Monday, June 30, 2008

Euro 2008 -- no I didn't forget about it

In fact, I think I watched practically every match.

But I didn't devote any time to this event because, well, everyone else already was. And they probably had more insightful things to say. I do want to congratulate Spain though, on a romp well done. No other team stood a chance against them; yet I don't think anyone who picked them stuck with them 100%, or even chose them in the first place (I know I didn't). Is it possible to be described as a "least-surprising surprise"? Because if so, they're it.

What I took away most from this years competition (my first as a footy fan), and Norman Hubbard wrote a great piece about this over at soccernet, was the passing of the old guard. Generation X has given way to Generation-Y, the MTV Generation, or whatever the hell my age group is called. France, Italy, and Sweden all fielded geriatric squads, and all had extremely disappointing performances. Spain, Russia, and Turkey were either led by youth or had a youthful endeavor and jubilance about them that saw to their place in the final four. It may be callous to say it, but bring on the youngin's!

Also, and somewhat connected, attacking football reigned supreme and I'm more than happy about it. Greece's anti-football that won them the trophy in 2004 thankfully failed them this time round. Had France not totally crapped the bed, Greece's poor performance -- who scored just one goal, in the last game against Spain -- would have ranked them last in the competition. And everyone can agree on it. Italy attempted to do the same against Spain, and, also thankfully, lost. Clubs with the pedigree of Italy should not be playing for penalties, ever. Although it was boring to watch, it made sense when Greece did it because, well, Greece sucks and its the only way they and similar nations/clubs/etc stand a chance -- unless they're coached by Gus Hiddink.

Lastly, this two-host nation stuff has got to go. Now, I understand what its trying to accomplish, and I agree with its logic. Giving nations that normally wouldn't qualify a chance to compete, brings unaccustomed revenues, which then gets pumped back into the national team and system's infrastructure. But Switzerland and Austria, particularly the latter, had little business playing on the same pitch. Granted, Switzerland losing its talismanic captain Alexander Frei after just the first half of the first match is tragic and not their fault. But the only game the team won was against Portugal's JV team. And the same goes for Austria, who managed just a single point -- in a draw with Poland that was arguably more boring than the France-Romania snooze fest and Italy-Spain debacle.

Poland and Ukraine, if they ever get their stuff together in time, better put forth a better display in 2012. Otherwise I'm in favor of giving the previous year's victor the opportunity to host it. It makes sense because the nations that usually win it already have the stadium infrastructure in place, and four years notice is plenty of time. It will open up a spot to a team that normally qualifies 17th, rather than taking places away from the 15th and 16th qualified teams. Does anyone think Scotland or Bulgaria deserved their spot in the tourney over this year's hosts? I do. (And no, even if my system was to be applied retroactively England would still be home this summer. I don't think I need to explain myself on that one).

And there are other countless topic to discuss as well: how the hell Germany progressed as far as they did; poor little Croatia; Italy's despicable display against Spain; Holland flaming-out (again); Romania's disappointments; and why the penalty shoot-out is the #1 reason why soccer will never become big in America.

But I'm sure other, better sources have written about such topics.