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John Simkin

Euro 2004

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I thought it might be a good idea to use the forum to discuss Euro 2004.

I will start the ball rolling by discussing the prospects of England (I hope others will do the same for their own country).

Unlike on previous occasions I think England will do well in this competition. The main reason is that we currently have several world class players: Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen. I am also hopeful that three more: Franik Lampard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney could also emerge as world class over the next few weeks. Others like Sol Campbell, Gary Neville and John Terry are better than most English internationals from the past.

However, it seems we have two major problems. One concerns the tactics of Sven-Goran Eriksson. Success will depend on him playing Lampard and Gerrard in the centre with Scholes and Beckham wide of midfield. I know that makes us look too attacking but I think it is worth taking the risk (even against France).

In past European and World finals tiredness has proved to be a major problem for England. There is obviously a connection between this and our long season. A survey in today’s Guardian shows that the English team played an average of 49.5 games last season. This is much more than other teams: Spain (43.9), Portugal (43.6), France (43.0), Holland (40.9), Germany (39.7), Italy (35.3) and Czech Republic (34.8).

The warm weather will also be a problem for England, Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic.

Despite these problems I think the following might reach the semi-finals:

England, France, Italy and the Czech Republic.

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El Corte Inglés (nothing to do with England), the biggest department store in Spain, has just launched a special offer in their supermarkets: "If Spain wins the Cup, we will give your money back". I have to admit that Spanish firms are not very supportive with our National Team.

However, I think we have quite a bunch of good players and that, sometime and someplace, Spain will work as a team. Will it be in Portugal? Let's hope that our neighbour's weather and cuisine, so similar to Spain, will help our poor millionaire players.

I have read in some foreign newspaper that the main reason of the poor record of Spain in international competition is our internal regional problems. I don't think so. Curiously, the main examples of "Spanish Fury" are Basque players and, nowadays, probably Carles Puyol, one of the few Catalan players in Barcelona, is the best example of a hard-working and fighter player.

Taking into account that this is a massively English-speaking forum... I bet that the teams that will reach semifinals will be Portugal (let's enjoy Figo), England (although Beckham was lately a bit depressed in Madrid), France (the best in the world is playing there) and Spain (Although, I am a Real Madrid supporter, keep an eye on Fernando Torres, a young player of Atlético de Madrid)

Edited by Juan Carlos

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My heart says Engerland, my head says La France, but my money has been wagered on the Portugese (7/1 is too good to miss for a home team especially with Figo and, much as it pains me to admit, Christian Ronaldo).

My biggest worry about England, as John suggests is the dreaded 'Diamond' midfield. The best team in England / Europe (the Arsenal) with one of the finest managers in recent history always play 4-4-2 and that is a system that 'English' teams are used to. We looked incredibly weak against Japan playing the diamond as Lampard, Beckham, Scholes and Gerrard don't actually know how to tackle. Scholes should have been sent off several times in the last few games that he has played as a result of several shocking tackles. By playing Scholes at the 'top' of the diamond he also gets in the way of Rooney who should be allowed to drop inot the 'hole' a la Bergkamp and pick up the ball from deeper - you only needed to witness the second goal he scored against Finland to see the power of the boy. Beckham is also much more effective out on the right wing, despite his desire to play in the middle, and his deadly accurate passing helps the forwards much more than his attempts to dribble through a packed defence.

My second concern is the defence especially against the French. As a gooner I have seen the likes of Henry, Pires, Vieira and even Wiltord rip the heart out of so many teams with their incredible pace, energy and sublime skill. Without the injured John Terry in the middle whoever replaces him (Carragher or King) is going to be in for a tough time against Titi. However I have heard rumours that some Football journalists have suggested that Henry 'bottles it' on the biggest occasions and goes AWOL (eg the quarter-final of the Champions League against Chelsea). I am not totally convinced.

As for the other teams, it seems that there are serious doubts about the Italians (and rumours of unhappiness in their training camp), the Germans have been off the boil for the longest that I can remember and the Spanish never seem to gel as a team (and why did they leave Jose Antonio Reyes at home?). Strangely it seems that the Dutch are getting on well and they could be a surprise package - Ajax looked good in the Champions League and they have some great individuals like Arjen Robben - although the midfield is a bit old.

Predictions:

Semi finals - France, England, Holland, Italy

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My second concern is the defence especially against the French. As a gooner I have seen the likes of Henry, Pires, Vieira and even Wiltord rip the heart out of so many teams with their incredible pace, energy and sublime skill. Without the injured John Terry in the middle whoever replaces him (Carragher or King) is going to be in for a tough time against Titi. (Dan Lyndon)

With the loss of Terry in defence Henry is bound to cause England serious problems on Sunday. I have no confidence in either Carragher or King being able to stop him. William Gallas is the only defender who has coped with him this season. My solution would be to bring in Wayne Bridge at left back and give Ashley Cole a man-marking role on Henry.

El Corte Inglés (nothing to do with England), the biggest department store in Spain, has just launched a special offer in their supermarkets: "If Spain wins the Cup, we will give your money back". I have to admit that Spanish firms are not very supportive with our National Team. (Juan Carlos)

I am afraid we have seen a big patriotic surge with about a third of all cars flying English flags.

I bet that the teams that will reach semifinals will be Portugal (let's enjoy Figo), England (although Beckham was lately a bit depressed in Madrid), France (the best in the world is playing there) and Spain (Although, I am a Real Madrid supporter, keep an eye on Fernando Torres, a young player of Atlético de Madrid) (Juan Carlos)

I look forward to seeing Fernando Torres. David Beckham looks like the hard season has caught up with him (I mean playing football). He will not the only one under-performing at Euro 2004. I thought Henry was showing signs of tiredness at the end of the season. Well, you can hope anyway.

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Juan Carlos: What did you make of Spain’s performance last night? To my mind it was competent rather than brilliant. One got the impression that if Russia scored a goal, Spain would have gone up a gear and scored another.

Portugal seemed over-anxious and will now struggle to qualify. I expect Spain and Russia will beat them.

News emerging from the England camp suggests that King will replace Terry. This seems to me to be a terrible gamble. He has not even played much in this position for his own team. Nor has he played in any big games and is likely to suffer badly from nerves against France. Even if my idea of playing Cole against Henry is too revolutionary, why not switch Neville to the centre (he has played in this position in big games for Man United).

Let us hope I am wrong. If so, I will happily write about Sven-Goran Eriksson’s inspired team selection.

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Three genius in French team : Barthez, Zidane and... God :rolleyes::hotorwot

Great British defense, poor french tactics : why allways trying to cross through the heart of this defense, with balls for English heads ? What about left or right wing ? So little occasions to score, on both sides... I definitively have rather rugby B)

English footballers are tough and often have problems of timing in tackling, especially Lampard and Scholes (I'm not quite sure of his name). But Lampard was in the timing to score :)

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Three genius in French team : Barthez, Zidane and... God ;):hotorwot

Great British defense, poor french tactics : why allways trying to cross through the heart of this defense, with balls for English heads ? What about left or right wing ? So little occasions to score, on both sides... I definitively have rather rugby B)

English footballers are tough and often have problems of timing in tackling, especially Lampard and Scholes (I'm not quite sure of his name). But Lampard was in the timing to score <_<

The French do tend to need the help of God when they beat the English. To be serious, you deserved to win (although I don’t expect many English fans to agree with me). It was pretty even in the first-half but you were much the better team in the second-half. Partly because we lost control of the midfield and our front runners were unable to hold onto the ball. Even so, we could have gone 2 up when Rooney was brought down by Silvestre. Not only should Beckham have scored (he place it in the one area that a goalkeeper can get to the ball at a penalty) but France should have been down to 10 men (yes David James should have been sent off as well but that was in the 91st minute).

Who would have thought that Sven-Goran Eriksson’s decision to send on Emil Heskey to replace Rooney would be such a mistake. Not only did he not hold onto the ball in attack (he did far worse than Rooney in this respect) he has to make a clumsy tackle just outside the area. Everyone knows what Zidane can do from this position (one of the reasons that the English defence did so well was they did not make any rash tackles in this area). Once that happened the defence completely lost its concentration and mistakes by Gerrard and James (he should have stood up and put Henry under pressure to find the target) led to the penalty. Once again Zidane showed Beckham how to do it.

Zidane was the game’s outstanding player (although the English defence played him very well). Once again Beckham showed that he is no longer a world class player (I don’t think he has been one since the injury he received before the last World Cup). Last night he looked like an average defender instead of a good attacker. I am not even sure his current form warrants his inclusion in the team.

Although they did not play particularly well, France look like the winners of Euro 2004. Maybe, you will beat England in the final. If not, and you lose to England, I hope you will return to the forum and take your medicine like the English have had to today.

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After the 5-0 win Sweden looks upon the European Mastership with new interest, but many of the comments have been cautious (except from some of the Newspapers...). I think that most of us realize that Sweden was fairly close of loosing the game when Henrik Larsson scored the 2-0 goal. Bulgaria played a smart game, but they forgot their defensive positions in the second half - and you can't do that against players like Zlatan, Henrik Larsson and Freddie...

But as I said until the second goal Bulgaria had quite a firm grip of the game...

I hope that the Swedish mistakes in the first part of the game was just some premier nerves... and that they will feel more confident now. It would be sweet to defeat Italy...

I also find the French victory over England a bit lucky... I thought the English team played a very typical efficient Sven-Göran Eriksson Game - up to the misfortunes of the extra time. It's not a lot of fun to watch, but it is very efficient. I was also impressed by the team effort of England and it was quite upsetting to see the end... :blink:

As for the continuation of the European Mastership I can sense two hard games for Sweden - but if we manage to qualify for the second round I know from previous experience that the team can get quite good... (We still remember the nice days of the World Championship of 1994 not so bad for a country with a population less than 9 million people...)

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It's only a game gentlemen!

But if you look at political implications: some say that modern Germany was born in the Swiss town of Bern on July 4th 1954: Das Wunder von Bern where the German team beat Hungary!

Edited by N. Zijlstra

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I found the England game very frustrating (surprise, surprise!) and very reassuring (we certainly know how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory). There were many positive elements, especially in the form of Rooney and, despite John S's pessimism, Ledley King was outstanding. The worry, as I suggested previously was the midfield, who played so deep in the second half that they were virtually camped on our own 18 yard box. As an Arsenal man I thought that the English gooners out performed their French teammates (Henry was fairly anonymous, maybe those journalists were right after all!). However, I am still optimistic that England will qualify for the next round and could well meet the French in the final. Oh what joy it will be to take sweet revenge.

The only other match I have watched was the Sweden game last night and I was certainly impressed by their second half performance. Larsson's diving header was fantastic and it was good to see Freddie Ljungberg so involved. Maybe they are a good outside bet for the title?

I hope to watch the Holland-Germany game tonight, and despite my German ancestry I shall be rooting for the Dutch, they just play football as the good Lord intended it to be played!

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Perhaps my posting on the EURO 2004 seems a bit weird at first sight, but i a what frivolous way I tried to describe how people in the Netherlands behave during Euro 2004.

The Dutch team is called ORANJE (=orange), named after the House of Orange. People decorate their house, whole streets have been decorated with orange plastic, flags, anything orange really.

In between a lot of Dutch national flags, the RED, WHITE, ande BLUE. In shops and advertisements you'll see a lot of these nationalistic symbols and sociologists describe it als "pseudo nationalism"

With the game against Germany coming up, half of my students were dressed in orange and asked about their orange outfit they simply answered: because of the game vs Germany.

Sometimes I'm worried about the fact that in games Holland vs Germany people still think they want to take revenge for "the War", a feeling also shared by many Brits when the relationship with Germany is concerned. (John Cleese in Falwty Towels, sorry Towers)

If you look at the German approach there is much more realism in judging the position of the German team.

'The Wunder von Bern' link however makes clear that the German footballteam has played a far bigger role in building up post war Germany than the creation of the Bundes Republik Deutschland. German people therefore cherish their team without exaggerating nationalistic feelings as much as Dutch people seem to be doing at the moment.

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It's only a game gentlemen!

This is a very common comment. For the many years I spent on different (sometimes very remote) places in Sweden and the many experiences I had on our homefield it has been more than just a game for me.

My team GAIS (of Gothenburg) has since I was a very young boy taken up an important part of my life. My father was a supporter as well as my grandfather and my children often goes along with me to the games. Some of my earliest childhood memories is deeply connected with the green field, cheering people and the team... After every season a feeling of emptiness and after a relatively short period longing to the next season would (and will) occur - so it's definitely more than just a game.

When the big mastership comes - European Mastership as well as World Cup I truly enjoy all the fantastic games I get to see and I know transfer a bit of the feelings I have for my own team to the national one. With keen interest, hopes as well as frustration I follow the Swedish team through every tournament. In 1974 I worked on Iceland and they turned the National TV off (Iceland had this interesting idea of not sending any TV on Thursdays and turn it off over summer...) at the end of June which was quite upsetting since Sweden just had qualified for the second round... I had to rely on the Radio which was in Icelandic - a language that I only partly understood (and they did not broadcast the games - they only briefly mentioned the results...). That was also a frustrating experience...

I have always truly enjoyd the games but I can still see and appreciate when other teams do well. For me these tournaments is one highlight of the year - not just a game...

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After the 5-0 win Sweden looks upon the European Mastership with new interest, but many of the comments have been cautious (except from some of the Newspapers...). I think that most of us realize that Sweden was fairly close of loosing the game when Henrik Larsson scored the 2-0 goal. Bulgaria played a smart game, but they forgot their defensive positions in the second half - and you can't do that against players like Zlatan, Henrik Larsson and Freddie. (Anders)

Sweden were very good to watch against Bulgaria. Were they influenced by the Swedish prime minister Goran Persson's comments that they were not adventurous enough. I cannot imagine Tony Blair making a comment like that. The worst performance was by the English referee Mike Riley (he is as bad as this every Saturday).

The Dutch team is called ORANJE (=orange), named after the House of Orange. People decorate their house, whole streets have been decorated with orange plastic, flags, anything orange really. (Nico)

It was very impressive to see such a large number of Dutch fans in orange at last night’s game. The fans were much more impressive than the team (maybe the problem is the manager who seems to create fear in his own players – he did the same at Rangers).

My team GAIS (of Gothenburg) has since I was a very young boy taken up an important part of my life. My father was a supporter as well as my grandfather and my children often goes along with me to the games. Some of my earliest childhood memories is deeply connected with the green field, cheering people and the team... After every season a feeling of emptiness and after a relatively short period longing to the next season would (and will) occur - so it's definitely more than just a game. (Anders)

As you say, football is much more than a game. I was also brought up at a time when supporting your local football team was one way you were part of the community. The way your team performed had an influence on the way you saw yourself. It is said that when Liverpool lost in the 1970s (which was not very often) the whole city was depressed until the team achieved its next victory.

Football seems to be much less of a community game now. Youngsters seem to prefer to support the team at the top of the league rather than their local team. They then go around boasting about how their team is top of the league as if they are in someway responsible for this success. This seems to be too easy. I was brought up to believe that pleasure only comes after a long period of hard-work (Protestant work ethic and all that). Although I have only had the pleasures of watching my team (West Ham) win anything of any importance three times (including one European competition), I am sure this has more emotional significance than watching Arsenal or Man Und win something every season.

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Sweden were very good to watch against Bulgaria. Were they influenced by the Swedish prime minister Goran Persson's comments that they were not adventurous enough. (John)

Göran Persson is guite involved in the effort of our national team. He plead to Henrik Larsson to please reconsider his decission to not play in the national team - and obviously this had some result (together with all the other Swedes - famous and not famous that also begged Henrik Larsson to reconsider). It's to bad that Göran Persson can't show these qualities in politics...

  Youngsters seem to prefer to support the team at the top of the league rather than their local team. They then go around boasting about how their team is top of the league as if they are in someway responsible for this success. This seems to be too easy. I was brought up to believe that pleasure only comes after a long period of hard-work (Protestant work ethic and all that). Although I have only had the pleasures of watching my team (West Ham) win anything of any importance three times (including one European competition), I am sure this has more emotional significance than watching Arsenal or Man Und win something every season.  (John)

Is this ever true! For me personally it has never been any other team - I was "born" into the one I support. The latest time we won the Swedish Championship was in 1954 (notice that I didn't say the last...). We have gone up - and down - and up - and down..., and still a few thousand supporters has always been there. You don't change team just because of the results - you stick to your team no matter what!!!

As I wrote before, my team has also taken me to very many places in Sweden which I never would have seen otherwise (it added to my geographical knowledge -I know where hundreds of different football fields in our country are located).

Computer technology has meant an improvement for the supporters. Before and after the game it's possible to post our impressions and chat with other supporters about the game on our teams homesite. We still meet (of course) at local restaurants and discuss one of the true uniting important things of life. The chat board makes it possible to continue this discussion and to read about games we missed. A few years ago I was in Texas during two weeks at the same time as my team played to qualify for the highest league - I could follow the game over the net and later chat with fellow supporters at 4 am... (and we made it - just to fall out the year after).

In Sweden we have a saying that set-backs creates a good personality - Our supporters and our team must have the best personality in Sweden... During this years first ten games we manage to lose points in three at over time (after the ordinary 90 minutes). When England lost against France at over time one of our supporters wrote on the chat board "I didn't know that GAIS played France..."

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I teach in an all girls school. My tutor group's main comment on the England v France game was the French teams socks were a fashion nightmare ;)

I enjoy football but not international matches so much. I will be on the golf course tomorrow during the "big match" which with any luck will be deserted bar me and my golfing partner.

Who will win?? I will win the golf and France will win Euro 2004 :unsure:

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