for so klong. The more likely winners are a side such as Croatia, who showed in their match against Germany a combination of flair and pragmatism, and mental toughness that will allow them to go all the way. Germany cannot be ruled out either despite the alarming way they imploded in Klagenfurt. I do feel, however that, Austria could give them a real fright in Vienna tomorrow night. A week ago I would have laughed at such a suggestion but the Austrians have been punching above their weight so far and they will be up for a chance to put one over the Germans, just as they did in Cordoba in 1978, when they knocked out the reigning World Champions 3-2. Austria's lack of edge in front of goal will ultimately be their undoing but they'll take the game to Germany at the very least. Tonight's game between Turkey and the Czech Republic could go to penalties, which would be a first in the group stages, and the same thing could also happen in Tuesday's potential decider between France and Italy. All very exciting.

A couple of fascinating stories from the glorious past of Austrian football (and prior to the 1938 Anschluss it was indeed glorious): the early death of Matthias Sindelaar, considered by many to be the greatest Austrian player ever, and the fate of the Jewish Viennese club Hakoah, who were disbanded on the coming to power of the Nazis and who are now being revived.

3 comments:

rorebhoy said...

Indeed I was saying that to someone at work, how this was in line to replace Mexico 86 as the best tournie I'd have seen. One notable thing has been the poor quality of free-kicks so far - whether it's still players adjusting to the new ball I dunno, but very few have even hit the target.

Really the speed of some of the counter-attacking has been breathtaking - while Holland may not keep the goals out against a better side, they always have the possibility of scoring one more than....

long may euro2008, or Euro 2-0-8 as Jimmy Magee said, continue in this vein.

ejh said...

the Austrians have been punching above their weight so far

In what way?

seanachie said...

ejh:

An over-liberal use of the idiom perhaps, considering they haven't actually beaten anyone but they have played better than most people thought with their recent form and their lowly ranking. They may even trouble the Germans :)