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JV
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 01:05 pm:   

What were we talking about? Why, this...

by Mr. Rowan

Well, we went out in now-traditional English style, with a botched penalty shoot-out and a disallowed goal to give us something to feel indignant and self-righteous about. Sorry, I mean disallowed Sol Campbell goal, to be even more specific.

But as I said to a friend yesterday, we shouldn't let the usual thing happen (as it did when we played France) of letting the fact that we played a valiant and dogged game with loads of heart obscure the fact that we were um, not very good. Because normally everyone just remembers the passion and the commitment and forgets that we appear to have lost the ability to do some reasonably important things, like get the ball, keep hold of it, and pass it.

Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole were fantastic - Cole especially impressed. Even (and it pains me to say this) Gary Neville had a decent game.

But Beckham was anonymous, and Gerrard looked like he'd run a marathon that morning for a bet, and Scholes was anonymous too, and too often we did the same (baffling) thing we did against the French, which was defending so deep our back line were virtually sitting with the fans behind the goal, and essentially giving the ball to the other side all the time and saying come on, come and have a go. Fatal.

So it makes for exciting watching, but Portugal attack - desperate English tackle - hoof the ball anywhere, including to our midget attackers who would be lucky to win a ball like that once in ten times, lose possession - Portugal attack - desperate English tackle etc repeated for sixty minutes is a risky, risky strategy. One goal and sit on it is not the way we should be playing.

Ah well.

I want the Czechs to win now, partly because I've really enjoyed the style of football they've played and its refreshing lack of dour defensive tediousness, and partly for juvenile team with the most Liverpool players playing reasons. The Dutch winning with a goal from Van Nistelrooy is my biggest fear.

By neilw on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 04:26 am:

I'll agree with you there, Iain - Cole was absolutely outstanding. He got in about Ronaldo and snuffed him out before he even had a chance to get his step over into action. It's a real shame he ended up on the losing side. It doesn't matter who you are playing, you can't afford to try and sit on a lead like that at the top level. Not when the opposition are expert passers and movers, if not expert finishers. It just shows a lack of belief, doesn't it. When they had to come back at the end of extra time, England they could do it - I just don't understand why they couldn't be positive and put on that kind of pressure during the 90 mins.

I'd like to see the Czechs win too. Or Denmark, I've enjoyed them too. It's all up for grabs now.

By Tamar on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 05:13 am:

England played great until Wayne Rooney went off. Then they turned back into the England of old. Like the prince being transformed back into a frog.

By Lucius on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 06:54 am:

I just watched a tape of England-France, which was a wonderful game with the wrong damn result. I'm wondering, after Beckham's tepid performance on the field, and horrid performance on the free kicks, is he personna non grata in England? Or was he already...? Credit to Portugal, but like somebody already said, you can't just sit back and let 'em attack. It's like playing a prevent defense in American football. Doesn't work.

By des on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 12:38 pm:

I think the referee decision re Sol Campbell's 'goal' will go down in history in the same way as Maradona's 'hand of god' decision.
des

By JV on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 01:02 pm:

Possible. But what will they call it? "Hand of God" sounds really good.

So far the Greeks are frustrating the French, and I rather wish I had taped the game after all.

JeffV

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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 01:40 pm:   

Wow. Greece 1, France O. Wow.

So the Spanish, the Germans, the Italians, the English and now the French, all, as they say in Paris, l'histoire.

Amazing.
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JV
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 01:44 pm:   

Amazing. For me, it's almost like the soccer gods know it's my birthday July 7th. Now the tournament is perfect for me. Every single team still in it is a favorite of mine.

This is, of course, the one game I didn't tape...

Jeff
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Iain Rowan
Posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 01:48 pm:   

Mais ou sont les bleus d'antan?

Ha! What a result. Just the Dutch to go and that's all the big names gone. And a good thing for European football it is too, I think. And what a good time for our friend Paris to go home to Greece for a holiday, too.
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neilw
Posted on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 04:08 am:   

I feel all let down and deflated now. Been catching up on recent games after a weekend doing music stuff hither and thither, and after the French going out on account of they couldn't bother their fancy gallic behinds, I'm just disappointed Holland squeaked through on pens. And then my pet team, Denmark, just got on the wrong end of the Czech team waking up in time to realise they had to do something or risk going the same way as the French. So they did something. Ouch.

It's going to be an interesting pair of semis. Portugal v CzechRep has to be the best final I reckon.
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Dave G.
Posted on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 06:57 am:   

Anti-Italy conspiracy theorists rejoice! The Scandanavian conspiracy has been thwarted! :-)

Could Greece really go all the way? Really?
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neilw
Posted on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 07:01 am:   

Dave. Anything could happen at this stage - that's why it;s so exciting. The Czechs are a lot better than France were playing the other night, so Greece will really have to go at it, and perhaps concentrate less on defence this time round.

I'm just hoping for three great games to round the whole thing off. Don't much care who wins now*, it'll be a refreshing change whatever happens.

*as long as it's not the Dutch. :D
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 08:43 am:   

Everyone ready for the semis???
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 10:23 am:   

Woo-hoo! Yeah! I'm going to watch it on tape delay when I get home. I am definitely *ready*.

JeffV
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JV
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 10:26 am:   

I think the Dutch go through--as do...the Greeks! So I must be INSANE!

JeffV
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - 01:39 pm:   

Portugal are onto the final! Wow. They could win the cup in their own country. That's big!
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neilw
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 01:37 am:   

And they deserved it too. Towards the end of the game last night I had horrible, horrible visions of the Dutch coming back and sneaking it on penalties again, but their lack of cohesion found them out at last. Portugal at times had a real flow and a real determination about them. And that second goal by Maniche was glorious.
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 06:17 am:   

Can Greece keep the dream alive?
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 02:00 pm:   

Wow, the dream lives! And who's to say that Greece can't win it all? They've already beaten Portugal once!!!
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JV
Posted on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 06:46 pm:   

Hot damn! What a game.

JeffV
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neilw
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 01:27 am:   

It's simply unbelievable. The Czechs couldve/shouldve scored a healthy handful of goals. Kollers miss in the last five minutes of normal time was unbelievable. But even if they didn't attack so well, the Greeks worked amazingly hard to keep it level so that when they got their chance it would count.

Dave - you never know, they might just beat Portugal again, and who's to say they wouldn't deserve it.

neil
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Tamar
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 05:16 am:   

It's really Greece's year, isn't it! Next thing you know, togas will be back.
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JV
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 05:54 am:   

I honestly don't think Koller was looking for the ball on that last chance. I don't think he was expecting the pass back. And he always looks awkward on the ball, and this time it cost him.

JeffV
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 06:22 am:   

This time Monday, we could all be nursing the mother of all retsina hangovers.
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Luis
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 07:11 am:   

It ends as it started, but hopefully Portugal will win this time. Remember they weren't playing at the top of their forms in the first match, and it's very likely Greece was grossly underestimated back then.

We'll see. It's going to be one hell of a game, although I would've been more pleased to see the Czechs in the final.

Cheers,
Luís
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neilw
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 07:11 am:   

Tamar - you'd just love that, wouldn't you. Poncing about yorkshire in yer toga and yer laurel leaves... Barnsley's new kit for 2004/2005?

Jeff - yeah, it looked like the last thing Koller want, that perect little heeled pass right into his path. I guess when you're 8ft 11 it must be difficult to muster control of all of your body in a split second, but then I wouldn't know about that, would I?

neil
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Iain Rowan
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 08:20 am:   

Neil,

I make a point of never saying anything unkind about Jan Koller because I have a deep-seated fear that if I do, one night I'll go to close the curtains and he'll be standing out there looming out of the gloom at me.

I'm sad the Czechs didn't reach the final, as it's nice to see Liverpool Reserves doing so well, but at least it's likely Baros will end up with the golden boot. Especially if Pauletta's playing for Portugal, ho ho.

I've really enjoyed this tournament - it's really good to see the big names falling by the wayside, and dark horses like the Czechs - or complete surprises like the Greeks - doing so well. It's a bit like the last world cup, when lots of big nations went crashing out grumpily and some of the smaller, less-fancied countries, like Turkey or South Korea, played with such excitement and passion for the game that it was really interesting and fun to watch, even if they didn't have current Clotheshorses of the Year amongst their ranks, as some of the biggies do.

Teams playing with a bit of passion, as if they really wanted to be there and...shock...*enjoy* playing, fans who mirror it- - what it should all be about.

It'll be enjoyable watching the final, because I don't mind if either team win. All that and Van Nistlerooy getting into trouble with UEFA too. Can this tournament get any better?

Iain
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Dave G.
Posted on Friday, July 02, 2004 - 10:34 am:   

Yes, it could be better. I could have bet a ten-spot with Ladbrokes on the Greeks before the first match.
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neilw
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 01:45 am:   

You shoulda made that bet Dave.

I'm still in shock. But good on em. Go Greece.
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Tamar
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 02:08 am:   

Yes, they deserved to win. Portugal had their chances. But Greece stuck to their game plan almost flawlessly. Still, it choked me up a bit to see the Portuguese disappointed. It would have been a fairytale ending for them, as the sporting cliche goes, after putting on a great tournament.
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JV
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2004 - 06:22 am:   

Yes, they did deserve to win. The utter calm and precision was amazing. Such defending! Such tackling! It made the Portuguese much more precise when they did get shots, I thought. They felt, I think, that they had to hit something perfect and as a result, nothing was.

JeffV
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neilw
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 05:33 am:   

So that's it then? It's all over? For another two years until the World Cup in Germany anyway.

But wait... what's that you say? There's football in the Olympics? Yay!!!

Thanks for the ongoing Euro2004 chat guys.
neil
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 06:16 am:   

The Olympics? Are you nuts?! Who cares about soccer in the Olympics?! LOL!

Jeff
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neilw
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 06:23 am:   

I know, I know... it's only *pretend* football, but it's better than nothing!

And as to the question of my being nuts... well we've covered elsewhere the psychiatric prerequisites for being a Scottish football fan.

Nuff said.

neil
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, July 06, 2004 - 06:39 am:   

I would make the Greek goalkeeper (sorry, don't recall the name) my Man of the Match. At least four really great saves that stole the game.

I was watching the final in a local Greek restaurant with about 60-75 people and when the header went in, it was the single loudest ovation I've ever heard in sports.

Now comes the fun part for the Greeks, living up to their new first-echelon status. Good luck, guys!

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