Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Friday, June 8, 2012

Euro 2012

I've arrived in Germany and will watch the competition with my knowledgeable brothers and friends. I will describe my impressions as the drama unfolds and invite readers to join the conversation.

A few remarks up-front on the mood here when it comes to the chances of the German team. Last year ended on a high when Germany convincingly beat the Netherlands in a friendly 3:0. Together with the impressive way in which the side had played during the qualifiers, where they won 30 matches in a row, this victory generated an almost boundless optimism in the country. However, this mood has become much more guarded because of a series of setbacks that happened since the start of 2012. The team lost two friendlies, first to France at the beginning of the year and then to Switzerland, where the second loss was particularly embarrassing. In both matches, the defense (which used to be the strong suit of German teams in the past) proved vulnerable and even now, two positions in the back four (the Viererkette - chain of four - as it's called in German) are still open, an unheard of situation for a German team. [See also my post from last December!]

True, the Bayern Munich players who form the backbone of the German side were missing from the team that lost to Switzerland. But this is small consolation because the psychological makeup of these very players suffered a severe blow when they lost the final of the Champions League, the most prestigious annual team competition in Europe, to Chelsea of England on May 19. The Bayern players were clearly in shock afterwards because they had been the better team throughout the game and gave the victory away on several occasions, most spectacularly in the final penalty shootout. The whole nation is asking itself: Did the Bayern players have enough time to get over it and be at their best again only a few weeks later?

If we look at the bright side (remember, I'm in the Rhineland where one always looks at the bright side!): It's these very questions that create a palpable sense of suspense in the country now that the competition is about to start.


Ulrich said...

The competition starts with a group phase. The 16 competing teams have been divided into four groups with 4 teams in each group. Each team plays each of the other teams in its group and receives points accordingly. The top-two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals, the other two will go home.

An anomaly in this year's competition is the extreme unevenness in the combined strengths of the teams of each group. Germany is in group B, the mother of all groups of death, where all 4 teams are ranked in the top ten worldwide, whereas in group A, the highest-ranked team is Russia at #15.

It's a combination of competition rules and chance that created this situation. The upshot is that one should be ready for surprises—teams may make it into later phases that nobody expected there and teams that were expected there may never get there.

Pedro said...

For the Portuguese side, this time, expectations are not high as in other previous competitions.
The team is a young team, with some "stars", and a young new coach. Here in Portugal, the mood is "moderate" . Furthermore, Portugal is in the "death squad" of groups. But a rule with Portuguese national team is that "just plays well when in difficulties". Let's see if this rule apllies in Euro2012. Tomorrow Portugal will play against Germany. What a terrific game will be. Pedro

Ulrich said...

Pedro: There are so many unknowns now about the German team that we (i.e. everyone around me) find it very hard to make any predictions for tonight's match-up. Trend: A narrow win for Germany. If one takes the obvious local bias into account, this means everyone considers it a toss-up at this time.

What is clear is this: Because Ronaldo, Özil and Khedira are all starters for Real, the Portuguese have insider information about the Khedira/Özil axis and the Germans about the biggest offensive thread of Portugal. Nobody knows how this will play out in the end.

Ulrich said...

Impressions from last night's matches:

Portugal-Greece (1:1)

1) The history of egregious referee errors during prestigious soccer tournaments continues with the yellow/red card given w/o apparent reason to a Greek player just before half-time. How do these guys get selected? Luckily for the Greeks (and us), they managed to score the equalizer with one man down and could have won the match if they had converted the penalty given to them later, correctly I may add.

2) Penalties: It became already clear in the Munich/Chelsea Championship Final that trying to direct the ball with the inner wrist of the foot low into a corner is NOT the way to do it these days. Speed and power (of the ball) are sacrificed for control--if the goalie selects the correct corner, he has a good chance for a safe b/c there is enough time to reach the ball with a dive and trap it against the ground. And that's also how the Polish (substitute) goalie managed to safe a penalty last night and denied the Greeks a victory.

The Chelsea players were confident enough in the final to go for power and speed--their run-ups (I don't really know the English word for German Anlauf) were twice as long and they kicked the ball twice as hard and not low into a corner, but chest-high. No keeper in the world can safe such a ball--I think the Bayern goalie didn't even see some of them. And that seems to be the way one should go about penalties these days. The danger is, of, course, that the kicker does not get his body over the ball and will kick it over the goal--that's were both confidence and skill come into play as displayed by Chelsea.

3) The Greeks abandoned their destructive play that focussed exclusively on defense--they showed they can actually play soccer, which is a gain for everyone watching.

Ulrich said...

Impressions (continued):

Russia-Czech Republic (4:1)

5) The Russians have the oldest team in the tournament (the average age is over 30 yrs), but boy, these oldies :) can play! As soon as they gain possession of the ball, they do not waste time passing it around in mid-field, but race forward with 3-4 players, which gives them multiple opportunities for getting behind the opposing defenders and overwhelm them with sheer speed and pin-point passing--they were a joy to watch.

To their credit, the Czechs did not give up, even had an opportunity for an intermittent equalizer, when the Russians slowed down a bit, either b/c the speed had taken a toll or b/c they had become over-confident. But it wasn't enough--the Russians got their act back together and finished in style.

6) The only question in group A, right now, seems to be, who will finish second behind the Russians?

Ulrich said...

The immediate aftermath of the Portugal/Germany game: The Germans are extremely critical with their team, in spite of their narrow win, b/c they did not play the creative offensive soccer they proved to be capable of in the past. But there is also, and that is also my main reaction, a palpable sense of relief that the defense, which was considered the weak spot, played well, particularly at the two positions that were considered questionable, the second central defender besides Badstuber and the right back. Particularly Matts Hummels played his best match for the German side in the center, with some calling him the player of the match. And Boateng on the right did much better than expected against Ronaldo.

The upshot: Germany may have found its starting defense, and that would be a huge step forward.

BTW The German coach seemed not happy about the loss of the Netherlands--he clearly would have preferred playing them on Wednesday when they did NOT have their backs against the wall!

Halil Erhan said...

Good game! Ronaldo was not very active against Germany. In the first 8 mins he didn't touch the ball. On the other hand, German team need to be more confident when attacking. They tend to stall before the goal -- as if they are defending?

Denmark had a surprise win. Netherlands missed so many goals because of their unorganized attacks.

Germans need little bit Netherlands strategy, and Netherlands need a little bit German's :)

Last week Turkey beat Portagul 3-1 in a friendly game. Ronaldo's penalty kick was saved by Turkish goal keeper. I agree with your comment on the penalty kicks (speed and power vs. slow faking kicks)

Ulrich said...

Spain/Italy last night: The best match so far IMO.

It looks, on paper, like a deliberate draw b/c it assures that both teams will advance, provided each wins its last two matches, which no one doubts, given how Ireland and Croatia looked in the second match last night. But if you saw the match, you got the strong sense that each side wanted to win--they seemed to play with enormous determination and, yes, pride--there was no sense of 'let's not hurt each other' (notwithstanding the fact that the game was extremely fair).

I was also fascinated by the Italian defense strategy, which switched between 3 and 5 backs depending on whether the side was attacking or defending, respectively. I think that was the reason why Spain just could not get behind the Italian defense--we may have seen the defense of the future!

Ulrich said...

Summary after the first round of play (after a really entertaining Ukraine/Sweden and a disappointing France/England match last night): The suspense is rising since none of the top favorites got off to a flying start and one of them, the Netherlands, is already in trouble. Italy, on the other hand, can now be included among the favorites, and the Ukraine has a very good chance to survive the group phase. It's great!

Pedro said...

About Germany-Portugal last Saturday:

I thing Germany-Portugal was a very good game. I think both teams proved thery are in good shape for this Championship.
In my humble opinion, I think a draw would be fairer. But I have to recognize that the Portuguese team was not effective in scoring, and the German team defended very well, and scored.
Despite the defeat of my national team, in the end I was glad wth the game and the team. After all, it was a game against ManShaft (Hope I wrote it well). And for our side, it was the toughest and the first match of the Championship.

Pedro said...

About Group B:

Here in Portugal, there is a certain feeling of satisfaction with the team after the match against Germany. Last match before the Euro we lost against Turkey 1-3 at home. After Germany, despite the defeat, people think they played well. However people consider that the team has a problem with scoring goals.
Tomorrow starts the new round for this group. We have to win Denmark!
The ball has to get in!

joerg said...

The game Englad - France was boring. I looked for a game with pressure, but there was no suspence. It might be nice to watch, when the ball runs about 10 positions, but in competition it is boring, when there is no effort and no long shot at goal. There was more pressure in the game Sweden-Ukraine. I liked the powerfull play (how is it called): über die Aussenseiten: steile Paesse aus der Tiefe nach vorne.

Ulrich said...

@Pedro: The matches tomorrow will be so important in so many ways that one almost fears beautiful soccer will be the victim--we'll see. In my immediate neighborhood, the most common prediction for the Germany/Netherlands match is a draw. But a loss of Germany is considered a real possibility. Together with a very possible win by Portugal, we could end with all four teams having 3 points after two rounds. That would make the suspense for the final matches in Group B on Sunday almost unbearable, or if you have stronger nerves, unbelievably exciting.

@Joerg: I'm embarrassed to admit that I have problems with finding English expressions for German soccer terms--starting with Viererkette. I've started a list and when I have a quiet hour, will try to find the English cognates and show them here. Anyway, I agree with you about the matches last night

joerg said...

Das war das beste Spiel, das ich bisher gesehen habe (Spanien-Italien habe ich leider nicht gesehen). Beide Mannschaften spielten dieses offene Pass-Spiel mit dem Raum, das ich liebe. Daraus ist auch das fantastische Tor für Polen entstanden. Kämpferisch ein starkes Spiel. Kein langes Geeiere, wie bei England-Frankreich.
Heute Abend wird es spannend. Ist die Mannschaft der Niederlande so stark, wie sie eingeschätzt wird. War da nicht bei der letzten WM eine enttäuschende Erwartung?

mac said...

Congratulations, Ulrich! I don't want to talk soccer for a few days now....

Pedro said...

About Group B yesterday:

Portugal-Denmark: What a relief! The ball got in! And when everything seemed to become a draw, they scored the 3rd goal!
Despite the victory, I think Portugal made some mistakes in the defense, which created Denmark's first goal. And Ronaldo has to score his opportunities...But a victory is a victory and general feeling here is a lot of relief and hope.

Germany-Netherlands: Very well Germany! Proved that is the strongest team in group B. With a Gomez scoring 3 goals in 2 matches.

Pedro said...

i think Germany already passed the groups. But for our side, Sunday match will be to test the nerves. We have to beat Netherlands, which are in a lot of difficultes. And I started my day reading about the possibility that even if we beat netherlands, there is a mathematical possibility for us to get out of the competition. In the case Denmark beats Germany for at least 1 goal of difference. So, for next Sunday, let'ts go Germany!

Ulrich said...

@Pedro: Congratulations! But what's the matter with Ronaldo? Didn't he plan to become the "player of the tournament"?

Here's a tidbit for those who do not read the German press: Gomez was severely criticized for inactivity in the match with Portugal. An analyst on TV actually said (in free translation) that he "worried that Gomez had to be turned on his other side in order to avoid bedsores", a remark that was endlessly repeated and commented on in the media afterwards.

I think we actually saw a reaction by Gomez last night--he turned up in Germany's defense at times!!! Which, of course, was criticized by another analyst who felt Gomez had no business in the penalty area of his own team--poor guy, whatever he does, he gets criticized!

@mac: There's still hope for Holland! Germany will not take it easy against Denmark on Sunday b/c there's still a possibility for them to be eliminated if they do not get at least a draw; and as we know, you cannot really play to draw--so Germany will play to win.

Joerg said...

Ulrich, Du hattest recht, die Verteidigung der Deutschen steht gut. Die Umstellung von Mertesacker weg ist gelungen. Die Mannschaft spielte gut gegen die Niederlande, ich hoffe es schlummern noch einige Potentiale. Meine Ahnung mit den Niederländern war richtig. Sie haben keine Ideen gehabt, sich oft verzettelt. Immer wieder Rückgaben bis hin tim Schlussmann bauen das Spiel schliesslich doch nicht auf.
Schönes Spiel der Spanier und unverdrossen die Iren. Der Gesang der Iren war wunderschön, obwohl ihre Mannschaft schon 0-3 im Rückstand war heben sie ohne Gegroehle gesungen. Warum die Spanier sraendig über die Mitte durchbrechen wollten, habe ich nicht eingesehen. Die Mitte war eng, soweit das TV das erkennen lies. Sie spielten auch nicht mit dem Raum, sondern immer auf dem Mann.

Joerg said...

Schweden - England wurde ein spannendes Spiel. Wunderbare Kämpfe, unermuedliche Schweden. Die Englaender waren eine Weile lang voellig orientierungslos. Das 3. Tor der Engländer wird wohl lange in Erinnerung bleiben.

Ulrich said...

I've been traveling over the last 3 days and couldn't spend much time on my blog. So let me make just one general remark: This is a tournament full of surprises--I was sure that Russia and Poland would survive the group phase in group A, only to see them both get eliminated last night.

The rule that, when two teams are even i.t. of points, the direct confrontation decides, NOT the goal difference over all games or the no. of goals scored, proved decisive in sending the Russians home. It should also be a warning for the Germans tonight: If Denmark wins, it will be placed ahead of Germany. If the Germans want to avoid this, they should not lose. I hope this will provide enough motivation to play as well as possible, and I'm optimistic, in spite of the unpredictability of the tournament so far. There is definitely room for improvement in their offense

@Joerg: I managed to watch the last 30 min of England/Sweden and saw the goal you mention--yes, truly memorable. I do not want to take anything away from Welbeck when I say that the first goal of Gomez against the Netherlands was also memorable: I did not know he had the skill to take a pass, turn while juggling the ball, make another step, still controlling the ball with the same foot, and then hammer it into the net.

I will say something about the Spaniards in my next comment...

Joerg said...

Das war ein wunderschönes Spiel Deutschland/Daenemark. Das Podolski Tor war eine Wucht. Es wurde gefaehrlich mit den Daenen. Der linke Flügel der Dänen kombinierte wunderbar, auch die Flanken vor das Deutsche Tor , allerdings selten.
Ich kann mich immer noch nicht gut mit dem System-Fussball abfinden. >Immer auf den Mann gespielt. Wer behält den Ball am längsten in seinen Reihen. Die Lücke am 16 Meter suchen und dann dann Ball mit dem Innenriss durchschieben, wenn, ja wenn einer mitgedacht bzw. mitgelaufen ist.< Ich liebe dagegen das Spiel mit der Raum. Das erfordert aber Spieler, die mitdenken. Das war die grosse Zeit von Bayer Leverkusen, bevor Ballack nach Muenchen ging.

Ich freue mich für Portugal, dass sie weitergekommen sind.

Pedro said...

Ahhhhh...Portugal passed the groups! This time I am particulary proud, because our group B was particulary hard (called the "death group"). And I am naturally very proud of my team.

The game was not easy. Holland scored first, but Portugal reverted the result.

Finally Ronaldo showed up. Here in Portugal, before the game there was some hostility in the press, against him. And people were saying that he only plays well for Rel Madrid. But yesterday he worked hard for our national team! The Portuguese expression for his performance was "endiabrado" (=acting as a little devil)

Congratulations for Germany as well! 9 points!!!! I am happy for our teams!

Ulrich said...

@Joerg: The problem is that teams that feel they cannot match the other team i.t. of speed and skill simply build a wall around the penalty area that leaves no space for the type of vertical passes you like. The only thing left for the attacking team is to pass the ball patiently around and wait for the slightest opening in the defensive formation. Barcelona likes to do this anyway--after all, they have Messi who can break out of this routine anytime. The Spanish side, with their midfield stocked with Barca players, do not have a Messi--in fact, they played their first match without any forward and managed just one, albeit very beautiful, Barca-style goal. They were more successful in their second match with a real forward, Torres.

Now, the Germans do NOT want to play like that, but it's forced on them by defense-oriented teams like the Danes. Plus, Özil, who is supposed to be the creative force in the offensive midfield, has "not yet arrived at the tournament," as one paper put it today. What happens when the Germans DO find open space can be seen when one looks at their second goal last night: The Danes had to open up b/c they had to score, and the German right back found the entire Danish left half open at one point. He started to run into it from deep in his own half to arrive in front of the Danish goal at precisely the right moment where he could convert a pass, deliberately and unhurriedly.

I hope the Germans will find more opportunities like these in the matches to come, but I do not expect any change against the Greeks--if anything, it may get more difficult to score against them. @Pedro will remember the final Portugal/Greece from 2004(?).

Ulrich said...

@Pedro: Congratulations also from me! I didn't see the parallel match last night, but read about Ronaldo's performance.

The Germans are not entirely happy with the way their team has played so far (see my remarks about Özil above), but they also say, "Hey! It was the mother of all groups of death, and we finished with 9 points--we must be doing something right!"

Joerg said...

Ulrich, I understand your argument, but I don't agree in all points. It is also the system, which creates the wall around the penalty area.
We saw it just in the match Croatia/Spain. The Spaniards ran very quickly in the midfield, but when the came near the penalty area they hesitated until the Croatians built the wall. The Spaniards had no ideas to got a goal.
Yes, it was a pleasure to see the playful combinations of the Spaniards, because they played very quick.
It was not a dramatic match, as the speaker wanted to tell us. Only if you prefer a team. But this is usual.

Ulrich said...

@Joerg: I hope the Germans will find a way to break the expected Greek wall on Friday. They have to run more and try to create situations in which they have an extra unmarked player--physically demanding and risky b/c it depletes the defense. But there is no other way through that wall. As I said, an early goal for Germany could do wonders--for Greece? Bye-bye Germany!

What I like is that the Greeks start to talk trash and openly mix politics with sports--the more arrogant and self-delusional they act, the more they are doomed--remember England at the last World Cup?

Anyway, I'll be on the road for the next four days and do not know how often I can be on the Internet--I'll try log in at least once a day.

Ulrich said...

If we go by the impressions left by the teams so far, we should have the following semifinals:

Germany-England/Italy winner*

*I find it very hard to make a guess w.r.t. the England/Italy quarterfinal.

However it turns out, we seem to be headed toward confrontations between the usual suspects. One remark about the German side: These guys seem to have been around for a long time, but I was surprised to learn that it's still the youngest side (by average) in the entire competition!

Ulrich said...

@Pedro: Congratulations! perhaps we'll meet again at the final?

I'm really, really concerned about tonight's match against Greece. As the match against Denmark showed, the Germans are not that good against a defensive team that doesn't even attempt to "play soccer" with them. The best would be to score an early goal, to force the Greeks to open up. The worst would happen when the Greeks score first, especially if it happens late in the match--bye, bye Germany!

Pedro said...

@Ulrich: thank you very much! Let's hope to meet in the final!

Indeed last night's game was a lot of suffering. There were some "ghosts" in the team , because in Euro96 in the quarters Portugal was defeated by Chek Republic. Yesterday the Cheks played very defensive, and Portugal tried to score. So it was all match suffering for a goal that had to come.

I am very happy with the team. Not only with Ronaldo, that I think is playing well and has been tireless, but with the rest of the team. I think it has to be more effective in scoring. But I have hope that they improve for the next match.

Halil Erhan said...

Good job Germany!
By the way, I found this "polito-sport" note :)


Pedro said...


As a curiosity for a match Germany-Greece,
Yesterday I saw on Portuguese television, a piece of the classic football match between Germany and Greece:
Monty Python's match between German philosophers and Greek philosophers!

Ulrich said...

@Halil: :) Priceless! I have already forwarded the cartoon to German friends.

@Pedro: Thanks! Goes to show how much I know about soccer: None of my fears were founded--the Greeks tried to play, and the Germans had.

Joerg said...

Halil Erhan, I laughed at the cartoon. It is accurate and I am not clad about that circumstances. It calls up the term: Brot und Spiele, bread and circuses. We Germans do not agree with all decision making of the politicians. Mrs. Merkel took a flight from Rome to Danzig to demonstrate her sympathy with the players. It is populist. In truth she wanted to prescind from her decisions. She had to do her job and may be she can have fun with the games, but not in the VIP box.

I do not see the game Germany - Greece, I´m sorry about that. I had to went to a Birthday party in the Philharmony in Berlin. When I believe the stories in the papers and what my friends told me, I would believe that the Germans would reach the finale - as Ulrich promises. I saw the goal of Khedira in the news. It was fantastic.
Pedro. My papers in Berlin wrote: The effort of the Portugueses depend on the operations of Ronaldo. Do you agree? I don´t believe it. Yes, he made the goals, but the others played the game. He is a fantastic player and i´m amazed when I see his ball feeling.

Ulrich said...

...oops! My last sentence should have read ... found the space they needed.

My perspective w.r.to the German team has completely changed after the match with Greece: I now believe that they'll win the Cup, provided nothing completely unexpected happens (sorry, @Joerg, if that sounds too chauvinistic for your taste!). The concerns everybody had w.r.t. their defense were laid to rest after game 1, and now the offense seems to have found its groove, too--and they're fun to watch!

But given how bad I am when it comes to predictions, it probably will turn out out completely differently:)

Joerg said...

I´m happy with Italy in the soccer match against Germany. The play of the Italiens is not self-loved as the Spaniard is. They often play from the midfield with vertical passes. Well, the effort was not so good, but we had a match against England, which was fascinating. The Germans must develop qualities to win. @ Ulrich, your promise was exact, the Italiens are a powerful team.

Pedro said...

What a weekend of football!

I was very disappointed with Spain-France, (boring) and particularly very disapponted with France.- It is true that this is a new generation, but i would expect more. Yesterday I heard a comment saying that the effectiveness of the Spanish team has the effect of "stopping" the opponent's game, like what happened with France. Anyway, I still think France didn't effort or suffered enough.

I liked very much yesterday's game between Italy-England. England surprised me a bit positively. And Italy is growing, as always does in these tournaments.

Pedro said...


Thank you for your comment.
No, I think the team is not only Ronaldo. It is a good team and plays well. If it was Ronaldo+10, then we would not reach the semi-finals.
One of the main comments here, is that the international press is focused on Ronaldo, and forgetting the others, as if the team was not a team. If one disearves a compliment is our new coach. I think he did a great job in making a real team having a "star" like Ronaldo.
In our history of football we only reached the semis with big teams: Like Eusebio in the 60's, Chalana in the 80's, and Figo and Rui Costa in the 00's. So I guess it proves that this one is a team as well.

Ulrich said...

I also think England/Italy was one of the best, if not the best, match so far--up to the point where Gerrard had his cramps. According to the commentators here, it was a sign that the English players did not have the physical conditioning to play for 90 min at the speed of the Italians and then desperately tried to survive overtime in order to get to the penalty shootout.

They also believe Portugal has a real chance against Spain!!!

Pedro said...

My impressions about Germany-Italy,

I think it is going to be a very good match. Both teams are very good. Germany seems stronger, but Italy is growing.
The comments here about Germany are that is if not the strongest, surely one of the strongest teams in the tournament. It has a complete team, capable of changing players in all positions maintaning the good overall performance. The victory with Greece for 4-2 was achieved with secondary attacking players, e.g., Gomez played only the last 10 minutes.
Italy is growing as always. As common in these tournaments, Italy starts bad, and gets better very fast. Played well against England. I think it is a powerful team with expert palyers, such as Pirlo.
It is going to be a good match!

Ulrich said...

Portugal/Spain: 1:0!!!!

As to the other semi-final, the papers here rehash ad nauseam the depressing history of Germany vs Italy in major tournaments: 4 ties, 3 losses, 0 wins. Among the losses are two of the most traumatic for the German soccer soul: The semifinal losses 1970 in Mexico and 2006 in Germany, both in overtime. In light of this: 2:0 Germany! (2:1 if Balotelli manages to actually score.)

Pedro said...

I like your accuracy and capability of predicting for your own team. I tried to do the same for my team but I am not able. But for your game, I would go for a Germany 2-Italy 1.

About the history: I have the impression that Italy has 4 World titles, and Bermany has 3. But I think Germany won more European Championships. As far as I remember in my young 38, I saw at least one in Euro96.

Ulrich said...

@Pedro: Yes. Germany made the final 6 times and won it 3 times. Italy: 2|1.

The most memorable losses, to me, were to the former Czechoslovakia in 1976 (Germany lost the penalty shootout [!] when Hoeness hammered the ball over the goal) and to Denmark in 1992 (the Danish players were called back from their vacation shortly before the tournament started when Denmark was awarded the last slot after Yugoslavia (?) was kicked out after qualifying). I watched the 1992 final at a pub in Pittsburgh when network TV did not yet show international soccer in the US.

Pedro said...

The most memorable losses to me were the semi-finals in which we lost against France in Euro84, and Euro2000. And of course, the only final we went so far, in Euro 2004, that we lost against Greece. That was in the Euro that we hosted in our country. And when everybody was expecting to win and to party.

But life is full of hope,
and in that Euro I saw the most happy goal I ever celebrated in my life: The goal against Spain in the Group phase, (final result 1-0).-which I saw with my own eyes in the stadium, and celebrated. That qualified Portugal to the quarters.

Pedro said...

Portugal-Spain tonight:

I think it is going to be a hard game for Portugal.
Spain is better as a whole, but is missing a great player. And Portugal is not as strong as a whole, but has Ronaldo who is a special player. And in football sometimes that can make all the difference.

Spain is a very strong team: The European Champion and World Champion.
Commnts here are that despite this Spanish team does not seem as strong as the one of 2008 , and 2010, it is probably a false impression, and still is a very powerful team as well. And probably the more powerful.
In history of games between these countries, Portugal has won more than Spain did. In 2010 we were beaten and eliminated by Spain, and general feeling was that we could have won that match. Some months later in a particular match we beat them by 4-0.

A Portugal-Spain match is the Iberian classic. A match between neighbours, and historic rivals.

I think it is possibe to beat Spain. A victory over the World Champion would be a matter of great proud. I hope they all be inspired today. Particularly Ronaldo. I hope he will be specially insipred tonight.

Ulrich said...

I admit that my prediction is a wild guess, not based on any serious analysis, but on a gut feeling in response to some of the same observations: Spain doesn't seem as invincible as it used to be (the midfielders from Barca are less effective w/o Messi or Villa), other teams have figured out how to play them, and Ronaldo is always good for a goal.

Let's hope for a really exciting match--the tournament could do with one!

Ulrich said...

If Ronaldo converts one of his chances, my prediction comes true! Too bad--Portugal played courageously and deserved to win.

Joerg said...

poor, poor Portugal. The team disenchanted the Spaniards, They took away the brilliance and brightness of the Spaniards play-system, because they bother very early and very quick. @ Ulrich, I agree what you write about Ronaldo.

Joerg said...

I hope Italians will play their offensive soccer in the evening, as they played against England. So I expect a very exiting game. I think, it is not a question of Gomes or Klose, it´s the team.

Pedro said...

About Portugal-Spain yesterday,

I am glad to find that you think teh same as me. Because when it comes to our own team, we may tend to think that we played better.

Thank you for your support, blog mates.

I also think that Portugal played better than Spain. And diserved to be in the final. It is sad to be eliminated by penalty kicks, so close to the final.

Ulrich said...

Wow--a whole nation wakes up with a hangover b/c just about everyone expected a wing yesterday. And there is a consensus: Löw, our manager, changed not only a winning team, but also a winning strategy--and the rest, as they say, is history.

Another irony: Just when everybody thought that our defense had found its groove, it allowed two goals as the result of absolutely catastrophic individual mistakes.

Pedro said...

For tonight's final I hope that Italy wins. Today, all Portuguese are supporting Italy.
I will trey my predicion: Italy 2 - Spain 1.

Pedro said...

Forgive my mistakes: Try my prediction: Italy 2 -Spain 1.

Before this Euro ends, I would like to say that in general I think it was a good Euro. Although I had the impression that there were only a few exciting (really exciting) matches. But there is still one match left...

Ulrich said...

That's my prediction, too.

There's a sour mood here--not so much because Germany lost the semifinal, but because HOW they lost it. The consensus is that the manager tried to outthink the opposition and outthought himself instead by fielding a 'crippled' team--a team without an offensive midfielder on the right (where he had great choices in Reus and Müller), with a Schweinsteiger who was woefully out of form, and with a tactic that was exclusively focused on Pirlo, who could not be stopped anyway. This gave Montolivo and Balotelli all the space they needed.

The sense is that this was one avoidable loss. The criticism of the manager is so severe that he is rumored to consider resigning. If he does, he will be remembered more for this one loss than for all the wins he had.

Ulrich said...

@Pedro: What made the tournament exciting, to me, was that the unexpected happened throughout b/c no team could establish and maintain dominance. The Russians started with a bang, were considered a serious contender, only to be eliminated in group play.

Only one goal separated the Germans from following the Russians or win their group. They then played their best match in the quarterfinal, which convinced many here, including me, that they would continue to improve and win the cup, only to be embarrassed in the semifinal.

That was the best match of the Italians, which convinced some on this blog, including me again, that THEY would win the cup, especially since Spain almost lost their semifinal.

But the Spaniards managed to call up their best, indeed an outstanding performance in the final, and the ability to do that is the mark of a true champion--chapeau!

Conclusion: I stink when it comes to predicting the outcome of soccer matches!

Joerg said...

Sorry, I was 3 days offline, but I have to start again for a work out of town.
I´m surprised of the Spaniards. It was the other way round as the match Italy - Germans. The Spaniard disturbed early.
@Pedro@Ulrich , I read your opinions and your predictions. I had agreed with you.
I hope, i can write a little more, when I´m back in 3 days.

Pedro said...

Indeed it is very hard if not impossible to make any predictions of football matches...

Although it is a little hard to admit, but yesterday Spanish victory was obviously fair.

In the days after the semifinals the mood was sadness because Portugal did not reach the final. "Another semifinal!" Although people know that is very good to be in a semifinal. And are proud of reaching a semifinal.

For Germany, not reaching a final might be strange, but for a country of the size of Portugal, reaching the semifinal is a proudness.

And there is satisfaction with the team. People recognize they did their best. But as always, we say: "now let's think about the next time !",

which this time will be in Brazil...

Pedro said...

In this Euro we had the chance that both our teams Germany and Portugal could go to the semifinals.

That was very cool to change our impressions in this blog, as the excitement of the tournament was growing, with all surprises and expectations...and predictions! Let's hope that we can do that again for 2014 in Brazil:

"Let's think about the next time!"

Ulrich said...

Yes, let's do that!

Joerg said...

I´m back from my trip and I want to write some words to the last match. I was surprised of the Spaniards. They played wonderful. I never expected this. On the contrary I had expected, the Italians would win. Before it I was disappointed of the Spaniards. Their play looked for pleasure in the midfield but without ideas and less effects. And so I thought this EUR0 2012 would be the end of the system the Spaniards played and the Germans in many cases wish to copy. I hoped the system of the Italians would be the future - with their long and high passes out of the midfield.
But now - I´m convinced of the Spaniards.
Poor Germans.

Ulrich said...

@Joerg: I would not write the Germans off. They were the youngest team in the competition, and there is a good chance that they will learn in the next 2 years how to handle matches that require full concentration from start to finish, matches in which the defense cannot allow goals like the ones Balotelli scored in the semifinal, matches in which, among equally skilled teams, the team usually wins that WANTS to win, not the team that is, on paper, "best prepared".

I'm hopeful that our two Madrilenes will make progress along these lines with Real, that the Dortmund players will learn how to handle themselves at that level during the next Championship Cup(s), and that the Bayern players, too, will learn a thing or two.

What impressed me most about the Spanish was that the day before the final, wives, children and girlfriends were all invited--and stayed for the celebration!

Contrast this with what the Germans call Akribie, extremely careful scouting and preparation. It may kill the spirit in the end, the kind of spirit our team had 2 years ago--we have to resurrect that spirit if we want to win the big one next time!