Monday, June 23, 2008

A game of four quarters

You may have noticed a lack of posts from me about Euro2008 (other than the initial one from just before the tournament started) and assumed that this was down me being completely disinterested by the whole thing because England aren't in it. Well if you did assume that then you'd be wrong as I've been avidly watching as many games as possible (probably about 85% of games so far.) It's been quite relaxing to not have to worry about when England were going to let me down, so I've been getting quite a lot of enjoyment out of just watching games for the football's sake.

So far the tournament's been pretty good, although the quarter finals have shown how variable in quality the games can be. The Portugal vs. Germany game started off the quarters quite well with an open game, a good number of goals and an exciting finish, but Portugal definitely weren't the team they'd been in the group stages and Germany's full backs were still as motionless and drab as before. The Croatia vs. Turkey games was a dull, uninspiring affair for a good 115 mins of regular and then extra time. It was only saved by the shear craziness and excitement of the last few minutes, with Croatia looking all but through with their late goal and then conceding an equiliser with literally the final kick of the game. This produced the lottery (yeah it's a cliché, but what you gonna do) of a penalty shoot-out, with Turkey coming out victorious. This now lines up what will hopefully be a tasty encounter between Germany and Turkey, which should be rather interesting to watch here in Hannover with its large Turkish community.

In the other half of the draw we started off with an interesting and good watch in the Netherlands vs. Russia game. The Dutch never seemed to really get going into a flowing style and the Russian's just outplayed them with pace and tenacity. I think that the young (he's only 21 you know, as the German commentators were very fond of pointing out) Russian Arshavin (and yes I had the same thoughts about his name as Andrew Collins) will be snapped up by some big side during the summer. In contrast to that game we had a very lacklustre show for Spain vs. Italy. Neither team seemed to want to go at the game and win it, with lots of slow, dull build ups leading to nothing. To be fair Italy hadn't shown signs of wanting to play in the previous games, but I'd expected more from Spain. In the end a penalty shoot-out was probably the best option, as neither team deserved to win from what they'd shown in the previous, tedious, 120 mins, and it at least gave us viewers some tension and excitement.

One major disappointment about the quarter finals is that they've not been kind on my fantasy football team. I had no Russian or Turkish players, as I'd stuck with the more conventional teams. Now I just have to decide whether to go all out crazy and compose my team of players from the two teams that I think are going to win the semis, or have a general selection from the 4 teams left.