Monday, June 9, 2008

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Italy v. Netherlands

Aren't you supposed to incur casualties during the battle.

Arjen Robben is out. Robin van Persie is out. Mario Melchiot might be out (but given his quality in the Prem this season that might be a blessing in sheeps clothing). Babel was left off the squad from injury (someone correct me if that's wrong but I don't see him listed anywhere).

For the Italians Fabio Cannavaro is out and Christian Panucci is iffy.

"Group of Death" might actually be a good nomer as it's claiming victims before play even has even gotten underway (Cf: Henry -France)

The Dutch have good scoring threats across the pitch (and on the bench, doh!), but have a suspect back line, so expect Van der Sar to see some pressure. The Italians, well, if anyone can engineer a result, history says its the Italians—and the Dutch haven't beaten the Italians in 30 years—but someone else says history is bunk. So we're going to play the game at let the players and fates decide the outcome.

Clear any lingering blood in your eyes from the early match and follow along. And if you're looking for some pre-game entertainment maybe make a guess at the number of NBA Finals mentions that the 4-letter forces upon us. I'm putting the O/U at 4.

Line-ups, livelbloggery, and general chicanery (that's the General's helmet up there) after the jump.

Probable Italian Line-up (Donadoni not releasing it early)

De Rossi
Di Natale
(But wouldn't be surprised to see Del Piero start)

The Dutch

Van der Sar
Van Bronkhorst
De Zeeuw
Van der Vaart
Van Nistelrooy

Caveat: I'm going to fuck up some of these names royally during the liveblog. But as long as ESPN keeps the bar low in terms of pronouncing them, I'm sure all you good readers will give lots of latitude in my etude

And we're off (early)

T-minus 30: Julie Foudy wants to emphasize that she knows the name of Zinedine Zidane by saying it twice. He's retired. Shut up and get off my TV.

T-minus 25: Full disclosure, I'm half Italian. I do love the Dutch though. Not necessarily the team, but the people. Any country that doesn't want you smoking cigarettes but is cool with smoking dope and produced Dennis Bergkamp is okay in my book. But I'm partial to the Azzurri. Can't help it, it's in my genes. But Dutch women are also welcome into my jeans and I'm happy to reconsider my position.

T-minus 15: Foudy just said the Italians would refer to themselves as children as "wee lads." She knows less about geography than Ms. South Carolina. At least Smyth jumped on her for it.

T-minus 14: Just a reminder, Donadoni played in MLS. I still think that bodes poorly for the Italians somehow.

T-minus 12. I think I might kill, quite literally, to have Robin van Persie's left foot. Of course it would have to be attached to my body, and still function, and have the same skill. Maybe it's not the foot, but just the motor neurons that control it. Shit this game needs to start or I'm going to say more stupid crap.

T-minus 7: Our first pimping of the NBA Finals by the 4-letter. I'd say nobody beats a horse (dead or alive) like the Mouse, but they are still minor league compared to GloboChem/Murdoch.

T-minus 5: If you happen to be religious, maybe take a final pregame moment to appeal to your deity of choice that the Dutch score first. If that happens we might get a match that opens up, and see some top flight futbol. If the Italians score first, that same deity help us all.

T-minus 2: Speaking of Fox, I'm trying to think of something that would be worse than Joe Buck doing soccer. I'm not sure if I'm suffering a failure of imagination, or that's really the most awful thing possible to imagine.

T-minus 1: Sweet, ESPN is going to keep us updated with Arena League scores. Man, was worried there for a second.

T-minus (-1): I think I'm going to agree with Tommy Smyth and I see every team in Group C with a point after today. Only I see a 2-2 draw in the late game.

T-minus (-5): Crowd shots... Really, the Dutch are the world's best fans. I was in Atlanta for the Grand Finals of the Olympic rowing events and when the Dutch men won the 8, the fans started jumping out of the stands and swimming out to the boat to celebrate with the athletes. This was a day or two after the park bombing so security was going nuts. Some guy stood up and yelled something like, "What's your worry? We're Dutch. We're no threat." Good people I tell you.

T-minus (-10): Tip of the hat to Mike Gregor for the updated line-ups from the BBC. No Kuyt for the Dutch. Smart move by Marco. I am an idiot.

T-minus (-11) Anthems... I fucking love watching Gattuso sing the Italian national anthem. Camoranesi still doesn't know the words, fucking Argie punk. Gonna wear the Azzurri, learn the words.

Moments from kick: The ref is the guy that did the UEFA Cup final. I have no recollection of the head official from that match, which is usually a good sign.

Kick: And we are off...

2nd minute: May God rain down burning sulfur on both your countries if you repeat what we saw this morning. Both teams look similarly tentative. An strange bounce almost gives Van Nistelrooy a chance right in front of Buffon. But it's handled. Okay, it's all of 2 minutes. I won't jump to conclusions, but I don't think anyone wants to go home empty handed from Day 1 of this group.

3rd minute; Nice break and cross from Di Natale but couldn't find anyone on the opposite end. Good chance from the Italians but for not.

6th minute: Feed from Gattuso goes through to the touch line despite a chase from Luca Toni. Rae talking about how old the Italians are. Everyone on the side save for Ambrosini is over 30.

8th minute: Anyone got a good doppelganger for Van Nistelrooy? Sure enough... there's Kuyt's first touch and he falls down trying to control the ball with nobody on him. Cracking stuff from the Liverpudlian.

9th minute: This is like an NFL game with the Dutch gaining field position from fouls. Have one from about 25 yards out. Sneijder (sp?) hits the wall. Might have been his own player. Hot tip: If you are looking for a good half time activity, go Google image search for Van der Vaart's girlfriend.

13th minute: Toni blows a header in the box. Not the easiest of re-direct but he probably should have made Van der Sar work. Ooohh... we getting a card? Van Bronkhorst? Nope. Just a talking to. Bit of a rough challenge was let go there. Evens up for the Gattuso talking to instead of a card.

15th minute: And now we are getting some unexciting midfield possession followed by some non-threatening long range shots. This time it's the Dutch's turn. And yes, I was looking for a non-equine separated at birth for Ruud (he can't fail, you know).

17th minute: Boulahrouz sounds like a type of wine.

18th minute: Great chance for the Dutch. Van Nistelrooy was through on a feed from Kuyt. He had Buffon off his line and beat, bug Gigi go just a touch of probably both ball and man and forced him to the touch line and gave himself enough time to recover. Sloppy defending by the Italians giving the Dutch another chance. Sneijder sails one over the crossbar.

21st minute: Not much between the two but the Dutch look the slightly better side if only because they aren't giving away possession in the midfield. You'd think that wouldn't be a problem for the Milanese midfield seeing how they play together all year, but as Pirlo is picking up more possession he looks the only one confident on the ball for the Italians so far.

23rd minute: Ambrosini fouled pretty clearly. Pirlo lines it up from about 40 yards. To the far post but just a bit high for Luca Toni.

24th: Should have been an OG from Materazzi, but if he doesn't touch it Van Nistelrooy scored. So that's about the luckiest thing I've seen today. Just got a text from my friend in Cali: "The announcer sounds like Dave Clifton from 'I'm Alan Partidge.'" Tru dat.

RUUUUUUUUD! Looked offside but, nope. It stands. Dutch 1-0.

26th minute: Awful, awful job. Van Nistelrooy was a good 3 feet beyond the last defender.

27th minute: Have I mentioned how awful that non-call was (or wasn't I guess)? Well, game on. That should open things up, but in situations like this I firmly believe someone from FIFA should kick the head official in the nuts during halftime. And I'd say that even if the Italians had been the beneficiaries. You can't be that bad at this level.

31st minute: Corner, Italy. The Fan's Attic: Have you seen the Dutch jersies from '88. Makes these look couture. Corner flicked on, cleared and now a counter. And what a fucking awesome goal. 2-0 Dutch.

Van Bronkhorst to Kuyt to Sneijder, who tucked it right inside the near post to beat Buffon. Fuck that was nice. Italy is in serious trouble.

33rd minute: Italy comes back with some pressure and a shot from Di Natale. Van der Sar with the save and a lucky deflection away off his own player. Italy is kind of in trouble here. Even with Toni being a scoring machine in the Bundesliga, the Azzurri are not put together to engineer goals by the bucketload.

35th minute: Dive by Kuyt. Have to take back some of my slagging him as he made a sensational touch to control then feed [correction, it was a straight header] to Sneijder for the second goal. Really, get thee to some highlights tonight. Probably already up on YouTube.

37th minute: Well on the plus side for Italy, the other two teams looked like shit, so they could still get through on 6 points easily. Cannavaro had such a shit season in Spain that I didn't think they'd miss him this much, but the Italians don't look too comfortable in the back. Being screwed on that first offsides non-call didn't help but really, the Dutch look better on the back line.

41st minute: Awful giveaway form Kuyt but Camoranesi makes a terrible play into the box to nobody. Well I'm guessing he meant to feed Toni, but it was nowhere near him. Not even within a postal code. And we have our second mention of the NBA Finals. Fuck off, ESPN.

43rd minute: The Italians' spacing is terrible. And Buffon saves Italy on another good feed from Van der Vaart to RvN. Pretty sure Van Nistelrooy was offsides AGAIN there.

44th minute: I expect to see Del Piero out to start the second half. Toni isn't creative enough. He's looking for balls that aren't coming in. Di Natale with a nice right footed blast from the edge of the box that sails just a bit over the crossbar.

Half: Pretty-but-not-totally shocking score line. First goal shouldn't have counted. Second was a thing of absolute beauty. Italy had some half chances but couldn't make the additional pass or couldn't get to a cross. Again, expect to see some changes in the Italian's after half.

Well, I'm still on track for my 2-2 prediction, but let's just say I'm glad I'm not in Vegas. Unfortunately, ESPN didn't can Foudy during the first half. She's not even Emmit Smith entertaining awful.

Second Half

And we are off... And I'm an idiot as Italy comes out with no changes.

47th minute: Italy are gifted a corner. Should have been a goal kick. Doesn't make up for the offsides call. Wonder if the refs see the replays at half. Weak effort on the corner and it's a GK for Van der Sar.

48th minute: Van Nistelrooy works deep toward the touchline and does a nice job to get a good cross that forces Buffon to came make a save. The Dutch will kinds of space on the counter. And a blatant foul on Ruud by Materazzi. Maybe the ref does know about his error and has a small armada of make up calls he's going to cast.

50th minute: I think that's the first ball Gattuso has won all day. Then the Italians give it right back in the midfield. Oof.

52nd minute: Kuyt gets away with a push. Dutch corner. Gets clear across the box and shoulda been a better effort by Van Der Vaart maybe.

54th minute: Zambrotta almost single-handedly gets Italy back into the match. Nice cut back from the backline then he whips one toward the far post. Couldn't get enough curl on it as Van der Saar was sitting flat footed. Sneijder takes an elbow and writhes. Fabio Grosso on Marco Materazzi off. "Hi, Donadoni, you need goals. Sure, shaking up the backline might solidify the defense, but you can't win (or level) if you don't score."

56th minute: Some really good possession by the Italians in the Dutch third. Nothing is coming from it, but it looks nicer.

58th minute: Okay, I'lll just come out and say it, I really want to see Del Piero. I think scoring goals in Serie A counts for more than scoring buckets in the Bundesliga. Yellow card for Nigel De Jong. Ambrosini faked a mugging.

59th minutes: A couple of dangerous touched by the Italians in the Dutch box, but they can't even get a shot on goal. The Dutch aren't even packing it in. and Italy is still having problems. Long ball to Toni. Nice touch to bring it down, but I could have stopped that feeble shot.

61st minute: And we have our 3rd NBA Finals ref. And the clumsiest at that. "Toni could play in the NBA and be sure to watch the finals where LA..." In other news Buckwheat has been shot.

63rd minute: And Alessandro is up on the sidelines. Set piece for Italy. Pirlo from way out, puts it right on goal but curls it to far to hit the near post, but on replay... Wow! What a shot. He had Van der Sar dead to rights but it was just off target.

65th minute: All we ask for is consistency. If Ruud was onside, certainly Del Piero was onside there. I thought a 2 goal lead was the toughest lead to defend. Zero points and a -2 GD, the Italians are going to be on bottom of the Group of Death and make Domenech look like a genius in the process.

69th minute: Van der Vaart fouled and the Dutch will have a potentially dangerous free kick here. Shot sails high and wide.

70th minute: Del Piero. Great touch and he takes a shot from right inside the box. Puts it just wide. And the supposedly injured Robin Van Persie comes on. Really, couldn't be healthy for my Gunners, but you're okay to torch my countrymen? Fucker. I'm not at all happy with you and your little white trashy spiked do.

72nd minunte: The Netherlands are doing a great job of stifling the Italians. Even when they get good possession they are not getting great shots. And they are disrupting them enough to where they aren't getting much good possession.

74th minute: Can I change my prediction? If there's another goal in this match, it's not coming from the Italians.

75th minute: Well, that levels things up but it's a bit too late. Not on goals but on blatantly awful offsides calls. Van Persie would have been through with about 1/4 of the field and just Buffon to beat. But... the flag went up.

76th minute: Luca Toni. EPIC FAIL!... Really nice service to get him through all alone but he skies one over Van Der Sar into the troposphere instead of shooting it into goal.

78th minute: And Van Der Sar robs Grosso. There is a sitter for the rebound but there is nobody there. Tense seconds for the Dutch but they clear the ball and Italy is still screwed. Waste of maybe one of the better chances, probably the best.

79th minute: Now a great save from... ugh. Okay... tons of shit to catch up on. It's 3-0.

From a free kick, Van Der Sar made an unreal save on Pirlo's shot. The Dutch counter and Buffon makes a fantastic save on Kuyt maybe but the rebound goes wide and Kuyt picks it up to feed it into the box and on Van Bronkhorst's head. He knocks it down past Buffon. It actually was in off the last Italian defender (couldn't see who it was... waiting for a replay) but it was headed in anyway. This is pretty much a disaster for Italy. Again, if there is any silver lining it's that the other two teams who played earlier looked like they are waiting to be beaten.

82nd minute: Should have been 4-0. Screamer from the Dutch just over the bar. Backing up, Pirlo's kick looked like it was going in. Would have been 2-1 with time left. Great save from Van Der Sar. The Dutch put on a masterful counter and it's 3-0. It's kind of shocking. Nothing flukey about it either.

85th minute: Corner, Italy. I might be jumping on the Dutch bandwagon. If van Persie is healthy, they could net 3 every game. Again, for the Italians, six points will get you through. So as bad as of a disaster as this has been today, you do get 2 more games. I'm really reaching aren't I?

87th minute: Hey they called Ruud for being offsides. Day. Dollar.

88th minute: EPSN just giving the explanation on the defender beyond the touchline being considered active. Think AG is right in saying the challenge took him off the pitch. Still a bad call. But that's the last I'll speak of it. That is a lie.

89th minute: Van Persie almost makes it 4-0. Stay fucking healthy you putz. Really with that kind of talent on the ball and in the box...

90th minute: I think I'm going meta as the quality of my liveblogging is mimicking the quality of the Italians' play. Buffon comes out to make a clearance outside the box with RvP streaking down the side.

92nd minute: Pirlo seems to be the only thinking that GD might become a factor. The rest of the team looks like they are wondering if they can catch a train to Basel. Didn't see how much stoppage is left. In the dying moments Ambrosini pushes what should have been the first Italian goal wide. Think there is a sheath of Saran Wrap on the goal mouth.

Full time. Mercy if you are Italy. Jubilation if you are Dutch. They just bitchslapped the Italians. No other way to put it.

After three days, every loser failed to even score.

Thanks for playing along, folks. We'll be here all week. Seriously. We are planning on liveblogging every game (or at least get a thread open). Come back at the days' end for the 'Euro Trash' recaps.

Spain v. Russia gets thinks started tomorrow. El NiƱo's first Euro.


Lingering Bursitis said...

Babel is out due to injury. Mark it.

PS. I'm jealous that you'll get a much better game than I got this morning :(

Mike Georger said...

babelfish was replaced by boularhouz (sp, blow me)

Precious Roy said...

Mike, everyone gets spelling amnesty in this post.

Mike Georger said...

De Zeeuw

ashamed to admit i havent heard of those three
which i would assume means they play in holland and are defenders

and as their arent heitenga my next assumption is they suck

Goat said...

Mike, are you from Shittsburgh (that's not a spelling error)?

Mike Georger said...

nah, i live in state college pa

Goat said...

That might be even worse. At least Pittsburgh has Permanti (sp.?) Bros.

Keith said...

Dammit, Marco, why are you not starting Bouma?

Mike Georger said...

so much better than a guinea slapping some flank steak on a bun with cheese and onions

by the detest for western and central pa, i would venture you may be from philly?

Goat said...

No, Youngstown, Ohio but a Cleveland sports fan.

Mike Georger said...

ah yes the ysu penguins, i know them well from IAA football

Mike Georger said...

id say any of the espn MNF guys doing it would be worse

Goat said...

I would have thought our high crime rate was more well known but whatever. I also forgot to mention Pittsburgh's pierogis. Damn, I could go for some pierogis.

Mike Georger said...

fwiw the BBC is reporting this as the dutch lineup

Netherlands: Van der Sar; Ooijer, Boulahrouz, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst; De Jong, Engelaar; Kuyt, Van der Vaart, Sneijder; Van Nistelrooy.

Mike Georger said...

and the eyeties

Italy: Buffon; Panucci, Barzagli, Materazzi, Zambrotta; Ambrosini, Pirlo, Gattuso; Camoranesi, Toni, Di Natale.

Mike Georger said...

well if what i posted is correct its no huntelaar and chock full o kuyt

Goat said...

ESPN's gamecast reports that both Robben and Van Persie are available. I thought they were both ruled out.

Mike Georger said...

i was under the assumption that your subs consisted of everyone you brought to the tourney, maybe thats why?

Goat said...

I see. At any rate, I'd keep RVP back at the hotel lest strain something while walking down the tunnel.

Ian said...

That's why Snjeider lets you take the free kick in that Nike commercial.

Goat said...

PR, do you mean aside from the obvious Big Brown?

Mike Georger said...

to be fair milan played like shit for most of the year

Andrew said...

bad decision? ummm . . . si? or was there an italian player lagging?

The Fan's Attic said...

does the italian beyond the touchline count? if so, not offside.

The Fan's Attic said...

is it just me or do the teams/jerseys look like they are from the 80s? i just turned on my feed and i thought i was watching a classic match from 1982.

Mike Georger said...


Andrew said...

at least tWWL is showing a replay of the goal.


fuck it, the Italians need a bad decision. it get's their irrational latin emotion going. they'll hit bac.

Andrew said...


what an amazing goal.

The Fan's Attic said...

that was the best goal of the tourney so far. podolski's second was nice but it was off of a flubbed kick. this was some nice buildup.

The Fan's Attic said...

oh, and the light blue socks...awesome.

i actually really like the dutch jerseys, but maybe that's just the sexy soccer influencing me right now.

Andrew said...

so was there in fact an italian in front of RvN? was he/his nose offside?

Andrew said...

gotta agree with Andy Gray: RvN shoulda placed that

The Fan's Attic said...

so, the offside rule says the player cannot be nearer the goal-line than the second last opponent without being in an offside position. all examples i have seen show players within the touchlines of the field.

i don't know how the rule interprets a player beyond the goal line.

if my eyes didn't deceive me, there was an italian lying just beyond the endline on Ruud's goal. So, theoretically, it could be interpreted that the italian player beyond the endline was still nearer the goal line than Ruud as well as the keeper.

i don't know...any other thoughts?

Precious Roy said...

Players past the touch line don't count. I remember this debate from a CL game... I think it was a Liverpool v. Arsenal tilt maybe.

Goat said...

That seems somewhat problematic as, theoretically, you could put all 10 men behind the touch line after getting a lead and kill the game.

Andrew said...

He was offside. Bad none call.

Either way, the Dutch do deserve to be on top.

Andrew said...

Healy: "Dutch masterpiece" or an "Italian renaissance" this half.

Yeah, it's corny, but at least these guys seem like they have a range of knowledge that extends beyond the pitch. They're so much more sophisticated. But, then again, I'm using John Madden as a baseline.

Goat said...

Here's a commenter from Soccer by Ives on that first goal:

The Italian player who fell across the endline kept van Nistelrooy onside. From Advice to Referees 11.11:

"A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee's permission (and who thus requires the referee's permission to return) is not included in determining offside position."

The Fan's Attic said...

@goat: if true, i am going to add an "L" to your nom de plum and make it a gerund to describe this comment.

Precious Roy said...

What does "immediately return" mean. The Italian defender was knocked hard and even if he scrambled would not have gotten back on to the field to defend.

Is there any referees discretion there?

Mike Georger said...

via the bbc

"This Italy team is the oldest in the history of the European Championship - at an average age of 31 years and 52 days. And that was without injured captain Fabio Cannavaro, 34"


The Fan's Attic said...

i think by asking what "immediately returns" means, you know the answer to whether there is any discretion.

Andrew said...

@ goat

The devil is in the details, yeah?

Now, will ESPN pick up on this?

Andrew said...

@ mike georger
Your comment about age is increasingly relevant.

The Dutch counter has been brilliant.

Ian said...

This is a Jenna Jameson level gag job from the Italians.

Goat said...

Fan's Attic: Golat?

Goat said...

Dear baby Jeebus,
Please keep Robin Van Persie healthy.

The Fan's Attic said...

@goat: Golating.

Joep Smeets said...

there's people driving around outside honking their carhorns..we're still stunned ourselves in here. 3-0. We sort of didn't expect this but we'll gladly take it.

Precious Roy said...

Joep: That is awesome. I would totally go enjoy that, which I imagine isn't hard to do in the Netherlands.

The Fan's Attic said...

@joep: do you have any pics we could post? do you want to do a guest post recapping the game from the Dutch perspective? hit us up at to discuss this.