Friday, June 13, 2008

Euro 2008 odds and ends

  • One of the Globe and Mail columnists has criticized the TSN/Sportsnet coverage of the tournament because the in-studio team don't explain their comments thoroughly enough. But I have to agree with the guys at the Globe's soccer blog who pointed out that it's intended for viewers who actually know a little bit about the game, rather than treating them like idiots. Actually, I'd like a little more in-depth analysis, because most of their commentary is pretty banal. Still, it's better than the garbage that ESPN usually throws up; mostly I'm just grateful that they're using the English feed from UEFA and therefore I don't have to listen to Tommy Smyth this month.

  • The way the draw for the knockout stages is set up is kind of bizarre: The winners and runners-up from Groups A and B go into one side of the draw, while remaining teams go into the other side. This means that two teams from the same group, assuming they win their quarter-final matches, could then meet again at the semi-final stage. Any idea why they did it that way? I guess maybe they didn't want two teams from the same group meeting in the final -- like Portugal and Spain in 2004 -- but why is a semi-final any better? Actually, any two teams that can make it that far, there'd probably be more drama with a rematch in the final.

  • I am kind of slow, but I realized yesterday that there was a reason why the last round of group games kick off at the same time: To prevent matches being fixed like (supposedly) Denmark v. Sweden at Euro 2004. Duh. And here I thought they were just doing it to fuck with my TV viewing schedule.

  • If you haven't yet, you should check out the official UEFA Euro 2008 site, which has a whackload of information -- including pictures, videos, and more statistics than you would ever need in your entire life.

And a few other bits and bobs, seeing as we're halfway through the group stage now:

Best goal celebration:
1. Slaven Bilic, jumping on one of his coaching staff like an over-enthusiastic koala after Croatia's opening goal against Germany.
2. David Villa, who fractured his finger after getting it caught in Fernando Torres's jersey. Maybe they need to start practicing their hugging on the training ground. Wait, that's supposed to be "best," not "klutziest," right? Oh.

Best singing of the national anthem:
1. Gennaro Gattuso, belting his heart out for Italy. Bless him
2. Any member of the Spanish team, trying not to look awkward about the fact that their anthem doesn't actually have any words.

Best socks:
1. Croatia -- I haven't seen their home kits yet, but the blue away socks have that red-and-white checkerboard pattern on them, which is a nice touch.
2. Netherlands -- I wasn't sure about the baby-blue socks, but I've decided now that I like them. It's sort of "We are too cool to bother about our uniforms matching."

Most likely to be wearing eyeliner:
1. Nuno Gomes -- He is really rocking that smoky eye look.
2. David Villa -- It goes with the carefully sculpted little soul patch. Cheer up, emo striker!

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