Anyway so yeah, I came up with a 2008 European Championships cheat sheet for Americans, and posted it, as you do, and got a bunch of feedback, some good, some great, some absolutely psychotic. One Swiss guy sent me a long, expletive filled email detailing what I should do with some sharp objects and various parts of my body.
However, at the end of the day, I firmly believe the first round of games has, largely vindicated my selections and descriptions.
Let's chop it up.
Switzerland - The Pittsburgh Pirates
''Whatever it is, these boring clowns will hardly be noticed as they lose a couple of drab games and slip off into the night, or the cow pastures or chocolate factories.''
Okay so maybe I was a little harsh, but as I pointed out, the Swiss and the Irish have a bit of a 'thing' developing, not only in soccer, but even in baseball. They don't like us, and we don't think too highly of them. Either way you look at it, they have indeed lost of a couple of games and they will indeed slip off quietly into the night. Me 1 - angry emailing public 0.
Czech Republic - The Anaheim Angels
''The potential to cause a major shock deep in the tournament.''
Well, they caused a shock alright, they shocked pretty much everyone with how poorly they defended in the last five minutes against the Turks. Me 1 - angry, aggressive emailing public 1.
Portugal - The 07/08 Cleveland Cavaliers
''A solid team with some flair, the ace up their sleeve is possibly the single most talented player in the tournament.''
So far as advertised, a couple of good wins to kick start things, last night's loss to the Swiss meant absolutely nothing, hence they fielded a 'B' team (and the Swiss still struggled to beat them). One of the tournament favourites as we speak. Me 2 - angry, aggressive, rude emailing public 1.
Turkey - The Kansas City Chiefs (when they were good)
''Their home support is simply fanatical. ''
Turns out they brought quite a few of those fanatical fans on the road too. Turkey pretty much picked up the form book, ripped it in two and threw it out the window last night with their astonishing, spectacular 3-2 win over the suitably stunned Czechs. One of the most amazing games I have ever seen. Five goals, eight yellow cards and one red, what a night's action. This one is going down as a tie due to inconclusive evidence. Me 2.5 - angry, aggressive, rude emailing public 1.5
Austria - the '08 San Diego Padres
''Austria will probably be one of the worst teams in the tournament. Austria, meet the San Diego Padres of '08. Much as the Padres are not going to win the World Series, Austria are not going to with the European Championships.''
Germany dealt with the pathetic Austrians quietly and efficiently. Tournament (for them) - over. Me 3.5 - angry, aggressive, pedantic, rude emailing public 1.5
Croatia - the '08 Florida Marlins
''Croatia are a young, exciting and talented team, with a high upside and great potential. ''
Plus they are 3-0, including a big win over pre-tournament favourite Germany. Me 4.5 - angry, aggressive, pedantic, rude, fanatical emailing public 1.5
Germany - The last five years of Detroit Pistons basketball
''Perhaps their most annoying trait, Germany take 'flopping' to a new level. Watch in amazement as German players dive to the ground clutching knees when their ankles are tapped, watch in bewilderment as they clutch their faces in agony after receiving a light push in the back.''
Once again the Germans lead a major tournament in diving, flopping and 'simulating'. Me 5.5 - angry, aggressive, pedantic, rude, fanatical emailing public 1.5
Poland - 01' - 07' Louisville NCAA basketball
I can almost hear Beenhakker now; ''Zbigniew Boniek is not walking through that door...''
Boniek indeed did not walk through that door, and Poland are on the way home. Me 6.5 - psycho Polish emailers 1.5
Netherlands - The Phoenix Suns
The Oranje, as Netherlands are known, are always one of the most entertaining and enjoyable teams to watch in the Euros
Holland have swept pretty much everything before them so far, and in sexy football style too! Somewhere out there Ruud Gullit's dreadlocks are shaking in appreciation. The Dutch made an absolute mockery of the 'Group of death' with three excellent performances. Can they keep it up? Only time will tell. They are certainly off to a crazy, cool start though! (best said in a Dutch accent) I will call this one a tie as I said the Dutch are entertaining however may not win it all. Me 7 - the emailing public 2
Italy - The 2001 New York Yankees
On reflection I really didn't say much about these fellas other than I don't like them much, which is still the same, after watching them play three entirely forgettable games. Watching Italian soccer is like eating stew. You know it's there, you are eating it, but you have forgotten it seven minutes later. Seeing as I didn't really go out on a limb here in any discernible shape or form I shall duly penalise myself. Me 7 - the guy who emailed me and said 'Come to Italy and I will kill you' 3
Romania - The Carolina Panthers
This incarnation of the Romanian national side is a little like the current Panthers squad. You know they are in the tournament. You know one or two of their players (Mutu/Delhomme). They may even win a game or two. Ultimately, however, will anyone notice?
Honestly, do you actually even remember Romania being in this tournament? Seriously? Me 8 - the guy who emailed me and said 'Come to Italy and I will kill you' 3
France - The 2008 New England Patriots
Just call Thierry Henry, Tom Brady. Much like France lost a stomach-punch championship game last time out, the Patriots lost a championship in even more horrific fashion.
Well, they lost alright, they lost everything. They lost two out of three games, they lost a generation of French football success basically, and they lost/said goodbye to a host of former great players like Thuram, Viera and Henry (probably). Like the Patriots in '08, they lost. Me 9 - the emailing public 3
Greece - The San Antonio Spurs (with Duncan out injured)
Looking forward to watching them play about as much as I look forward to dental surgery.
They were about as enjoyable to watch as dental surgery. Bye bye, Greece! Have fun back home watching the rest of the tournament. I have to say, these guys, this incarnation of the Greek national football team, they really got under my skin the last few years. First, winning the '04 tournament playing some of the ugliest football ever seen, and then trying to replicate the feat in '08. Their tactics were dull, stifling and designed to kill the 'beautiful game.'
I would go as far as saying they incensed me. As I texted my brother and father during one spell of particularly ugly Greek play, 'Go back to Greece and eat some humus for the rest of your lives!'.
Me 10 - the emailing public 3
Sweden - the 05'-07' Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Impact strikers Ibrahimovic and the great Henrik Larsson, combined with a solid backline and decent midfield, might be enough to make Sweden dark-horses this time around.
I am so patting myself on the back on this one. Sweden have been pretty good so far, definitely dark-ish horses. Ibrahimovic has been in sparkling form and the great Heinrik Larsson has been tireless. Big game for them tonight against Russia.
Me 11 - the emailing public 3
Spain - The '08 Boston Celtics
The Celtics and Spain, who knew their destinies were intertwined. Raul and Pierce have both toiled loyally for their team, and have both scored at will, all career long. Both men have one thing missing from their stellar careers, a championship. They can both set that right over the next couple of weeks.
Well, the Celtics dealt with their half of this bargain. Here's one I completely missed though, and the reason I say that is, Raul isn't even in the Spanish squad. I do understand David Villa and Torres are in fine form, but I don't get how you leave the magnificent Raul out? Nevertheless, the Spanish manager did just that, and the guy that sent me a email entirely in block capitals saying 'RAUL ISN'T EVEN IN THE SPANISH SQUAD YOU F****** IDIOT'! was absolutely right!
Me 11 - the Internet loonies 4
Russia - '08 Texas A&M mens NCAA team
Huge fan base, big expectations, some good players however ultimately, a flat finish. Russia or Texas A&M? I know, I can't tell the difference either!
I am going to call this one incomplete, as Sweden can and should put the Russians out tonight, but you never know. Russia also earned some kudos for putting dire Greece to the sword nice and early.
Me 11 - the Internet loonies, the emailing public 4
Don't like it? Go on the Internet and complain!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
WHAT THIS MEANS: It means you can quote me or reproduce parts of my postsbut YOU MUST ATTRIBUTE THE SOURCE. Do NOT reproduce any of my posts as a whole. Do NOT reproduce any of my content for commercial gain. ESPECIALLY DO NOT PASS MY WORK OFF AS YOUR OWN. ALL CONTENT UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED IS SOLE PROPERTY OF THE SITE AUTHOR AND PROTECTED UNDER COPYRIGHT.