Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Spain v. Russia

A haiku to kick off our Day 4 coverage:

Fernando Torres
Where do our man crushes bulge?
The back of the net

Yeah, that's no Basho Matsuo but he didn't have to write in English.

Anyway, probably no player gets more love around UF than Fernando Torres. The Scousers adore him for obvious reasons as, without him, Liverpool would have been lucky to stay out of the UEFA Cup logjam (hey, that's almost our first Carl Hungus reference ever).

But even the Gunner contingency has respect for the striker that borders on reverence. If we thought about it, we might be bitter seeing how Wenger got outbid for his services, but we try not to do too much thinking around these parts. It only gets in the way of our enjoyment of the beautiful game.

So, yeah, Torres is the man most eyes will be on today. Even the Cesc addicts will have little choice but to watch how well El Niño—maybe it's time to start calling him "El Hombre" as he'll earn his 50th cap today—works with Villa, seeing how Aragones has announced that Fabregas will start the Euro campaign with his ass on the pine.

I don't pretend to know how to coach, but if I were Aragones, I'd have Fabregas on the pitch and Arteta at least on the squad.

Guus Hiddink, on the other hand, I would never question. And he wouldn't understand me anyway because I don't speak Dutch. He's taken South Korea and Australia to the knockout stages of the World Cup, and now he's taken Russia where Second-choice Steve failed to take England. But about all you need to know of Russia is that all most anybody knows is their coach.

The entirety of the team plays domestically except for midfielder Ivan Saenko (FC Nuremberg). Okay, I'm not even sure where to find a cable outlet carrying the Russian Premier League; and, after the EPL (suck it, Barclay's), Serie A, La Liga, and trying to convince my girlfriend that I don't watch that much soccer, I"m not sure where I'd even find the time.

Anyway, the core of the team is fairly young with only two players in their 30s (Sergei Semak, 32 and Igor Semshov, 30) and eight that are 24 or younger. So, little surprise the coach is the most famous person on the payroll of the Football Union of Russia.

Tidbit of the match: Spain has never won a Euro match by more than 1 goal.

Comeback shortly before kick and join us here for line-ups and the liveblog.

T-minus 10: Well, this is going to start badly for everyone. ESPN still putting Foudy on the air. Re: The Adidas commercials, someone in Hollywood should tip 'The Special One' to play the next Bond.

T-minus 5: You can really double a stadium capacity with temporary seating? Ray just said it's gone from 17K to over 30K with temp seats. Also, looks like rain.

T-minus 4: Well, that shot of Guus just looked eerily like my ex Traci. So pretty sure I'll never even attempt to sleep with her again. Thanks, ESPN, sport, and cruel fates.

T-minus 2: Either the Spanish national anthem has no words or not a single player seems to know them. Spain already leading Goup D in hair gel.

Kick: Fuck I"m going to have to spell Pavlyuchenko several times as he is Russia's lone striker. Spain in red moving left to right in case you don't have any video and are following along for the actual match.

2nd minute: Russia working from the back takes an attempt at a long ball. Nobody in white is even in the pitcure when it lands.

3rd minute: Clumsy defending from a restart puts a ball in the box and Ramos almost gives up a corner. Foul Spain. Great service on the free kick. Couldn't tell if Casillas got a hand on it, but was that ever potentially dangerous.

5th minute: Now free Kick for Spain from the left side of the box about 25 out. In and cleared harmlessly.

6th minute: Russia wins the ball after some midfield possession by Spain and pushes quickly. Pavlyuchenko almost gives it up but gets a throw in... Now Russia gives it up. Long ball rolls harmlessly to Russian keeper.

7th minute: Not much space or pace yet to the game. Russia is more than willing to go forward. A redirect from a ball to the edge of the box rolls to Casillas who calmly collects.

8th minute: Torres gets his first look. Cuts back to the top of the box to get some space, but not enough on the shot and it rolls wide of the near post. Villa with a quick chance. Close to offsides but he gets in with 2 defenders on him and couldn't get anything of quality off.

10th minute: England really couldn't 'out-qualify' this team? Seriously? I mean it's only 10 minutes, but they have no linkage from the midfield to their striker.

11th minute: Counter from Russia Pavlyuchenko makes a cross and Russia controls the rebound, but the feed wide back to Pavlyuchenko is offsides. I'm calling this one 3-1 for Spain.

12th minute: Villa taken down. No call. Russia counters. And blandly kick the ball back and forth reversing field without threatening. That's already about the 4th long service into the box by Russia with nobody near it when it landed.

15th minute: Wish there something to write about. Silva with a long shot right to the keeper. Didn't trouble him in the least bit.

16th minute: Anyukov would have been through as the Spanish defender fell down, but the through ball was behind him and it's a goal kick for Spain. Russia with a little bit better build up here. And there's the ball they couldn't make last time. The second one back into the box finds Semshov but he should have done more with that.

17th minute: And Russia attacking again. Suddenly they look the better side. Ball cleared.

18th minute: Ramos with a long service into the box that it poorly cleared to Villa who gets a decent shot off. Corner to Spain.

20th minute: 1-0 Spain. Torres on a long ball. He controls it then cuts inside and feeds it back to Villa. Nice... if a bit unlucky for Russia.

Really thought Torres would take that and he played it long back to Villa that almost allowed two Russian defenders back into the picture, but the keeper was out, the net was empty, and the goal was pretty much a done deal once Villa found the ball.

23rd minute: And off the post for Russia. Holy moley did that ball just roll forever all the way across the Spanish box with nobody clearing it. Then on a quick counter for Spain, Torres gets in deep and might have been fouled by the keeper. End to end with nothing for either team to show.

24th minute: Another blast for Torres. Hey, Russia, he's good. Might want to mark him better. Good stop from the Russian keeper Akinfeyev.

25th minute: Russia takes it to the edge of the box and fires one low right at Casillas. We've got open skies and open play. Eh... I'll try to do better than that.

27th minute: Almost another good overlapping run down the left side for Spain, but it's cleared by Russia. Spain reverses field, the reverses field... Holds it. Holds it. Holds it. Holds it... Iniesta with a great feed to Villa who takes it just outside the 6 and blasts one from no angle. Parry save. Corner for Spain.

29th minute: Villa robbed of a steal near the box. Whistled for dangerous play but should have been a 1-on-1. Now Russia gets wide and takes advantage of Ramos' wanting to go forward. But the cross is knocked out for a Russian corner. Ball curlved low and to the near post then cleared.

31st minute: More clumsy whoring of the NBA Finals. Fuck off ESPN. We know okay...

32nd minute: Torres with a weak shot from outside the box right at Akinfeyev. The teams exchange possession at midfield. Sloppy giveaway by Spain and even worse defense on the attempted clearance—Really, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted Chemistry?—but Russia can't capitalize.

35th minute: Long spell of possession by Russia but they are moving in the wrong direction. Goal is the other way fellas.

36th minute: Well if the trend is any indicator, Russia might as well pack it in. Losers don't score in the Euro 08. Spain has scored, ergo they aren't losing.

38th minute: Russia is really pressuring the Spanish midfield possession but Spain isn't giveing anything away. Torres collects a long ball at the touch line and cuts it back. Nice move. Good feed. Bad shot. Corner, Spain.

39th minute: The corner falls in the box but two Spanish players run into each other trying to get to the ball. On the counter Pavlyuchenko is ahead of the pass and mis-times the run. Offsides. Bummer would have been alone in on Casillas.

41st minute: Spain, well Torres and Villa, are doing a good job of getting on the end of long balls. Russia probably doesn't want to push too far forward just yet.

42nd minute: Counter from Russia gets them a free kick from about 25 out. Eh.. ref could have let that one go. Hey, ESPN, that overhead shot is cool and all, but you really can't see shit when play is going on that way. Anyway, from the free kick, Russia hit the crossbar on the rebound, but there had been a a whistle.

44th minute: Russia with 3 1-touch passes gets them a nice shot. Cleared for a corner. Russia takes it short. Spain clears and counters... Ah fucking nice. 2-0 Spain.

Iniesta with a sweet feed to Villa who is JUST onsides, then he just has to touch it past the keeper and he squeezes it right under Akinfeyev's legs. Really nice play from Spain there.


Uhm.. Julie. The reason Villa and Torres didn't hook up this way against the US is because they weren't playing together. Mmmkay?

Really, the only thing I can think of to watch for in the second half are A) More Spanish goals and B) See if a loser scores. Spain has been the better side but not by a wide margin. Russia has threatened and Spain has made a couple of blunders at the back.

Second Half

And we are off. Russian in white moving left to right.

46th minute: You think Ramos and Torres go to bars and try to convince girls that they are brothers?

48th minute: Russia works it deep along the left side. Throw in. Followed by a swap and reswap of possession then a foul on Villa.

49th minute: This is going to start to look like yesterday's afternoon match with Russia pressing and Spain countering, isn't it?

50th minute: I totally appreciate the commenters playing along, but I don't see Liverpool anywhere out on the pitch. Am I missing something? Free kick for Russia from a dangerous spot on the left. Ball crosses in and is headed out by Spain.

52st minute: And Russia comes right back with a cross from deep. Now another bad is redirected by a header as it comes in the box, but there is nothing on it and it goes right into Casillas' arms. I really did type "52st." Moron.

53rd minute: Nice little touch ball into the box lofted over the Spanish defense but too much weight for anyone to run on to for Russia. Goal kick Spain. Spain is kind of inviting the pressure and the play.... And we have a Cesc citing. I have wood. And it's TORRES off for Fabregas. I really want Charlie Kaufmann to write something called "Being Luis Aragones" because I have no idea how that man thinks.

56th minute: Spain playing keep away. They are looking more to play it back to Caillas than to send it upfield.

57th minute: And you leave yourself open to giveaways like that. Semshov off and Torbinski on.

58th minute: Hey some action... A fast break from Spain. Cesc feeds Villa and it's a low shot right at the keeper. That think was moving but it was poorly placed. A better shot and it's 3-0 and Villa has a sombrero trick.

60th minute: Bilyaletdinov with a long blast that just misses the post. That was an "Eh, why the hell not" shot and it almost found the net. But nope. Form holds, Losers don't score.

62nd minute: Another good chance from Spain is just spoiled off the foot of Silva. I don't think any national side (including hte teams in the match being played) has had as many mentions as club team Arsenal has had while Rae and Smyth are doing the games. Iniesta off. Cazorla on.

63rd minute: You know what might help Russia? Just a sudden and massive bitter cold snap. That always works for Russia. Too bad it's June.

65th minute: Ah man... Can I blatantly pull for Cesc? That ball was left just a little too long and a little too light for Cesc to run on to or it might have been 3-0. Instead Akinfeyev comes out of the box to clear.

67th minute: Villa has his 3rd or 4th shot at the hat trick spoiled by a foot at the last moment. Spain are almost toying with Russia now. Corner Spain. And Senna with a header. Right on target but knocked away. It goes to Silva and his header is cleared. Wow. More great chances from Spain.

69th minute: Villa collects a long ball from Fabregas and feeds it into the box, but a nice tackle from Russia stops the threat.

70th minute: A good ball to Pavlyuchenko right at the edge of the box, he turns but the ball is just touched by Spain as he winds up for a shot. Bystrov off. Adamov on... Strange, wasn't Bystrov just subbed in 10 minutes ago? Guus explain.

72nd minute: Soundtrack in my head has gone from "The Rain in Spain" to "I Could Have Danced All Night." Promise I'm not gay. Pavlyuchenko foiled by Puyol and Casillas. Russia still putting together threats but I believe the term is "quality" that they lack.

73rd minute: Silva with maybe one too many touches at the top of the box before firing. He had a shot, then cut it back for a better look before firing.

74th minute: Spain getting possession at will around the Russian box. And they are almost toying with them. Fabregas is parked on the touch line, but he pushes it across the box and Villa can't get it.

75th minute: And there's the hat trick. 3-0 Spain. Ball from the midfield and he collects it at the edge of the box before cutting it back it and putting it under the goalie at the near post. Looked like more work on the replay but Villa is abusing Russia. Smyth is rightly giving the US the assist for this. They looked like shit with the lone striker against us, so Aragones had to try something.

78th minute: Silva off. Xavi Alonso on. And another Spain counter. Okay, I think Cesc's teammates don't want him to score. He could have walked that one in on a nice feed. Instead Xavi Alonso held up the pass and waited too long.

80th minute: Villa opts to pass it off instead of shooting and might have cost Spain another goal by being unselfish. Plenty of white in the box but looked like he had room to take it himself. Russia with a set piece on the other end. Poorly taken and it doesn't threaten Casillas as it sails over the bar.

81st minute: Okay Pavlyuchenko has a gun for a leg. From long he just can't find the range. So guess he's not Bruce Hornsby. That is the worst joke that anyone will tell this entire competition.

83rd minute: I think Spain want a fourth more than they want a shut out because they are still not packing it in in back. Free kick Russia. And that's the most work Casillas has had to do for about 20 minutes. He actually had to come off his line to punch it out. But Pavlyuchenko really plows into him. Man, those X-Mo cameras are pretty sweet.

85th minute: Russia still working with time on the clock a feed in the box. Corner? Yep. Corner for Russia.

86th minute: And there it is 3-1.

Off the corner it went header and header to Pavlyuchenko on the back post. Casillas had no chance. So we have our first non-goalless loser. Spain shouldn't get careless here. Still a couple of minutes plus stoppage. Spain have a "never won by more than one goal" streak to try to rid themselves of.

89th minute: Spain gives it away at midfield and a bit of an unlucky bounce give it to Spain. And an awful clearance from Ramos. Sloppy stuff. Really if this were a better side, Spain might be sweating out 3-2.

90th minute: And back come Russia. Pavlyuchenko's ball is cleared after he got deep in the box. Corner Russia. And Semak blows it. He was alone inside and has his pick of a corner. But he waited too long and Spain recovered.

91st minute: 4-1... a gift for Fabregas.

Villa fed it in to maybe Xavi who took a shot. Akinfeyev made a nice save but the ball just popped up in the air and a waiting Cesc Fabregas headed it home. Piece o' cake. Attaboy.

93rd minute: Senna with a bit of a dive at the edge of the box. Spain lines up for the free kick with just seconds left on the clock. Villa smacks it. It rolls past the touch line for a corner. But no time to take it.

Final: Spain 4 - Russia 1

Ah, fuck... I almost had it in the 11th minute as I called it 3-1 then. I'm sure none of you will believe me but I seriously toyed with going 4-1, I just didn't think a Hiddink-led side would let in 4. Shit. I'd look like a genius if I weren't such a pussy.

Thanks for playing along, kids. There will at least be an open thread for the late match. There might be a liveblog (still sorting that out).


Lingering Bursitis said...

Cannot wait for this one. Torres running full tilt against chain-smoking, world-weary Soviet defenders?

The mouth waters in anticipation.

Mike Georger said...

thats why they send me, i am expert

you can imagine what happens next

... he fixed the cable?


cant believe cesc will be riding the pine, really hurts my player of the tournament prediction

and is it to late for pepe to defect to england?

Ian said...

I'm waiting to see how much Roman paid off the ref in this one.

Lingering Bursitis said...

The Torres/Villa connection is amazing, much like the Gerrard/Barry one, both at the national level. If we ink on Barry soon, hopefully we could take Villa too?

/good things come in twos and threes
/noah's ark reference?

Mike Georger said...

torres = villa
barry = masche = babel

dossena - carra - agger - deggen

ill take it!

Mike Georger said...

Spain: Casillas; Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila; Senna; Iniesta, Xavi, Silva; Villa, Torres.
Russia: Akinfeyev; Anyukov, Kolodin, Shirokov, Zhirkov; Semak, Zyryanov, Semshov, Bilyaletdinov, Sychev; Pavlyuchenko.

Mike Georger said...

man look at those friggin names, youre telling me they couldnt find one guy named raskolnikov to at least give a bench spot to?

Keith said...

That's alright your scousers- we've got Moustapha Salifou! The Togolese Zidane! We don't need Barry, who's gonna be wasted on the left wing, anyway!!!!

And we're signing the Ginga Ninja, Sidwell!

/serious denial
/But really, Salifou's going to be absolutely nasty!

Lingering Bursitis said...

Barry will not waste on the left wing. His presence alongside Sir Steven of Gerrard in central midfield will provide endless delight for the Kop audience

Keith said...

LB, if I were Rafa, I wouldn't even try it. He was fine there with Villa, but he was much, much better in central mid- I'd probably run a 4-5-1 with Torres as the solo striker, and either Gerrard as the central attacking mid with Gareth and Masch holding, or invert it, and keep Mascherano in front of the back 4 and let Gerrard and Barry do their national team linkup thing in attack. And no, you can't then have Young to be your left wing. He's ours dammit. OURS!!!!!

Ian said...

Oh look, another post about a completely different topic degenerates into Liverpool vs. villa...

Lingering Bursitis said...

Where's Arshavin? So sad... the guy carved up Rangers in the UEFA Cup.

Although, having said that, such a performance is hardly overwhelming evidence in favour of his inclusion.

Mike Georger said...

"Where's Arshavin?"


Keith said...

Sorry, Ian, I had to take LB's bait about inking up Barry soon.

That said, El Nino should be outstanding today. I expect the Spaniards to put up a performance to rival the Oranje's from yesterday.

Lingering Bursitis said...

thx Georger.

Ian: shut your face, you're about to lose another good player. Hush Hush.

Keith: we can have this battle anytime. Barry is for us now. Enjoy Sidwell.
[Yep, continuing to bait]

Mike Georger said...

no words, remember they have a competition this year i think to try and come up with words

or im making that up

Lingering Bursitis said...

There is something in the Spanish anthem about paella

/mild, pathetic racism

ü75 said...

@Mike Georger
Your competion:
(I don't HTML if I don't have to)

ü75 said...

For anthems without words

Keith said...

Seeing as the GN is in pretty much the same spot our boy Gazza was when O'Neill joined up, I rather think we will enjoy Sidwell. But I have a feeling about Salifou.

Mike Georger said...

england couldnt out qualify their own mother on the most qualifying day of the year with an electrified out qualifying machine

also, russia dropped their leading goal scorer, and their best player is suspended

Mike Georger said...

anelka could learn from that
or from a bullet to the head

Bigus Dickus said...

cracking game. By the way Mike. Have not forgotten your t-shirt..we are out. One will wing it's way to you when we replenish our stock.

Mike Georger said...


that is two solid simpsons references thus far, keep up the good work roy.
yeah, hi roy

Ian said...

Arsene, get out your checkbook. I want Villa!

Lingering Bursitis said...

The tabloids have linked Villa to LFC for some time.... now we must make an honest effort to bring him over. Simply superb, the way Torres and Villa link up.

Lingering Bursitis said...


(insert some joke about Villa not being a French teenager)

Mike Georger said...

the obvious advantages are being rafa's valencia connections and torres/reina/alon....arbeloa

Mike Georger said...

advantages are being?

me fail english? thats unpossible

Ian said...

LB - sorry mate. Just got off the phone with the bankers and there is no way in hell Liverpool can afford Villa.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Ian -- just worry about who's going replace Flamini, Hleb, and possibly Adebayor. Plenty of young French for the taking

Mike Georger said...

wow why make that sub

Goat said...

Is it wrong to wish Spain ill as long as Cesc is on the bench?

Mike Georger said...

"Can I blatantly pull for Cesc?"

well i dont see arsenal anywhere on the pitch, so no

The Fan's Attic said...

how about that camraderie between torres and villa?

worth thinking about.

Ian said...

That goal was ridiculous from Villa

hockalees said...

Wow... impressive, your 3-0 scoreline beat Gamecast to the punch. Can't wait to see this on DVR tonight.

Jon said...

Note to Rafa: Buy Villa. Now. Forget Barry. A Torres, Villa, Babel, Kuyt, Gerrard, Mascherano, Degen, Arbeloa, Carra, Agger formation would be just fine. Sell the rest and bring up the kids.

Mike Georger said...

i would like to note that i wouldnt pick torres for the boot as most were because when he plays with villa the latter tends to get the goals

also i picked poland to advance and the dutch not to
... so im an idiot either way

Goat said...

On an unrelated note--PR, do you know anything about Oswaldo Sanchez being arrested in Chicago yesterday?


Mike Georger said...

xavi alonso? you could write for soccernet!

(wouldve let it go if it were just the once)

hockalees said...

A goal by the losing team in a match... huzzah!!!

The Fan's Attic said...

@goat: I believe that story is in the hopper.

Goat said...

You guys have a hopper?

Mike Georger said...

Roman Pavlyuchenko has a .5 a game goal scoring rate for spartak, thats pretty damn good

cesc scored and torres didnt huh ... well by luis' fucked up gorilla math he will go five midfielders one striker next game now

The Fan's Attic said...

right here

Lingering Bursitis said...

Russia still had some moxie despite being overwhelmed on the scoreboard. I still fancy 'em to do well in the Group.

That Russian striker wasn't too bad -- good header, and some good shots on goal too.

Goat said...

The Fan's Attic--that makes sense since I assume both the UF World Headquarters and your homebrewing operations are both located in your respective mothers' basements.

Goat said...

Precious Roy, et al.--Thanks for doing this. You're truly doing the Lord's work. And, consequently, I'm doing no work.

Jen said...

its XABI alonso.

Precious Roy said...

Ack... Jen, you're right. Accuracy (particularly names become the first casualty of speed) and when there is also a Xavi on the field, I feel I have a great built-in excuse.

Plus, he's a Scouser, so I care less.

Lingering Bursitis said...

the part about him being a Scouser and that you could care less is surely the better of the two built-in excuses