Wednesday, October 11, 2006

UEFAgony

A new round of UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying matches today . . . and most of them--at least by looking over the scores--seem to be relatively predictable, including the England loss. But more about that later.

The Iceland vs Sweden match broadcast live on FSC was intermittently enjoyable despite long passages of boredom. Why in the hell did I watch it? Well, if you figure it was basically a battle of Vikings vs Vikings, who wouldn't want to experience watching such a raging tumult of football prowess? Unfortunately, the blessings of Odin upon the pitch seemed scarce, though the game did open up with a bang in the sixth minute when Icelandic midfielder Arnar Vidarsson delivered a wonderful volley past Swedish keeper Rami Shaaban. Sweden immediately answered back in the eighth when Kim Kallstrom scored off a blistering Raganarok of a free kick. Sweden cemented their fourth straight win of the tournament when Christian Wilhelmsson scored in the second half near the hour mark. Not a thunderously brilliant game, and I do wish Iceland's number one player, Eidur Gudjohnson, could have really turned things around, but . . . . And despite the hearty bravery of the Iceland team, it should be noted that the Swedish side were missing quite a few of their best, including key-Gunner Fredrik Ljungberg, Anders Svensson, Tobias Linderoth, and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the latter who is still on the outs with Swedish coach Lars Lagerback. I fear the loss could've been a whole lot worse.

It's easy to make fun of teams like the Faroe Islands. We've all done it at some point. But I still love the idea of these so-called lesser teams competing in big tournaments like this. Yeah, I know they don't have a chance in hell, but every once in awhile a little team does rise up and challenge the status quo, reminding us that against all the odds . . . . Okay, you've seen the movie. It still doesn't mean it can't happen in the real world. The Faroe Islands, unfortunately, are not one of those teams. They looked awful. Rubbish, really. No defense, certainly no offense, and their speed (or lack of it) and ball control were appalling. Still, it really could've been a whole lot worse than the 5-0 pummeling they endured (three of the five goals against them happened in the later part of the second half) at the feet of France. I made no excuses: I watched the match to indulge my growing French national team infatuation. But I still wanted the boys (and many of them did look like mere scruffy-faced boys) from the Faroe Islands to at least put up a good fight, look defeat in the face with courage and conviction and go down knowing they'd given it their all as darkness blessedly obscured their eyes. Sadly, the team from the North Atlantic looked terrified and disorganized for most of the match (wouldn't you?). They took only two shots, I believe, on goal the entire game and their defense was abysmal. No surprise, I guess. But I still held out hope for them despite my glee at watching Saha (2"), Henry (22"), Anelka (77"), and Trezeguet (78", 84") work wonders on the net.

And then there's the case of England. Didn't see the match (England lost 2-0), but I did just see highlights on Sky News and that was enough for me. Truly dreadful. You can read more about the strange Croatia vs England match here. And while you're at it, you can read about the exciting looking Republic of Ireland vs Czech Republic 1-1 game here.

1 comment:

linda said...

I think some of the recent results have proven that so called no-hopers are...well, not. All those who were preaching about how annoying it was for England to play the likes of Macedonia and Andorra are silent now.

Speaking of Sweden, god, I miss Henrik Larsson. Eidur is a pretty good player for Barca, but Henke was something else.