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John Simkin

Euro 2004

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Who will win the 2004 tournament?

I think that one of the "bigger nations" will be successful as usual; Spain, Italy, England, Germany and France, but I hope that one of the smaller nations :unsure: (like for example Sweden...) will surprise me...

Spain plays well at times, but they seem to have a hard time finishing what they started - nerves? They barely beat Russia and tied with Greece. They look like a better team than Portrugal but I don't know if they will be able to defeat them...

Italy seems to be "lucky" in several championchips, still they are nearly always among the top teams when the tournament is over. Italy's performance against Denmark was not very good, but they have a very efficient defence which we will face tomorrow. Our forwards will have a much harder time than they did against Bulgaria... Another concern of mine is the ability of Italian players to play the "dying duck" in the penalty zone... I would not get very surprised if we got at least one penalty kick against us for one of those performances. So in the end I'm quite sure that Italy will be among one of the top four...

If England stays calm and play as a team I'm sure we will find them among the top once. I would like to see some of those forwards step up and do what they are supposed to do - score. It will be very interesting to follow this afternoons game.

Germany is usually a very efficient team in tournaments. I'm not sure about this years team but they have a tradition of doing well and that means a lot in this kind of competition.

France has the best individual players but I'm not convinced about the team. If a team play as disciplined as the English - more than 90 minutes I'm sure France will get problems. So a strong defence, lots of patience (and physical strength) and France will not be the Champions.

One team that I think deserved a better result was Russia. Several injured players and other problems... still they manage to play very well. I was especially impressed with how fast they turned the play around - very quickly from defence up to the top forwards. To bad that the offensive was so weak - amazing that they didn't score on all those great plays they got from the defence and lower midfield.

Well it's another day in "football land" - the seat is booked for this afternoon. I keep my fingers crossed for the English team and I'm looking forward to another evening full of "popular culture" and probably the greatest entertainment invented - football! (no time for upper class hockey - golf...) ;)

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I originally said that the last four would be: England, France, Italy and the Czech Republic. Although all four have not always played well I am not yet ready to change my mind. However, three other teams, Spain, Sweden and Greece have all shown good form.

Last night’s game against Croatia shows that France is vulnerable against teams willing to attack them. Despite their recent good record, I am not convinced by France’s defence. However, France’s attack is always likely to score goals. History shows us that it is teams with good defences that win European championships.

I am interested in seeing tonight’s game between Sweden and Italy. It is possible that the winner of this game could be the winner of Euro 2004.

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When I was watching the game between England and Switzerland yesterday I saw the recemblance of the Sweden-Bulgaria game a few days before. England played nervous and the defence left lots of chanses to the Swiss that they fortunately didn't use in a more effectice way. I don't think this kind of play will be efficient against Croatia. I hope that the defence will recover, that the midfield will be better connected and more aggressive so they can feed the English forwards with the kind of game they deserve. I was impressed by young Wayne Rooney, but I was also impressed by Darius Vassell - how come he wasn't in from the beginning. He seems to have the ability to induce energy...

You probably realize that you are playing quite "Swedish" now... I don't know if that's a good thing or bad... <_<

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Croatia will be tough opponents for England. Rooney was impressive against Switzerland, but his aggressive play ealier on in the game made me wonder how long it would be before he gave away a penalty.

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England did not play well against Switzerland last night. It might have been nerves but I suspect it had more to do with the heat. As with in the game against France, the problem was with retaining the ball. This will have to improve in England are to make further progress in the tournament.

Anders, you are right to be impressed with Wayne Rooney. I am in favour of playing young strikers in big matches. They have no fear and don’t appear to suffer from nerves. Rooney performances are in direct contrast to that of Michael Owen. Unlike when he first arrived on the scene, he appears nervous and anxious. Even if he does get chances, I fully expect to miss them. I agree that Darius Vassell should replace him in the starting line-up. However, it will not happen, Owen, like Beckham, is beyond criticism.

Rooney’s problem is he lacks self-discipline and is likely to be sent off before the end of the tournament. However, such is his ability and self-confidence, he will perform well, whatever the level.

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I think that David Beckham was quite poor in his performance against Switzerland. Several of the more dangerous attempts against the English goal started on his side of the field and I think that maybe he should have been replaced in the second half... Is it possible to critisize his performance? <_<

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Another nervous game. <_< Sweden was extremely lucky to get one point against Italy. Italy came to play football this time (compared with the uninterest they showed against Denmark) and they do have a lot of great players. It was far to obvious that we have a big problem with our defence, especially on the right side (since our ordinary right defense player is injured we played with two midfielder on the right side; Mikael Nilsson - he always plays in the offensive midfield and another offensive midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson). Italy obviously knew about their inexperience in this role so they attacked on that side over and over again. These problems together with a team that backed up far to much and lacked the aggressitivity that's necessary we were in deep .... It was our goalkeeper that saved us in the first half!!!

The second half started a bit the same way but then Italy did the ordinary mistake - they backed home playing on the result. I can't understand that a team that has such a good grip on the game allows the other team to get back into the game. As I said before - you can not make that mistake against players like Zlatan, Henrik Larsson and Freddie.

Sweden moved the team up and the coaches put more offensive players in. Kim Källström finally came in (most people don't understand why both our coaches let Anders Svensson continue to play when it's so obvious that he is not in shape...) and soon after Mattias Jonsson. Both these players have great offensive abilities. The Italian goalkeeper is excellent and it took a typical unorthodox Zlatan kick to score. That player must be a nightmare to meet since you never what he will do next...

Once again a young hungry player (like Rooney and Panucci) without any fear scores. It seems like we witness a lot of tomorrows dominants in the mastership (or should I say todays since they obviously already dominate). Now we have to get prepared for the most important game - if we tie or win against Denmark we will qualify for further games. These are two teames that know each other very well. I think Denmark has an advantage since they play more like a team and they have a fairly good defense. They have also showed that they can play aggressively - man to man - which will confuse and frustrate the Swedish players. On the other hand - we have one of the best offensive lines right now so it will definitely be an interesting game...

Edited by Anders

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Another nervous game. <_< Sweden was extremely lucky to get one point against Italy.

I think you are being too harsh on Sweden. I thought their overall display deserved a point. Italy’s first-half display was the best we have seen from a team in Euro 2004. However, in the second-half you outplayed them (you forced them into retreat). I think you will definitely join Italy in the next round and may well meet them in the final. Or even better, maybe you will meet England in the final.

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A few observations so far;

More young players seem to be fearless (showing no respect what so ever). They show an incredible focus and add to their teams strength a lot - while we see other established players fall back - due to nerves? or the fact that they are to established (not hungry enough)? I still believe that a healthy mix of young hungry players and older established dominant players is the best mix... With other words you probably wouldn't do to well with a team with just young hungry players... B)

Ball possession means very little today. It use to be equaled with victory - not so anymore. We often see a lot of good defence and the other team pushing and pushing trying to score just to see a very swift counter attack which makes the team with less ball possession victorious... :huh:

Rough ugly play and intimidation is more or less part of every national teams strategy today. It's sometimes amazing that the players can stand up after being victims of the more serious attempts to play "rough" :angry:

I think you will definitely join Italy in the next round and may well meet them in the final. Or even better, maybe you will meet England in the final. "John"

I sure hope that we will advance and it would be great to meet England in the final. This would be one of the few times I wouldn't cheer for your team... :D

The games next week will be extremely exciting - just the way it should be. I'm looking forward to it. As I said before - football is "popular culture" and probably the greatest entertainment invented!!!

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What a great competition this is turning out to be. I thought the Italy-Sweden contest was special but it could not compare with last night’s Holland-Czech game. It was one of the best games I have ever seen. For most of the game Holland lost their fear of losing and played some tremendous football. Then, as in the Italy game, the manager made a terrible tactical error by taking off the exiting Robben and replacing him with the dour Bosvelt. The change resulted in the Czechs taking the initiative getting the victory they needed to qualify. Hopefully, Holland will still qualify (Germany are a terribly boring team).

No team so far has been able to show it has the right balance between defence and attack. Countries like the Czech Republic, France and Holland have the potential to score lots of goals but will also let too many in. Italy, Spain and England seem to have the best balanced teams.

Looking forward to the Spain-Portugal game tonight. I suspect an over-anxious Portugal to be beaten by the Spanish.

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I haven't seen too many complete games, (apart from the pretty average performances of the English) but did really enjoy watching both the Sweden games and the parts of the Holland-Czech Rep game that I saw was very entertaining. Like most viewers I am still not sure about this variation of the offside laws. I was sure that both the Dutch goals were offside, especially Van Nistleroy - how can a player standing in front of the goal keeper NOT be 'active'. I really don't think that the law needed to be changed, there were enough goals being scored, which was presumably the motivation for changing the rule.

I personally do not find myself anywhere near as engaged in International matches compared to the intensity of following my team (I guess there is no surprise there). I often watch England games in a pub in order to get involved in the atmosphere that is created, but I don't tend to watch Arsenal games in a pub as I prefer to watch in my own home and inch closer and closer to the screen as the match develops.

I have tried to work out why I get so much pleasure from football and why I become so emotionally involved in the game. I guess that it has been very much part of my socialisation. Like others have mentioned my connection with football has meant a close connection with the (male) members of my family. My grandfather took my brother and myself to our first football match (I think it was Arsenal v Aston Villa in 1977), most of the conversations that I have with my father involve some discussion of the footie. I wouldn't say that it has had an impact on my social relationships (although I have missed family occasions to watch matches before) but I am glad that my partner enjoys watching football too, and the fact that she is a Tottenham supporter hasn't caused lasting damage!

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:tomatoes The Netherlands_ Czech Republic 2-3

:(:(:(:(:(:(:(:(

I am still in shock about the game from last night. Well it was better then the one the Dutch played against the Germans. Then again, they could not play much worse then that...

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Then, as in the Italy game, the manager made a terrible tactical error by taking off the exiting Robben and replacing him with the dour Bosvelt. "John"

I couldn't agree more. What did the coach think when he changed a good functional 4-3-3 to a conservative defense 4-4-2. I wonder if Coach Advocaat will last if the Netherlands does not quilify for the second round? (By the way Marco - is that coach Advocaat that receive the tomato treatment after the game?)

I was sure that both the Dutch goals were offside, especially Van Nistleroy - how can a player standing in front of the goal keeper NOT be 'active'. I really don't think that the law needed to be changed, there were enough goals being scored, which was presumably the motivation for changing the rule. "Dan"

I agree that this looks strange - but (as you pointed out) when Robben received the ball on the side was, according to the rules, van Nistleroy not part of the active game and therefore he was not offside. He was obviously not "formally" active until he started to participate in the game again by moving towards the goal.

I feel sorry for the Netherlands but at the same time I'm a bit satisfied that extreme defensive does not pay off! I must also admire Czech Republic - they never gave up and performed an impressive game which did pay off. I agree with the previous writers - this was the best game so far! :tomatoes

Edited by Anders

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The games next week will be extremely exciting - just the way it should be. I'm looking forward to it. As I said before - football is "popular culture" and probably the greatest entertainment invented!!!

At its best football is indeed close to being the greatest entertainment ever invented. However, the Spain-Portugal game tonight did not fall into that category. It is example of what is wrong with much of modern football. The Spanish coach selected a team and adopted the tactics that he thought would stop Portugal from scoring. The Portugal coach, on the other hand, selected a team that would not allow Spain to score in a breakaway. The result was a game that did not have a shot on target for the first hour.

Spain’s defensive tactics got the reward it deserved. Nuno Gomes scored after 57 minutes and the Spanish team were unable to respond. Their main tactic appeared to be a switch to the long ball game. Amazingly, Morientes did not come on until 81 minutes (the coach was desperate not to appear to have made a mistake in not picking him from the start).

Football is only a great game when both sides start with the objective of scoring more goals than the opposition. That is what Holland and the Czech Republic did last night. I hope that England takes the same approach tomorrow. I know a draw will be enough to qualify, but they should try for nothing less than a win. Otherwise, they might well end up like Spain and find themselves on their way home.

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However, the Spain-Portugal game tonight did not fall into that category. It is example of what is wrong with much of modern football. The Spanish coach selected a team and adopted the tactics that he thought would stop Portugal from scoring. The Portugal coach, on the other hand, selected a team that would not allow Spain to score in a breakaway. The result was a game that did not have a shot on target for the first hour. "John"

I really enjoyed the Portugese attitude last night, but I had very little understanding for the Spanish one. If they were a team that couldn't master the offensive play and had less skills than the other team I would understand the tactic, but a team with such great potential should not play a defensive game. It has been pretty obvious in this tournament that defensive tactics rarely pays off...

Football is only a great game when both sides start with the objective of scoring more goals than the opposition. That is what Holland and the Czech Republic did last night. I hope that England takes the same approach tomorrow. I know a draw will be enough to qualify, but they should try for nothing less than a win. Otherwise, they might well end up like Spain and find themselves on their way home. "John"

If they do I think the game will end well, but I'm not convinced that Sven-Göran Eriksson thinks the same way. He has seen an aggressive, offensive Croation play which often involves man-to-man situations with a lot of pressure on the ball holder. It's a tactic that does not fit his way of playing so it will be a very nervous game. A strong English offensive with a lot of pressure on the Croation mid and defense section would surprise them and maybe give England the early goal(s) they need. A defensive play would give the Croatian team the intiative and they would not give it back to England...

In 1994 Sweden went into the semifinal and tried to play a clever defensive game against Brazil. It was a disaster - we never got over the midfield - and Brazil won easy. Sweden learned their lesson and went out and played a great offensive game against Bulgaria in the match of 3rd prize. Within the first half an hour Sweden made three goals and the Bulgarians had no clue on what to do. They had counted on the "good old defensive" game. The offensive was a winning ticket that time - I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be the same this time. So I hope that both England tonight and Sweden tomorrow goes out and chock their opponents with a game which I think they both are able to play - Offensive! :tomatoes

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