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!!
Yeah, Holland has been pretty impressive. I would think they have to be considered solid favorites now, if only because they seem to be the only team with all of their offensive weapons in form. (And never discount the advantage of having Edwin van der Sar in goal.)
Germany might be able to match them if Klose can return to form. They have the midfield to match Holland, but they lack the attacking punch Ruud adds. Portugal can match them with respect to attacking options out of midfield, but also lack a dangerous in form striker. Spain looks the biggest threat though to them, at least in terms of being able to match their offensive output. That would be a great semi-final match-up. (It’s a shame they are on the same side of the bracket.)
Both of those games were great fun to watch. In fact, quite a few games have been a lot of fun to watch. I was stunned by Turkey’s comeback.
“Iâ€™ve been seen wearing a Brazil jersey at World Cup matches”
That’s odd; I never would have guessed that you were from Brazil. [/sarcasm] Remind me to buy you a US jersey before you go to your next World Cup match!
Scott, I wore the Brazil jersey to the ’94 Cup final (Brazil v. Italy), and it was a shame that I had to leave my Italy jersey at home. When the Americans can samba as well as the Brazilians, both on and off the pitch, I’ll gladly don the American kit. But Eddie Johnson? What was Bradley thinking? Mike
Mike, I can understand that. I think I wore a Nigeria shirt to the Gold medal game at the 96 Olympics. I’m just in the habit of giving crap (all in good fun) to the kids on my team who wear jerseys of other countries.
I doubt the US (or very many other countries) will ever samba as well as the Brazilians. Although somewhat ironically, I think the Brazilians owed much their 94 success to the hard-nosed, crunching play of Dunga among others. At least, that type of defensive mindset seemed to dominate their priorities. Of course, when you have a duo like Romario and Bebeto, you can be play defensively and still score goals.
As far as what Bradley was thinking, I can’t say. Half the time I think they give caps to players who need them for work permits, or for transfers to better clubs. As for Eddie Johnson, I’m not sure who we have as a better option since McBride retired (although I would prefer Ching myself if we were working with a two man frontline). If they would play Landon up top instead of in midfield, then we wouldn’t have to worry as much about finding a half-decent striker. Eddie Johnson does well against CONCACAF opponents, but doesn’t seem to be able to quite cut it against world-class competition.
Enjoy the Euro’s. It seems to be shaping up into a classic. Scott
Can you tell me, do they actually put in a comma for “Hup, Holland, Hup”? is that proper cause their posters don’t have that but then again, those are posters. What does it mean to say “Hup”, Up with? Let’s go? Something like that I’d gather.