Saturday, June 14, 2008

Euro Trash Day 8: Heroes of the last-minute

Oh fair reader. The sacrifices I have made on your account. Knowing full well that, much like the host nations at this year's Europe Cup, I had failed miserably in my last two Euro Trash recaps, I set off today determined to make things right. I braved a rainy day to sit inside at not one but two bars for the past 6 hours just so I would have plenty to say at this very moment. And now, two bars, many drinks, and two matches later, I stand -- well, sit -- before you ready to make amends. Today's action wasn't the most compelling of the competition (that honor likely goes to yesterday's matches) but there were still thrilling goals, close matches and plenty to discuss. Please follow me after the jump!

Silva/Torres/Villa 2, Sweden 1. Two sublime goals by Torres and Villa (the first with a nice assist from Silva) were enough to garner another victory for los Espanoles (I know, 3.5 years of high school Spanish and I can't even get that right). Spain came out the better side and got on the scoreboard thanks to a cute little flick on from Torres off a corner. Puyol came off due to a knock at thirty minutes. Then came the Swedish, who looked the more composed side for much of the first half and tied the score with a typical finish from Ibrahimovic who muscled the ball past three defenders and Casillas. In the second half, it was clear that Sweden would be very happy with a draw, as they continually absorbed the Spanish pressure while making only furtive attempts at the Spanish goal. Andy Gray had just said something disparaging about David Villa when, well into stoppage time, Villa yet again drove up his impeding transfer fee: he made a sublime run down the left, juked the ball underneath the Swedish defender, cut inside and slotted the ball in for the winner. Honestly, I thought Sweden had earned a draw -- and not just because my new friend at the first bar was, in fact, Swedish. Speaking of... are the Swedish the most consistently attractive people on the face of the earth? I'd say yes, so there's a bit of consolation for Sweden after an unlucky defeat. Spain are practically guaranteed the top position in the group and, thanks to their young attacking players, will surely be a tough out in the knockout stage.

Russia 1, Greece 0 After imbibing several beers plus a bit of il Labratorio del gelato (best gelato in NYC, hands down), I was off to bar #2 for the second match of the day. Now, I am one of the few people who does not disparage Greece for their win at Euro 2004. Who cares if they won playing a dull, defensive style -- at 100:1 odds, they deserve all the credit in the world! So, let that be Greece's eulogy, because there will be no repeat performance at Euro 2008. The loss was all down to a ridiculous mistake by Greece's goalkeeper, who honestly looks to be about 57 years old. It was around the 30 minute mark that Nikopolidis improbably strayed out, only to have Semak flick the ball back to Zyryanov for an easy open goal. I have to admit the rest of the game was a bit of a snooze, although the salami and mozzarella sandwich I ate at halftime was excellent, and I earned my first buyback from my local. A goal by Greece was called offsides in a somewhat dodgy decision toward the end of the match, but frankly Greece didn't show anything suggesting they deserved to move on to the knockout stage. So long, champs!

Final tally: 6 or 8 beers, two bars, 4 goals, two strangers who are now my best friends, two scoops of gelato, one salami and mozzarella sandwich, a bag of chips and one happy Spectator. Today's results set up a must-win match between Sweden and Russia on Wednesday, which should be very exciting indeed -- especially for those of you without day jobs. (sniff!)

Other news:
- Romanian midfielder Radoi is out of Euro 2008 after nasty collision with a Rat. Radoi's nose is broken and he'll require eye surgery.
- Berlusconi to limit wiretaps that broke the Italian matchfixing scandal. They should just change the dictionary definition of "corruption" to "see Italian politicians."
- French, Swiss and Dutch fans clash resulting in 100 arrests.
- Online piracy is a problem with Euro 2008. We've never heard of this before!
- Be sure to check out the hi-larious pic of Sergio Ramos out at a nightclub (midway of liveblog).
- If I could be anywhere in the world right now, I'd want to be in Austria singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" with James Richardson and Barry Glendenning.

Read more on "Euro Trash Day 8: Heroes of the last-minute"...

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Greece v. Russia

Welcome all to the Greece v. Russia liveblog. In anticipation of a snoozer, I present to you (as always), the models:


Grecian model Aleka Kamila: May or may not be wearing panties.


Russian model Natalia Vodianova: Looks angry.


Once again, join me after the jump for the liveblog.



The Greece starting XI for coach Otto Rehhagel:

GK - Nikopolidis
DEF - Seitaridis (2); Patsatzoglou (3); Dellas (5); Torosidis (15); Kyrgiakos (16)
MID - Basinas (6)(C); Katsouranis (21)
ST - Charisteas (9); Amanatidis (20); Liberopoulos (23)

The Russian starting XI for coach Guus Hiddink:

GK - Akinfeev
DEF - Ignashevich (4); Kolodin (8); Anyukov (22)
MID - Torbinski (8); Semak (11); Bilyaletdinov (15); Zyryanov (17); Zhirkov (18); Semshov (20)
ST - Pavlyuchenko (19)

This match is being played at EM Stadion Wals-Siezenheim (Bless You!) in Salzburg. The officiating crew is:

Centre official: Roberto Rosetti (ITA)
Assistant referees: Allesandro Griselli (ITA); Paolo Calcagno (ITA)
4th official: Olegario Benquerenca (POR)

Programming note: Due to the fact that the Greeks and the Russians all have crazy names, I will most likely be referring to kit numbers (rather than names) during the action. If you don't like it, kiss my arse.

Last time out, Russia lost 4-1 to Spain thanks to the magic boot of David Villa, while Greece lost 2-0 to Sweden. Given the result of today's earlier match, a win for either side here ties them for second place on 3 points.


Programming note: If this game is a nil-nil snoozer at half-time, this liveblog will be handed over to Precious Roy for some interesting notes on product development and management. You've been warned.



00:01 - And we're off!

00:02 - Anyone bored yet? Assholes. Sure, I get the crappy game - I blame The Fan's Attic, Freemasons, and the Pentaverate.

00:30 - Poor touch from the Russians leads to an early chance for Greece, but Akinfeev is out quickly.

01:30 - Free kick for the Russians after Zhirkov is taken down by Dellas. The result is a ball played in and cleared by the Greeks.

02:42 - Nikolopidis stops using his Grecian Hair Formula for Men long enough to pick up a weak shot from the Russians. His hair stays gray.

03:50 - Sloppy play at the back from the Greeks, but they eventually clear the ball. This game is a volleyball match so far, with play taking place in the middle third of the pitch.

05:50 - Amanatidis gets a boot to the head, and the resulting free kick gets played wide to Torosidis, whose shot is directly at Akinfeev.

07:40 - Long ball over the top for the Greeks, and Akinfeev doesn't come out for it, forcing his defender to play it out for a throw-in. The throw comes in and Semak attempts a bicycle kick to clear. Liberopoulos is unfairly called for fouling Semak and the Russians clear it.

10:45 - Shot from Bilyaletdinov, but it goes high over the bar.

12:11 - After 30 seconds of more volleyball, the ball is sent over the touchline. This is truly ugly footy.

12:58 - Seitaridis gets beautiful through-ball to the corner, but his attempted cross falls right into the hands of Akinfeev. The Russians respond by building through the midfield, resulting in a shot from Pavlyuchenko and a good save from Nikopolidis.

14:00 - The corner kick comes in and Zhirkov gets off a nice half-volley that curls wide left.

15:45 - Liberopoulos goes down in the box after a tug on the shirt, but nothing is given. The ball comes down the other hand and the Russian shot caroms off Dellas, but the linesman had already called for offsides.

17:47 - The ball is played through to Zhirkov, who taps it back to Torbinski but Basinas plays it out for the Greeks.

19:40 - Free kick for the Greeks from 35 yards out, and the ball is played into the box. Charisteas is right there but fails to put it in the net. The second corner comes back out to near midfield and is eventually played out for a Russian throw.

22:50 - A long ball to Charisteas is played to Patsatzoglou, who turns it back to Charisteas. A poor shot results, going over the bar.

25:10 - The Greeks are definitely getting the better of the ball possession at this point, playing passes mostly through the middle with occasional forays into the box.

They just showed a Greek fan wearing a sleeveless denim jacket. This may explain much about the state of their country.

29:20 - A dangerous ball in from Zhirkov comes back out to the Russians at the 18, but the ensuing shot is directly at Nikopolidis.

30:10 - A long-range shot from Patsatzoglou is directly Akinfeev. Neither keeper has had too much work so far.

32:40 - GOAL! Russia 1 - Greece 0. A ridiculous mistake from Nikopolidis. The Russians play the ball around the left end of the pitch, eventually sending a ball over the keeper's head toward the endline. Nikopolidis comes out too far to get it and Semak keeps the ball in bounds, sending it back towards the middle to be slotted home into the open net by Zyryanov.

34:00 - Russian send forward another attack and should have a second goal, but it bounces down and then up over the bar.

36:00 - After a quick save by Akinfeev, the Russians attack again, winning a corner. The ball is played in to the 6 and flies across the middle of the pitch for a second corner.

37:25 - The ball from the second corner is played out to midfield by the Greeks, but the Russians send it right back in. After some play around 20 yards, they get off a shot that rises above the bar.

39:00 - Seitaridis off, Karagounis (#10) on for Greece.

41:00 - Free kick for Greece after Semak dispossesses Karagounis. Absolutely no foul there, but the resulting ball is played in directly to the Russian defense. Ball don't lie.

41:51 - Yellow card for Karagounis for his tackel on Semshov. That's some karma. The free kick for the Russians is played in to the middle to build, but the ball goes out for a Greek throw-in.

42:50 - Free kick for the Greeks as Torbinski slides into Charisteas. The ball is played up the side, and eventually out by the Russians for a throw-in. The ball comes in to the box and Liberopoulos attempts a bicycle, which winds up in a corner.

44:19 - The Greek corner is played in to the box and comes back out to Karagounis. The ball played back in is null and void, as there was a Greek player offside.

45:00 (+01:05) - HALF-TIME.

Despite the bulk of the possession, the Greeks find themselves down 1-0 to the Russians thanks to some shambolic goal-keeping.

45:00 - And the Greeks have 45 minutes left to defend their crown.

45:30 - Off a free kick, Karagounis plays the ball through to Charisteas. DEspite being wide open, he turns and puts it directly at Akinfeev.

46:10 - The Russians come down to the other hand and Pavlyuchenko strikes a ball on the ground that Nikopolidis gobbles up.

47:00 - While a Greek defender is on the ground, writhing in agony, Pavlyuchenko strikes a ball from a difficult angle at Nikopolidis. The corner comes in and bounces off a Greek defender. The second corner is headed over the bar.

48:53 - Free kick for Greece as Karagounis is fouled by Zyryanov. The ball is played in from 35 yards by Basinas, but Amanatidis is unable to get a foot on it.

51:00
- Long ball through to a Greek forward, but he was offside and came back for it. The ARs have done a good job on offsides calls in this game.

51:58 - Pavlyuchenko makes a nice run, but strikes a shot just wide of the Greek goal rather than passing.

52:30 - The Greeks respond with a run from Karagounis, forcing Akinfeev into a nice save. The ball comes back and results in another save for a corner. The ball comes out to Karagounis, but the Greeks get shite out of it.

54:30 - The Greeks put some pressure in the 6-yard box, but Basinas puts it over the bar.

55:40 - Free kick for the Russians as Torobinski was fouled. The ball is played short and winds up in the box, where Bilyaletdinov goes down like he'd been shot by Karagounis. Nothing doing, and the Greeks play it out.

56:40 - The Russians pressure again, and Pavlyuchenko lays it off for Bilyaletdinov, who puts it just wide.

57:20 - Yellow card for Liberopoulos for dissent after a foul was called against him.

59:50 - Liberopoulos off, Gekas (#17) on for Greece.

60:30 - Pavlyuchenko makes a nice run, but fails to pass the ball off to the right to Zyryanov, who was wide open.

61:24 - Corner kick from the Russians goes directly to the defense, and the Greeks play it out.

62:40 - The Greeks get away with one. The ball is played in by Anyukov, and is pushed out by Nikopolidis. The Greeks fail to deal with it, and Bilyatedinov takes a shot that goes off a defender. The resulting corner yields nothing.

66:17 - The whistles from the crowd are getting louder, as the Greeks spend 3 minutes moving the ball with no positive result.

67:20 - A long ball in from Patsatzoglou results in a punch out from Akinfeev, leading to a corner. The ball is played in and headed down by Charisteas, but Akinfeev takes it.

69:00 - Bilyaletdinov off, Saenko (#9) on for Russia.

70:30 - A long ball through for Charisteas is laid off for Gekas. The ball is cleared, but only to Karagounis, who strikes a shot just left of the post.

72:02 - A long ball for the Russians is played to Pavlyuchenko, who takes a shot from 40 yards out which rises above the bar.

73:30 - After a nice spell of passing, the Russians play it over the touchline as Zhirkov is down injured after Dellas gave him a bit of the business.

75:00 - Free kick for the Russians as Basinas takes down Zyryanov at 20 yards. Looked like a legitimate tackle, but the foul is awarded. The resulting ball is shot directly into the wall.

76:17 - Yellow card for Saenko after an American football tackle on Karagounis after the ball came off the Greek defenders.

78:27 - Free kick for Greece is KAragounis is victimized yet again. Before the kick is taken, it's Stelios (#8) on for Amanatidis for Greece. The ball from the free kick is played into the 6-yard box, but cleared by Pavlyuchenko. The resulting throw-in for Greece leads to another Greek corner.

80:14
- The Greek corner is taken by Basinas, but Kyrgiakos heads it directly to Akinfeev.

81:25 - Corner for Russia, and the ball is played out to the 18 and back into the corner. Russia eventually wins a free kick after Karagounis fouls a Russian midfielder.

82:30 - The free kick from 20 yards is a shot, but it curls over the bar.

83:30 - Yellow card to Torbinski for time-wasting on the Russian throw-in.

85:10 - The Russians come up on the break but Kolodin is unable to make the pass, and the ball goes out for a Russian throw-in.

86:00 - Greece gets an opportunity and the ball makes it into the goal, but Gekas is ruled offsides in a very close call.

86:46 - Zhirkov off, Berezutski (#2) on for Russia.

87:33 - Foul as Torosidis teabags a Russian. The ball eventually results in a corner, where the ball is played around the box in a bit of time-wasting.

90:00 (+01:45) - LAst big push for the Greeks, but Kyrgiakos puts the ball over the bar.

90:00 (+01:39) - The Russians counter-attack, but Pavlyuchenko takes a shot in a 5-on-2 situation and it goes way over the bar.

90:00 (+02:13) - The Greeks attack again, but Gekas is caught offsides.

90:00 (+03:01) - FULL TIME. Russia 1 - Greece 0, and the defending champions are eliminated. The Russians still have it all to play for in their match against Sweden.

Read more on "Euro 2008 Liveblog: Greece v. Russia"...

Liveblog Euro 2008: Spain v. Sweden

Spain and Sweden sit atop group D with 3 points apiece, but nobody is calling Sweden a tournament favorite. Why not? Because they looked only slightly better than Greece in their 2-0 opening victory and Greece was using the 4-corners offense in the first half. Only a sublime strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the match up now it's rumored that Sweden will bench Ibrahimovic and it is rumored Sweden will play for the draw against Spain. Wonderful, just wonderful.

The honor and burden of favorite belongs to Spain, who along with Holland and Portugal, have been putting on offensive showcases. David Villa scored the tournament's first hattrick since 2000 against Russia in a 4-1 victory. Probably the biggest issue Luis Aragones has managing the squad is how to get all of his offensive starpower on the pitch. Cesc Fabregas was only a substitute in the first match, but brought off Fernando Torres, who the media says was miffed with his benching.

After the jump...the lineups and other bonus material...




Oksana Andersson, fiancee of Christian Wilhelmsson























Elisabeth Reyes, former flame of Sergio Ramos
























Sweden: 1-Andreas Isaksson; 5-Fredrik Stoor, 3-Olof Mellberg, 4-Petter Hansson, 2-Mikael Nilsson; 8-Anders Svensson, 19-Daniel Andersson, 9-Fredrik Ljungberg, 11-Johan Elmander; 10-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 17-Henrik Larsson

Spain: 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Sergio Ramos, 5-Carles Puyol, 4-Carlos Marchena, 11-Joan Capdevila; 19-Marcos Senna; 6-Andres Iniesta, 8-Xavi, 21-David Silva; 7-David Villa, 9-Fernando Torres

Today's match is in Innsbruck, Austria.

And we are greeted by the dulcet tones of Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth.

Not a single Spanish player singing the national anthem. I wonder if they have any political divisions in their country.

But, Sweden they all sing save for Ibrahimovic.

I can't get the stupid formatting right for the pictures above. Oh well, I'm sure nobody noticed.

0:00 Sweden with the kick.

1:00 Early foul by Spain and the kick gets to Ibrahimovic in the box but his touch is poor. Torres on the counter gets in close but his cross is intercepted.

4:00 That's a stern looking ref. Not quite Ed Hochuli but close. Iniesta's shot goes high and left. He should have done better.

6:00 Mike Georger informs me that Spain's national anthem, La Marcha, has no lyrics. Lame.

7:00 There were about 6 passes in sequence where the ball never touched the ground. Interesting, but it doesn't amount to anything.

9:00 Nice counter by Sweden after Sergio Ramos went forward, but Ljungberg couldn't do anything with it but put a weak shot on goal.

13:00 The Swedes are tackling tough at the outset trying to knock the Spaniards around and off their game a bit.

14:00 Goal!!! Torres. 1-0 Spain. Villa wins a corner. Xavi plays it short to Silva at the top of the box and puts a shot in the box that Torres deflects into the goal. Yeah for my fantasy team.

15:00 Sweden almost immediately counters when Larsson laid it off to a streaking Elmander who can only put into the side netting.

21:00 Just a bunch of midfield possession with attempts into the box headed away by the Swedish big men.

22:00 Gets free in the box on a nice ball from Ibrahimovic but Larsson couldn't chip the keep.

24:00 Albiol on for Puyol who looks injured. This could be trouble for Spain since they already have a suspect backline.

28:00 Foul on Senna, which is a nice segue to this, my favorite Senna picture.

33:00 Tommy Smyth says Elmander can score as a striker but isn't sure he can score as a midfielder.

34:00 Goal!! Ibrahimovic 1-1.

Not the prettiest goals, but a Sweden middie defender, Stoor, crossed the ball into the 6 yard box perfectly to Ibrahimovic who had beaten Ramos. It looked like Ibrahimovic had squandered it with a poor touch but he powered through it and squeaked it past Casillas.

38:00 Villa puts a strong volley in on Isaakson but he covers it.

40:00 Sweden looks a lot better this match than it did against Greece. Although, that is not too difficult.

44:00 That was a nice play between Ljungberg and Elmander who laid it off right outside the box to Ljungberg who found Elmander on a run but the Spanish defense just got a boot in to break it up.

45:00 One added minute.

Iniesta was just leveled in the box by Elmander but no call. Incredible.

Tweet. Tweet. And, the Spaniards swarm the ref. You would have thought it was a Chelsea match.

Well, this has been a great match of contrasting styles. Spain was dominant at first but Sweden is finding their spots on the counter. Great match so far. See you in a few.

Ha! That MLB apparel commercial was funny. So authentic, a fat white guy is mistaken for a fat hispanic guy.

Apparently, on his day off Sergio Ramos was photographed in a disco with a Swedish fan. This might explain his defense in the first half. The picture published in a Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet, is below. [Photo Credit: Aftonbladet]



46:00 Start of Second Half and I just took a P'zone. That's an Italian piss for the uninitiated.

Markus Rosenberg on for Ibrahimovic. Wow. At least they are getting production from him while injured. I am impressed by his performance while injured.

51:00 So that's Sweden's strategy? Just hack the Spanish defenders until they can't play. That sounds like something Mexico might try.

53:00 Marchenna is booked after a professional foul that slowed up Elmander on a run into free space.

55:00 Svensson is booked after a emmy worthy performance by Silva. See Kathrine Heigl Silva can earn honors even with substandard material.

56:00 Xavi with a corner that gets headed up high and Ramos, the genius, attempts a bicycle in traffic.

58:00 Fabregas on for Xavi. Iniesta off for Cazorla.

60:00 Ljungberg making a midmatch footwear change. Always the fashion model.

63:00 Somehow Spain didn't score. Villa sends a rocket in on Isaakson who spills it and Villa follows it but Isaakson stones him again, catching a knee in the face, and then Torres gets a clean shot but it's blocked by a Swedish player for a corner. The corner is not fruitful.

68:00 Senna lasers a shot from 35 and Isaakson dives to his right for the save but concedes the corner. Ramos gets a head on the corner but never had a chance.

71:00 I think 2:45 of the last 3:00 minutes have been in Sweden's half of the field.

75:00 What was the purpose of the slow motion gape of Aragones? To scare the hell out of me. I was wondering where the fly was.

76:00 Cazorla nearly picked out Silva in the box but Isaakson dove and picked it out cleanly with Silva near.

78:00 The match has really bogged down with Sweden mucking up the middle and Spain unable to unlock it.

79:00 Elmander off and Sebasion Larsson on.

Nearly a goal off of the set-piece. Svenssen was picked out and flashed the ball across the face of the goal just out of the reach of Henrik Larsson. So close.

83:00 David Villa bowls over the Swedish defender to get the ball and then doesn't know what he did and gets out his handbag.

86:00 Torres picks out Ramos on the edge of the box, but Ramos fails. Sweden concedes a corner. Henrik Larsson off for Kim Kallstrom.

89:00 Torres whips one in on Isaakson from 18 but the save was made. Needed to be higher and not a ground sweeper.

90:00 3 additional minutes.

90:00 +2 GOAL!! David Villa. 2-1 Spain. Incredible. Sweden's defense played so well for 90 minutes but just made a hash of it by Hansson and Villa beats Isaakson nicely.

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.

Just a heartbreaker for Sweden. They played so well for the entire match to lose it in stoppage time. So organized for the entire match, but failure in the end.

In an hour, Greece takes on Russia...we'll have a liveblog of it as well.

Read more on "Liveblog Euro 2008: Spain v. Sweden"...

Day 7 Highlights

There was some incredible action today in the European Championships. Holland put on a graduate level course of offensive football. Words don't really do the game justice so, while it lasts, check out the game highlights below.



After the jump, check out Gigi Buffon's incredible PK save that kept Italy's advancement hopes on life support instead of having the plug pulled.




H/T The Offside

Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images

Read more on "Day 7 Highlights"...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Euro Trash Day 7: Schmoke this, Raymond

And down go the French! For the second game, the Dutch made mincemeat of their opposition. This was, after all, supposed to be the Group of Death. Hardly. The Netherlands have secured a top seed in the quarters. Italy and France.... not so good. Keep reading after the jump.




Want to know why England isn't playing at the European Cup? No passing. Want to know why the Netherlands is playing so well? Passing.

The Netherlands 4, French 1: This wasn't a fair fight. The Netherlands were supposed to be the third team behind Italy and France. Instead, they are looking to be one of the most complete, dangerous squads at the European Cup. France still has a gaping hole in its midfield where one Zizou used to occupy. Granted, France had a slow start at the 2006 European Cup, but this time around it's looking all but over.

The Dutch only managed a single goal in the first half, but the truth is that France had some furtive looks at the goal but were outmatched. For the Dutch, it was pass, pass, pass, shot on goal, pass, good tackle, pass pass. And that was before the Artist formerly known as Arjen Robben got going in the second half. Robben set up a goal by the Artist Formerly Known as Robin Van Persie in the 72nd minute and then scored one himself. A lone goal from the Artist Formerly Known as Thierry Henry was small consolation, but the Netherlands put in a fourth before it was over -- as though the outcome was ever really in doubt, and even when it was, the Van Der Sar Generator coolly in control. Now the Netherlands can relax against Romania, and France must get a win against Italy.

Romania 1, Italy 1: Speaking of Italy... Unlike the French, who were outmatched, Italy was just a little unlucky and then just a little lucky, and in the end maybe only deserved the draw. The unluck came when an Luca Toni goal was harshly called off for an offside. The luck came when Buffon made a brilliant save of a Adrian Mutu penalty with an absolutely brilliant save. [Yes, that awful sentence was intentional... Just trying to channel my inner Foudy]Italy seemed to do all they could to hand the game to Romania, with an abysmal Zambrotta backpass leading to the draw. And now, much like France, Italy will need to win their last game to even have a chance. That's the danger of the European Cup -- it can be over before your team ever really got started.

Other news
Romanians can't set up big TV in Rome to taunt Italians.
Abramovich pays Amy Winehouse $2MM to play for his GF's art opening,
which includes that fat, nekkid woman painting he bought.
How to watch Euro 08 for free on the internets!

Enjoy the games this weekend!! And yes, Julie Foudy is still useless.

Read more on "Euro Trash Day 7: Schmoke this, Raymond"...

Euro 2008 Liveblog: France v. Netherlands

This is the stuff of sandwich dreams. I'll tak slice of Noemie Lenoir (Claude Makelele's wife) and a slice of Sylvie Van der Vaart (Rafael's wife) with some cured TFA meat.
If Sylvie adds a couple million pounds to Rafael's transfer fee, I would have no problem with that.
France is looking to rebound from a moribund 0-0 draw with Romania. Star-gazing Raymond Domenech will have Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira healthy to hopefully add panache to the French attack.
Netherlands on the other hand are coming off the high of a thorough route of the World Champion Italy. But, the Dutch squad isn't without its faults. The defense is suspect and was lucky the Italians didn't capitalize on several chances. There may not be anything Marco Van Basten can do about that but it will definitely be something to watch in the match.

Lineups after the jump...


France
Coupet -- Gallas, Sagnol, Thuram, Evra -- Malouda, Makalele, Govou, Toulalan, Ribery -- Henry


Netherlands
Van der Sar -- Van Bronckhorst, Mathijsen, Ooijer, Boulahrouz -- Van der Vaart, Engelaar, De Jong, Sneijder -- van Nistelrooy, Kuyt

Three changes to the French lineup. Evra in for Abidal, Henry and Govou on for Benzema and Anelka.

No changes for the rampant Dutch side.

Oooh...ESPN just showed a fan in the Euro '88 Champion Holland jerseys featured here, and comment Joet Smeeps confirmed was still widely worn in the land of tulips.

Here come the kiddies.

And, there's Arsene Wenger!

Anthems.

I think the team shots are really angering Le Pen.

Prediction: 2-2.

Thuram and Van der Sar exchange the little flags. Do you think they just have a wall full of them for all the games they skippered their respective teams?


0:00 French starts the match.

Fashion note: The Dutch are in their Oranje jerseys with taped on numbers, with light blue sockes and white short pants. I really fancy these kits.

2:00 Ribery serves the ball into the box but Holland clears nicely. It's already been a whistle filled match.

3:00 Van Nistelrooy with a weak turn and shot that Coupet scoops up easily.

4:00 Makalele fouls Kuyt with a flying elbow to the head but no card.

5:00 Ribery gets a head on a Malouda cross but can't get it on target. Not bad for the little guy.

8:00 Lots of midfield possession for both teams but nothing doing in the advanced third.

10:00 Goal!! 1-0 Holland Kuyt. Kuyt heads corner that he won off of a long pass from Boulahrouz.

Van Bronckhorst on the service. Nice tournamnet Gio is having, no?

13:00 Well, this should open up the match, but does France have the midfield quality to do anything?

Dirk Kuyt!!



16:00 Sneijder with an ambitious shot from 25 yards goes over.

18:00 The referee should really have a different color shirt on. The dark grey is perhaps just too similar shade with the dark blue of France.

20:00 The Dutch are looking absolutely latin in their one-touch passing. Kuyt gets on the end of a French deflection but the defender manages to unsettle him and Kuyt skies it over.

21:00 First French penetration by Gouvou, but VDS gets a kicksave to it for a corner. On the ensuing corner VDS collects the ball after it is swung around the box.

25:00 France is picking it up nicely. A good 1-2 from Henry to Govou, but van Bronckhorst troubles Govou from behind (dirty!) to unsettle the shot.

27:00 Kuyt is rampant. Boulahrouz throws it in and Kuyt ends up with the ball, lays it off to a Boulahrouz who strafes it across the front of the goal wide.

31:00 Sneijder dispossesses Sagnol easily which leads to a long spell of Dutch possession in the midfield. The team is just probing now...looking for that nice, juicy French opening.

33:00 Makalele gets booked for another flying elbow to the face of van der Vaart.

35:00 Malouda gets a shot on goal from 25 but VDS saves easily. On the ensuing possession, France moves up the left flank and swings the ball to the middle where Govou strikes from 18, but right to VDS.

And, again, the French are charging, unusual since they generally retreat, with Ribery getting a good shot in on VDS, who dives to his left with the save.

The Dutch defense is looking Swiss like.

37:00 Ribery sends it across the goal face but no French player can get on the end of it.

38:00 Sneijder with a bit of overconfidence from 30 yards.

42:00 Engelaar is 6'6"? That's huge. Henry looks a bit off pace.

43:00 Maka serves Henry on the topcenter of the 18, Henry turns but can't get it on frame.

45:00 Toulalan fouls van der Vaart. I'll comfort Sylvie.

Tweet, tweet. Holland 1 - 0 France.

The first half was a tale of two halves. I guess that would make it quarters. Whatever. The Dutch dominated the first half striking Goonie Gold with Sloth Dirk Kuyt. But, France settled down and had numerous opportunities only directly aimed them at Van der Sar.


See you in a few.

Second Half

46:00 Robben on Engelaar. More offense. Sweet.

47:00 Henry shows his first sign of class turning the Dutch defender around, crossing in front of the goal but Ribery couldn't get a solid touch on it.

49:00 Sagnol crosses the free kick to Gallas who rifles it in from 40. The ball caroms around a couple times finally reaching Henry who fires but its blocked by Ooijer. Henry appeals for a hand ball but I haven't seen the replay yet. Nevertheless, good scramble defense for the Dutch.

Replays seem to show it went off Ooijer's arm.

52:00 Now Ooijer gets booked after Henry throws a temper tantrum.

54:00 Henry BLOWS it. Malouda bikes it over his head and Henry runs on all alone with VDS and tries to chip it but sends it over the goal. What a putz!

55:00 Robin van Persie on for Kuyt. Jesus...the best defense is a good offense I guess.

56:00 Sneijder gets a good strong header in on Coupet, but it was just too far out.

58:00 Terrible free kick by the Dutch. Robben sends it right into the oncharging Maka.

59:00 Goal!!! 2-0 Holland! Van Persie. What an amazing play by van Nistlerooy to keep the ball in play to Robben who streaks down the left flank and crosses it to Van Persie who puts it on Coupet and just trickles past Coupet.

61:00 France on the attack again. Ribery strikes it well at VDS, but he volleyball spikes it back.

I missed it but Gomis is on for Malouda.

I still can't believe that last goal. The Dutch have the two best build-up goals in the tournament.

63:00 Robben sends in a strong daisy cutter to Coupet who gets a hand to it.

67:00 van Persie dispossesses Thuram and gets in on gaol but plays a blind ball to the middle of the box, but no Dutch players were trailing. He should have shot.

70:00 Sneijder sends a free kick into the 6 yard box but Coupet gobbles it.

71:00 GOAL!!! Henry. 2-1 Holland. Sagnol crosses it in to a streaking Henry in the 6 yard box, just touching his toe to the ball. Perfect pass and touch.

72:00 GOAL!!! Robben. 3-1 Holland. On the ensuing kickoff, Sneijder feeds Robben who beats Coupet near and high. Amazing shot from near the touchline. Wow.

75:00 Anelka on for Govou. Only 45 seconds between the last two goals. I was too busy typing and didn't even see the goal until the replay.

76:00 Henry trips Van Persie. Nice guy.

Van Bronckhorst fouls Gomis just outside the box. Ribery lines up over the ball from 22...but just chips it over to Henry who heads it over. Andy Gray is merciless on Henry's heading ability. Hilarious.

78:00 Bouma on for van der Vaart. Evra just sent a daisy cutter to VDS' right but its wide.

82:00 Maka slips on his arse when he had a great chance to get a shot on goal. Toulalan booked.

83:00 Van Nistlerooy almost gets on the scoresheet after a long ball from the back finds his head and goes just over Coupet but he recovers to save for a corner. Just a bit more pace and its 4-1.

85:00 Coupet comes out of his box to keep van Persie from getting in on goal alone. Just a bit too far from van Persie.

86:00 Mathijsen gets in on Anelka in the area to keep Anelka's shot from going on goal. Penalty appeal but to no avail.

87:00 Ribery over the ball from 23 but just over the goal.

89:00 Robben threatens again going a yard wide right. He really has been a phenom this half.

90:00 Two added minutes.

90:00 +2 GOAL!!! 4-1 Holland Sneijder with a brilliant shot from 18 over the keeper into the top shelf. Just off the bottom of the bar.

Game 4-1 Holland.

Holland advances and keeps its life from the group of death. France needs a Holland victory over Romania and its own victory over Italy to advance.

What a marvelous match for the Dutch. Again. The extra offense in the second half was some genius from Van Basten.

As the commenters have said, France just got cooked in the Dutch Oven, which is why all French are stinky.

Who was the man of the match? Van der Sar? Kuyt? Robben? Sneijder? I don't know. Kuyt was certainly the best in the first half, but Robben was great in the second and Van der Sar had some good saves.

I'll go with Robben who seemed to brighten the Dutch offense significantly.

Join me tomorrow for Spain - Russia Sweden.

Read more on "Euro 2008 Liveblog: France v. Netherlands"...

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Italy v. Romania

Welcome to the liveblog for the Italy - Romania match. As always, the model comparison:



Carla Bruni-Sarkozy: Even in an Italy-Romania match, I manage to work in a French connection.


Catrinel Menghia: She wins the Internets.


Once again, join me after the jump for line-ups and live-bloggisms.



Italy starting XI:

GK - Buffon
DEF - Grosso; Chiellini; Panucci; Zambrotta
MID - Camoranesi; DeRossi; Pirlo; Del Piero (C); Perrotta
ST - Toni

Note: This means that Donadoni has made some significant changes to the line-up that started the match against the Netherlands. Most importantly, the Anti-Christ (Materazzi) is on the bench.

Romania starting XI:

GK - Lobont
DEF - Contra; Tamas; Goian; Rat
MID - Radoi; Petre; Codrea; Chivu (C)
ST - Niculae; Mutu

Note: Coach Victor Piturca has replaced Cocis (MID) and Nicolita (ST) with Petre (MID) and Codrea (MID), indicating that Romania may be happy with a tie in this situation, which could be dangerous for them.

Centre official - Tom Henning Ovrebo (Norway)
Assistant referees - Geir Age Holen (Norway); Jan Petter Randen (Norway)
4th official - Ivan Bebek (Croatia)

Stadium - Letzigrund; Zurich, Switzerland

00:00 - I'm here early. Are you?

00:00 - Julie Foudy with the brilliant comment that it is "unusual" for the Italians to change 5 players from last game to this game. God kills a kitten.

00:00 - Mike establishes his bonafides as a heterosexual male by requesting less skin in future liveblogs. To be fair to me, there are no naughty bits showing, so maybe Mike needs a new job.

00:00 - Boy, Sugar Ray is singing the Romanian national anthem with some gusto. I farted just as it began - bad sign for the Romanians.

00:00 - The Fan's Attic has joined the 21st century and is now viewing the footy in HD. Good news for all of us later as he liveblogs France - Netherlands match (I recused myself from that match, as a heart attack suffered during the game would interfere with a liveblog).

00:01 - And we're off!

00:33 - Quick start for the Romanians as a cross into the box is headed wide by Mutu.

02:11 - Nice brief run from Camoranesi, but he ends up dispossessed by Tamas.

02:58 - Rat turns the ball over after a run to the midfield, but the Italian counter-attack is stopped by Goian.

03:20 - On the other end the quick Romanian counter results in an offsides call on Mutu.

04:20 - The game's first corner results from a nice run by Del Piero, but the Romanians play it out safely.

Derek Rae informs us that Italy have never lost 2 matches "on the trot", as opposed to Tottenham, who lost 4th place in the EPL because they "had the trots." HI-OH!

06:18 - A long ball over the top from Tamas is slightly too long for Mutu to reach, and Buffon eats it up.

07:50 - Free kick for Italy is struck by Pirlo directly at Chivu, and the ball ends up over the touchline for a throw. The Italians waste the opportunity.

08:58 - The Italians get the best chance yet. The ball is dropped onto Del Piero's foot, and comes out to Perrotta, who plays it back inside, only for Del Piero to head it wide.

10:48 - First appearance of the Magic Spray for Tamas.

11:35 - Free kick to the Italians as Petre blows on Luca Toni. The ball is played in too close to the Romanians, and Mutu clears the ball.

12:20 - On a quick turn-around, Camoranesi plays the ball into Toni, who is slightly too short.

13:21 - Yet another corner for Italy, but it floats across the box all the way to the opposite touchline.

14:40 - Brilliant through ball for Mutu, but Buffon absolutely stones him.

15:57 - Pirlo to Zambrotta to Gross to Toni, who heads it over the bar yet again. The Italians are passing beautifully and have had 4 legitimate chances on goal to no avail.

17:08 - Free kick for Romania, and it's a rocket taken by Tamas, forcing a good save in the corner from Buffon.

19:00 - Another free kick for Romania, and it's taken by Chivu, who hits the post (after a deflection of Panucci). The Italians clear.

19:51 - Radoi and Rat clashed while they were both going for a header, and are still down on the pitch.

21:10 - Radoi has to come off after the collision, and is replaced by Cocis (who started Romania's last match).

22:30 - Clever run Contra, with a back-heel pass returned from Petre. The ball is served in to Niculae, but the ball is cleared. The resulting corner is cleared again by Camoranesi.

22:40 - The second corner goes right to Buffon, who plays it long to Zambrotta. He is dispossessed by the Romanians, who immediately turn it over to De Rossi.

25:00 - CORRECTION. Radoi had not been replaced yet. His substitute now comes on, and it's Dica.

25:50 - Grosso plays the ball through to Del Piero, who almost gets a boot in the face for his trouble. The ball continues through and is over the endline.

26:30 - Camoranesi plays the ball into Toni in the 6-yard box, but it is headed wide yet again.

28:00 - The ball is played through the midfield for Romania, and Rat gets off an absolute cracker which goes wide of a diving Buffon. Unfortunately, it also goes just wide of the post for a goal kick.

29:01 - Mutu is offsides by 25 yards.

29:38 - The Italians turn the ball over, but Chiellini deals with the Romanian counter-attack. The ball comes out to Del Piero, who is fouled by Petre for a free kick.

30:19 - The Italian free kick is taken by Pirlo, who does shite.

31:07 - Zambrotta plays in an excellent ball to Toni, who is fronted by Tamas, and the ball is headed wide again.

31:35 - The Romanians turn over the ball and Contra fouls Del Piero at 20 yards for a dangerous free kick.

32:00 - The free kick is taken by Del Piero but is well wide and high.

33:22 - Turnover at midfield, but the Romanians fail to take advantage, playing a ball through directly to Buffon.

35:10 - Ball played through by Rat, but it goes well wide of Buffon and the goal.

37:22 - Nice ball movement by the Italians goes nowhere as Chivu steals the ball and plays it out for an Italian throw-in in their own half.

38:40 - A clusterfuck in front of goal after a cross from Zambrotta is knocked down by Toni to Perrotta's feet. The resulting corner forces a save from Lobont. The second corner is headed goal-bound by Toni but Lobont makes a brilliant save.

40:00 - The third corner for Italy is also headed goal-bound and Lobont makes a beautiful diving save which is then played out by Tamas.

41:10 - DeRossi plays a long ball too close to Lobont, who makes an easy save.

42:20 - Pirlo is fouled by Mutu, who is shown the yellow card. Sugar Ray sales dip precipitously.

43:34 - Camoranesi plays a great ball through to Del Piero, but he's offsides.

45:00(+00:15) - Nice ball movement by the Romanians results in a botched shot from Contra. The ball comes out to Chivu, who has his shot blocked. In the ensuing chaos, Del Piero fouls Mutu.

45:00 (+02:00) - NO GOAL! An Italian corner resulted from Rat playing the ball out. The corner comes in to Toni (who looked onside as the ball was played), who heads it in. Goal disallowed.

HALF-TIME - Lingering Bursitis' pick for Lobont as the MotM is looking prescient (look it up). It's so astounding, even people in Mike's office are talking about him.

45:00 - And the second half is underway!

47:00 - Italy quickly on the attack for a corner, but it results in nothing because Toni was naughty.

48:00 - Ball in from Dica to Mutu, but Buffon gets there first.

50:05 - Throw-in for the Romanians is cleared by Pirlo, but it goes right back to the Romanians.

50:31 - The Italians counter-attack, but Contra touches the ball away from Del Piero as he was readying to shoot.

51:43 - Camoranesi fouls Rat by looking at him wrong, but the resulting free kick is played to an offsides Niculae.

53:09 - Mutu gets off a nice shot but Buffon smothers it.

54:10 - GOAL! Romania 1 - Italy 0. Petre is fouled, and off the ensuing free kick the ball is played through, and Zambrotta attempts to head it to Buffon. Mutu is there, and he blasts it past Buffon.

55:50 - GOAL! Romania 1 - Italy 1. The Italians play the ball to the far post off a corner kick, and Chiellini heads it back across for Panucci to finish.

57:30 - Chivu receives a yellow card for coming through from behind.

58:21 - The Romanians press again, but the Italians clear.

58:49 - Nicolita on for Petre for Romania. UF favorite Cassano on for Perrotta for Italy.

59:30 - Yellow card for Pirlo, for knocking Nicolita off his feet.

62:46 - The ball is poked through to Toni, but he is unable to get on the end and it crosses the endline.

63:54 - DeRossi blasts a shot towards goal, but it hits Del Piero, who was offsides.

64:42 - Another ball through for Toni, but Lobont makes an excellent save. Toni was offsides anyway.

66:25 - Romania with a very long ball for Niculae, but it is too far and Buffon picks it up. The ball comes back and Toni heads the ball directly to Lobont.

69:19 - More solid midfield play from the Romanians results in a ball to Dica, which is deflected to Niculae, but the Grosso plays it out. No corner given.

70:10 - The Romanians get good pressure from Mutu to Chivu to Nicolita, but the ball is played back into the midfield. The Italians counter and win a corner off a Tamas header. The corner is played to the midfield, and a long range shot is held by Lobont right on the goal line. The Italians claim that it was over.

72:16 -Goian picks up a stupid yellow for kicking the ball away, which means that he will miss the next match as it is his 2nd yellow for this round.

72:50 - Free kick for Italy is taken by Pirlo, and it is immediately headed back out to him. The Romanians clear.

74:20 - Cassano to Toni to DeRossi but Lobont makes yet another incredible diving save.

75:11 - Mutu with a shot that is deflected out for a corner. The resulting kick is cleared but only out to Rat, who puts in a weak shot.

76:05 - Del Piero is out, Quagliarella in for Italy. Captain's armband to Buffon.

77:32 - A clever back-heel by Cassano is played back into the middle, but is chested down by Lobont. The Italians are immediately back in and Zambrotta plays the ball across the box to be cleared. The resulting corner is take well by Lobont.

79:12 - Dica receives the ball in the box, but DeRossi plays it away before he gets off a good shot. Mutu takes the corner and Niculae is taken down in the box for a PK.

80:27 - Brilliant save on Mutu from Buffon on the PK! Abso-fucking-lutely brilliant save!

82:00 - After an Italian free kick skies over the bar, we get a close-up of Mutu looking like he's about to cry.

83:27 - DeRossi with a nice challenge on Nicolita to dispossess him, and the ball comes into the 6-yard box from Grosso. The Romanians clear.

84:20 - Ambrosini on for Camoranesi for Italy.

85:10 - Cassano plays a ball into the box and Toni goes down, appealing for a PK. None given, and the ball rolls over the endline.

86:31 - Ball played forward to Cassano (who was offsides, but not called). Toni goes down in the box and grabs the ball, screaming for a PK. None given.

87:44 - Cocis on for Mutu for Romania.

88:51 - Long ball over the top for Cassano, who serves in a miserable pass (or takes a shitty shot).

89:30 - Long ball over the top flicked on to Quagliarella, who is offsides. He goes down anyway, and appeals for a PK.

90:00 (+00:59) - Gross dribbles into the box and goes down in a ridiculous flop. The ball comes out to the other hand and DeRossi is awarded a yellow for a foul on Contra. Free kick for Romania from 35 yards, but Tamas puts it wide.

FULL TIME - Romania 1 - Italy 1.

This was actually the best possible result for France - take care of business and you're in, boys!


Read more on "Euro 2008 Liveblog: Italy v. Romania"...

Those Blood-thirsty Poles... at it again!


With the heads of Ballack and Low still firmly affixed to their respective necks, the Polish public has refocused its bloodlust on one whistle-happy Englishman. Referee Howard Webb, the only UK native allowed on the Euro pitches this month, was the man to award Austria its last-second PK in Vienna-- and for his troubles is now subject to the unique brand that is Polish ire.

Thanks to Bigus for the imagery.

Choice quotes after the jump...



Our favorite, from Poland PM and self-proclaimed huge footy fan Donald Tusk. He was speaking to reporters remember, not his drinkin' pals.

"As the prime minister I have to be balanced and collected... But last night I was speaking very differently about the whole thing, I wanted to kill."

More Tusk:

"Referees make mistakes and this was an obvious error that harmed us all. I thought it would have been better if we had lost in the first half when Austria had their chances and not after 93 minutes due to an obvious mistake."


What did the pacifist Leo Beenhakker have to say?

"Maybe [Webb] wants to show he is a big boy and has the guts to do it, I don't know... I've never had a problem in 43 years of being in football but this is something I cannot understand."

The manager then reverts to the standard post-match bitching:

"It's impossible to accept but I am working on it."



Best of luck to all involved.






Read more on "Those Blood-thirsty Poles... at it again!"...

Euro Trash Day 6: Krauted


Forgive me fair reader. My night took an unexpected detour and suffice it to say I'm in no shape to recap today's futbol action. Let's just say that Croatia has an unexpected win against der Germans, Austria and Poland look destined to not make the knockout round, and your dedicated blogger drank his quota for the night. Updates and whatnot coming in the morning. In the meantime, it's zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
[Updated hangover edition after the jump!]

As my man the Arseblogger would say, “boik!” Lesson learned: do not commit yourself to writing this here Euro Trash and then proceed to get wasted college-style (all that was missing was a beer bong). I’m just proud to have written something coherent last night, and I even managed to upload a pic!

Croatia 2, Germany 1
Enough about my misadventures, let’s talk about Germany and their misadventures. Yesterday we had the first true shock upset of the Euros (the Netherlanders beating Italy 3-0 was shocking, but not really an upset). Because every comment about Germany requires at least one WWII/Nazi analogy, it was clear that the blitzkrieg failed. Croatia simply outplayed a German squad who many thought were the favorites to win Euro 2008. Just to rub a little bit more salt in England’s still-fresh wounds, coach Slaven Bilic said the win over Germany was even better than the victory at Wemberly that got Croatia into the Euros.

Germany’s coach Joachim Loew, in turn, was pretty honest about his team’s deficiencies: “Overall we were a weak team. We didn't manage to play through the midfield, we played too many high balls, our game off the ball was bad, we did not run the combinations, and precision was lacking.” It truly was shocking how terrible Ballack and Schweinsteiger were yesterday. Perhaps it was the Austrian humidity, or just forgetting to show up for a big game. The Germans should be able to recover with a win against a pretty dire Austria, but they are suddenly looking fairly flawed and beatable.

Croatia, in turn, has already qualified to reach the quarterfinals and only needs a tie or better against Poland (who look pretty dire too) to take the top seed from their group. A lot of talk before the tournament about how Croatia would miss Eduardo (granted, most of that talk from us Gooners). But much talk today about how Bilic re-figured his lineup yesterday and how Croatia were able to pass and run circles around Germany. Time to officially take the darkhorse tag off of Croatia? Affirmed.

Austria 1, Poland 1 The first result for a home nation, but really these two teams look terrible. If the wheels completely fall off of Germany, there’s a slight chance that either Austria or Poland could advance. Not very likely though. Plus, this match saw the UF debut of a pic of that Austrian pervert who locked his secret family in the basement. Seriously, that picture gives me the shivers.

Other news
Aston Villa holding out for more cash for Gareth Barry’s inevitable transfer to Liverpool
Polish politician threatens to yank Podolski's non-existent Polish passport.
Yanks-Abroad
is off the Bradley bandwagon. UF wonders if the U.S. can get Hiddink now?
Female amateur (we think) soccer player suspended for kicking an opponent. It's news because she's an Australian MP!
USWNT appearing on Price is Right!

Read more on "Euro Trash Day 6: Krauted"...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

France Plays A Tune-Up Match


Titi, seen here crying about the fact that he missed the match against Romania, told coach Raymond Domenech that he needed a bit of practice in order to determine his fitness for tomorrow's match against The Netherlands. Domenech consulted his astrology charts and gave it a big "Allons-y!" Join me after the jump for the details of this hard-fought match.





This past Tuesday, as the starting XI for Les Bleus were resting after their exhausting nil-nil draw with Romania, Domenech let the "reserves" run loose. Their opponent? Nothing but the best - they faced off against an All-Star team of...Under-18 year-olds from local clubs Neuch√Ętel Xamax FC and FC Fribourg? Okay, so it wasn't exactly high-level competition, but these kids got the practice of their lives facing off against Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Patrice Evra. The youngsters even set off the action early, forcing a "world-class save" from keeper Sebastien Frey. In the other goal, Mike Piller made one-on-one saves against Titi and Bafetimbi Gomis, although he was eventually beaten for 7 straight goals. Despite the 7-0 loss, the kids seemed in high spirits to have gotten a chance to play against some of Europe's finest.

And Titi got in a little practice for tomorrow.

Read more on "France Plays A Tune-Up Match"...

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Austria v. Poland


Action in The Group of Death to the Jews carries on this afternoon with a real cracker. Seriously, it's going to be great. It's going to be great. Great. Convinced? Ok good.

The early result does add some juice to the showdown at the Ernst Happel Stadium. The winner here could slot into second place in the group, taking Germany's fate off their own feet. The loser, should their be one, is dunzo.

How bout this scenario: Poland win today, then on Monday the hosts notch an early goal against a nervous Germany. Poland see this, decide to park Joseph Fritzl's basement in front of their net, and settle in for some clock-watching as time runs out on the 'shaft.

I'm a touch wet at the thought.


Lineups and so on after ze jump...




* 21 Macho
* 14 Garics
* 15 Prodl
* 03 Stranzl
* 04 Pogatetz
* 08 Leitgeb
* 06 Aufhauser
* 10 Ivanschitz
* 11 Korkmaz
* 20 Harnik
* 09 Linz

Poland

* 01 Boruc
* 13 Wasilewski
* 02 Jop
* 06 Bak
* 14 Zewlakow
* 05 Dudka
* 18 Lewandowski
* 08 Krzynowek
* 20 Roger
* 11 Saganowski
* 07 Smolarek

Ref: Howard Webb


-5 min: There'll be one Englishman on the pitch this afternoon. So... You've got that.

-1 min: Leo couldn't deliver the heads of Low or Ballack. Hickersberger and Ivanschitz should be less of a job. Smolarek and The Big Lewandowski are on yellows for the Poles. Pogatetz, Prodl, and Saumel for Austria. Everyone else: kick away!


Kick-off: Vienna crowd out in full throat. Can they will these lumberjacks to a shock win. We shall see.


3 min: Austria come out flying. Not in any particular direction or purpose, but they sho' is runnin.'


7 min: Less than ten minutes in and these number with the Super Nintendo animation numbers have already given me a headache. Who approves these things? It has to go past at least 50 people, not to mention an entire FA, before it's set to print.


10 min: It's a mess out there. Poland's cute new attack-minded look is being fairly stifled. Let's see how long Austria can keep it up.


11 min: Ugh. Austria's Harnik just bottled it bigtime. Sent in alone by brain fart backpass from a Poland defender and he scuffs it. Boruc got a touch, but there was no one else within 10 yards.


13 min: Harnik takes out his frustration by blasting the ball into The Dude's stones.

13 min: Who are these guys? Harnik set up again-- this time by his own man-- and once again fails to finish. From 8 yards out now. And got his own rebound before a Poland player stirred.


16 min: Leitgeb's turn to fail on a breakaway for Austria. Clinical counterattacking, but no goals. Bad sign.


19 min: Boruc is Poland player #2 to get the footie stung in off his nuts. At least he took it in the process of stopping Leitgeb's shot.


22 min: Would it be fair to say Boruc is putting on a Tim Howard-esque display? I'd say yes. The Pole would sure look lovely in a Tottenham Casino and Poker Club kit next year.


25 min: Austria continues to dictate the game. And keep possession. And create the odd chance. But can they actually put one in? Here's saying no.


29 min: I wish that fat, drunken, Polish ox from Giants Stadium Sunday were calling the game. It'd sound something like this: "POlska! POlskA! POOOOOOLsKA!!!"


30 min: Pole Goal! Guerreiro, aka Roger, touches one home after some nifty work by Saganowski in the box. Second goal of the day for an international ringer. Podolski for Germany. Roger, the Brazilian, for Poland.


34 min: Austria: quick up front. Loose at the back. Like Bigus's mum. And wife. And Grandmother.


40 min: a bit of header tennis in the Poland area amount to... nothing. Shocker. Austria couldn't score for all the beer in the Anschluss.


40min: and we know this, as that is precisely what has been offered to the first player to stick one.


44 min: Austria do have a lot in common with American team. No discernable shape. No threat to score. Occasional clever counterattack. Suck, generally.


44 min: Weak ass run by Harnick. Leads to threatening free kick from left hand side of goal.


45 min: That's the best they've got then? Austria attempt a set play of some sort. They fail.


45 min: One last kick for Austria. And OH!! Just wide of the upper corner. Never looked like going in though.


Half: Poland, Austria, and the blogger are all laboring.

Flash: Mourinho says I must be myself. I cannot be the New Kaka, the New Messi. He's so right.

Back now at the Happel... but can we talk a minute about Switzerland's Wankdorf Stadium? The name's enough, but did you know BSC Young Boys play there? Good stuff.


46 min: We're off!


47 min: Austria again with some early, if not fruitful, possession.


48 min: Ivanschitz gets sent through on a semi-break. But the combination of a bad angle and a bear-hug from behind from the defender see that his effort goes for naught. Goal Kick.


50 min: Nice run down the right from Linz.. corner to Austria.


50 min: Curled harmlessly into the sure hands of Boruc.


51 min: Guerreiro plays it long to Smolarek, who swivels and lets off a stunted shot at Manninger. Poland starting to assemble something...


53 min: Who's blogging that Revs/Dynamo tie tonight? It truly is a "feast of football" on the WWL today.


54 min: a boot to the nuts of Smolarek. Tough afternoon to be a Polish nutsack.


56 min: Korkmaz sees yellow for a shite tackle on the edge of the box. Free kick goes for naught. Cleared. Then back in for a corner...


57 min: Headed to safety by one of those Austrian giants. They all look the same. Everyone. On both teams.


58 min: Not much quality on the pitch right now. But more than on the comments section. Hooves? Go strap on that used maxi pad jersey of yours Royboy and tell Zed to bring out the gimp.


64 min: A downright strafing of the Austrian keeper. But he is strong. We play on.


64 min: Roman Kienast on for Austria. We're told he's the oldest man in the tournament. Perhaps then he's memorized the way to the net. The rest of the lads look like they might need a map.


66 min: "The Spray" makes its first appearance of the match. Being used to patch up the left ankle of Saganowski the Saint.


68 min: Poland free kick from 32 meters... just dips over the bar. Touched apparently, so it's a corner.


70 min: 20+ minutes from having both hosts knocked out before the final day of the group stage.


71 min: Worst part of this dual hosting business: Not the travel, but the lost qualification spot. Who wouldn't prefer another English psychodrama to this chuckfest??


73 min: Corner to Austria... how bout now?!?!?


74 min: Right. Thought so. Aufhauser off having run a paltry 9.15 km.


78 min: I'm chastened. Austria not eliminated with a loss here. If they beat Germany and Croatia tops Poland, it'd be a 3-way tie for second. Of course they'd prob have to beat the Germans by 3 or 4 goals.


80 min: Guerreiro tries some Brazilian shit on the edge of the Austrian box. Nothing comes of it. That's why he ain't in yellow.


82 min: Best unintentional humor of Euro '08 must be the announcers pimping the NBA finals.


83 min: Another Austria corner, another scuffed shot from the edge of the 18.


84 min: To call him a "menace" would be a bit strong, but Harnik has been creating the Austrian version of chances on the right side. All game.

The Brazillack is comes off for some standard white dude. It's now a whitewash on the pitch. Both sides.


88 min: Time, apparently, is running out on the Austrians. Thanks to our announcers for that.


90 min: Austria has completed more and a better percentage of their passes. Does this count for nothing? Should the Poles get ALL three points? Where's Hillary on this??


90+2 min: last gasp free kick for Austria. AND IT'S A PK!!!!

Prodl pulled down in the box.

Here it comes...


90+3 min: GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!! Old man Vastic!!! 1-1 is the score. Lifetime supply of beer for Vastic!


Full Time: 1-1 is our final. Unreal. No way that's a penalty. But well taken nonetheless. Austria have earned this moment for sure. Not cos they're any good really, but they do try hard.


And obviously it's the English ref who calls for the suspect PK at the death. I love you guys.


The Wrap: It's all for the taking in Group B. Luka and the Croats clinch first and in doing so avoid Portugal in the Q-finals. Germany are through with a win over the hosts. An Austria win in that game would likely put them through, provided they maintain that lead in goal differential. And as for Poland. Poor Polska. Still, they have no gripe. The keeper saved them in the opening minutes and they failed to put Austria away late. And with an English referee you have to assume that late PK is coming.
Farewell folks.


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Euro 2008 Liveblog: Germany v. Croatia


All aboard folks! Time now for another scintillating afternoon of Eastern European derby action.

The football in this first match should be a delight to watch. Pint-sized powerhouse Luka Modric and the rest of the guys in the checkered shirts square up with the German International All-Stars in Group B's signature tilt . Joachim Low has his lads playing polished, flowing football , much to the delight of their Spanish fathers and Polish mothers. And then there's Modric, Luka. Strapping lad -- right here, over to the left. Has the yiddo nose already. As a Spurs fan and jewish male, I see Modric as the Croation government's flesh-and-blood letter of apology to my forebears. He is the opposite of the Ustasi. Total stud. And sure to look great in a youth size large, Tottenham Casino and Poker Club shirt.

As far as true game analysis, don't jounce my limb as I climb out and predict that the Croats, midfield-centric as they are, could get stuck up in Deutschland's lithe and clever backline.


More (loads!) on this as the game unfolds.

First though, let's lay out the what the tie means for both sides ( the assumption being the hosts battle heroically for zero points in each of their two remaining group games. )

-Germany win and they can book their ticket to a quarterfinal match-up in Vienna. The Lukas would be left to scuffle with Polska on Monday for the runner-up spot.

-If Modric leads his nation of 4.5 million to a glorious victory they too w ould be into the quarters, needing only a point in the Group B finale to guarantee their own trip to Vienna.


-A draw throws the competition into a muddle. Monday must-wins all around.

Lineups and live, in-game bloggery after the jump.




The lineups...

Croatia

* 01 Pletikosa
* 05 Corluka
* 04 Kovac
* 03 Simunic
* 22 Pranjic
* 11 Srna
* 14 The Modric
* 10 Kovac
* 07 Rakitic
* 19 Kranjcar
* 18 Olic

The 'Shaft

* 01 Lehmann
* 16 Lahm
* 21 Metzelder
* 17 Mertesacker
* 02 Jansen
* 04 Fritz
* 08 Frings
* 13 Ballack
* 20 Podolski
* 09 Gomez
* 11 Klose

Referee: Frank De Bleeckere


Kick-off: And we are underway from Klagenfurt. Luka is in the line-up as you may have noted. Apparently he suffered a nick on the ankle against Austria. Sweet relief. The shaft trots out the same XI from the Poland match.


4 minutes: the first "opportunity" goes to the Germans. Klose carried up the right, made a clever pass into the box, but the Croat backline stood up. Lot of space out there.


6 min: Good headed clearance by Mertesacker. He was in close to the goal and clearly had not intention of letting that juiced up slob of a GK touch the ball. Pretty slick for a German center back.


10 min: That class doesn't quite make it into the kraut midfield. Frings cuts off a Croatia counterattack by leg-whipping The Modric. Only way to stop him I suppose.


13 min: Finally some life out of the boys in blue. First 5-7 mins were played almost entirely in their own half-- even if they had 40% of the possession. As noted earlier, real quality in the midfield but things tend to lose direction as they enter the final third.


15 min: El Capitan showing off what he's learned at Chelsea-- bitching at the ref over (an admittedly terrible) call. It all leads to a Croatia corner that's flicked on nicely by the defender Simic. But no one there to punch it home.


19 min: Not even 20 minutes played and I'm already thinking about muting the TV. Old Onion Sack just does not shutup for a minute. Christ.


22 min: Podolski picks out Gomez on the right side for a clear chance, but again the half-Spaniard is offside by a km. Wonder how many he'll run today. ESPN will tell me later I'm sure.


24 min: TOOOOOOOR!!!! Srna creeps in to poke home a cross from the left. Jansen is caught looking as Croatia's #11 picks it up on the short hop. Lehmann was half-way. Had no chance.


26 min: Yellow card-- first of the game-- for the goalscorer. Srna late by a solid 3-count on a slide tackle on Podolski, who is clearly Germany's most influential player so far. He's on the left side of the midfield and picking people out all over the field. Had the Germans' only sniff of a chance a bit earlier.


30 min: It's become pretty obvious that no one likes Mario Gomez. I bet he eats his weiners all alone. Podolski and Klose are always yelling at him. He needs to learn some Polish.


32 min: Ref clearly has eyes in the back of his head as he awards a German free kick (35 yards out?) on a tackle that took place directly behind him.


33 min: A failed clearance from Kovac makes for a little madness along the Croation goal line. Klose looked set to poke it home, but there were too many bodies. Nice initial save by Pletikosa on a rippin' free kick by Ballack.


38 min: There some kicking going on and a ball rolling about... Let's talk about Luka for a minute here. Nothing outrageous thus far, but he is clearly the lynchpin for everything Croatia does. So calm. So quick. He's the eddy and the other 21 players are the river. German corner...


39 min: Metzelder blows a sure goal for the shaft. Heads over the bar off a perfect corner. Could easily be 2-1 to Croatia or 2-2. Been a little chippy at times, but otherwise just what we expected from these teams. Can't imagine how much MORE the Germans can open up their attack.


42 min: Cracker of a save from the (soon-to-be-ex) Scummer. Kranjcar on the volley from about the penalty spot. Fat boy managed to get over to his right and elevate a bit. They felt it Ghangzou when he hit the turf.


45 min: One minute of added time.


Half: Simunic given a yellow for booting the ball into the stands. Mr. Bilic nearly shites himself. He may be a "rock star" in Croatia, but he looks like a junkie uncle. And can he stop running after the ball and kicking it to his players for throw-ins? You know he tries to go out for drinks with them after the game and asks questions like, "What are we doing tonight guys?!?!" Sort of like Regina George's mom in "Mean Girls."
Oh you guys, you keep me young!

STUDIO TIME: Someone drag OOS out of the play-by-play pit. Foudy is useless, along with this other newt. Andy Gray obviously knows his shit, but his ripping on Smyth has been some of the best entertainment of the tournament. ESPN probably figured Tommy boy would catch on eventually and stab ol' Andy in the neck with his pen. (Then leave one of his "lucky charms" on the body...)

Note: Julie Foudy, expert analyst, cannot pronounce "Luka Modric." Ugh.


Looks like they've drawn OOS from his hole. Go get him Andy! We await...


After watching this Adidas commercial for 46,501st time, I must admit a small man crush on Mourinho. It is more important to be a "top man."


46 min: Aaaaad we're back. Jansen however, is not. Odonkor is into the midfield, with Fritz dropping to right back. Jansen looked a mess on the Croatia goal. So no shock.

By the way, how come no shots of The Scarfed One, ESPN? Bilic is everywhere.

49 min: Ballack sends a rocket off into space from the top of the box. Took it on a volley after the keeper punched out a cross. Had more time. Ballack's done more crying than playing thus far.


51 min: Germans on the attack. (shudder...) But nothing comes of it. Repeat. That's the story so far. Podolski's the only guy creating chances. And is now waiving his arms around like he's on a runway, screaming at his aimless mates. Do they know Polish?


55 min: Croatia are officially in "Four Corners" mode. And they can pull it off. Just kicking the ball around the midfield.

Great slo-mo montage of Podolski, El Capitan, and (thanks) Low writhing around in anger.


58 min: Quoteth Rae: Croatia "not playing a very high line of defense." Certainly a lot of bodies between the ball and the keeper. I know Bilic is a young man, but surely he understands this German team will score eventually. Croatia will not win this 1-0. Noted?


61 min: TOR!!!!!! Croatia 2-0 Olic touches home after Rakitic hits the post from long distance. Lehmann absolutely embarrasses himself. Spun around three times looking for the ball... stuck in between after it hit the post...


65 min: Schweinsteiger on for Mario Gomez. Who will everyone yell at now? That's the second move by Low. Bastian, we imagine, slots into the midfield with Podolski taking a place next to Klose up front.


67 min: Srna clatters one into the German wall from 30 yards out. Given the form of the Roberto Duran-type figure in net for the 'shaft, he has to get that on goal.


73 min: Great run from the left by Bastian. He skids one across the Croatia line. Out for a corner that leads to nothing.


75 min: Yellow for Ballack. He's clearly given up. Didn't even scream at the ref. Rough game for der man.


79 min: Goal for Germany!!! You'll never guess who! Podolski with his 3rd of the tournament. 2-1 to Croatia


79 min: Podolski caught it on the hop and just slammed it home. Nearly tore the onion bag up. Thrilling ten minutes ahead.


82 min: Kuranyi on for Fritz. Germans done making changes. How much confidence do Croatia have in their possession game now? Looks like they're back on the attack as Odonkor gets away with an American football tackle in the box. Lehmann struggles to collect...


85 min: Knezevic on for Kranjcar. Bilic looking to seal it up in the final 5+ minutes here. Kranjcar ran 10.1km by the way. Is that good?


87 min: Luka Luka! It's all flowing through him as the Croats play keep away in the midfield.


89 min: That howler from Lehmann looking just a tad more important now, eh?? Stooge. Germany losing some momentum. Last 3 mins almost entirely in their end.

They'll get three more to try and even up...


90 min: Schweinsteiger with the Straight Red. Probably not deserved as the Croat makes a meal of it. Lehmann joins the act and earns himself a yellow. And after the restart another yellow, this time to Luka. Weak end to a thriller.

Full time: Croatia 2, Germany 1 Croatia go wild on the sideline. Bilic jumping around like he hit a walk-off home run. 10 years since Davor and the lads knocked Germany out of France. And damn, they really are going apeshit. Easy guys! This plus that pathetic flop by Leko (which earned Bastian his orders) could add up to some bad karma.

But Croatia have done it. They'll still need a point from that last game with Poland, but destiny is in their hands.


Postgame: Find me a Chelski "fan" who wouldn't trade Ballack for Luka. I dare you. And I'm not just talking about the future. He'll be more influential this year. Now if you'll excuse me, time for a breath, some Andy Gray, and emotional preparation for the lame shit to come. (Unless Austria win and the football world is blown into 5,000,000 pieces)


Late Note: Tommy Smyth just claimed that his ears BLED after leaving GIANTS STADIUM following the Italy-Bulgaria match in '94. Gray lets him off the hook.



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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro Trash Day 5: "90th minute substitution"


Today we saw our first team eliminated from the tournament, a relegation-style scrum played in a monsoon, and even more off field drama from Portugal. Lets recap, after the jump.


Portugal 3 - Czech Republic 1: Apparently Portugal's team is valued at $600 million dollars, which is absolutely ridiculous to think about. Which probably explains why Roman Abramovich has made it his goal to employ about half of them. This game was kind of scrappy, and Portugal were somewhat flattered by the scoreline. A team with better finishing than the Czechs would have punished some of the mistakes made by PortuChelsea's backline. Botswinga is going to get exposed in England if he doesn't pay a little more attention to his defensive duties. Ronaldo at least put some focus back on the field by netting his first marker of the tournament. Deco and Quaresma scored the other two for the winning side, while Sionko netted one for the Czechs. The soap opera cranked up again, however, when it was announced that Big Phil Scolari is taking over at Chelsea. I'm not sure its a huge distraction, but the timing seems curious. What if Portugal choke again in the latter stages of the tournament? What exactly does timing the announcement today do for Roman, besides keeping his name in the tabloids? Big Phil can ponder what to do with Nicolas Anelka next year at the Bridge over the next few days, as Portugal have qualified for the next round. 

Turkey 2 - Switzerland 1: Due to the downpour, this one was like a dour Bolton - Wigan affair, but was enlivened by a bit of drama at the end. Arda Turan buried one deep into injury time to eliminate the Swiss, exacting a bit of revenge for their elimination in qualification for the last World Cup. No fights today, either. The Turks now face a do or die match with the Czechs in their final game to determine who advances into the next round. 

Linkage: 
Lego football highlights of the Germany Poland game, fan violence not included. 
Ballack gets a bit of service. Hey yo!
Don't let Jim Rome get wind of this. David Villa fractured his finger while hugging Torres in a goal celebration. 

Non Euro 2008 related:
US roster announced for the qualifiers against Barbados. More Adu, less EJ please. 
Beckhams are the cheapest tippers in Hollywood. [via Red Card]


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Euro 2008 Liveblog: Switzerland v. Turkey

Welcome to the liveblog for the Switzerland - Turkey match. The first "tale of the tape": models (hey, we're consistent).


Swiss models: Sultry

Turkish models: Likely to be thrown in prison.

Once again, join me after the jump for line-ups and shenanigans.



The starting roster for the Switzerland:

GK - Benaglio
DEF - Magnin (C), Senderos, Muller, Lichtsteiner
MID - Barnetta, Fernandes, Inler, Behrami
ST - Hakan Yakin, Derdiyok

The starting roster for the Turks:

GK - Volkan Demirel
DEF - Altintip, Asik, Cetin, Baita
MID - Gokdeniz-Karadeniz, Metin, Aurelio, Turan
ST - Kahveci (C), Tuncay Sanli

Repeat warning: In order to watch the game in HD and live-blog at the same time, I am running things on my laptop, using my wireless network. So, any outages in updates are due to my running upstairs to power-cycle my router. You've been warned.

Second live-blog of the day, second masturbation comment related to my wireless network. I'm frightened.

00:00 - As Goat has noted, ESPN is all over the argy-bargy from the last time these two teams met. To be fair, the chance of another fight is the most captivating part of this match.

Apparently, the Swiss have Gary Gygax on the bench. I do not think that he will be very useful - he's not very mobile.

00:01 - And we're off!

00:15 - Senderos commits a foul. Kill me now.

01:00 - Turkey with the first corner of the game, but it leads to nothing.

02:37 - Giants WR Plaxico Burress says that he will not practice until his contract is finalized. Wait, what?

03:35 - Long ball to Magnin, and the Swiss captain is offside by approximately 230 yards.

05:01 - The first Turkish shot on goal is an easy save for Benaglio. The Turks have had the greater possession so far.

Call me fey, but I'm actually digging the Turks' baby blue shorts/socks.

08:47 - Deep ball by Turan into the box, but Benaglio gets up for the catch.

10:11 - Yet another long ball over the top by the Swiss, but Yakin is unable to catch up. HE'S THROWING THE MATCH!

12:10 - A good shot of how hard it's raining in Basel for this match. The poor turf conditions favor the Turks, as the Swiss are too orderly to enjoy it.

14:40 - Free kick for the Swiss, and Yakin delivers a dangerous ball which falls all the way to Demirel.

16:00 - Fernandes fouls Turan from behind, leading to a Turk free kick from 40 yards. The ball is played around the midfield until Metin is fouled, leading to a second free kick. The ball is delivered from 35 yards by Kahveci, but it curls very wide.

19:00 - Shot on goal from Inler, but Demirel deals with it well, considering the conditions.

22:10 - Senderos attempts a clearance and it lands at the feet of Balta. The ensuing ball played in towards Benaglio results in a clusterfuck, and nothing comes of it.

23:00 - On the counter-attack, Yakin gets off a nice strike which is parried to the side by Demirel. The resulting corner comes out to Magnin, who is fouled by Karadeniz, leading to a dangerous free kick from 25 yards. The dead ball results in a shot on goal by Barnetta, saved by Demirel. The ensuing corner from Yakin is poor, and played out by the Turks.

The pitch is getting increasingly soggy, leading to sloppy tackles and poor touch on the ball. If the English had qualified, it's the type of weather that they would enjoy.

27:30 - Turkey draws a free kick right on the line to the right of Benaglio's goal, although it looked to be a bit of a dive. The free kick by Kahveci is drilled into the 6, and Benaglio tips the ball off Turan's head, on to the post, and out.

30:00 - Kahveci shows the ref that his jersey was ripped on a scrum off a dead ball, but the ref seems indifferent. As the ref is ignoring Kahveci, Tuncay comes in from behind on Inler, resulting in our first yellow card, which displeases the captain Kahveci even more.

31:30 - GOAL! Switzerland 1 - Turkey 0. After a quick restart the ball is sent over the top to Derdiyok, who plays it across the goal mouth. Despite being stopped by a puddle in front of goal, Yakin gets on the end and puts it in. 2 players of Turkish descent link up for the goal against Turkey.

34:00 - Yakin receives a cross right in front of goal, but the pitch causes the ball to skip and he mis-hits it out of bounds.

The pitch at this point is literally a bog - any passes on the ground are slowed down almost to a stop by the amount of water. Although there are no flashes of lightning, if the water keeps coming down this hard, the game may be abandoned. Right now the style of play is along the lines of Portsmouth (Switzerland) - Blackburn (Turkey) game, with Pompey having stolen a goal.

36:30 - Yakin called offside coming in alone on Demirel, but the call appears questionable.

With their jerseys being white and tight, this rain is doing wonders for the photo-model opportunities of the Turkish team.

39:41 - Long free kick into the box from Altintop, but Benaglio is sure-handed. Worth a try, since the ball is wet and Benaglio had to be very secure.

40:34 - Yellow card to Aurelio for fouling Behrami from behind. A very questionable card, as Behrami had lost the ball due to the poor pitch and Aurelio barely touched him. The resulting free kick is hit into the wall by Yakin.

44:20 - Derdiyok with a nice backheel for Behrami, but once again the pitch slows down the ball and kills the attack.

And the first half ends. The pitch is really poor at this point - the players will definitely need to change studs/boots. The biggest effect of the rain is likely to be felt by the GKs - on several occasions Benaglio has come out for a long ball for Turkey on the ground only to realize that the pitch had slowed the ball to the point that it wouldn't reach him. At this rate I wouldn't be surprised to see a GK come out for a save and get beaten because the ball slowed down to the point where another striker was able to get onto it.

Every time Julie Foudy says something stupid, God kills a kitten.

45:00 - Karadeniz and Metin off for Senturk and Topal for Turkey.

45:34 - Turkey with a quick ball over the top, cleared for a corner. The resulting ball is shite, and knocked out for a Turk throw.

46:30 - Durdiyok draws a foul by splitting two Turkish defenders, but the free kick is also shite. The Turk counter-attack results in a foul by Inler. The ball in by Kahveci is handled by Balta, which results in a yellow for the Turk.

The rain seems to have slowed down quite a bit, but there is absolutely no chance of the pitch drying off.

49:55 - Barnetta makes a nice run to the end line, but is dispossessed. The goal kick is long to Turan, but he immediately turns the ball back over.

51:50 - Through ball for Senturk, but he is offside. The resulting dead ball is sent long to Yakin, but he commits a foul to get into position.

54:20 - A long ball to Durdiyok goes toward the touch line, and he slides in and gets a piece of Altintip. Yellow card to Durdiyok.

56:00 - GOAL! Switzerland 1 - Turkey 1. Turan sends in a brilliant cross and Senturk (the substitute) heads the ball past Benaglio, who gets a hand on it (but not enough).

58:00 - The Swiss almost respond immediately, with a long ball headed down to Yakin's feet, although he puts the shot off the defender. The resulting cross is taken, but tempers are starting to flare as Magnin is dragged down in the box. The kick is re-taken, and it takes Demeril 2 punches to clear it.

60:00 - The ball is played off the Turks for a corner, which is cleared out to Magnin, who fires a shot wide.

63:00 - Service into the box from Inler, headed on to the goal by Derdiyok. Demeril makes the save look more difficult than it really was.

64:00 - A botched clearance by the Swiss leads to a shot from Tuncay, but he puts it wide.

Big Phil Scolari named Chelsea manager.

65:30 - Vonlanthen on for Barnetta for the Swiss.

66:30 - Kahveci takes a shot which caroms off Senderos' arm, leading to shouts for a hand-ball. Good no-call there, as Senderos had his arms in tight to his body, attempting to move them out of the way. The resulting corner is headed out by Asik.

68:00 - A brilliant run by Vonlanthen around 3 Turkish players, with the ball then played across the pitch to Durdiyok, and then to Yakin. Yakin's ball into the 6 yard box leads to a foul by the Swiss.

70:05 - Build-up by the Swiss results in a shot on goal by Inler, which is deflected. The AR and ref fail to notice, and award a goal kick, which Demeril manages to take from an incorrect spot (i.e. not on the 6-yard line). Are the Turks playing for a tie?

72:00 - Another brilliant run from Vanlanthen, but he is unable to cross the ball. In the scrum, Cetin picks up a knock and stays down for approximately 17 minutes.

73:00 - A great run on to the ball from Tuncay, who plays it across the goal mouth to Kahveci. Unfortunately, the captain falls one step short and is unable to get there in time.

75:00 - Cabanas on for Fernandes for the Swiss.

75:43 - Ball played out wide to Tuncay, but his pass back through the middle is cleared. The ball only goes out to midfield, and is played back in, leading to a foul. Tuncay takes the resuling free kick and puts it 19 yards over the bar.

78:12 - Cabanas plays the ball through for Lichtsteiner (first we've heard of him all match), who is run off the ball for a goal kick.

79:09 - Turkey once again applying pressure, and the ball is played from Altintop to Aurelio at the 18, but his shot is deflected.

80:24 - Cross into the box from Turkey, but it's too close to Benaglio. His punt is given right back to Turkey, who bring the ball back into the box only to have Kahveci commit a foul.

82:18 - Hand-ball committed by Vonlanthen 35 yards out. Kahveci takes the free kick and it pushed directly to the Swiss who counter in numbers. Vonlanthen receives the ball from Senderos and it comes out to Yakin whose shot is blocked by Demeril, who also blocks (and smothers) the follow-up shot.

84:36 - Kazim on for Kahveci for Turkey. Gygax on for Yakin for Switzerland.

85:48 - Corner for the Swiss comes out to Inler, who is fouled 20 yards out. The resulting free kick is taken by Magnin and it comes off the top of the wall. The ensuing corner comes too close to Demeril, who punches it out. The ball is played back in to Senderos, but he is offside.

88:45 - After a brief attack from Tuncay, Kazim commits a foul. Play goes in the other direction, and the Swiss win a throw-in off of Altintop's clearance.

4 minutes of stoppage time, and for the 4th time this match a Turkish player is bleeding. Asik is stretchered off, but Turkey has no subs left.

90:00 (+01:30) - Asik back on looking like an extra from Saving Private Ryan. The ball goes over the top to Cabanas, but Demeril is out quickly. The Turks counter-attack quickly.

90:00 (+02:00) - GOAL! Switzerland 1 - Turkey 2. Off the counter-attack, Turan receives the ball and strikes it well. It takes a deflection off a Swiss defender and dips in over Benaglio.

And that's it! Game over - after leading 1-0, Switzerland is eliminated from Euro 2008, and are now relegated to merely hosting.

That's it for today, kids. Tomorrow's games will be live-blogged (live-bloge?) by a Spurs supporter, but be nice to him anyway. I'll be back on Friday for the 2nd round of Group of Death matches.






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