Monday, June 16, 2008

Euro Drama Heightens this Weekend

I was thoroughly glued to the tube all weekend long, as the Euro 2008 raised its level of excitement, intensity and yes, drama, by several degrees.

Yeah, Italy should’ve beaten Romania by about 3-1, and the 2006 team, with talismanic Francesco Totti surely would’ve, but this team is missing Totti and his leadership in a big way; and Romania took advantage of some questionable officiating to hang with the Azzurri throughout, coming a PK away from stunning Italy out of the competition.

The Oranje were once again marvelous, a delight to watch, as four different Dutchmen got in on the scoring fun and humbled Les Bleus to the tune of a 4-1 shellacking.

And then there’s Villa.

Bigger, stronger, more physical. That described the Swedish team’s control over the Spaniards on Saturday. Every time Spain swiftly moved the ball near the box, Sweden’s men would strong-arm, and just bully the Furia Roja away, so much it became repetitive; this forced Spain to resort to long-ball tactics, which seemed doomed to fail, that is until Villa latched onto a ball, flanked by two Swedes, caused the keeper to dive early, and the ball seemed to roll on its own into the net.

There will be a new champion

The Greek title defense came to a screeching halt as Russia’s first half goal was enough to send the 2004 winners home goalless and winless. Russia will battle the aforementioned Sweden for a chance to move on and play the mighty Netherlands.

Turkey wins the most dramatic team of the Euro 2008 award as they came from 0-2 down to steal a late victory over the Czech Republic, in the most exciting match of the entire tournament, thus far. The jersey they wore is not around but you’d look great sporting the white home jersey, especially cheering on your side in the next round against non other than Croatia.

Meanwhile, in Group B, Germany took care of business, finally, barely, as Michael Ballack nailed a free-kick and Austria’s hopes of continuing at home, thereby sending Germany into a scintillating clash against Portugal in the quarters, and Austria to join Switzerland as absentee co-hosts.

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