Saturday, June 21, 2008

Euro 2008 Liveblog: The Netherlands v. Russia

Alright kids, this is a tag-team effort (I'm Brutus the Barber Beefcake), as The Fan's Attic might not be here until right before the beginning of the match. On tap today is the Netherlands (the Dutch; the Low Countries) versus the Russians. The most obvious match-up talk is about Guus Hiddink coaching the Russians against his own country. A better match-up to discuss? The models!

Dewi Diegen: She doesn't look like a Double-D to me.

Natasha Poly: We salute you too!

Based on this highly scientific research method, one would presume that Russia will win this match. Join us after the jump for all of the details.

The starting XI for Guus Hiddink's Russian squad:

GK - Akinfeev
DEF - Anyukov; Ignashevich; Kolodin; Zhirkov
MID - Semak (C); Zyryanov; Semshov; Saenko
ST - Pavlyuchenko; Arshavin

And the starting XI for Marco Van Basten's Dutch side:

GK - Van der Sar (C)
DEF - Boulahrouz; van Bronckhorst; Mathijsen; Ooijer
MID - Engelaar; De Jong; Sneijder; Van der Vaart; Kuyt
ST - Van Nistelrooy

This match is being played at St. Jakob Park in Basel.

Centre official: Lubos Michel (SVK)
Assistant referees: Roman Slysko (SVK); Martin Balko (SVK)
4th official: Massimo Busacca (SUI)

2 important points for this match:
(1) to the relief of announcers and livebloggers everywhere, Saenko is in for the Russians in the starting line-up, replacing Bilyaletdinov; and
(2) if we are lucky, we will see the classy Ruud van Nistelrooy repeat these antics:

TFA here, just finished doing some wedding stuff. That's right, some lucky broad bagged me. Gentlemen, let me tell, wedding stuff blows. It's stressful and expensive.

So, babes, ballers and anthems right now. Russians singing. Dutch singing. I don't understand a word of it.

Holland is wearing all orange and Russia in all white. Monochromosity at it's finest. Although, I woudn't mind seeing some baby blue accents on the Dutch kits.

I'm out of the prediction business today, as it seems each prediction I make goes horribly wrong immediately after I make it. That said, I am really looking forward to this match.

0:00 We're off.

2:00 Boulahrouz Ooijer fouls a Russian like the guy was responsible for his daughter's death Boulahrouz's daughters death. Too soon?

4:00 Commenter/Contributor The NY Kid says HD soccer makes him happy in the pants. I couldn't agree more. Well, not about him being happy in the pants, but HD soccer is a wet dream come true.

6:00 Wow! Incredible save by Van der Sar on a Zhirkov free kick right over the wall to the near post. VDS just got a hand on it to steer it around the post. Holland gives up a corner but nothing results.

8:00 Pavlyuchenko puts a header on the top of the net. Great opportunity for Russia and Holland's defense looks like its back to its normal form. All Russia so far.

10:00 Guus Hiddink has learned from WWII. You don't fight a two front war. He's only focusing on the offense. Not the defense. Sound strategy if you ask me. Kinda like my strategy with women...I only focus on the looks, not the brains.

12:00 My pants are doing lovely with the HD soccer. Thanks for asking. Still clean though.

13:00 Holland really can't do anything right now. No chances on goal yet. On the HD tip, the pitch really doesn't look good. It was replaced after the monsoon last week during the Austria-Turkey match. There are lots of brown patches where the grass is either dead or somewhat bare.

15:00 After the first free kick from Zhirkov, his second is quite disappointing.

19:00 Sloth offside by a metric mile, however far that is.

Sneijder has the first good chance for Holland after a nifty pull behind move that avoided a Russian tackle only to have his thunderous shot blocked.

22:00 The Russian strategy seems to push it up the right side to keep van Bronckhorst from storming up the sideline and whipping in crosses. The Dutch don't seem capable of shutting this down right now. Because Russia just did it again and the ball sailed through the box, fortunately Pavlyuchenko couldn't get a touch on it.

24:00 Zyranov over the ball and sends in a cross that is knocked out, but right lofted back in for VDS to clean up.

26:00 Ooijer lofts a long ball to Boulahrouz towards the box and wins a corner. Van der Vaart sends in a lovely corner. He's really good at those, and then the rebound goes to Engelaar who rockets in a shot just wide. Ooijer almost got a touch that would have put Holland up one.

29:00 Ouch. Kolodin fouls Van Nistelrooy hard. Didn't even touch the ball. Van der Vaart sends another great ball into the box and van Nistlerooy can't get a touch on a ball he gets 9 out of 10 times.

31:00 This Van der Vaart fellow is really good. Somebody should try and sign him.

Wow, on the counter, Arshavin gets in and VDS just tips the shot that may or may not have been headed to the side netting. Corner. On the ensuing corner the ball comes out to Kolodin 35 yards out and he rifles in a shot that VDS pushes over. Really good stuff from Russia.

32:00 Kolodin with another laser from long range. There more like ballistic missiles than shots.

34:00 Sneijder tries something resembling a shot but not really. Kinda like how Amy Winehouse kinda resembles a sober person.

So, back to this Van der Vaart fellow. Really good. Liverpool should sign him. Hell, he's probably worth the money just because of his hot wife. Sylvie Van der Vaart.

While I was perusing pictures of Sylvie Van der Vaart, there were a couple of chances for both sides. Holland just can't get that final touch and Russia is getting stymied by VDS.

40:00 Sneijder with a "fuck it, i'm going deep" moment. His 40 yard free kick deflected off the wall and the Russian keep had no problem.

41:00 Van der Vaart with another excellent free kick the de Jong just can't get his head on. He was clear on goal.

42:00 Zyranov sends a nice ball into the box to another ___ov who just can't get a handle.

44:00 Van der Vaart with a shot directly into Akinfeev, shoulda scored. From here on out Van der Vaart is VDV.

45:00 +1 Whistle.

Halftime After a slow start, Holland started to really pick up the pace, lacing numerous shots in with several clear cut chances going begging. Russia was very dangerous on the counters though, exploiting a weaker Dutch defense. Netherlands really need to do something about those crosses, otherwise Russia is going to get a score. VDV and VDS were great in the half. The former with numerous excellent free kicks and the latter with some great saves keeping Holland in the game. Pavlyuchenko, Arshavin and Kolodin peppered the Dutch goal...Kolodin from the Red Square.

Good match so far. See you in a few.

A few linernotes before returning to the match. As far as the wedding stuff goes, I am trying to help out to earn some bonus points that I can use later on.

Julie Foudy really is terrible. She just tries too hard and can put her thoughts into words very well. I'd still do her, but hey, I only focus on the looks.

46:00 And we're back on the clock. Robin Van Persie is on and gets a shot right away. Just not on goal. Kuyt came off for RVP. Not sure that is a good move. Kuyt is one of the few midfielders that seems to get back on defense for the Dutch.

49:00 Again VDV drops a great ball in the box but no Dutch players can get in on the end. Turrible.

51:00 Boulahrouz booked on a late tackle.

52:00 Mathijsen cleans up in the box after Russia had broke down the defense and was heading to goal.

54:00 Heitinga on for Boulahrouz. Then a yellow for Van Persie after elbowing Zyranov in the face.

56:00 Arshavin sends a great ball in on goal on the free kick but it goes just wide.

But now GOAL!!!! for Pavlyuchenko on a Arshavin Semak cross.

58:00 Russia breaks down the defense again, Sayenko just off target. Holland should really try to stop the Russians. I know brilliant advice.

60:00 VDV gets a yellow for a "Glasgow Kiss" Mr. Smyth tells me. Saenko with a bloody nose.

61:00 VDV chips one on goal trying to catch the keep off his line.

62:00 Engelaar off for Afellay. I have a feeling this is not a good move.

Another trademark RVP shot...30 yards over the goal.

64:00 Smyth just tells us that VDV has done nothing all game. Bollocks, I say. Bollocks!!! VDV has sent in numerous free kicks into the box that were picture perfect but nobody can get on the end of them. As I say that, RVP gets a head on a corner but can only put it into the side of the goal. That was a great opportunity.

66:00 Netherlands has no subs left. I can't see this as being a good thing. The Russians have all of them. Heitinga has a split chin and is off the pitch getting attention.

67:00 De Jong just gets in the way of a pass that would have put Pavlyuchenko on goal. Corner.

Bilyaletdinov on for Semshov. VDS makes an excellent save.

71:00 Yellow for Kolodin, will be out for semi if they progress. Holland with a free kick just outside the middle of the 18. Sneijder over it.

72:00 Van Persie took it and he skies it. Excellent work. No, really. Jesus. Just put it on the frame.

73:00 I think there are only two Dutch defenders now. Everybody up and on any counters the Dutch have to scramble.

75:00 Yes, Tommy, the Dutch do need to throw caution to the wind. I don't think they are doing it yet. Not with pushing all but three people up. Not at all. I love your accent, but I hate you.

77:00 VDS is playing sweeper right now. The Russians are just chipping it over and Pavlyuchenko runs on, with VDS to clean up. He was way off his line to block a potential chip.

78:00 Corner to Russia. A bunch of shirtless Russians in the crowd clapping rhythmically. I can't imagine what would happen if NASCAR ever became popular in Russia. NASCAR would make tons of money, that's for sure.

80:00 Sneijder tries one from 25, just a shade too high.

81:00 Torbinski on for Saenko.

82:00 Sneijder again from long range, just wide left on a good look.

Netherlands really lucky Russia didn't score, but new sub Torbinski couldn't finish it on an open goal. Corner to Russia but nothing doing.

85:00 Corner for the Netherlands after a blocked Sneijder shot. RVP plays it short to Sneijder who sends it in but headed out for a corner. Nobody can get on it.

86:00 Russia has really played the better match, particularly second half.

GOAL!!!! Van Nistelrooy. Right when I was typing the above. Off of a free kick from Sneijder and he heads it in. Excellent.

1-1. Now what happens? This will be exciting.

87:00 But Russia comes right back through the Swiss cheese Dutch defense. Somebody should just defend back there. Really. It's just awful.

88:00 Speaking of awful. Russia's defense on free kicks. Pathetic.

90:00 The Dutch's tails are up. Why? Are they waiting for a dog to sniff their ass?

90:00 +1 Yellow for Kolodin. Second yellow. He's gone. That's harsh. Really harsh. What? Now he's waving it off. Can he do that?

The ref is saying the ball was out and waving it off. WTF? The ball wasn't out, but there wasn't a foul. How weird.

Whistle. Whistle. On to extra time.

Seriously. What the hell happened there? I've never seen a ref wave off a card. It certainly wasn't a foul deserving of a yellow. It could have been a foul since he obstructed Sneijder, but it certainly wasn't a yellow. Then the pretext to check with the side judge to see if the ball was out, then waving it off. Whether the ball was out or not should have no effect on your yellow call. You can get a yellow on a deadball.

91:00 Man-shakes for the refs. You da da man. Circle jerk. Russia kicks off going to the left on our screen.

Sneijder gets free and sends a long shot in on the sweat on the save. Sneijder is trying to win it all and should really think about passing. It was his pass that set up the winning goal.

92:00 Russia with a free kick on the sideline in the Dutch half. Arshavin gets a shot in on VDS who dives and saves mostly cleanly with a Russian lurking. Hey, he did better than Cech. Nistelrooy tries from long range but goes over.

95:00 Corner to Russia, played short, Zhirkov sends it out.

Van Persie gets a shot off that's deflected and Akinfeev dives left to smother it.

96:00 Arshavin sends it over when he juked his way into the box and got enough space to fire.

97:00 Pavlyuchenko sends it off the post. So close.

98:00 Afellay strafes wide left. Nice pace, though.

99:00 Torbinsky had another chance after Arshavin made a beautiful pass, but hits it right at VDS. He has had two spoon fed shots that should have gone in.

101:00 Kolodin lasers it wide right from a left side placement from 30.

102:00 Afellay with a professional foul but no booking on the Russian counter.

103:00 Zhirkov with a yellow after bulling over RVP. Is RVP ok? I hope he didn't break anything.

104:00 van Nistelrooy way offside. I mean way off.

105:00 End of First Period of Extra Time.

106:00 And we're back.

107:00 Zhirkov appeals for the penalty. He may have had a good argument.

108:00 Torbinksi couldn't get on the end of a Pavlyuchenko cross as VDS scoops it up.

109:00 Nice play by the Russians in the box. Arshavin blitzes the defense as VDS comes out and he crosses to Pavlyuchenko who can't get it on frame with an open goal.

111:00 Torbinksy booked. And then Akinfeev gives his defender an tongue lashing after the defender headed it back to the keep from point blank range.

112:00 GOAL!!! Torbinsky. Russia 2 - 1 Netherlands. The lax Dutch defense finally gives up the goal as Arshavin chips the keeper on the endline and Torbinski finally finishes. Well done.

115:00 Sychev on for Pavlyuchenko.

116:00 Goal!!!! Arshavin. 3-1 Russia. Game. Set. Match.

That one was sent from Russia with love. Heitinga got a touch on it and it went right through VDS legs.

I was just about to write when Arshavin scored, that it was clear that van Basten was outcoached in this match. He only knew one thing to do. Push, push, push on offense and neglect the backline.

119:00 RVP draws a foul. From 35, van Bronckhorst and VDV over it and VDV sends it over the goal.

120:00 Two minutes of added time. Torbinski fires over on a free kick. No danger.

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.

Well, that was an ass-spanking by Russia. They finally were able to expose the weak Dutch defense and Van Basten showed is lack of tactical adjustments. Now he can piss off to Ajax and the Eredivisie where defense doesn't matter.

As we are sent off with Euro dance music, please note that all three group winners have fallen so far. Each team that rested players in the third match are gone. What does this mean for Spain? Find out tomorrow with our liveblog.

Read more on "Euro 2008 Liveblog: The Netherlands v. Russia"...

What To Do In England During Euro 2008

You may or may not know, but England isn't participating in Euro 2008. While the rest of Europe tries to win the championship of a game England invented, the English have to find other activities to occupy their time. Even those intellectuals at Cambridge. So, what have they chosen to do? Why, female jelly wrestling at Cambridge. I can't think of a more suitable replacement.

The competitive juices, or jellys, appear to have overwhelmed one losing contestant. Nadia Witkowski (in the white bikini) lost her match, although accounts suggest she may have lost because of looks not for a poor performance, and then lost her mind.

But when the crowd decided the shapely blonde was the winner anyway, Miss Witkowski lost her temper.

Still covered in red jelly, she stalked away to the sound of the students' booing and punched a female spectator, leaving her with a bloody nose.

Then she grabbed a bottle of Lambrini and made for the exit, where she was stopped by two burly bouncers.

When they tried to confiscate the bottle, she punched one and butted the other, forcing them to call the police.

Well done, well done. That was a Zidane-like meltdown. Headbutt included.

Witkowski under duress.

Shortly thereafter, the Cambridge grad was arrested and charged with common assault. The spectators should have support Witkowski by saying things like "Show us your tits" and "take it off", I am pretty sure that would have been better for her self-esteem.

[Photos: Daily Mail]

Read more on "What To Do In England During Euro 2008"...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Euro Trash Day 14: Wow. Just... Wow.

Holy shit.


Oh my god.

You're kidding me.

You're fucking kidding me.

We leave any out?

Probably. What happened today wasn't unreal. It was completely real. Unexpected, yes—I think Tommy Smyth had even said something like, "Well Turkey are out"—but it totally happened.

And here's the thing. It was actually kind of boring. For 90 minutes, Croatia had, what, two good chances (and you just knew they would pay for missing that sitter that Olic sailed off off the crossbar at about the 18th) that weren't the result of a massive goaltending blunder.

For long stretches of the second half—and we're talking like Mesozoic long—Turkey didn't even look like they were interested in scoring. "Hey, one point for the draw. We'll take it."

Uh, doesn't work that way anymore in the knock-out stages, kids.

So when Turkey's back-up keeper, Rustu, came off his line in the 120th minute for the sole purpose of what looked to be giving Luka Modric the chance to put the ball on Ivan Klasnic's head, Turkey were, ahem, cooked.

And for the second time. Remember how they were eliminated by the Czech Republic in the last game of the group stage?

That's why what happened next was so unbelievable. There shouldn't have even been enough time for it to happen (seriously, where did 74 seconds of stoppage time come from?). But a greedy ball across midfield to a couple of players who were way offside for Croatia gave Turkey the ball and Rustu did what he could, specifically: kick it long and pray.

A head, a bounce, and a Semih Senturk strike later Rustu, and all of Turkey owe one to the supreme being of their choice.

When it went to PK's did anyone think Turkey wouldn't win? Okay, after Modric missed his first kick did those people still not think Turkey would win? (But hey, Spurs, you've got a young player who is already a seasoned choker, nice going).

And if you just saw the highlights, it wouldn't make for a compelling watch. A couple of goals. Two missed PK's and a save. I'm certain of this because it's what SportsCenter led with on the heels of the surreal turned real. Twenty seconds, there's your recap. Now here's some news on Pac-Man Jones. Awesome, huh?


That's the thing about futbol, you have to endure the whole thing for the parts of it to make sense and to matter. You can't just give away the ending. Only after the build-up in the narrative do you care that the chick in The Crying Game is a dude, or that Bruce Willis himself is dead.

Oops. Spoiler alerts. Sorry. Rosebud is also the sled, by the way.

Okay, so long parts of the match were boring, but you can't take a shortcut to get the drama. Sorry, you just can't.

Anyway, Turkey are bulletproof. Yeah, they're down about five players to cards, a couplathree more to injury, so they look dead before they even take the field against die Germans. But, as noted, Turkey have already been eliminated twice and, yet, here they are, one win from a spot in the finals.

I'm guessing they are going to warm up for the semi with soccer balls made of kryptonite.

Read more on "Euro Trash Day 14: Wow. Just... Wow."...

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Croatia v. Turkey

Well, we are here.

Made it in one piece after the abbreviated workday (publishing is kind like that), and now we're roosting on the corner of the bar, prepping for today.

This liveblogging is hard work, especially when you're trying to drink at the same time. Proceedings are fairly sedate for the time being, being the Upper West Side, but it will degenerate come kick-off, of that I am certain.

To reiterate, we're at George Keeley's, on Amsterdam Avenue between 83rd and 84th. If you're out and about, please come and join us. Projection screen and a Golden Tee in front of us, and a fully-stocked bar and amiable bartender behind us.

These two teams have an arseload of history between them. Briefly speaking, they hate each other.

Let's get cracking, shall we?

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

01 Rustu
22 Altintop
04 Zan
15 Asik
03 Balta
06 Topal
20 Sarioglu
17 Sanli
14 Turan
18 Kazim-Richards
08 Nihat

2.37: Excitement's building in the stands, with the requisite stupid hats and ridiculous face paints. Slaven Bilic was pacing anxiously a minute ago; is this the same useless cunt who spent 4 miserable seasons at West Ham and Everton? He's become quite the managerial god.

2.39: Bigus is on his third pint, and equally anxious as the bar's run out of his favourite beer, Victory Pilsner. He is sticking to his promise of being plastered by 3pm as he coolly cruises through his another full glass of "Doggy Style".

2.40: [He's also anxious because he foolishly picked the Croats to win the whole tournament.] Seriously, he picked a Croatia v. Italy final. Could there be anything worse?

2.44: No-one knew the words to the Turkish national anthem, and now it's Croatia's turn. Bigus notes that the cameraman had to pan down to catch the speechless pint-sized midfielder Luka Modric, who will fit in well at Spurs: he's short and has nothing worthwhile to say.

Kickoff is approaching!

We're also going to switch the times for simplicity's sake.

The stadium staff appear to have changed the colour of the running track to blue, giving the impression of a moat surrounding the pitch. This is presumably to ward off the advancing Turk hordes. It might be the smartest thing they do this entire tournament. My pick: Turkey's winning this one....2-1.

1 min: Turkey starts quickly. They are going for the throat early, but both teams are rushing to assert their tempo.

The bar is also filling up slowly but surely. COME ON DOWN, FOLKS! Beer 2 and I'm gathering steam.

Also, NY Kid: they just ran out of this one beer. Bigus practically fucking lives here. [Is that what married life is really like?]

3 min: Modric takes a shot that's deflected wide. Fatih Terin is yelling at his players.

Bilic looks like a bible salesman in his rather dour outfit choice.

4 min: A good shot by Altintop, only just wide. Croatia surge forward down the left, and the low cross into the 6-yard-box is scrambled away under pressure. Srna's corner amounts to fuck all.

7 min:End-to-end stuff so far. Which makes me happy, because in my Mannix-esque way of thinking, a 0-0 that I hadn't seen coming would be a fucking travesty. I mean, c'mon guys, this sport is fucking terrible when no-one scores a goal, right? Right?

11 min: We're having some technical difficulties [read: Keeley's internet connection is pants], but we're persevering. The beer is definitely helping. Kovac "fouls" Tuncay on the edge of the box, which was disgraceful in Bigus' eyes. Kovac got the ball cleanly, but the ref blew the whistle anyway. Too quick on the draw. Free Kick was taken by Zan which hits Kovac of all people square in the chest. Kovac goes down like a cheap slut.

15 min: Turkey is definitely forcing the issue a lot more, having the lion's share of possession and spending more time in Croatia's half, but their attacks are quite meaningless. Very Michael Moore-esque in that regard.

The Turks are struggling to get the ball up to Nihat, and I for one am so fed up with the 4-5-1 formation that I want to drink the piss of Avram Grant's wife to wash the sour taste out of my mouth.

16 min: Someone comes through the bar trying to sell wooden carvings of various animals. I consider buying the hippopotamus figurine for Bigus Dickus. Then, sense returns and I turn the man away.

Tommy Smyth makes another asinine comment, saying that Croatia is taking longer to settle than they have in previous games. No-one thinks to point out to him that it's only been 18 minutes.

19 min: CROATIA GONE WILD.... almost. Modric takes the throughball down the right, squirting another dangerous low cross along the edge of the 6-yard box. Olic blazes the pass off the underside of the crossbar, and some idiot misses the rebound header with Rustu Recber beaten all ends up.

Olic and Balta are having quite the tussle down the right so far.

Bigus points out that you have to score those. I nod in agreement. Modric pounds the floor in frustration like a small toddler. Perhaps him and the other North London crybaby, William Gallas, should get together and have coffee sometime.

Bigus is well-equipped to make the toddler comparison as he has one of his own. It's worth pointing out that Modric and Bigus' son, Luke, are about the same height and weight.

24 mins: A great match so far. Wide open football from both sides, end-to-end stuff. Cracking to watch. Speaking of cracking, Kranjcar gave us his best Kimbo Slice impression by laying a boot into an unfortunate Turk's face.

Pranjcic is having a field day down the left flank so far. 5 crosses in the last couple of minutes. The Croats are threatening.... goal soon for them, we reckon.

Beer #4.

26 mins: To address all this drunk/passed out talk, I assure you, we're trying our best. Bigus talks at a million words per minute, the beer is catching up to us, and the internet connection is shaky at best. Recipe for disaster!

Also, all you grammar/comprehension ninnies.... fuck off. I'm not on the clock anymore, you bastards!

Bigus thinks I type like old people fuck.... well, his wife told me he fucks like old people fuck. Marital bliss does not reside in the Dickus household, it appears. So sad.

28 min: The bar is filling rapidly, just like my bladder. So many beers! The Turkish right-back needs defending lessons.... people not to ask: Sergio Ramos or the imminent Chelsea FC scapegoat Boswinga.

31 min: Bigus is pleased of this joke: "Arda needs to try 'arder. Getting shrugged off the ball very easily."

I remain unimpressed.

Seriously though, this is a wonder to watch. Memo to SI editors (of course I'm not letting this go): send Chris Mannix to Eastern Europe to watch the Turks play. Perhaps he'll end up in that Hostel place they showed in movies.

32 min: Penfold lookalike Tommy Smyth is pleasuring us with his retarded observations. Bigus is about to smash the television.

Seriously though.... ESPN needs to try harder if they're going to make an honest run at EPL coverage. Tommy Smyth deserves to be homeless.

34 min: Great play from Turkey. Now they're putting all the pressure down the flanks.

No real chances to speak of in the last 10, but at least both teams are showing their cards. Attack, attack, attack. It's glorious.

Also, the 4-5-1 still sucks, regardless if all the cool kids are doing it.

Is anyone still out there?

38 min: It's all Turkey for the moment. Is this scripted? Have the two teams agreed to take 10 minute shifts in attack?

40 min: Cracking shot by Topal leaves Pletikosa at full stretch, but the ball drifts narrowly wide.

41 min: Bigus' 2-line summary of the half: "End-to-end stuff, the Turks lack the passing in the final third, and Croatia look very dangerous down the left, where Pranjic has been raping Altintop blind."

44 min: Discussions about the personal lives of various US Soccer luminaries about. We invited Sunil Gulati to the Kinsale with us [well, I didn't, but I have a friend who's got a connection], but predictably he turned us down. It makes sense, right? US Soccer's chief has better things to do? Maybe we smell bad.

45 min + 1: Wolf-whistles echo in the night air as we're winding down to halftime. Lots of back-and-forth, but only that one meaningful chance to reflect on. Olic should have buried that. You're a striker, you're six yards out, and you scuff the ball onto the crossbar.

Will that end up being a costly miss?

Bigus still picks the Turks "to get basted".

I was hoping his jokes would improve as he got more drunk.

Bigus finally read my comment about his "fucking" "ability", and would like the world, yes, the world, to know that his granddad was a sexual deviant.

This has nothing to do with the match, but he doesn't care!

HALF TIME: Let's address some comments, shall we? To "rape somebody blind"... I think the idea is that you fuck them so hard that they lose their eyesight, although if you google the term "rape blind", you get a disturbingly large number of links to news stories about blind people being raped. It's enough to make me want to stop liveblogging. But I digress. Julie Foudy is in the studio, and I wish I was deaf.

50 min: Thanks to the magic of pre-planning, my laptop battery is going to die in 20 minutes. I blame Bigus.

Croatia come agonizing close to a goal... nice sweeping move forward leads to not one, but two clearances off the goal-line. The match is running past at breakneck speed....Croatia will score soon. We are convinced of this.

Arda gets a yellow for a hipcheck on Sidney Crosby (we have no fucking idea who he knocked down. The volume on the telly is low, and the TV is blurry. Plus some Croat-loving tosser is yelling loudly.

54 min: Corluka is having a tidy game at the back for Croatia. More possession for Modric and co. in midfield as they start to exert the pressure.

57 min: Kranjcar is put through on goal via a neat pass, and his weak shot is smothered easily by Rustu Recber.

Bigus is unimpressed at Niko's finish, but he's not surprised: after all, Kranjcar does play for Portsmouth. He opines further that it's due to him being surrounded by se(a)man for nine months of the year!


60 min: The talk of the table has been concerned with guessing whether a female patron's chest is real or enhanced. Also, we are trying to figure out why Colin Kazim-Richards also goes by Kazim-Kazim. Nobody has a fucking clue. Nobody knows, nobody knows...

Also, re: Julie Foudy.... would you fuck her? Is she "doable"?

[Beer keeps landing in front of us. It is my pre-constructed excuse for the decline in quality of this liveblog. It gets worse with every second.]

Bigus said he's rather do me. Something about me having nicer hair [I sport a shaven head].

I am panicked by this revelation.

62 min: Anyone still here?

63 min: Another reason for the lack of updates is that there isn't much going on in the second half. The pace has slowed, which is unsurprising considering the electricity of the first 45.

Dare we continue? Bigus just spilled beer on his notebook. He is saddened by this development.

66 min: From the mastermind of Bigus: Croatia are in control now, having cut down on the room and width Turkey were enjoying on the flanks. This sounds almost sensible, to our collective surprise.

He is adamant that Croatia will score in the next 10 minutes. Considering that he's been wrong about everything else to this point, I will reserve judgment.

70 min: Bigus has amended his idea of Croatia scoring in the next 10 minutes. He is confident of extra time.

Immediately upon typing this, Croatia surge forward with a gorgeous 1-2 that results in a scuffed shot miles over the cross bar. He is now convinced again that Croatia are very close to scoring.

73 min:Croatia completely in control. It's been almost 20 minutes since Turkey got into the final third, and they're finding themselves stymied in midfield.

We had a slight hiccup there as my battery died, but we found a power outlet on the ceiling after removing the plug of one of the neon beer signs. I am now blogging almost standing up.

74 min: Corner to Croatia. Lots of pushing and shoving in the box. The ref is not having it. Srna swings it in low and it amounts to nothing. To credit the ref, he's doing well thus far by being largely anonymous.

Another Croat corner whipped in low towards the edge of the 6-yard box, and it's easily cleared.

77 min: ACTION! SWEET ACTION! A sub for Turkey... Topal off, Santurk on. Fatih has finally realized that another striking option is needed, so off comes one of the inept midfielders in lieu of another forward.

Bigus points out that Turkey are not even getting close to the final third, so another striker seems futile unless he's got some Kuyt-esque workrate in him.

To RK5: we're trying our best, but you can only work with what you've got, which in this case is a muted 2nd half and a lot of free pints.

79 min: Foul on the goalie Recber after another shit corner from Srna. Likely Lad: that was funny. Where is that humor in your liveblog efforts?

Recber needs a haircut.

82 min: The Turkish contingent in the stands are trying their hardest to get some life into their side, who have looked quite bland in the second half. Both teams are running out of steam, and Bigus is amazed that Croatia haven't scored a goal yet.

Great, mazy run from Croat sub Petric leads to a free kick at the top of the box.

A huddle has formed around the ball, but it clears and Srna looks like he's taking it.

83 min: Cracking free kick by Srna yields a diving save by Recber at full-stretch. How the fuck did he get on that? The ball was looping and swerving sharp for the top right corner, but Recber keeps his team in it. Magic save. By our count, that's only the fourth or fifth save Recber's had to make.... lots of possession but few clear-cut chances.

85 min: And now... a picture.

Extra time is looming as a Turkish free kick 40 yards out amounts to, yep, you've guessed it, nothing.

Credit the Turks for their resiliency, and seriously, credit to you, the commenters and visitors, who've been making our hard work worth something. Euro '08 has been a blast so far, and we're all eternally grateful for the insight, observations, and lewd notes posted in all these liveblogs.

Please, keep them coming!

88 min: The Croat contingent in the bar is getting rowdy as the side surges forward once again, the sweeping move cut short by another cynical tackle. Corner for Croatia, taken again low and hard by Srna. Note to Bilic: have someone else take the corners. Srna's whipping them in low right into the first Turkish defender. Nothing lofted in whatsoever.

Another dangerous cross from the right forces a great reaction save from Recber. Now the pace is picking up again as they forage in search of an injury-time winner.

90 min + 1: Wolf-whistles again from the crowd as Srna has another free kick 30 yards out and Recber keeps a grip on it. He's keeping Turkey in this one. Not much bite on the free kick this time around, but he does what he's there to do. Which is more than can be said for Petr Cech.

90 min + 3: With surely the last kick of the injury time, Olic has a sharp shot that fizzes just over the bar. He was offside, but who gives a shit?

FULL TIME: Turkey 0, Croatia 0

We're off for another swift round of drinks and a game of darts.

Back in 10.


91 min: The match slowly rumbles back to life, and it appears that several of the Croatian team have used that brief breather to sort their hair out. Simunic's hairstyle looks especially well put together. The side part is quite striking.

93 min: Despite my fondness for the Turks, they're looking a lot like this year's Greece. At least in this game.... lots of time spent defending and passing the ball around without much purpose. It's enough to drive a man to dri--- oh wait, we already are.

Kiss the ring!

94 min: Turkey's getting a bit more possession and starting to find some room to work the ball wide, but the Croatians are very good at closing them down quickly. Turkey are like the mole to Croatia's whacking at this point.

95 min: Pletikosa is forced into his first save for quite a while, getting down low to keep out the hard near post shot.

Bilic has loosened his tie and looks rather rattled.... his calm bible salesman persona is out the window. He now looks and acts like a man who's renounced God and started hitting the whiskey.

97 min: There really is no place like NYC for attractive women with big wobbly butts. Seriously. We just spotted three in the space of a minute, jiggling down the street. Wobble wobble indeed!

The great Croat chance-squanderer Olic is off, replaced by some other c*nt with a five o'clock shadow. It's Klasnic's turn to be wasteful in front of goal.

Still, the beers keep arriving at our table. Anyone in New York: Amsterdam Avenue between 83rd and 84th. The sun is shining, the beer is flowing.... come on down!

100 min: Oh shit, a throw-in. u75: yes, the electricity is free, and the procession of beautiful women who just clocked off work is a joy to behold.

In bar news: some idiot in a brown t-shirt just pissed off his girlfriend, and he's trying the "let me hug you and make it all better" routine. She is unimpressed and keeps shrugging him off. He keeps trying to hug her, and she's visibly upset. He stroked her hair and she was two seconds shy of punching him in the balls. She's now sulking on a stool while he continues to drink, alone at the table they once shared. THIS IS THE BEST DRAMA EVER.

He is wasting more chances to make up than Olic missed shots on the edge of the 6-yard box.

Bigus notes that he still has a chance, as she hasn't left. She's busy pouting. We would care more, except Bigus notes she looks like a Clanger.

At this point, blogging the match is secondary to blogging their argument. We will let you know if he managed to get back in her good books.

He's now stormed off to the bathroom, and she's about to leave. Chivalry is well and truly dead.

104 min: Turkey come close with a chance, but both teams are definitely playing for penalties. Neither side is really making any clear-cut opportunities. Turkey is enjoying the dregs of possession heading into the whistle.

In relationship news: both brown t-shirt guy and Clanger are sitting in silence at their table. I think they're getting a divorce.

Bigus notes if he were in brown t-shirt guy's position, he'd have gotten a divorce a long time ago, as she looks like a skinny girl chewing on a bag of wrenches.

BREAK Turkey 0, Croatia 0. Someone just showed up with an awesome dog! This is high fucking drama!

I am also silently hoping we get to liveblog our first penalty shoot-out of the competition.

Brown t-shirt guy and Clanger are slowly beginning to talk again. Who said world peace isn't possible?

112 min: Klasnic, Olic, computer hitch, son-of-a-bitch. Some tech difficulties there, but we're back. Both teams are pushing wherever they can to try and squeak out a winner, but this has PKs written all over it. Modric made a neat run down the right, but his selfishness dissolved the opportunity.

Clanger and brown t-shirt guy just left....... shame, that. On the other hand, the dog is still here, and it's fucking awesome. [Sorry Q, no picture for you!]

The Croats are surging forward with desperation as the Turks are comfortable heading for penalties.

Man, I wish I had that dog as a pet. It's like a cross between a golden retriever and a lab? I have no clue.

116 min: It's not as nice as Bigus' dog Bailey, I've been instructed at gunpoint to tell you.

Hey look, a scoring chance! Turkey prepare for a free-kick out on the right side.

117 min: Of course they sky it high over the bar instead of providing a threatening cross. It's been that sort of game really: all the action in the middle of the park, but both teams faltering in the box, much like Likely Lad's sad attempt at a sex life.

An ambulance just sped by. Bigus reckons brown t-shirt is laid up on a stretcher in the back suffering from a stab wound.

119 min: Penalties looming. Both goalies are taking their time with the goal kicks, and I wish Chris Mannix were here.

119 min: THE BAND IS ON THE FIELD, THE BAND IS ON THE FIELD! Unfuckingbelievable. Heartbreak for the plucky Turks...a quick shot of Vienna shows a fire in the Croat fan section.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL... cross in from the right, and finally a Croat gets on the end of it. Number 17, Klasnic, the sub nods it into at the near post. Bilic goes fucking apeshit on the sideline like it's a Managers Gone Wild video shoot.

No PKs for us.

Croatia 1, Turkey 0.

120 min + 2: Um.... wow. GOOOOOOOOOOOOL..... Long, speculative ball into the Croat penalty area, and a great volley from Semih on the bounce finds the back of Pletikosa's net. Unbelievable. The bar just erupted... the Croat is crying while the sizable throng of Turk sympathizers get loud and fucking rowdy. Amazing. Bilic yells in the face of the fourth official, adamant that there was a foul, but the goal stands with the last kick of the match. Unbelievable. Fuck you, Mannix, you douche. This is what it's all about.

Croatia 1, Turkey 1.

PKs just around the corner. I cannot believe what just happened. Two goals in 80 seconds to keep the sides deadlocked. Here we go.

BEFORE PKs: You have to fancy the blessed Turks on this one. Bilic still hasn't calmed down. Modric steps up for the first PK for Croatia. They shoot first.

MISS! Modric puts it wide right. Recber didn't even need to dive. What a fuck-up for the new Spurs wunderkind. Cro 0-0 Tur

GOAL! Arda makes no mistake. Emphatic. Cro 0-1 Tur

GOAL! Srna makes it. Where was this power on those corner kicks? Cro 1-1 Tur

GOAL! Cool as you like. Equalizer hero Semih blasts it low to the left. Cro 1-2 Tur

MISS! Rakitic puts it wide left. Recber is jubilant. Bilic is stunned. Two huge misses.Cro 1-2 Tur

GOAL! Simple. Hamit Altintop slots it home, low to the left beyond Pletikosa. Cro 1-3 Tur

SAVE! Recber gets a hand to it, low to his left, and Petric is distraught. TURKEY THROUGH ON PENALTIES, 3-1. Amazing finish. The Turks celebrate while Bilic, the bible salesman, tries valiantly to console Kovac and co. Bigus is upset, as his fashionable Croatia for the title pick is ruined. Turkey head on to meet ze Germans in the next round. High fucking drama. Suck a dick, Mannix. You'd have loves this one.

Srna is devastated... three trainers and Bilic still can't stop the tears. What a finish. Recber is getting laid many times tonight, you can bank on that. Altintop and Fatih are on top off the world. Amazing finish.

Of course, ESPN cut away from the celebrations to bring us... Sportscenter. They claim to have an interest in the sport, but really.. no post-match analysis? No trip to the soccer studio? I guess PTI is more important, hence the interruption. Fucking sad. Of course Scott Van Pelt cannot put this into words. To their credit, they do lead with the highlights, but it's really a bit of a slap in the face. Fuck you, ESPN.


Now if you'll excuse us, we're off to keep drinking. Roll on lads! Another good quarter-final in store tomorrow! Thanks for joining us, thanks for the comments, thank you very much. Free beer awaits!

Read more on "Euro 2008 Liveblog: Croatia v. Turkey"...


Hopefully, the Benedict Arnold now scuppers off to Real Madrid for a Galacticos Redux.

[Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images]

After the jump more Iberian news...

It looks like Portuguese fans are taking the loss poorly as this young Portuguese lady was stabbed after the match in Portugal.

[Photo: AP Photo/Paulo Duarte]

For the ladies...

Pepe and Torres stretching.

[Photo: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue]

Read more on "3-2"...

Chris Mannix needs to EAFD and DIAF

This will be epic. Chris Mannix.... you're a dead man.


Seriously, stop what you're doing and devote 30 minutes to this. We've worked hard and suffered through many broken computers to bring you this. Why? I'm not quite sure.

For a brief reminder as to why we wrote this, and why it took so long (answer to part 2: because it took me this long to calm myself down), read his original piece-of-shit article here.

Sports Illustrated, your editorial department has some 'splaining to do.

Sure, the headline might be a bit harsh if you know your acronyms, but I really don't give a toss. I'm suffering from some awful sunburn, the by-product of sleeping on the beach and general lotion-application stupidity, and while this article angered me last week, now I'm in a full-on sunstroke rampage. In-between bouts of fainting, I'm fucking pissed.

Simply put, Chris Mannix is the latest face on the "Why the US will always hate soccer blah blah blah" bandwagon. He's the most recent chap to brave the choppy waters and add his 2 cents to the argument. Except, amid his awful prose, his argument goes nowhere, and it irritates the shit out of me that he is paid to write garbage like this for a national sports magazine, and also gets the kind of USMNT access that real soccer fans would murder Eric Wynalda to get.

So let's FJM-style this shitbag, shall we?

His intro is soft and pudgy. Just like his character.

"I bet you think soccer is as American as cricket and as thrilling as the Westminster dog show."
No, we don't, but please continue. I can see where you're going.

"All that kicking and heading, and no hands? Maybe that's why Zinedine Zidane dropped Marco Materazzi with a head butt in the 2006 World Cup final."
Hey, he can use Wikipedia! I give him credit for spelling the names right, but really, are we still hung up on this incident? People get sent off for violent conduct and outbursts of emotion on the pitch all the fucking time (heck, just ask Antonio Cassano or Javier Mascherano)!

Still, in the minds of the closed-minded, this is what it all comes down to. A French-Algerian headbutted a vile-mouthed Italian.

"He didn't realize he could use those things attached to his shoulders to throw a punch."
Well, he did, but let's face it, the symbolism was rather tasty.

"And games that end 0-0? (Sorry, nil-nil.)"
A cute joke that bolsters an awful argument. It boils down to this: people think soccer is boring because they don't score too much! Fuck, we've been dealing with this idea since the birth of the game.

Are these same people the ones who decry a 77-74 NBA Playoff game? Or a 9-3 NFL game? Or a 1-0 game of baseball? Or the entire concept of golf?

Because honestly, highlighting one possible outcome of an intricate sport is a laughable way to try and show that it's boring, or simply not worth the time or investment.

Seriously, it's a throwaway point that makes you look like a drooling cretin.

The idea that goals/points/scoring = excitement is only something that neanderthals cling to when watching their sport. Remarkably, it's often the same crowd who mumbles this thought between bites from their KFC Original Bowl and who love NASCAR so much! I realize there's an art to driving fast and all, and that there is some skill to it, but on some chemical level I see it as three+ hours of turning left!

Thankfully, I can come to terms with it while still respecting it, which is more than could be said for Mannix and soccer.

"The zealots will tell you that soccer is ready to become America's fifth major sport. In my mind, it already is. If you're too slow to play basketball, too scared for baseball, too small for football and too clumsy for hockey, you turn to soccer."
Hilarious. I'll let him have this joke. He clearly worked hard on his anaphora, so he gets a brief respite. It's the next paragraph that condemns his entire perspective on the argument at hand.

"In the interest of full disclosure, I have tried my feet at the game. Let's just say it didn't take. It was 1988, and I was in second grade at Sacred Heart Elementary in Kingston, Mass. My team went 0-9. My father was the coach. I was the goalkeeper. After the season the team parents gave my dad a book on how to coach soccer. "I didn't need it," he tells me now. "I already knew how to win. Don't put you in goal." I hadn't watched a soccer game since."
[Scene from Chris Mannix in high school]

Physics Teacher: Hey Chris, we need to talk before class.
Chris: Sure thing, prof.
PT: I just finished grading the midterm, and you got an F. Simply put, you're terrible at physics. You've taken this class five times over already, and despite all the mentoring and after-school tutoring, you're no better than where you were in elementary school.
Chris: (silence)
PT: I understand you're upset, angry even. We can work on this though. I'm willing to give you the benefit of my expertise, and I will commit to helping you gain a better grip of basic physics concepts and ideas in order to make you a better student.
Chris: I renounce the concept of gravity. Fuck you, and fuck Newton.

[end scene -- man, I should call David Mamet. I clearly have a future in screenwriting]

Seriously, SI editors, why let this idiot fumble his way through another 2000 words at this point? Anything you get beyond this heartfelt glimpse into Mannix family lore is pure rubbish.

Letting this guy write editorials is akin to letting Jared from Subway commercials explain the intricacies of Asian cuisine. Sure, he might have a basic idea of what its about, and he's certainly capable of learning, but really, his entire world view dictates that he'll be fucking useless on the subject.

So why bother? Why waste precious pages? You're already a magazine struggling to keep up with the loud and lightning-fast world of sports media, and yet you're continually giving column space to the intellectual equal of Mickey fucking Rooney? Drool on, please.

At this point, Mannix, seemingly incapable of a threaded, coherent argument, jumps into his 5 main complaints about soccer, and attacks them each individually with his experiences from the road, occasionally pausing to offer scant praise for the sport he's always hated.

I warn you, I might pass out from the screaming.

Thankfully, The Likely Lad and Precious Roy were happy to sub in and out to prevent me from being hospitalized.

American fans lack passion

This ought to be good.

"Two weeks ago, if you'd asked me about La Barra Brava, I would have guessed it was a Latin boy band. Turns out, with over 1,000 members representing more than 30 countries, the Barra is considered MLS's largest, most diverse and most rabid fan group. Great, I thought when I learned I'd be hanging out with them in Washington, D.C., for United's game against the Houston Dynamo on June 4. The David Hasselhoff fan club."
Nice, a boy band joke. Immediately, a tone of snobbery from a guy who's barely a leg to stand on.

"My first indication to the contrary came well before kickoff. A driving rain had turned a four-hour trip from Manhattan into six, and I was beginning to wonder if I'd get to see my first soccer game at all. I texted Rob Gillespie, one of Barra's elders, to confirm that the pregame tailgate had been washed out. His answer was succinct: rain or shine."

Mannix' internal dialog: man, I was hoping the rain would stop these public school morons from preparing for the game. That would make sense in my worldview, because of course, while Cleveland Brown fans would adopt a similar mentality when faced with road-clogging snow, I am amazed that any soccer fans in the USA could possibly exhibit the same rabid fanaticism.

"It's amazing what Barra members can do during a tornado watch. They can eat, even when their rolls have turned to mush and the charcoal flames are reduced to a flicker. They can drink, even if their keg cups contain less beer than monsoon. And they can sing. Oh, can they sing. First Vamos United. Then the Barra Brava song. Soon I'm frantically scrolling through my BlackBerry for the lyrics and singing along -- it's addictive.

The Barra takes advantage of a break in the rain to head into RFK Stadium. Rather than seek refuge beneath the overhanging stands members march directly to their section at midfield. They cluster together behind a massive black banner, even though the stadium isn't lacking for seating. As the players emerge, the chants begin again. Everyone on Houston sucks. The refs suck. Cobi Jones sucks. (Never mind that Jones, I learn, played in L.A., retired last year and is not in attendance.)"

Again, more empty set-up. He is surprised and amazed as he continues his de Toqueville-esque observations of soccer fans, who, surprise, are just as fanatic as those who root for the traditional American stable of sports. Heck, he might even be enjoying this!

"After 16 minutes the referees deem the field unplayable and wave the teams out of the muck. The Barra doesn't move. When lightning strikes in the distance, the P.A. announcer tells fans to take cover in the concourse. The Barra chants louder. Only after a personal request from a United official does the Barra relent. An hour later the game is suspended. A few angry Barra members storm the flooded field and are escorted out. The rest leave on their own, hurling profanities."
Yep. We're not leaving early just because of some rain. When was the last time you saw the Marlins retain most of their crowd in the face of a storm?

"As I wade back to the van, water spills from my sneakers at every step. I should be miserable, but I'm not. I'm smiling. American soccer fans are great. If only there were a few more of them."
Excellent! There is hope for this gu---- oh wait. Fuck.

(pause to smash head against wall)

There are fucking hundreds of thousands of them! They clog the NY public soccer rec leagues, amateur clubs all over the country, high school stadiums across the northeast and southwest, MLS stadiums from Los Angeles to Columbus, large sports arenas for Mexico vs. USA, it doesn't fucking matter. Rain or shine, come hell or high water: there are a lot of fucking soccer fans across this nation.

And yet, what did all this prove? Mannix enjoyed a wonderful day out, had a good time, ostensibly enjoyed nothing more than the tailgate and colorful songs (hey, two more things soccer has in common with the major US sports), and he still managed to end on a downer.

Why? Because otherwise his thesis is ruined. Wasn't he supposed to be arguing that he hates soccer? He complains initially that they lack passion, then he spends a day with La Barra Brava, realizes they are passionate, and now his complaint shifts to there not being enough American soccer fans!??!!?!

Christ, is there one editor brave and strong-minded enough to point this out to Sir Mannix?

There is no strategy

Please, restrain me. My blood pressure is dangerously high by this point. Mannix is off to spend some time with members of the USMNT, and thanks to the surely out-of-context quoted idiocy from Claudio Reyna, Mannix has his golden goose.

Who is Claudio Reyna? The New York Red Bulls had persuaded Reyna to sit with me during the first half of their Thursday night game against Chivas USA at Giants Stadium, so it was probably a good idea to know whom I'd be talking to.
Yep, it would be. Moron.

Reyna, I learned, is the former U.S. captain who had a successful career in Europe before returning to the States to join MLS. (He's currently injured.)
A wise move on his part, considering that the Red Bulls are fucking horrendous.

O.K., here was a man who could talk soccer.
Debatable, but for another time.

Here was a man who could explain how there is more to the game than 20 players running up and down the field. That there's more to scoring goals than one really good player kicking the ball in the general direction of the net -- and hoping it gets past a bunch of guys.
At this point, I'm almost scared to turn the page. It's an obvious set-up, and a horribly, horribly misguided one. It would be easy to look at soccer and think that. It would be easy to look at a Packers/Vikings game without knowing what was going on and thinking the same thing. "Oh, you mean they have to run into that zone at the end and have possession of the ball when they do it? OK, makes sense."

I mean fuck, you could watch an episode of Sex and the City without knowing what was going on, and you're be worried as to why the blond one can never keep her legs closed for more than 11 minutes.

But there isn't, as even Reyna admitted. "Some teams play technically," he said. "Mostly in Europe. But soccer is probably the least coached sport of them all."
Claudio, I swear to the Lord God on high, why would you give him this quote? Are you fucking kidding me? At this point, I cannot see straight.

I think reading this line has caused blindness. Least-coached sport of them all? Are you fucking joking? Perhaps it's because you've lumbered through a mediocre club career that's seen you play for a number of going-nowhere clubs, and that all of your managers have been slobbering idiots.

Soccer requires a lot of tactical coaching considering its wide-open nature. 11 men running around in pursuit of a white ball cannot be left to chaos and chance. It requires discipline in formations, adjustments to suit for player-on-player matchups and markings (just like in the NFL, where teams overload weak DBs or put their tallest WR on the opponent's smallest CB) in order to neutralize the opponent's strength.

You need a marshal on the sidelines to make sure the formation holds in both attack and defense, and that the team's style of play (smooth passing play, or Route 1 play via the long ball, or putting an emphasis on wingers or your #10 who sits right behind the strikers as a libero) is adhered to.

If there are injuries or red cards, the manager has to make adjustments accordingly (or in Domenech's case, shit the bed entirely). Who was sent off? What position did he play? Who do I have on my bench who can ably deputize? Which player/position do I weaken in order to bring on this substitute?

And thanks to the eternal stupidity of Claudio Reyna's soundbite, Chris "Donkey Logic" Mannix has his misconceptions confirmed BY A GUY WHO HAS PLAYED THE GAME FOR OVER A DECADE PROFESSIONALLY.

Seriously... the MLS works so hard to gain legitimacy, and this crocked retard undoes some of that earnest work with a flourish of his mouth.

So let's see how Mannix extrapolates this:

Reyna did turn me on to certain nuances. Spacing is critical, and coaches often shift players into more defensive positions when they have a lead late in games. Up by a goal with the clock winding down against Chivas, Red Bulls midfielder Dave Van den Bergh raced toward the sideline and shouted to New York coach Juan Carlos Osorio to assign someone to "sit on" Chivas midfielder Paulo Nagamura. Osorio sent in defensive-minded midfielder Luke Sassano, who helped New York hang on for the win.
This is simply brilliant writing, AS IT NEGATES WHAT MANNIX HIMSELF JUST QUOTED. Phew. Thank you Claudio. You give him some evidence of coaching in professional soccer, and then it is immediately reinforced by a concrete example of this coaching methodology in action.

Perhaps all is not lost?

Still, Reyna confirmed my belief that soccer is more about individual talent than teamwork. He mentioned former national team striker Brian McBride, whose ability to head a ball in traffic is unmatched.
What do you mean, "still"? He gave you a terrible quote which was then negated, but "still", Reyna negated it again and somehow drove you back to your retarded initial hypothesis? Fuck... I'd love to meet your debate coach.

Individual talent can only get you so far. It's not difficult to find examples of this.

Example 1: my beloved Liverpool FC. They are a team largely driven by 2 players of their first-choice starting XI: Steven Gerrard in midfield, and Fernando Torres up front. These two are tremendously gifted, and have conjured up several fleeting moments of brilliance to bail us out of awful situations.

However, when one or both of them are having a bad game, the entire team struggles, and we end up suffering through 1-1 draws at home to Wigan. It's simple: you can have one or two world-class superstars, but all their talent and potential can't get you the three points every week. It simply doesn't work. Once or twice or thrice a season, but over the long-haul, you require a team effort.

Example 2: the Turkish National Team. Now they are a wonderful example of the other side of a coin: a team driven by several efficient role players with no discernible superstar in sight. They are hard-working and rely on each other to grind out favourable results. No household names, no-one getting paid billions to lounge around in Nike or Adidas commercials, but by-and-large, a successful team.

Example 3: Barcelona. Now they're a fun case study because they're a team full of superstars who rely on individual skill, and yet they have no fucking idea how to work together. The end result in 2007/08? 3rd in the League, semis of the Champions League, beaten both times by Real Madrid during La Liga campaign (1-0 and 4-0 respectively), and failure in both domestic knockout tournaments. Aka, a DISMAL FUCKING SEASON WITH NO WINS OR VICTORIES TO BE PROUD OF.

Mannix, are you getting this yet? Individuals only carry a team so far. The very nature of a TEAM requires that you have more than one player. Did the Cavaliers win the NBA Title? No, of course not. Lebron James can't do the work of 5 players on the court at one time. When was the last World Series win for the Yankees, a team led furiously by an individual who will go down in history as one of the all-time greats, Mr. Alex Rodriguez?

Fuck. Pick the New York Giants. Two or three household names, and a bunch of determined nobodies. And they have a Super Bowl trophy.

The concept is fucking retarded, Mannix. Please, give it up. Give me something better, PLEASE.

And, of course, there's David Beckham, who could ping a paparazzo in the head from 50 yards away if he felt like it. "What Beckham can do with free kicks and corner kicks," says Reyna, "is an art form."

So there is strategy: Get more players like Beckham.

*slumped on the floor dead*

[Ed. Note: it is at this point that LB fell over, probably due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The Likely Lad will deputize in his absence]

Well, in light of LB's demise, allow me to crack on. Chris Mannix will not be allowed any respite!
It's mind-numbingly dull


I want a sport to seize my attention and keep it. My impression: In soccer you can marvel at a pretty goal or a diving save, then go to the bathroom, call your girlfriend, buy a plate of nachos and make it back to your seat before a team crosses midfield again.

Oh, your impression? I see, we had nearly forgotten.

Apart from Mr. Mannix’s ill-conceived notions about football and his general rhetorical cuntiness, there is the issue of his narrative construction.

As now, the reader understands that the words spilling across the page are the writer’s own. They are his opinion. There is no need to continuously restate the point.

Over and again goes the refrain: “to me”… “I thought”… “I’m beginning to get it.” Why then, can this esteemed professional not state his piece without such stunting qualification?

The answer is simple, if not immediately obvious. An argument of this nature must be grounded in the wit or incisive nature of the reporting. When stripped of that, along with any illusion of factual research, there is nothing left but the cliché. In this case, a particularly drab one.

It is important to understand that when a reporter knows something to be true, or has done sufficient research to hold some confidence in his assertions, or, god forbid, uses a telling quote, there is no need to conjure up such a bundle of awkward refrain.

Remove the “My Impression:” from the above cut-out and what you have, simply, is a staid, hopelessly formulaic denunciation of a particular sport. It’s pale and snarky, and worst of all—the one real, unforgivable sin—not funny.

The frequent lulls turned off the crowd. Fans talked about how many beers they planned to drink in the parking lot. Two men sitting in front of me spent 23 minutes of the first half arguing whether the game was being played on natural grass or field turf.
This conversation our correspondent was privy to, that he set his watch to (we’re led to believe), could have only taken place at a soccer match. Correct?

No other sport could driven the spectators into the arms of such inane conversation. The constant, feverish pace of a baseball game would never allow for such idle musing. Or an American football game for that matter.

Fans spend the NFL’s hours of artificial stoppage time discussing what? The intricacies of the Tampa 2 defense? Quantum physics, or the political heritage of Nixon’s Southern Strategy?

No, they get drunk, as many soccer fans do, and bullshit. Sometimes about the game. Sometimes about their wives and girlfriends. And sometimes, maybe even when some creepy geek with string warts is hovering over their shoulders… the cut of the fucking grass.

The world's No. 2-ranked team looked listless, falling behind 63rd-ranked Venezuela and getting booed off the field at halftime. What's worse, they didn't even bring Ronaldinho, the one soccer player whose name I know.
Observe our esteemed reporter, here, delighting in his greedy ignorance! He’s an idiot and will not be bullied into denying it. He is not one to bow before those European quasi-intellectual soccernistas. Here he is with beer, wraparound shades and the virility of youth and narcissism. He’ll make a name for himself yet—the power to awe and incite all bottled up in his little pen.

He is our 21st century nowhere man.

After the final horn sounded in Venezuela's 2-0 victory, the Brazilian fans continued their chanting and singing and drumming on their way out. As amped up as I was by the noise before the game, now it rang hollow. To me, what these fans really enjoyed was being Brazil fans, not watching their team play. It had to have been. No one could have enjoyed that.
Certainly Mr. Mannix has dug his own grave here. He’s crossed the Jester—a rank criticism of what he can’t understand.

If Sports Illustrated is a dying brand, this is the stuff that will fill out its epitaph. Profits have shrunk, and with them the salaries of staff members—those, that is, that have been lucky enough to keep their place.

But rather than stay true to the form that brought the magazine its longstanding acclaim (from some, less so from others… hem/haw), its editors have decided that young writers like Mr. Mannix are where the future lies.

Every notion that strikes his kind is a revelation. For what he cannot fathom—being a Brazil fan—he fashions a sneer. It is not an affliction reserved for him. It is common, indeed. Why Sports Illustrated sees fit to pay him to articulate it is anyone's guess.

Whatever the reasoning, it is misguided at best.

The days of prose poets reporting the news and telling the stories of sport and man may be past, but there will always be a hunger for writing that speaks to the reader as an equal. This piss, condescension in the guise of contrarian's disarmament, may stir up some silly bloggers today. But ultimately it will have all the staying power of a Big Mac in the bulimic's craw.

[Ed. Note: we're skipping #4 because we're aware this is rather long. Also, welcome Precious Roy to the argument. Sterling work ahead!]

Soccer Players are Wimpy Athletes


They don't run; they jog. They don't fall; they dive.
I know what you're doing here. You're going to set up all of these stereotypes about the sport, then have some sort of mini-revelation. Hey, congrats you've been born into the light. Welcome.

Not really.

In fact, consider that your stereotypes are just plain wrong. Like creation science kind of wrong.

Sometimes players do jog. Other times they are on a dead run (and often trying to control a ball while doing it... oh, and a 6'4" 210 pound defender is trying to get them off the ball while this is happening). But if they were on a dead run for 90 minutes, they wouldn't be soccer players, they would be Kenyans.

As for the diving, let's run a little experiment. You take off on a sprint, then I'll come up from behind you and clip you with my spikes. I'll give you, say, $50 (and my undying respect) if you don't hit the ground. I'll double it if you can prevent yourself from responding to the reflex of reaching back to the hole in your Achilles.

They treat contact like an infectious disease.
Actually, that's the opposite of what they do. If they thought it were an infectious disease they would probably shy away from it, or warn other players off them: "Hey, don't tackle me man, I've got a raging case of schistosomiasis, and it would be a total bummer if you caught from me for trying to do something as silly as preventing me from taking a shot on goal. K thx."
These were the biggest preconceptions I took into my final game, a highly anticipated exhibition at Giants Stadium between the U.S. and the world's No. 1, Argentina.

It took a little more than 37 minutes of playing time for me to realize that, well, I was a fool.

That long? I figured out you were a fool about 2 sentences into this article. What was that? Maybe 20 seconds?
A loose ball had squirted free, rolling toward where I had positioned myself, behind the U.S. goal. Argentina's Javier Mascherano and the U.S.'s DaMarcus Beasley gave chase, Mascherano coming away with the ball after cracking Beasley with a hip check that sent the midfielder careening into the boards. I looked up, certain I would see one of those colorful cards come out of the ref's pocket. No foul. Play on.

The action was pulsating. Heads collided. Bodies soared before crashing violently to the grass. True, there was the occasional head-scratching decision. U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni was ejected in the 71st minute, and I'm still wondering why. But show me one bad call in soccer, and I'll show you a reel of NBA ref Dick Bavetta's greatest hits. For 97 minutes the two teams grinded, pressing the action on both ends, engineering fast breaks from 100 yards away. It was the best game of the weekend. And it ended 0-0. Imagine that.

Whoa. Holy fucking cow. A low scoring game, and it was exciting? Unbelievable. I've never heard of such a thing. In fact, even though I watched the same match, I'm still not sure I could have possibly imagined it was both exciting and low scoring. I hadn't realized what a fucking anomaly it was until you just pointed that out to me. Low scoring games have never been exciting before. Never. Instead, I'm going to go ahead and posit that it is metaphysically impossible.

Or it was, before your little revelation.

"The physicality makes it exciting," U.S. defender Heath Pearce told me afterward. "When you're going for the ball and it's between you and another guy, you are going to lay that other guy out to get there first. That's the kind of stuff you really can't appreciate on TV."
Not to get nitpicky, but that's the best quote you got?
Agreed. After five days and six matches I can now say that I enjoy soccer at its best -- though I continue to despise it at its worst. And the biggest problem is that you're as likely to see a mess as a masterpiece. But how do you know going in?
Initially I was tempted to say something like: "Hey, we agree. Awesome, we're so alike when you get right down to it. It's like Sly Stone was saying man. 'I am everyday people' and it's so cool because you are too. Let's sing 'Kum-bay-yah' What do you say?" I mean, soccer at it's best is phenomenal. Boring soccer, yeah, it can be tough to watch.

But that would be stupid of me. Because what you said is true of any fucking sport. You never know going in to any game if it's going to be a blow out or a tense, hard fought, super-deluxe excitement-a-thon of awesomenessly excitable excitingness.

Yeah, bad soccer is bad. Guess what, so it is with other sports. Bad basketball is bad just as bad football is bad. And bad hockey is bad. And bad ice dancing is bad. And bad rugby is bad. Even bad badminton is bad.

[Ed. Note: Bad sex is still alright though. Y'know, because it's sex.]

And anyone who knows going in if a sporting event is going to be good or bad probably shouldn't be trying to make a living as a sportswriter, but instead using those powers of precognitive dissonance for greater good, or even personal enrichment of material wealth (Vegas, baby). Doesn't matter to me if you want to be selfish like that.

Look, nobody is asking anyone to like soccer. You don't like it? Fine. I don't like the NBA. Can't watch it. Any sport where a 30 point 3rd quarter lead is meaningless? Kind of hard to get behind watching that (Not to mention the fact that there are different rules for stars, and that it often takes 10 minutes to play the last 30 seconds, and there is this bizarre provision that let's a team take the ball in at half court after a time out so when the game is on the line late they get to do what might be the baseball equivalent of going straight to second after a base on balls for a team that is trailing in the ninth inning, and my grammar is probably getting atrocious. Anyway... where was I?)

Yeah, people who don't like soccer, or don't think they "get it"? Nobody cares. Or at least the people who love the sport don't. They aren't holding telethons in Europe to raise money to help the silly Americans appreciate the world's most popular sport. I'm not going to call you at 8 am on a Saturday to lobby you to join me at the pub to watch Arsenal play United. You're probably sleeping, I'm not that rude, and, frankly, I'd rather be able to get a good seat at the bar, so the fewer people the better.

So, yippee, Mr. Mannix, you gave it a chance. I baked some rather delicious banana bread last night.

If you want a piece, it's yours for your efforts. Only you have to come get it because I'm not making any effort for you, or for your silly little crash course, or for anyone else who thinks they have to explain why they don't like it or feel obligated to become a social scientist seeking to undercover what it is about the rest of the world that separates us over this one activity.

The rest of the world also eats more Nutella.

Or maybe they don't. But I am sure there are other things that we don't all agree on or do differently.

So anyone else who wants to give soccer a chance, great. It's there for the sampling. If you like it, I'll see you in August when the EPL season starts. If not, shut up. Save for my abbreviated rant above, I don't go around spouting off about what sports I don't watch and why, then come to conclusions which are inanely universal.

Wait, what's that? The U.S. is playing a World Cup qualifier two weeks from now -- in Barbados? Hold the presses: I think I have one game left!
Journalism Fail! Sorry, no trip for you. Do not pass 'Go,' etc.

Read more on "Chris Mannix needs to EAFD and DIAF"...

Come, Come.. One and all!

Today's Quarter final action will be brought to you by Victory beer. Known to many as Blog fuel.

That's right punters... The amazing Unprofessional Foul LIVE blogging roadshow is taking the Euro 2008 blogging experience out into the world. Woooo.

This afternoon Lingering Bursitis and I (Bigus) will be sharing our paralogistic opnions and insatiable thirst with the common folk. I can promise that there will loads of snippets from Croatians and Turks. AND pictures a plenty! It's my first Live blog of the tourney and I will do my very best to bring you all the action in a timely and cogent fashion. Who am I kidding..I'll be plastered by 3!

If anyone can make it, we will be holding court at George Keeley's (83rd and Amsterdam).

Come on down and say hello! (Or you suck, screw you... Or any other unpleasant (and hopefully offensive and vulgar) greetings you can bestow upon us.

See you there! Here...So confusing.


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Italy Waves The White Flag Surrendering To England

The Italians are proud people, perhaps too proud at times, and it is not without great anguish that they surrender. As in WWII, though, the Boot has waved the white flag to England calling off the dogs, only this time it's in the name of soccer/football/calcio. One time super-club AC Milan has finally admitted it is inferior to the great English club Manchester......City?

Is that right? It can't be. It must be Manchester United, but it is not. AC Milan has admitted it can no longer compete for Ronaldinho's services with the Thai led juggernaut Manchester City. Said AC Milan's vice president, Adriano Galliani:

'I cannot ignore that Italian football is now in fourth position in Europe behind England, Spain and Germany,' he said in Gazzetta dello Sport.
This can only mean the end is nigh. Italy accepting it's inferiority. Of course, if some Russian oil tycoons or deposed billionaire country leaders purchases a team or two in Italy this could surely change. Wait, doesn't the leader of Italy also own AC Milan? And, aren't Italian politics well known for corruption? Well, giddyup Berlusconi you have an entire tax base to work with.

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Euro Trash: Day 13 Quarterfina... SCHWEINSTEIGER!!!!

Here is my contribution to the Euro separated-at-birth meme. Enjoy!

Read more about the guy on the left after the jump.

The Berlin Wall 3, Cristiano Ronaldo's Pouty Face 2: Efficient. Disciplined. Organized. Teutonic. You may use any of the tried and true cliches about German futbol to describe today's match because the scoreline doesn't reflect what a rout the game really was. Portugal was playing from behind (literally and figuratively) the entire match. Once Germany took the lead, which took all of 22 minutes, the Germans simply sat back on defense and smothered any Portuguese attack. Some nice individual play by Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani -- who will continue to be teammates for about two more days before Ronaldo packs up and leaves for Real Madrid (shocker!) -- made the game respectable, but countless crosses went wildly off target or dribbles into the box fizzled out or over-ambitious long-range shots careened into the stands.

What's clear is that Big Phil has a lot of work to do with the Portuguese defenders when he gets to Chelski (human growth hormones might help). All three of Germany's goals came due to shocking, pathetic defensive lapses. Carvalho was nowhere to be seen, and Paulo Ferreira should be shipped to the Siberian Third Division, promptly.

Meanwhile, with each German goal, the stadium strangely rocked with Euro dance music and the Portuguese looked more and more dejected. ESPN's feed showed about 2,000 shots of Joachim Loew in his special bubble boy sin bin -- by the end of the game the cameraman was so bored with the shot that he was introducing a dramatic soft focus -- and, much like Cristiano Ronaldo dreaming of the millions of euros that he is about to make at Real Madrid, my mind wandered to the thought of a dreaded Germany versus Italy final. It would be like the Spurs and Pistons in the NBA Finals, only much, much, much worse. So, forgive me if I'll be rooting for the Netherlands and Spain, who at least make the games unpredictable. Fucking Germans, always winning!

Other crud
Euro 2008 a huge success....for ticket scalpers [Guardian]
Germany's WAGs are wagging the proverbial Ballack [Chelsea Pies]
Seattle Sounders have an awesome season tickets process (h/t Deadspin) [Enjoy the Enjoyment]

Swiss TV broadcasts Nazi lyrics [Telegraph]
Euro 2008 viewing figures still strong despite English incompetence [Guardian]
Lampard to Inter more inevitable than ever [The Sun]
The Worst Penalty Kick Ever. [The Spoiler]
We don't know what this is, but it's kinda entertaining [Nintenofriendo Wii Fan Boy]

Read more on "Euro Trash: Day 13 Quarterfina... SCHWEINSTEIGER!!!!"...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Euro 2008 Liveblog: Germany v. Portugal

Would anybody have complained if Germany v. Protugal had been the final match-up?

Okay, sure the Italians. And probably even the Dutch. The Greeks, yeah they would have wanted to defend their title. And have you ever heard a Swede bitch? Oh, and I bet the Turks can whinge up a storm as well.

Okay, except for 13 of the 14 other nations involved—Austria should be blowing some deity right now in giving thanks that they got to attend this little shindig—who would have complained that this would have been worthy of the final?

And we get it as a quarter final. Good for us.

Bad for one of Germany or Portugal (I'm hoping it's bad for Portugal) as one of them is going home after today.

Not that I have any particular love for die Germans. Every couple of generations they get a little bossy and start invading neighbors; and well, by the calendar on the wall, seems like we're past due for another attempt at über alles.

But I'm sick of Cristiano Ronaldo.Time to start acting like the best player in the world instead of a 4 year old. So dear Baby Jesus, if Ronaldo takes a blatant dive today, please give the ref the strength to card his ass.

Any number of players on the pitch could be the difference maker today. I'm putting it on Jens. If he kicks one of off his own knee today (a la at home to Fulham to start the last EPL campaign) the Germans are done. And I will laugh as he shuffles off to Stuttgart.

But if his secrets on how to handle Ronaldo and the Portuguese turn out to be more than complete bullshit, then I will cry as Kilnsy's CHB could have dropped those on some teammates during the last season at the Emirates.

Anyway, by the fault of some arrogant reffing, Joachim Loew won't be on the sideline. He's got a one match ban, which means he can't have anything to do with his team from half hour before until half hour after. Really? He can't run on the field if they win to celebrate? I believe the term to describe that is: "fucking stupid."

Bummer as the movie version of this match with Hackman [warning mp3 link] matching wits against MacLachlan would have been box office gold.

Livebloggamy to follow. Join us as I go get a sandwich and will be back a couple of minutes before kick.

Germany: Lehmann, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Rolfes, Ballack, Hitzlsperger, Klose, Podolski.

Portugal: Ricardo, Bosingwa, Pepe, Carvalho, Ferreira, Petit, Joao Moutinho, Ronaldo, Deco, Simao, Nuno Gomes.

Sweet fancy Moses... No Foudy. Wow, maybe prayer does work. I don't know. I didn't try it, but I bet somebody who believes in it did.

T-minus 6: "Seven Nation Army" again. Is this now the default music for crowd chants at Euro 2008?

T-minus 5: Anthems. Germany first. And the Dodgers are pasting the Reds. Hope I didn't start Aaron Harang.

T-minus 3: Portugal's anthem. They look tiny. And Deco looks like a Care Bear.

T-miuns 2: Seriously, as they shake hands Germany looks like they are playing Lilliput.

Kick: So apparently new sod went down like 2 or 3 days ago and it's not really set. Players were puling up corners of huge pieces in pre-game. Could be an issue. But everyone thought that about the CL final and it turned out not to be, or did it? Was EBJT's kick shanked because of he slipped on loose turf, or just straight rain?

2nd minute: Germany having problems getting out of its end on consecutive throws.

3rd minute: Long ball from Germany and Ricardo ends up coming way off his line and outside the 18 to "handle" it. Has to use his feet. Podolski gets a visit from the ref as someone from Portugal cries on the ground.

4th minute: First chance from Ronaldo. He takes it down the left side and kicks one straight into Lehmann's arms. Piece of cake, but Lehmann has looked shakier on easier balls this year.

5th minute: German controlling the midfield a little better right now. But the Portuguese back line is pretty solid to this point and each of the 3-4 forays deep into Portugal territory have been turned away.

7th minute: Looks like the entire Portuguese midfield is going to sit deep to start. Great ball to Deco but his header to Nuno Gomes falls to Lehmann. Germany plays it forward, then back to maintain possession.

8th minute: Ballack fouled by Petit. Free kick for Ballack... Wastes it hitting a two man wall a good metric mile from the edge of the box. Throw for Germany.

10th minute: Exchange of possession in the midfield. Simao makes a run up the right side. Germany makes a nice tackle and couters. Long shot from Hitzlsperger goes to the side netting. Never a danger.

11th minute: And another good run from Simao deep down the right, but his cross goes right in front of Nuno Gomes who can't get his head on it.

12th minute: Metzelder catches an arm in the face. Okay not really. He fell and started going all wussy. Germans area apparenty capable of playing pansy as well. Get up.

14th minute: Klose down the left side. Might have been fouled as he cut back inside, but no whistle. The Portuguese counter, then give it back in midfield.

15th minte: Nice ball from Deco to Simao, runs just inside the line of the 18. He takes a nice shot right into Lehmann's arms again. Simao is the biggest offensive threat for either side this far.

17th minute: The Germans are doing a decent job preventing Portugal from stringing much together through the midfield, but once they get upfield, they are putting pressure on the German defense. Oddly enough, Germany has made almost zero effort to play this match in the air.

18th minute: Throw in for Germany. Schweinsteiger into the box, and it's deflected out for a German corner. Quick corner. Ballack makes run to it but his header looks more like a jump shot... And an air ball at that.

20th minute: Portugal earns a corner after a nice diagonal run through the box by Ronaldo gets cleared. Simao skies the corner. But as they play it back around... Oooh. Simao with aothher cross but Joao Moutinho couldn't make up his mind what to do with it. He first looked like he was going to dive to head it, then he pulled up and tried to get a knee on it. So it sailed wide.

22nd minute: So Portugal has blow the first quality chance of the match. But a littl.. GOAL 1-0 Germany.

I was just about to say a little more creativity from Germany. It's a nice one touch to Podolski who sends it across the box low to Schweinsteiger, who cuts nicely toward the center then buries it past Ricardo. Really, on replay that was a great feed from Podolski that hit Schweinsteiger right in stride.

23rd minute: Joao Moutinho is down, like Ribery down. Okay... restart. Joao Moutinho back up.

26th minute: Yellow for Petit. Free kick from about 30 for Germany.

GOAL 2-0 Germany.

Schweinsteiger with a great kick and Klose is totally unmarked with an easy header right in. Horrible defense by Protugal, and it wasn't just being out-heighted by 6 inches. If it wasn't Klose there was another German (Ballack?) waiting behind him to knock that in. Ricardo was helpless. And they are in serious trouble.

28th minute: Cross from Deco to the back post on the right side. Lahm clears it and Simao takes a corner.

29th minute: Corner comes into the box and hits about the 6, but there is nobody in red there and Germany clears it. Change for Portugal coming... probably Joao Moutinho out.

30th minute: Germany now moving with lots of confidence and look like they are just going to beat up the Portuguese.

31st minute: Portugal playing with good possession in Germany's third, but they aren't getting good chances out of the possession. Simao with a free kick in. Nice ball to Deco, but because Deco is a dwarf, he can't head it but instead opts for the toe punch.

32nd minunte: Oh, nice backheel from Ronaldo that finds Nuno Gomes on a give. Shot is blocked. That was pretty but it lead to nothing.

33rd minute: By the way, they have replayed the Klose goal about 7 times and Andy Gray keeps abusing Ronaldo for failing on defense so epically.

35th miunte: Nice feed from deep on the left side from Ronaldo to Nuno Gones. He can't get it under control at the edge of the six, so instead he takes a dive. No whistle. Good on the ref. Germany counters. Whistle, but not sure what for. Offsides?

37th minute: Ronaldo gets them a corner, but Lehmann makes a decisive move to grab a strong shot. It's odd, when Germany counters there are 5-6 red shirts already back to shut it down. When Portugal makes a break there are sometimes only 3 Germans at the back.

38th minute: German fans refuse to stop chanting "Seven Nation Army." This might cause me to stop cheering for them. Oof... Ballack took one in the face. And that looked legit. But I'd be wrong. On replay that was a bit of a nance move by Ballack to fall. Seriously, Germans are being bigger pussies that the Portuguese.

40th minute: Portugal give it up at midfield. Throw in for Germany. They swing it wide to the right but Schweinsteiger gives it up... GOAL 2-1. Game back on.

Off a quick counter, Ronaldo takes a shot from the right and Lehmann makes a good save, but the rebound comes out to the feet of Nuno Gomes, and he buries it as Lehmann is out of position and Mertesacker can't get a foot on it to deflect it wide [Halftime correction: He did get a toe on it, but only enough to deflect it where it was already headed, in the back of the net]. Bit of an unlucky bounce off of a good save by Lehmann, but we've got a game again.

43rd minute: Now Germany looks the less confident side. They work it through midfield but Schweinsteiger with a mishandle at the endge of the 18. Might have been a handball from Portugal. The red on the counter and a selfish and poor shot from Ronaldo stops the threat. Really, that was stupid of him as he had other options on either side.

45th minute: Throw in for Germany deep in Portugal's third. Lahm with a feed to Ballack, oh, and just missed the near post. Ricardo with a nice save. Andy Gray pointing out the wide open Klose on the far post.

+:30: And on the other end, Ronaldo with a dangerous shot low from the left side. He had Lehmann beat, but it went just beyond the far post. That was close to leveling. End-to-end.

+1:30: Whistle.

Half Good stuff there right before the whistle as both teams had chances. Portugal's was better but Ronaldo couldn't put it away. To be fair it was great work to make that shot come withihn a foot of the far post.

When was the last time anyone used the phrase "hum dinger"? That's probably what we have on tap here in the second half. Portugal knows they need a goal, so sooner or later they will have to press. Germany has looked okay countering at times, but once they were up 2-0 they went, understandably, tentative. Teams are back on the field and we're moments from re-start.

Second Half

Kick: And we're off again. Dig the cross on Portugal's socks. Hadn't noticed that before.

46th minute: Meireles on for Portugal by the way.

47th minute: Germany with a bad giveaway at midfied. Ronaldo goes streaking down the left side and on a slight touch he goes down and starts crying like the biggest douche in the world. He draws a card for Friedrich because of it. Stupid ref, that's the wrong decision. YOU'RE ONLY ENCOURAING IT

49th minute: And now a yellow for Lahm. Yep, that was justified. Simao took him down (and that could have been a foul) but when Lahm rolled over he followed trough with his legs to hit Simao.

50th minute: Then on the restart Simao takes down Podolski and gets away with it. Getting chippy out there kids. BAcking up the card on Friedrich, he stepped on Ronaldo as he was walking away. So maybe it did hurt and was worth a card. Still, C. Ronaldo is a disgrace to y chromosomes everywhere.

52nd minute: Sloppy giveaway from Germany almost gifts Portugal a great chance but the flag was up.

54th minute: Boswinga with a run up the right and crosses it into Ronaldo who goes down and is clutching his ear. I bet he's hurt himself exhaling before.

55th minute: Long ball from Simao completely across the box to a nice large patch of unoccupied green grass, which lovingly accepted it. A turnover almost results in a break for Germany as the ball bounced in to space and Ballack almost raced to collect it.

56th minute: Low, bending cross from Ronaldo into the box. Could have been tricky, but Lehmann handles it. Pretty ball, just a bit short of anyone in red. Corner for Portugal.

57th minute: Argh... Pepe skies one over the bar. It went off Deco who flicked it back with his head right to Pepe who had an open goal in front of him, but he decided "Hey, watch me send this ball 90 degrees straight up."

58th minute: Schweinsteiger wants a call on the touch line. Doesn't get it. He should have. Portugal counters and a long kick from Ronaldo is blocked before it gets to the box. Now a corner for Portugal.

59th minute: Ball comes to the same spot as the last corner. Sorry, lightning only strikes once. Ball comes out, Germany counters. And Pepe is given a yellow for a professional foul on Klose. Actually, he just stood him up and knocked him down. I'm kind of with Andy Gray that the ref seems to be favoring Portugal on inconsistent calls.

62nd minute: GOAL 3-1 (Oops)

Bit of a replay of the second goal headed in for Germany, only this time it's Ballack. Schweinsteiger with a long free kick to the edge of the 6. The Germans just have more height, and they get past the last defenders. Shit read by Ricardo to boot. So, seeing how you can't coach "tall" I don't see how Portugal solves this one.

64th minute: Meireles with a shot from long. Deflected to Ballack who is promptly fouled by... Meireles! He could have gotten a card for that, or for the protesting, but nope.

65th minute: On the exchange of long balls, Lehmann collects and gets it upfield where German gets a throw in. Nani up and getting ready to come it. Andy Gray said he'd take Simao off as he's done nothing. Reall? Simao helped create the first 2-3 good chances for Portugal.

67th minuteL Nuno Gomes is off. Nani on. And Dave Bush apparently has a no-hitter through 7 for the Brewers.

68th minute: Deco earns a free kick for Portugal at the top left from about 25. He sends it straight to about the 4th row of the stands. Nice.

69th minute: Nani cuts right across the top of the 18 and through about 5 Germans, but he is moving too fast for his own good and loses control.

70th minute: And Lahm with a nice shot. Looked like he had lost it in traffic but he keeps it on his foot and gets a strong shot from the top left of the 18 and it goes a bit wide. A good bit, but enough to make Ricardo move. Ricardo sucks by the way.

71st minute: Some one touch passing on the other end tees one up for Petit, who puts it right in the hole. "Hole" being Lehmann's arms, not the back of the net. Midfield is WIDE open now as Portugal is pushing forward. Looks like a change for each team coming up.

73rd minute: Nani collets one on the right side and gets in deep, but there are two white shirts waiting to clear any cross and they do. Corner for Portugal though. Postiga on. Petit off. Also a change for Germany. Give me a sec...

75th minute: Simao up the center. To Nani, and he puts up into a low orbit. Terrible. Hot tip if you are Portugal: Make Jens handle the ball. Take something off it if you have to. It's no coincidence your goal came from a rebound.

76th minute: Commentators are talking about Portugal's failures. If Spain win this, their Iberian counterparts are going to take the mantle of underachiever-chokers, aren't they?

77th minute: Germany has finally packed it all back. Portugal sending balls into the box and they emerge headed back toward midfield. Lather, rinse, repeat.

78th minute: Lehmann launches one about 85% of the way up the pitch. Portugal Noonan's it and it's a corner for Germany. Terrible corner from Schweinsteiger but it rolls out to Podolski who sends a rocket toward the basket that goes wide.

80th minute: And I don't think Portugal has any Turkey in them. This match is over. Corner here for Germany. Nobody on Portugal has grown in the last 20 have they? Another weak ball from Schweinsteiger gives Portugal a counter.

81st minute: I think Simao just made Scolari want to quit football with that last shot. From long, it went high and Portugal wasted a man advantage.

82nd minute: Shot from Ronaldo at the top of the box is blocked and the bounce comes toward Simao who is too short to get a head to it. That sequence pretty much summed up Portugal's day. Thanks for playing guys. Ronaldo, your tranny hooker awaits.

84th minute: So does C. Ronaldo break into tears before the final whistle or after? That's about the only uncertainty left in this match. Germany threatens but a nice close out by Deco who turns it back upfield.

85th minute: Cheeky little lofter into the box by Deco. Lehmann grabs it and Postiga takes him out. Only two players for Portugal were offside, yet the flag stayed down. Lehmann is getting actual attention. Ronaldo is jawing with the ref about something. Sand in the vag? Who knows? I can't lip read, much less lip read Portuguese.

Oh my... 3-2 Beauty cross from Nani. From the left side at about 30, he curled it right on Postiga's head. And he buried past Lehmann who had zero chance. Postiga did a nice job getting behind the defense. That was pretty sweet. And right as I was about to say the scorline would be the same as the WC 3rd place game.

89th minute: Germany doing a bad job killing time. And a nervous ball. But Postiga with a foul to get Germany off the hook.

90th minute: Four minutes of stoppage. Germany gets deep and the cross is blocked. Looked like it should have been a corner. Instead it's Portugal with more pressure and some nice one-touch passing. They get a corss in deep from Nani and from the back post it's headed back to the 6. Germany clears.

91st minute: But only for a second as the ball comes back to Potugal and Postiga sends a shot over the cross bar.

93rd minute: And another great cross from Nani. Portugal not going away. It comes back out and Nani collects it again, and another great cross, but Postiga is whistled for a foul. Lehmann with a long GK. Final minute here.

94th minute: Final seconds. A long pass to Ronaldo who gets it and sends it back to the middle of the box. Nobody there. It ends up downfield where Podolski gets in. He takes a shot that Ricardo collects.


Whoa... Neverous moments there from Germany and Big Phil is going to kick himself for not getting Nani in the game early as he had about 5 seeing eye crosses late in the match that all could have been trouble. But Germany gets the win and moves on to the semis. Thanks for playing Portugal. Really, they made a game out of it late when it seemed all but done.

See everyone back here tomorrow for Turkey (UF's adopted team) and Croatia.

Night folks.

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