Thursday, June 26, 2008

Greatest European Championships, well, ever?

Are we witnessing the single greatest European Championships ever? Millions of Greeks, still drunk from their victory in '04 just screamed 'No!' loudly. They, however, do not get a say. When your team plays football that ugly you do not get a say in anything. Ever.

So, are we?

Living in Ireland, selfishly speaking, the '88 European Championships will always be remembered as a magical ride. In Ireland's first European/World outing, they performed magnificently, beating England 1-0, drawing 1-1 with the powerful USSR and losing 1-0 to eventual tournament victors Holland.

A witty pundit once described Ireland's virgin tournament as 'We won a match we should have lost, drew a match we should have won and lost a match we should have drawn'. Be that as it may, it is fondly remembered as Ireland's successful maiden voyage into World soccer.

The sensational Ronnie Whelan scissor-kick against the USSR was worth the whole venture alone.

However apart from that, I can't think of a European Championship in my lifetime that comes anywhere near the drama, attacking ferocity and overall excellent level of entertainment as the '08 version.

Check out the list of games that were instant classics. The following were all games that, if you caught them, you were gripped for the entire match.
  • Netherlands 3-0 Italy
  • Spain 4-1 Russia
  • Czech Republic 1-3 Portugal
  • Switzerland 1-2 Turkey
  • Netherlands 4-1 France
  • Sweden 1-2 Spain
  • Turkey 3-2 Czech Republic
  • Russia 2-0 Sweden
  • Portugal 2-3 Germany
  • Croatia 1-1 Turkey
  • Netherlands 1-3 (aet) Russia
  • Germany 3-2 Turkey
Personal favourite, so far?

Probably the Dutch demolition of Italy early on.

The football has generally be very attacking, and thus, very enjoyable. 72 goals, so far! 72! That's incredible. There is no doubt attacking football came to the fore. The boring, defensive teams did not over power the tournament with their dour brand of grim football as in 2004 when the Greeks kicked everyone into submission, and the referees allowed it.

This '08 tournament has been nothing short of a delicious treat.

The 2008 European Championships, the greatest tournament of it's kind of all time? Quite possibly! We are one decent semi final and a decent final away from that outcome.


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Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports


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