Spain 4, Italy 0
I am happy Spain won Euro 2012. They deserved to win, because they are the best team.
I like Spanish style of play. And, I have detected no traces of arrogance, which often creeps into championship teams.
Spain spent decades trying to win a trophy, with great talent and little luck, Recently, they have won three and deservedly. Other countries’ misplaced hopes before the tournament crashed on the rocks of Spanish talent, discipline, and solidity. No other team has won three consecutive trophies in international play--not Brazil, not Germany, no one. And, no team has won a final by a margin of four goals. One runs out of superlatives...
At the moment, I am practicing for vacation. I am sitting on the terrance with a glass of wine and staring at the view. The only difference is in the quality of the view. I can stare at my trees, but miss the vista of Lago di Como and the Alps. The wine will be as good (this one is merely a euro 2.50 Pinot Grigio) and the chair will be comparable or not. The main benefits will be the view, being surrounded by good (hopefully) Italian restaurants, and being in a completely different. I do not expect perfection, but am looking forward to bit of Italian savior vivre (I know, that’s French, but I do not know many Italian words, which do not appear on menus).
I expect to have to console my wife each day, after the “bloody Italians” unceremoniously evicted the Germans from Euro 2012. Unfortunately, on the night, the Italians played better than expected, while the German team played worse than expected. The key to the game is to score goals--which Italy did--and to play good defense--which Germany did not. The game is rather simple, but many make it more difficult than it should be and neglect the basics. Both teams surprised me...
Half-way through the second half of Spain vs. France. Spain is leading 1-0. They are playing better than the French and better than they have played in first round of the tournament. They should win this game and could win the title.
Of course, any team can win on any given day, but the French are not living up to my expectations. They are still a young team, and the Spanish are mature. There is a point where a team on the way up surpasses a team on the way down, but that point is not tonight...
Unless something happens, after I stop writing. Twenty minutes of regulation time remain. There are usually 3 or 4 minutes added to every game. And, if the French manage to score an equalizer, there could be 30 minutes of overtime. Following a draw, there would be penalty kicks...but I am not staying up for that torture.
This is not a live blog, but I want to comment on something that is happening as I write.
I’m watching the Germany-Greece game in the Euro 2012 quarter finals. The first half has just ended. The score is Germany 1-Greece 0. The score should be Germany 8- Greece 0.
This game is a metaphor for current life in Europe. German is dominating the game; Greece is worthless. A key statistic proves my point: corners for Germany 5; corners for Greece 0. Greek players are as good at soccer as Greek citizens are at paying taxes. The Greeks try of thwart any move by the Germans--in soccer and in saving the European economy.
No matter how the game ends, Greece does not belong in the quarter final round. Holland, Sweden, and Russia were better teams. Even Poland, Ukraine, and Czech were better.
Once again, some folks are trying to use sport to influence politics. No surprise.
Major sporting events, because of mass appeal, are judged to be useful media to highlight some issue. This time, people are hoping to embarrass/topple/aggravate the current government of Ukraine, which seems to be treating members of the previous government rather shabbily.
Politicians in the West have refused to attend games, in order to send some worthless signal. The only benefit of this behavior is to save their own taxpayers the cost of another boondoggle. Of course, some still go, but avoid “photo opportunities” with Ukrainian politicians. All are happy to avoid the glare of enjoying the fruits of others’ labor. And, all know that raising a red flag in or near a sporting event has no impact on voters: they see only the game.
I have often explained that I like to do sport, not watch sport. However, occasionally I do watch a bit. Because of that, you get to hear my opinion. And, I cannot promise not to do so again in the future...although maybe not...
Not-quite mid-tournament look at the teams in Euro 2012, from a casual spectators' point-of-view. Fro some reason, I have watched more minutes of this competition than past outings. I tend to dip into and out of broadcasts and usually read concurrently. Instant replay avoids missing the interesting bits.
Of course, I had my pre-judgements about each team and have formed opinions about current performances. At tournament begin, London bookmaker odds suggested Spain winning after beating Germany in the final match.
Spain. I usually enjoy watching Spain, but they have been disappointing.
Italy. Not pretty to watch. Prima donnas with a brutal defense. They like themselves.
England. Better than I expected, but still not brilliant (a word abused by Brits).
France. Better than expected, which is not difficult after their embarrassing performance in South Africa. They could win.
Russia. I had expected them to be better/to go farther in the tournament. No parade in Red Square for this bunch.
Holland. A nation currently considering mass suicide. Many inside and some outside the country had considered them a favorite.
Sweden. Usual unenlightened performance. It takes more than one great player.
Denmark. Sparks of quality play, but not enough.
Portugal. Also relying on one great player, but a bit better than Sweden.
Greece. I do not like their style of play, and my opinion is overshadowed by the country’s efforts to destroy the world economy.
Croatia. Team’s poor performance highlighted by idiotic fans.
Ukraine. What I expected. One national hero a team does not make.
Poland. Too bad they could not make the grade. I have sympathy for this country.
Czech half of Czechoslovakia. They are better at hockey.
Ireland. Do not have a chance at much other than rugby and sympathy.
And, finally, Germany. What can I say, which has not already been said. Germany is Germany. No matter what other teams do or do not do, Germany plods ahead in every tournament. The team is decent, but lacks the flair of Spain and France, the brutality of Italy, and admiration afforded many other teams. They could win.
One final note:
Because I am repulsed by the hype in English media before the game tonight, I hope England loses to Ukraine. This country are masters at before-game illusions and after-game excuses.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.