I was traveling last week and caught only occasional highlights of the opening round matches in Euro 2008 — the international soccer tournament now happening in Austria and Switzerland. I plugged back into full matches yesterday and was wowed by the Netherlands, who dismantled France 4-1 yesterday to follow an earlier 3-0 thrashing of World Cup holders Italy.
In international soccer, I’m usually a guarded fan, rooting for attractive, attacking play rather than supporting a particular team. (I’ve been seen wearing a Brazil jersey at World Cup matches, but appreciating attractive soccer and samba is usually an easy call.) I’ve been attracted to the Netherlands for many years; I remember watching the 1974 “total football” version of the Oranje, led by Cruyff and Neeskens, lose the Cup final to the West Germans. Beckenbauer has always been my all-time favorite player, but my youth teams for many years were visual carbon copies of the Dutch, with orange jerseys and white shorts and socks.
Is this year for Holland? I’ll jump on their bandwagon. Hup, Holland, Hup!!