Archive for the ‘Euro 2008’ Category

Live blogging England v Russia

September 12, 2007

Even worse than reading about fantasty teams (TTL’s NFL team won, ha) is reading how busy someone is. So no excuses about the lack of posts. Like the Cubs TTL is failing in the clutch. But will attempt to remedy the situation tonight with a live blog of England v Russia starting at 8:30 CET or 2:30 EST depending on your time frame. Until then.

England v Russia Live from Wembley.

Love the Match of the Day tune on BBC, one of those songs that hasn’t changed in 20 years. England starts an unchanged team from their 3-0 win over Israel on Saturday. That is:
Robinson (goal) Richards, Ferdinand, Terry (captain), A Cole in defense, Wright-Phillips, Gerrard, Barry, J Cole in midfield with old Liverpool and England teammates Hesky and Owens up-front.

Russia, managed by the excellent Guus Hiddink, is expected to play 11 men in defense and hope for a draw. The Russians have only conceded 1 goal in their 8 qualifying games.

Here is a quick peek at the Euro 2008 tables and they show this a MASSIVE game in Group E as Croatia and Russia have easier games ahead than England. Remember, the top 2 in each group advance to Euro 2008 next summer in Austria/Switzerland.

Russia is starting a team with all 11 players currently plying their trade in the Russian League. It includes a set of identical twins at right/left back. And it would take me until halftime to type out all their names.

TTL predicts a comfortable 2-0 win for England. Why? Because Lampard is injured so the midfield belongs to Gerrard. He is England’s best player and paired with Barry who’ll hang back a bit defensively, Gerrard is free to surge forward, something he does ever so well for club and country.

86,000 fans, including 5,000 Russians, greet the teams as they walk on the field for their respective National Anthems. Wembley is buzzing. God Save the Queen indeed as the English fans overpower the singer on the pitch.

TTL will also be flipping occasionally to check on France v Scotland from Paris, a big game between the top 2 teams in Group B. Also, fair play to USA rugby team (the Eagles) who lost 25-15 to Tonga today. USA is playing some competitive rugby.

3min
Early corner for the Russians as they power forward (surprisingly) and England struggles to clear their goal.

6min
Hesky already proving his worth as big target, heading a ball back down to Gerrard who had gotten forward. Hesky is reborn this season for Wigan and England. He last donned the national shirt at Euro 2004. Richards long throw troubles the Russian defense and corner to England. Barry plays in a great ball, its cleared out to him and then Barry sends in another good ball that Michael Owen cooly places in the right corner with his right foot. GOAL and the perfect start for England. 1-0.

9min
England fans taunt their Russian counterparts with a chorus of “You’re not Singing Anymore.” Gerrard plays through Hesky who misses due to a great save and Owen stumbles trying to pounce on the rebound. It’s like Liverpool circa 2000-2003.

13min
Jerkoff (sp) is providing some danger from Russia down the right flank and he sets up a decent chance for Russia which is buzzed into the side netting. Apparently, tiebreakers in the qualifying are determined by head to head match-up so this game and the one in Moscow are immense as Owen skips past a few defenders while England emulates Brazil and pass the ball with some aplomb all over the pitch.

16min
Another corner for England. And before all the pundits praise Manager Steve McClaren for these performances remember he was forced into this “makeshift” line-up by England’s injury woes. Nothing quite like the buzz of the crowd when Gerrard launches a shot from way out. He sliced it way right.

19-23min
Russian captain sneaks behind Terry and Ferdinand and only an unlucky bounce of the ball prevented him from having a one v one with the English keeper. The impressive Gareth Barry tracked back from midfield to break-up the attack. He and Gerrard are dominating the game. But just like that, Russia counterattacks and scores but the goal is disallowed by the non-blonde Swedish referee who ruled that the Russian player controlled the ball with his hand/arm first. Tough call need to wait for more replays. Still, a warning to England. Who, respond quickly, as Wright-Phillips heards over the bar after a great cross from J. Cole as they try and reenact their goal from Saturday.

24min
Robinson is forced into making a good save as the Russians look dangerous on the attack.

27min
As the England backs Richards and A. Cole bomb forward, Russia is finding some space down the flanks, especially down the left side. Hesky bails England out, by fighting off two defenders and holding the ball until more England players join him in attack. Unheralded skill, but a big striker who wins balls in the air and holds it up is a huge asset to a team.

30min
Barry wins a ball, plays it back to J. Cole who unleashes a good (deflected) shot that the keeper parries away. This a fun game, as these teams are both attacking with some verve. Hesky wins another ball in the air and heads it down to the rejuvenated Michael Owen who unleashes a right-footed laser into the top left corner for his 40th goal for the Three Lions. 2-0!

34min
England is rampant, like they are playing 12 on 9. The Russians aren’t closing down well (shocking for a Hiddink-coached side) and England seemed poised to score every few minutes. Best performance by an English side in a long time.

38min
France and Scotland are tied at 0-0. Let’s go Scotland!! Russia makes a change bringing on another forward and taking out a midfielder to change their alignment to a 4-4-2. “England are in harmony” according to John Motson, the Vin Scully of English soccer broadcasting.

41min
Continuing my love/hate relationship with England, TTL doesn’t want England to qualify but is estatic that Owen is finally playing well again after 2 disastrous injuries. The cold-blooded striker is the reason why TTL became a Liverpool fan.

45min
Russian freekick right at the half is cleared harmlessly away. Would really like England to rest Gerrard in the 2nd half as England should be able to maintain their 2-0 advantage in the 2nd-half. For the record, Owen scored in the 7th and 31st minute. Count TTL among the impressed by England’s superlative 1st-half.

Half-time replays show England got a big break as Russia’s goal should have counted. But when things are going your way you get calls like that.

Scotland and France are 0-0 at the half. The 3rd place team in that group, Italy are up 1-0 in the Ukraine at half. The dreams of N. Ireland look to be dashed as they lost 2-1 to Iceland despite David Healy’s 12th goal of the qualifying campaign. They also lost on the weekend to Latvia.

47min
Gerrard almost bulldozes through the Russian defense and the Russians promptly respond with a nice 1-2 down the the right flank and buzz a shot past the post. A minute later, a Russian cross just misses an outstretched leg. Two good chances for Russia as Gerrard drives forward and forces a good save from a left-footed shot.

50min
Zerkoff and the substitute Brusoff causing England some real problems in the back as this turns into a wide-open affair. The Russians don’t want to go quietly into the goodnight as they are now playing with 3 strikers. Yes! Why not go for some goals. Russians deserved to be rewarded for this risky strategy but they are leaving themselves vunerable to a counterattack and possible hat trick for Mr. Owen.

55min
The overrated A. Cole is having all sorts of problems at the back for England. Think Aresenal were right to deal him to Chelsea for William Gallas. England are all over the place at the back as the Russian pile on the pressure.

58min
Ribery denied by the excellent Scottish keeper Ben Gordon as it is still 0-0 in Paris. England seem content to absorb pressure and have lost control of the game. Haven’t had enough possession to stem the Russian hordes. J. Cole found Gerrard open at the penalty spot but the Liverpool skipper completely mishits it.

61min
England looked to have regained the upper hand but here come the Russians as they have a freekick from a dangerous spot that they promptly waste. Another change for Russia: Shrusonklsy for Shithalkcmeonk. Problem with playing 3 strikers is the difficulty in working the ball up to them, especially past the rock that is Gareth Barry. He’s having a fantastic game.

65min
Hesky continues to be a menace (too big to be a nuisance) by getting his head on every ball sent his way. The Russians are valiant, but it is a young side and they seem to be lacking that little bit of class needed to score goals. Think some changes might be in store for England as they look a bit tired. Good low cross from the Russians but suddenly they only have 1 man on the receiving end. Where did all the strikers go?

68min
England broadcast record as it takes 69minutes to mention Beckham. Announcers are wondering about who’ll be selected for the next round of qualifying game in October. Gonna be a headache for McClaren as these 11 have made a STRONG case for their inclusion. Great news, as McFadden puts Scotland ahead 1-0 in France. Oui! Italy is up 2-1 in the Ukraine.

71min
England have regained control of the game by keeping possession. Don’t think the Russians have it in them to come back now as the clock ticks.

75min
Owen almost send Wright-Phillips clean through but is thwarted by his own unsteady feet. Feel that England now more likely to score than Russia. As that sentence is typed, Russian forces Robinson into a good save from a wicked left foot shot. Oh, what a different game this would be if that goal wasn’t dissallowed. J. Cole involved in 2 straight controversial tackles and receives a yellow. Crowd is booing as Russia almost works a nice freekick into the box but England clears. Hesky comes off from Peter Crouch while Russia makes its 3rd and final change.

80min
Crouch immediately heads one down to Wright-Phillips whose fine right-foot volley is pushed aside for a corner. Scotland continues to lead with 10min to go. England corner as they push for a 3rd. Barry takes it with his left and the keeper punches away from Terry. Barry plays it back and Ferndinand channels his old striker skills by beating the keeper at his near post (poor keeping, he’s actually Russia’s 3rd choice) and England lead 3-0.

85min
All just a formality now, so switching over to Scotland game. Watching it on French TV featuring Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on color commentary. Scottish wearing some uncharaterisitic white uniforms with gold numbers. Awful, do they think they’re Italian. Looks to be all hands at defense as the French stream forward. Lots of Scottish banners hanging up as the Tartan Army loves to travel to support their side.

87min
In honor of the injured Thierry Henry, Scotland players dribble the ball to the corner flag to waste time and force French defenders to take it from them. TTL absolutely abhors this technique. Pass it around, it’s ridiculous to dribble around like that. Gordon makes an easy save as the French look dangerous despite the Scottish wall in front of them as the clock hits 90.

3 minutes of injury time as even the normally stoic Wenger is psyched for a French corner. Scottish counterattack as they clear their lines but then lose possession. Ribery is everywhere for the French as Scotland boots the ball all the way back to the French keeper. Scots break-up another attack but the French have a corner in the 92nd minute. Get a head on the ball drawing another corner which is cleared as the final whistle blows and the Scots have a monumental 1-0 win in Paris to go top of their group. Yes!!!!

Great scenes in Paris as the Scottish fans go wild in the stands. Solid night of football. England win 3-0 and more importantly the Scots prevail in Paris. Enjoy the games and thanks for reading. Back tomorrow with a recap of all the qualifying action.

Lookin’ Live at England-Germany

August 22, 2007

Well, not really live if you are reading this. But TTL will try his hand at live-blogging (who hasn’t) the England-Germany friendly starting at 2:30 ET. Hate friendlies, but thought it’d be fun to do. There are some Euro 2008 qualifying games tonight as well. TTL is keeping a close eye on Estonia v Andorra as these teams look for their first points of the campaign. See you in a bit.

England v Germany

The boys from Match of the Day are off to their usual strong start in the pre-game. Kickoff delayed by 5 minutes as Germans arrived late leading to a rash of German inefficiency jokes. Great montage of all the England-Germany clashes at Wembley throughout the years as England haven’t beaten Germany at Wembley since 1975.

We’re officially 1 year into the Steve McClaren era as England manager. Alan Hansen just called McClaren’s tactics in their lose to Croatia earlier this year “disatrous.” Ah, the English press/pundits really hold back their opinions.

England have quite the injury list but big thing about this friendly is that many of these players will feature in their vital qualifying games at Wembley against Israel (Sept. 8th) and Russia (Sept. 12th).

Conditions are bad with tons of rain and with liberal substitution policies in these friendlies expect a lot of shuffling of players. But then again, these two flat out don’t like each other so this could turn into a “real” game.

Not too much discussion of Becks (who is starting) besides Ian Wright suggesting Becks wouldn’t have gone to MLS if he thought he’d return to the national team.

Germany only has about 4 regulars starting as they have their own injury problems and they are wait out in front in Group D.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in attendance.

Captain England John Terry leads his side onto the field alongside his German counterpart Bernd Schnieder. (Apologies in advance for spelling errors).

Wembley, despite the rain, looks in fantastic shape. McClaren wants it to become a “fortress” for England as they have 4 Euro 2008 qualifying games there in the fall.

National anthems are awesome in international games as players and fans belt them out.

English side; Robinson (G) Richards, Terry, Ferdinand, Shorey (Def), Becks, Carrick, Lampard, J. Cole (Mid) Owen & Smith.
Take me way too long to type out the German team, as the only regulars are Lehmann (Goal), Kuryani (striker) Lahm and Schneider (Mid).

Kick-off and underway as Becks first free-kick is headed out of the box by a German defender.

3mins: England are pressing all over the field as the red-shirted(?) struggle to string more than 2 passes together. To be blunt, internationals are usually choppy games since these players don’t play very often together. But the pure passion of players/fans makes up for the uneven quality of play.

6min Commentators not happy with Carrick and Lampard standing alongside each other in midfield instead of staggered as England promptly give the ball away easily.

7min Joe Cole makes a run with the ball through the middle and a good tackle at top of box prevents him from shooting. He’s one of the few English players that consistently take people on with the ball.

9min GOAL for Fat Frank Lampard. Booed last time at Wembley, Lampard beats Lehmann on a good strike from right box (might taken slight defection of defender). Lampard’s first international goal in 9 games was set up beautifully by 19yr-old Micah Richards beating a defender then slipping Lampard a great pass. Nice football.

12min England look dangerous as the drums and singing reverberate throughout Wembley. Richards is on the sideline getting treatments as he took a knock setting up the goal.

15min In actual Euro 2008 qualifying, N. Ireland lead Lichtenstein 2-0 as Fulham’s David Healy (of course) scoring both. And Portugal held to a shock 1-1 drawn in Armenia.

17min Richards back on and draws a foul near the corner flag. Becks doesn’t deliver a good ball and Germany now in possession.

19min German look out of sorts and are also only playing 1 striker in Kuryani. Lehmann booed every time he touches ball by England/Arsenal fans.

20min Germany make first serious foray into English end as Shorey gives away a free kick. Ferdinand heads it out giving Germany a corner. Metzleder gots sum hops and sends header just wide of post. He simply outjumped the English defense. 6,000 German fans start chanting and are promptly whistled down.

23min Nice to see England playing with some energy as up to 8 of these players could start against Israel. Germany has picked up their tempo and suddenly we’ve got a game.

24min Lehmann surprises whole stadium by actually catching a deflected cross of another impressive Joe Cole run.

25min GOAL Germany 1-1. Oh, yeah. Metzlberger launches laser that Robinson parries down and Ferdinand clears but Schneider sends cross back in and catches Robinson cheating out. Robinson desperately swats ball from under cross-bar to Kuryani who gleefully taps into the net from 2 yards out.

28min Now Shorey gets forward and squares a nice ball across the box but unfortunately no England player was there. Kinda ball Gerrard deposits into the net for laughs. English defenders (Richards&Shorey) been great going forward.

31min Shorey gets fouled on left sideline and its Beckham time as big-boys Terry, Richards and Ferdinand move into position. Great ball by Beckham and Smith flicks on from near post but no England player touches it. Easily could have been 2-1.

33min Lampard denied by Lehmann but Lampard could have passed across to either Owen or Beckham for easy tap-in. Another missed opportunity followed by Cole getting booked (tough to do in a friendly) for a tackle from behind. Another Robinson gaffe as he comes off his line for free-kick and missed ball by a mile. Fortunately, Germany was offside. Robinson doing nothing to solidfy his status as England keeper.

36min Richards continues to trouble German defense drawing a foul and Becks put in dangerous free kick as German defense barely clears their lines.

39min Robinson now getting booed when he touches ball. Both keepers not exactly fan favorites. Smith quietly having good game upfront holding the ball up and moving well. Owen is invisible. GOAL. 2-1 for Germany. Pander, German debutante, scorches an absolute blast from outside the box with his left foot into top right corner. Nothing Robinson could do about it. England almost answer right away as Smith chips a great ball into the box that Owen heads but Lehmann makes a brilliant one-handed save. Becks just drove hard shot into wall as this game is sizzling.

43min As required by any England telecast they show players from the 1966 WC winning side. OK tonight since they beat Germany 4-2 in the Final at Wembley but every international game features some mention/footage of 1966.

45min Lampard makes great flick into Owen’s path. Lehmann comes off his line, bobbles the ball and Owen misses an empty net in a scramble. Halftime in an entertaining game.

Substitutions: Brown for Ferdinand and 37yr old David James returns to English goal replacing Robinson.

Bittersweet news as Estonia beat Andorra 2-1. The Estonians pick-up 3 points after scoring their first two goals of the qualifying campaign in the 8th game. Hard luck for the semi-pros of Andorra.

2nd half

47min Apparently James was always going to play 2nite and has nothing to do with Robinson’s blundering 1st half performance. English announcers ripping on fans of expensive seats for staying in their hospitality suites and finishing their drinks.

49min Hitzisperger very impressive in midfield for Germans. Good on the ball, nice shot and good range of passing. Beckham uncharateristically beats defender down the right and then uncharacteristically puts in a poor cross. Despite sleeping the whole flight from LA to London doubt Becks will finish this game.

52min Hilbert subs in to play right midfield for Germany. Another young player from Stuggart, the defending Bundesliga champions.

55min Gareth Barry from Aston Villa on for Carrick in central midfield. Incredibly, this is the 5th different England manager Barry has played under. Afraid the game will lose some of its surprising quality now as each manager making use of his 6 allowed subs. Right on cue, Dyer and Crouch are on up-front replacing Owen and Smith. Crouch is suspended for the Israel game but is available for Russia.

58min Joe Cole in his typical manner darts inside from the left and unleashes a shot just wide of the net. First real chance of the 2nd half for either team. Now Shorey plays another dangerous ball into the middle and Cole ‘s volley is blocked. Lehmann beats Dyer and Crouch to the loose ball. Shorey as looked good, certainly putting in better crosses than the overrated Ashley Cole from the left-back spot.

62min Game opening up a bit as England presses forward for a goal exposing themselves to the counterattack. Shorey gives it away and Kuryani almost picks out a streaking German with a nice cross. Bet its even money on either team to score at this point.

64min Kuryani gets between Richards and Brown and James rushing off the line. Fortunately for him, Kuryani’s chip goes well wide. No reason for James to come rushing out there. Adventerous keeping is the norm tonight. England almost answers through Dyer as Lehmann comes rushing off his line and fortunately gets a piece of the ball. Becks corner kick is cleared. But almost immediately England regains possession and Beckham squares a great ball across that the speedy Dyer pushes wide. Got to hit the target from there but that’s Dyer’s recurring problem. Great pace, nice skills but the frequently injured and hasn’t scored in 37 international appearances.

68min Looks like Shaun Wright-Phillips to come on for Becks. The commentator Mark Lawrenson admits if Gerrard is healthy they should bench Lampard and play Owen Hargreaves and Gerrard in the middle. The Lampard/Gerrard experiment hasn’t worked well as they are both similar players. Wright-Phillips on for Joe Cole?!? Promptly puts in great ball from left that Lampard stretches for and puts it over the bar. Rofflfs on for Germany.

73min That’s all 6 subs for England so Becks will finish game. He’s put in a good effort but think he’s limping. LA Galaxy brass must be pissed. Could be a fun war of words between MLS and English FA. Surprised Wright-Phillips not moved out to right, Beckham to middle and Barry to his natural left-side. Then again, Europeans tend to scoff at Becks in the middle where he’s playing for LA.

75min England corner as Wright-Phillips shot is deflected out. Good ball in and Terry’s header headed off-line by German defender. Meanwhile, Kuranyi putting on a clinic as lone striker, constantly moving, winnning balls and holding it while his teammates make runs. Schalke 04 playing quite well.

79min Lehmann saves from Wright-Phillips who’s looked very competent. Played sparingly for Chelsea last season but seems to be forcing Jose Mourniho to play him regularly. Now the German fans can be heard clearly throughout the stadium. England has a terrible overall record vs Germany and it bothers them to no end.

82min The proverbial shot of German legend Franz Beckenbauer in the stands. Game breaking down a little as England starting to play long balls up to the giant Crouch. Germany in the midst of back-to-back corners which England clears all the way back to Lehmann.

88min Kurayni continuing to make himself a nuisance. He’s man of the match for Germany and give Micah Richards the nod for England. Becks dissappeared for the last 20 minutes most likely due to fatigue.

90min 3 minutes of stoppage time as Germany playing keep away now.

It’s over with England having one last decent chance that Shorey crossed straight to the keeper after putting a nifty move on the defender. The Germans win 2-1. They were quite steady after the initial 20 minutes while England was all over playing well in spurts, poor in spurts and medicore overall. England did create enough chances but with no Wayne Rooney up-front England didn’t finish. It’s just a friendly after all. Both teams have Euro 2008 qualifiers on September 8th.

Well that’s it for tonight. Hope you enjoyed it.

A Year to Go

June 7, 2007

Today marks one year to the start of Euro 2008 in Austria/Switzerland.  Let’s look at which countries helped their cause after last night’s games

The big boys from Germany, Spain, France and Italy all took care of business with victories.  Oh, and welcome back to the club merry old England.  The Three Lions dispatched minnows Estonia 3-0 with David Beckham setting up 2 goals.  The 2nd England goal features a truly spectacular pass from Beckham to the robotic freak, Peter Crouch.  Be a huge surprise and a gusty call by manager Steve McClaren if Becks isn’t recalled to the England side for the qualfiers in the Fall.  Maybe Tom Cruise can lend Becks his plane for the LA to London flight.  It will make for a delightful shopping excursion for the ladies

Armenia shocked Poland 1-0 behind Hamlet Mkhitarayan’s goal causing their Prime Minister to perform an impromtu victory dance at the stadium.  Another reason why football is awesome, dancing heads of state.  Can’t fathom Bush breaking out into a jig if the USA beats Guatemala in the Gold Cup today.  For a nice preview of the Gold Cup hit the ever reliable thatsonpoint.

Scotland escaped their curse of The Faroe Islands with a 2-0 win.   And lest TTL forget, Albania continued their dominantion of Luxembourg, emerging from the Grand Duchy with a 3-0 away win.  The current tables are here with the next major slate of games on September 8th and 12th. 

Transfer News

Continuing with the midfielder merry-go-round, Newcastle captain Scott Parker has joined West Ham on a 5-year deal. 

Rumors are in a high gear concerning the fates of big names Thierry Henry, Arjen Robben, Miroslav Klose, Samuel Et’o and Florent Malouda.  Stay tuned as the transfer market is heating up. 

Tomorrow will look at this weekend’s La Liga action as Real Madrid, Barca and Sevilla continue their quest for the title.  Enjoy the games you play and watch. 

England vs Themselves

June 6, 2007

It is another day of red-hot qualifying action for Euro 2008.  Actually, there are not many good match-ups tonight but let’s delve into some of the more intriguing ones.  Remember the top 2 teams in each group qualify as the host nations, Switzerland and Austria, are already in. 

Estonia v England

Simply a must-win game for England in Tallinn (great city by the way).  England are languishing in 4th place in Group E behind Croatia, Israel and Russia.  Captain John Terry calls it the most important game in his brief captaincy while embattled manager Steve McClaren desperately needs a win to save his job.  McClaren’s putting his faith in returning vets Michael Owen and David Beckham to spark a lackluster team.  TTL thinks England would be fine if they benched Frank Lampard and let Steven Gerrard run the team from his preferred central midfield role.  Regardless, it shouldn’t matter tonight as Estonia is without suspended 2006 Estonian Player of the Year, Raio Piroja.  As Raio goes, so goes Estonia.  Oh, and the Estonians are also winless and goalless in their qualifying games. 

Croatia v Russia

Russia travels to Croatia in this Group E encounter.  Russia’s manager Guus Hiddink stated a draw would be “a good result” for his young Russian side.  A draw wouldn’t hurt either teams qualifying chances.  Croatia currently leads Group E while 3rd place Russia’s fate will be decided in their 2 games with England in the fall. 

Faroe Islands v Scotland

Scots make all things fun.  So TTL is on the Scottish whiskey wagon so that the Tartan Army will be out en masse next summer in Switzeria.  The Scots are 4th in Group B, but only 3 points from the top.  Scotland has suffered embarrassing draws on their last 2 trips to the Faroe Islands.  Think the Scots will prevail tonight at Toftir Stadium. 

Italy faces a relatively tough task at Lithuania will other giants Spain, Germany and France should win easily. 

Transfer News

Brazilian left fullback Roberto Carlos is moving on from Real Madrid after 11 seasons.   The Brazilian will be plying his trade for Turkish champs Fenarbache next season. 

Manchester City bad boy Joey Barton has thrown his last punch for that team.  The 24 year-old midfielder is headed to Newcastle on a 5 year deal spurning West Ham’s offer.  Guy is talented but has a habit of punching teammates.  Maybe the Cubs should sign him.  Zing!! 

Back tomorrow with a recap of the night’s qualifying action.  Enjoy the games you play and watch.   

Euro 2008 Recap

June 4, 2007

Hello again.  Saturday saw a full-day of qualifying action for Euro 2008.  All of Saturday’s results and the current tables are here.  There is another round of qualifiers on Wednesday night (June 6th).  TTL will have a preview of the important/interesting games on Wednesday, but let’s look back at the weekend’s events. 

Danish Fury

In a very unfortunate incident, a Danish “supporter” rushed onto the pitch and attempted to horsecollar German referee Herbert Frandel (who was the referee in the CL Final).    Sweden was justly awarded a penalty in the 88th minute when the Danish fan attacked.  This spoiled a fantastic game in Copenhagen, as Sweden raced to a 3-0 lead but couldn’t hold it as the Danes courageously fought back to level it at 3-3.  Highlights of the whole game here with some sweet Danish announcing.  The incident occurs at the 5min mark. 

Hate this sort of thing.  Went to 2 Danish games at Euro 2004 and thought their fans were excellent.  Friendly, passionate, just some good Viking people.  Just shows what 1 idiot can do (although a couple of more fans made it onto the pitch as well).  Maybe this guy had a few too many Carlsbergs in him but still no excuse.  He’ll probably be banned from football matches for a long time. 

As for the Danish team, it is not official yet, but 99% likely they’ll be awarded a 3-0 forfeit lose.  The referree has the right to abandon any game due to crowd violence and it certainly applies in this case.  Credit to the Danish players for helping control the situation but the damage was done.  Denmark faces some long odds on qualify for Austria-Switzerland ’08 now, as they are a distant fourth in Group F behind Sweden, Spain and the surprising Northern Ireland (only top 2 teams in each group qualify). 

Another sidebar is the fate of Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen whose stomach-punch ignited this sordid affair.  An ashamed Poulsen apologized post-match, but is certain to face a nice suspension after his Zidane-like meltdown.  This could have major ramifications for his club team, Sevilla, who are still chasing a treble this season.  The UEFA Cup Champs are in 3rd-place in La Liga with 2 games left and face Getafe in the Copa del Rey Final on June 23rd.  Poulsen is an integral part of this team and if he’s suspended for these games it could adversely affect Sevilla’s dream season.  But the UEFA court of justice moves awfully slow, so maybe his suspension will start next season.   

Quickies

In the other fixtures, all the big powers, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal won.  In a mild upset, Bosnia-Herzegovinia beat Turkey 3-2 keeping things very tight at the top of Group C.  And mighty Albania triumphed over the giants from Luxembourg 2-0. 

TTL offers condolences to Cubs manager Lou Pinella.  Poor Lou had no idea what he was getting involved with when he joined the Cubs.  Will be a full posting on this topic tomorrow. 

Enjoy the games you play and watch.   

Euro 2008 Roundup and Best of Sports

March 30, 2007

Lost a post yesterday, so here is a quick recap of Euro 2008 qualifiers from Wednesday.  Northern Ireland shocked Sweden 2-1 behind goal-scoring phenom David Healy to propel N. Ireland to the top of Group F.  Healy has scored 9 goals in 6 qualifying games including a hat trick in the victory over Spain.  N. Ireland has qualified for 3 World Cups but never for a European Championship.  They will have to continue to punch above their weight to beat out Sweden and Spain but what a glorious week for the oft-troubled country. 

England beat the part-timers from Andorra 3-0 behind two 2nd half goals from Steven Gerrard.  English manager Steve McClaren was unmercifully taunted by the 12,000 “fans” who traveled to Barcelona to hurl abuse at the underwhelming English side.   Only the English can enjoy chanting phrases like “You’re a wanker” at the top of their lungs.  To all those “supporters,” TTL simply replies Pot. Kettle. Black. 

Keeping with the British theme, Wales beat San Marino (tiny republic in Italy) 3-0 to give their qualifying campaign a faint pulse.  Scotland fell 2-0 in Italy as Luca Toni netted 2 goals for the fired-up Italians.  Scotland is in 2nd place in Group B, but the heavy breathing behind them belongs to France and Italy.  The Scots have given themselves a chance at qualification with some impressive performances but they probably don’t have enough to emerge from this tough group.   

Congrats to Azerbaijan who achieved their first competitive victory in 4 years with a 1-0 over Finland.  And the party will continue well into the weekend in tiny Liechtenstein as they defeated Latvia 1-0 with Mario Frick providing the winner.  It was only the 2nd win in UEFA European Championship football for the tiny country who just survived an invasion by those “neutral” Swiss.  All hail Liechtenstein. 

Here are the tables at roughly the halfway point.  And just for fun here are TTL’s predictions. 

Group A:  Poland & Portugal  Sorry to Serbia who’ll finish agonizily close 3rd.

Group B:  France & Italy        Sorry to the Scots who’ll fight to the finish.

Group C:  Turkey & Greece     Sorry to Norway.  Just doesn’t have enough quality overall.

Group D:  Germany & Czech Republic   Sorry to Ireland but did lose 5-2 to Cyprus

Group E:  Croatia & Russia       Sorry (but not really) to England

Group F:  Sweden & Spain       Sorry to upstart N. Ireland

Group G:  Netherlands & Romania (sleeper TEAM)   Sorry to Bulgaria

Have to check back on those predictions after the next round of qualifiers which take place during the 1st week of June.  

Now to start a new Friday feature with the Best of Sports.   These are clips or stories or comments or anything that highlight what is great about sports.  The first in this series comes from the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.  The catch is great in itself, but the commentary is priceless.  Enjoy. 

Euro 2008 Qualifying

March 28, 2007

After enduring a crisis of confidence, TTL is back.  Commenting on the NCAA felt unauthentic, having watched so little college hoops this year.   So, let’s get back to more familiar territory. 

This week brings a halt to the European domestic leagues as Euro 2008 qualifying takes place.  This is not the “Euro Cup” as ESPN incorrectly coined it but the European Championships.  Fourteen nations qualify for next June’s tournament co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria (tickets on sale now at www.uefa.com ; but since qualifying doesn’t end until November it is basically just picking dates and sites). 

Europe is divided into 7 groups with the winners and runner-ups advancing to join the hosts (Austria and Switzerland) in the tourney.  As standard format, each country plays home & away (12 games) against the other countries in their group.  Currently the tables look like this.

Tonight brings a bevy of games but not every team is in action.  The most meaningful game is surprise Group B leaders Scotland traveling to 3rd place Italy.  If the Scots can manage a tie, they’ll be thrilled.  They won’t as an inspired Italy should dispose of the Bravehearts.  TTL is unabashedly rooting for the Scots though, as they are the greatest fans in the world even if no one can understand what they’re saying. 

England travel to Barcelona in full crisis mode to take on the semi-pros of Andorra.  England manager Steve “I’m the right man for the job because the bloody bastards at the FA had to hire an Englishman” McClaren is being shredded by the press for his side’s lackluster play.  Those wacky English have gone 3 games without scoring (come back soon Michael Owen) and still have two tricky games against Russia to play.  Blowing out Andorra tonight should calm the waters for a bit, but even a 4-0 win will have the critics spewing.  Remember to check the jolly old British Press on the ‘morrow while enjoying a spot of tea. 

Turkey is currently playing some excellent football as they destroyed their heated rival (and defending European Champion) Greece 4-1 on the weekend.  Turkey hosts Norway tonight in Germany, as the Turks are serving a ban on home games due to fan violence.  Be a contrast in styles, as the Norwegians like to serve up a lot of crosses and long balls to their taller forwards while Turkey prefers to play a controlled passing game.  This one has draw written all over it. 

Another semi-interesting match-up is 2004 runners-up Portugal traveling to Serbia.  Ronaldo was injured in training yesterday and might not play.  Serbia is very tough at home and both teams need at least a point from this game.  Serbia will probably look to defend at all costs and hope to score on the counter while Portugal should be the more offensive-minded team. 

As it is only the halfway point of qualifying, no team looks safe.  Traditional powers Italy and Spain got off to slow starts and now have no real room for error.  Surprise teams Scotland, Northern Ireland and Finland will hopefully keep up the solid play.  Tonight’s games just might ask more questions than answer.  

Back tomorrow with a round-up of the qualifying action.