Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Half-Time For Euro

After the first eight teams have been eliminated from EURO 2008 and the knock-out phase of the competition begins tomorrow, it seems appropriate to think about some of the lessons learnt in this tournament so far.

  1. Greece winning Euro 2004 was a surprise, and a bit of a fluke. They were a well-organised team back then and defended brilliantly, but if you don't score goals, you cannot really expect to proceed. Ergo, they finish last with only zero points.
  2. Only marginally better on one point, the French. And they were the (beaten) finalists of the last World Cup. Then again, they had Zidane back then which seems to have been a major factor. That was of course before he was sent off for head-butting Matterazzi.
  3. Both Russia and Croatia, who helped avoiding England's participation in this tournament, have progressed into the knock-out stage. Maybe they were proper opposition after all, but that does not mean that Steve McLaren should have kept his job. Which he didn't.
  4. Most goals were scored by the Dutch, which makes them sort of favourites. Because who scores most goals, usually wins.
  5. Both co-hosts, Austria and Switzerland, are no longer part of the tournament. In fact many Austrians wondered why the Austrians were ever part of Euro 2008 anyway.
  6. The rumour that you have to be born in Poland to score for the German team is not true. It certainly helps though, hence 75% of all goals for Germany were scored by Lukas Podolski.
  7. Spain, Holland and Croatia have a 100% record in the tournament so far, winning all their matches. Although if Holland have to play Italy again and end up losing, they might regret not having performed worse against Romania and sending both Italy and France back home.
  8. As shown in the Germany - Austria match (which was rather dull), there are always spare seats for coaches in the stands in case they are sent off. You even get to hug the head of state before you sit down.
  9. Brilliant bit of trivia: The French coach proposed to his partner on the night they went out of the tournament (and on air). No wonder people thought he might have lost the plot a little bit.
One thing to note though is, that the general public in the UK cares little, if at all. Which is great if you want to watch a match in the pub, since you can get a seat. It's not so great if you actually want to watch a match in some kind of atmosphere.