Wednesday, September 12, 2007

England continue to confuse me

I was debating whether to go to the pub to watch them against Israel on Saturday, wondering whether it'd be worth the $10 cover charge just to see them grind out another mediocre draw. Then I slept in and my decision was made for me. And then they had to go out and actually put in a decent performance for once, the bastards. 3-0! Playing like they wanted to win! Playing like a team, rather than simply a collection of overpaid assholes! Astonishing.

Today the decision about whether to watch their game against Russia has been made for me: I will be at work, probably flailing impotently at the Guardian's minute-by-minute commentary and wondering why England can't string together two good games in a row.

Russia will undoubtedly present more of a challenge than Israel, but England should still be able to beat them; sadly, I've said that plenty of times before and been proved wrong. (I read a comment from Steve McClaren after the Israel match where he said that England "made Israel look ordinary." Wrong, Steve-O. Israel are ordinary. The problem is that England have a talent for making otherwise ordinary teams look good.)

Frank Lampard and Owen Hargreaves are still carrying thigh strains (if I was Steven Gerrard, I'd be sneaking into Lampard's room every night after training and kicking him in the leg, just to make sure he stays injured and out of the way), so Gareth Barry should be partnering Gerrard in midfield again. The unknown factor is whether it'll be Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch up front with Michael Owen. I've surprised myself by not really caring either way; Heskey may mesh better with Owen, but Crouch has the valuable ability to actually score goals himself.

I probably won't bother watching any of the other games from this round, although I did catch bits and pieces over the weekend:

  • Italy 0-0 France: Remarkably boring without Materazzi tempting people into assaulting him or Totti doing his idiot savant thing. At least Fabio Cannavaro seems to have learned how to defend again, though.
  • Spain 1-1 Iceland: Only watched the first 20 minutes, by which point Xabi Alonso had been sent off (and let's be honest, he is the main reason I'm watching Spain. That and watching Iker Casillas yell at his defenders and wondering why he's cut the bottom off his jersey.) and I had been sent into a rage by the Fox commentator's inability to pronounce the players' names correctly or indeed even string three words together in a way that made sense.
  • Sweden 0-0 Denmark: Entertaining mainly for the hilariously awesome sight of Daniel Agger squaring up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Also, for reasons that I don't really want to get into here, I am unable to see Ibrahimovic on screen without doing a cracked-out imitation of him in my head. ("How you know Zlatan? Zlatan knows YOUR MOM.") Yeah, don't ask.

If I were going to be paying attention to any of the other matches today, though, France v. Scotland and Portugal v. Serbia are the ones I'd pick.


weenie said...

You've just missed quite an entertaining England v Russia first half! Owen is class!

Jen said...

Yeah, I'm following it online. Amazing the difference it makes having a proper (non-broken) striker, eh?