Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Euro 2008: Daily ramblings - match day 11

It’s clear the party is now over for the French. Although the country still produces a great deal of talented players, they have yet to generate a clone of the one that they need--Zidane Zidane.
Zidane was who drove the French midfield. Without him, the French are still talented, but they lack…design.

Yesterday against Italy it was clear. The Italians hadn’t been ripping the tournament up, but there was little doubt what team was the more likely to advance. Even before Franck Ribery went down in the eighth minute. Ribery was the only Frenchman throughout Euro 2008 who had shown any flair. Without him, hope seemed fleeting.

And when Eric Abidal was sent off minutes later, giving Italy a penalty in the process, hope was just plain lost.

So, Italy survives to where it’s the most dangerous. If it were to make a run to the final it wouldn’t be the first time an Azzurri side advanced to the bafflement of neutral observers. Like Germany, Italy always seems to find a way.

If a repeat of that history is in the works, it won’t be an easy run. Spain is up first, then, likely, Holland. If Italy were to win this tournament, few would be talking about its inconsistent and uninspiring play in the group stage. Rather, the talk would be all about its amazing run in the knockout stage.

But, for now, most conversation remains focused on Holland. The Dutch kept rolling yesterday, easily brushing aside a Romanian side that had everything to play for. The last time the Netherlands looked this good was in 2004—where it lost in the semis. Where Holland always seems to lose.

With just one day remaining in the group stage this story of this tournament has yet to fully form.

Today: Russia and Sweden play to determine the final quarterfinal spot. The Swedes capture it with a win or draw, Russia must win. Greece and Spain play a meaningless game as well.


Jeff Dertinger said...

I once had a very angry reader write in to me complaining about my use of the term Holland.

He even drew me a map of the Netherlands, showing me where Holland was located, lol

sager said...

Ah, I remember it well.

sager said...

As I recall, I figured it was OK, since some Dutch even called the Netherlands "Holland," even though that only applies to one region of the country.

Duane Rollins said...

I'm too lazy to look it up: What's CP have to say on the matter?

Lloyd the Barber said...

Samir Nasri could be the French player you describe, but he'd have to get off the bench to prove it. Perhaps he should spend less time training and more time aligning his chi so Domenech will pick him.

Mike said...

It's hard not to believe that the Dutch are in the drivers seat but I like the semi-final comment, so true! :)