Friday 13 July 2012

That Was Euro 2012 That Was

The golden ticker tape has had time to settle, and eastern Europe can begin to look west for their summer sporting entertainment.
Euro 2012 will go down as one of the most entertaining tournaments in recent memory. Although things tightened up in the knockout stage, we weren't served up the dross that so clouded World Cup 2010.
There were no major refereeing blunders, though again a ball that was clearly over the line wasn't clearly enough over the line for a linesman's liking, but this time England benefited. Ukraine, somebody somewhere owes you a tournament goal.
The fans packed out the stadia, the only disappointments were the Italians whose games were not well attended.
And the Spanish returned home with the silverware for the third tournament in a row. Cue the Dynasty theme tune those of you who can remember it.
And so this blog will disappear into the ether, never to be updated again. If you're straying here sometime after 2050 for a bit of nostalgia, hello, I'm Jon Lymon and I'm probably dead.
If you're here before 2050, hello, I'm still Jon Lymon, but this is goodbye. Look out for the Armchair Olympic blog if you can be arsed and any of my wonderful other writings like the novels The Money Star and Last Night At The Stairways. If they sound awful, well, Armchair World Cup 2014 is only 700 odd days away from kicking off.
Until then...

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Euro 2012 Team Of The Tournament


Oh, sorry, this was meant to be a list of the best players in each position, a kind of dream team selection. Right.

GK: Cas...

Fuck it, it's Spain.

They Finished 1st: SPAIN

See, I told you they'd do it, didn't I?
I never had any doubt that they'd become the first nation ever to win three international tournaments on the spin.
Those of you who've been paying attention over the last month will know there's absolutely no evidence of me backing Spain in this blog.
I doubted. Sans Silva and Puyol I thought they'd struggle.
And at times they did, but in the final they shone like something very shiny indeed - like a perfect set of dentures catching a floodlight, perhaps.
Xavi and Iniesta always get the plaudits, whatever they are, and they are the driving force behind the success of Spain's best ever generation of footballers. Worryingly for everyone else, most of this squad has a couple of tournaments left in it.
Spain will win World Cup 2014. There, said it.

Monday 2 July 2012

They Finished 2nd: ITALY

Who'd have thought it? After such a bad World Cup and a scandal that almost resulted in them withdrawing from the tournament?

But it's things like that that good managers can use to their advantage. Develop a siege mentality in the dressing room. It's them versus us and if we stick together, we can show them.

And that's exactly what they did, only coming unstuck against an awesome Spanish side, about whom just about every footballing journalist has been waxing lyrical.

But these words are for the over-achieving Italians who showed they possess skill and a team spirit in abundance. I can only apologise to them for predicting they would win the final. Never can a team have been more doomed than one that receives my backing.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Euro 2012 Final: FULL TIME: Spain 4-0 Italy

Have we witnessed the crowning of the best ever international football team?
At the very least, Spain circa 2008-12 deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Brazil circa 1970.
Three international tournaments on the spin is unprecedented. And tonight, they looked imperious, saving their best til last and overpowering and outclassing a brave Italian side.
They left it late in the second to ice their cake, Torres and Mata providing the cherries to the delight of hundreds and thousands of Spaniards in the dying minutes, the former the only out and out striker to grace this Spanish team in the final, coming on as a sub late on (is this the death of the traditional front man?)
Credit the Italians, who over-achieved to get his far and who played with ten men for a generous portion of the second half, after a sub went down.
But even sans Villa and Puyol, this Spanish team have proven they can beat anyone in Europe. So surely I'll be tipping them to win World Cup 2014? You'll, we'll, I'll have to wait to find out.

Euro 2012 Final: Half Time: Spain 2-0 Italy

Is this a final?
It's being played more like a third place match.
You don't get attacking like this in games that mean so much. They're normally cagey affairs, defensive dirges, midfield miseries.
This could be rewriting the rule book for finals, the greatest performance by a nation in a major final. Spain have been majestic, and even the Italians haven't sat back. Now they can't afford to, or they risk being embarrassed on the biggest stage.
Fabregas was awesome for Silva's goal. A string of short passes, an incisive through ball from Iniesta. I expected Fabregas to cross first, but he took another touch that took the Italians (and me) by surprise, before cutting it back onto Silva's head. The second, Alba's, was finished like a centre forward, and he's a left back, for heaven's sake.
If the Italians don't score early in the second, expect three, maybe four, and the Spanish to throw their hat in the ring to be considered the greatest international team ever.

Euro 2012 Final Preview And Prediction

The day hath dawned.
The day of the final.
Contested between the two teams that have won the last three major international tournaments.
An Italian win will bookend Spain's two wins, to the delight of those who like symmetry.
If the Spanish win, we'll definitely have a footballing autocracy on our hands. Three major tournament wins in a row is unprecedented, but is now only 90/120/a penalty shoot out away.
What do I think?
Given I predicted we'd be seeing Germany v Croatia (remember them?) today, I fear my predictions are as worthless as something that has no monetary value at all.
Spain have looked under par in their last two games and can think themselves lucky to be here, whereas the Italians have got better as the tournament's progressed, so it takes a brave man to go against the form team.
So I'm going to go for Italy. Spain will have the weight of expectation and the pressure of being favourites on their shoulders.
Lump on Spain then.