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Euro 2004

John Simkin

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This time I think you are wrong!

I agree with you Anders. It is all too far fetched to be tenable.

Hardy far fetched. I would have thought that this was highly predictable. Of course I may well be wrong. However, I suspect others would be saying it if it happened to their country. Imagine what we would have said if France-Germany needed a 2-2 draw in order to keep England from qualifying.

I am sure we will find out a lot more about this over the next few days.

I should also point out that I am only about 55% certain that I am right. I would also like to be proved wrong. I would hate Italy to replace Sweden in the next round.

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We all knew that this conspiracy theory would come up if the score would be a draw 2-2, 3-3 etc... Before the game the Italians had made it very clear that they would not accept this result. They talked about filming every part of the game, following the different players attitude etc...

Now it happen anyway - even if both teams knew that the majority of Italy would believe in a Nordic conspiracy. What should we have done to please the Italians - kick the ball in our own goal the last minute so that we couldn't be accused of conspiracy? Then the world would have said "Isn't Sweden the most fair playing team in the world"? I don't think so.

Over the years we have played against Denmark many times and it's a game that both teams always enjoy winning - it's a lot of pride in this. I believe in fair play and I think that I saw one yesterday (except the last minute and a half). UEFA had a special observer at the game - he made the comment that he had nothing to complain about. I don't find it hard to see a goalie miss. This happens at every tournament. The Danish Goalkeepr also did some quite remarkable savings (as well as the Swedish goalie).

There is another dimension in this - if this game was rigged than how many of the other games in this mastership have been rigged? A lot of the beaty of the game would go away - and I would definitely lose interest if I believed it. It would also take away the joy of cheering for the team if I went around thinking it's all a fix... I choose to believe "innocent until proven guilty". With other words I'm not going to let you and the Italian papers ruin my joy of the Swedish team effort. We did not play very well, but we struggled through the game trying to compensate the lack of good football with hard labour. I believ that it paid off.

If there would be good proofs which supports the conspiracy theory I expect the team (or both teams if both are involved) to be disqualified. I also expect UEFA to fine the country (or both countries) and later decide on further punishments (like life-long exclusion of players involved, excluding the team from the next mastership etc...). The punishment should be so serious that no country or player would even consider doing it in the future.

I repeat what I said before - Italy did not lose the place into the second round in the last game they lost it against Denmark (by playing bad!) and Sweden (by backing up and letting the Swedes back into the game). The result between Denmark and Sweden was just a confirmation of the inability of the Italian team before this game!

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I enjoyed a 'father-son' weekend with Thomas my 11 year old son. Together with 35 kids and their dads we watched the Holand vs Czech Republic game. You can imagine 60 people watching a big screen. 1-0, 2-0. Halftime 2-1

Then the second half: an excellent game but spectators didn't understand Bosvelt coming in as a sustitute for Arjen Robben (Chelsea 2004-2005) Arjen was one of the best on the pitch. The substituition turned out to be a mistake of Dick Advocaat, trainer of the Dutch team (former Glasgow Rangers).

A good game it was despite the 2-3 loss.

I never complain about the referee, but the referee in this game made some terrible mistakes. He should not be qualified to lead another EC game!

Italy vs Sweden was nice: but I couldn't see Dalibor in the yellow-blue crowd. I hope for Dalibor that the game vs Denmark is even better for him!

Nico (June 21st)

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Today a horror scenario for either Germany or the Dutch team will come true. With Spain and Italy out another great football nation will leave Euro 2004.

Dutch media blamed Dick Advocaat, the trainer of the Dutch team, for the 3-2 loss vs the Czech Republic.

As I understand Arjan Robben will appear tonight and Willem van Hanegem (a respected ex-player, now assistant to Dick Advocaat) said in a news briefing that if Advocaat was going to make another fatal mistake that he would 'knock him down'.

Frank de Boer is now in the team instead of J. Heitinga (red card). Winning from Letland however won't be easy, but even then the Dutch team depends on what Germany is doing with the Czechs.

Bookmakers give the Dutch team 38% chance. Not much, but 10.5 milion Dutch are expected to watch the game on the tele. The other 5 milion are probably disgusted with the 'oranje madness' sweeping the country!

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Unbelievable! :)

Interesting results last night. I suppose if Germany had defeated the Czech reserve team the Dutch would have been complaining as loudly as the Italians did yesterday. Fortunately, the Czech reserves were even better than the German first team (clearly the worst German national team I have ever seen). Hopefully football coaches all over the world will take note that the best way to win national leagues and international competitions is to play attacking football.

Tonight England play Portugal. Let us hope that Eriksson allows them to play fast attacking football (I suspect he has given up trying to stop them playing this way). England are at their best when they play like our top clubs in the premier league. This involves swamping the opposition with fast attacking play (any combination of five out of six from Owen, Rooney, Scholes, Gerrard, Lampard and Beckham). I don’t think Portugal will be able to cope with this. Eriksson will no doubt be frightened by this approach but it will work as long as Cole and Neville remain close to Figo and Ronaldo (it is vitally important that they are not given the opportunity to run at the English defence) and that Lampard and Gerrard do not take part in the same attacks.

I doubt that Rooney will be tonight’s match winner. Portugal should be able to keep him and Owen quiet (unless England score an early goal). The match winner will be Scholes, Gerrard or Lampard arriving late from deep. This is a problem that no defence can deal with. If England wins the competition it will be down to these three men and not Beckham or Rooney.

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I found yesterdays game between Portugal and England quite exciting, but not at all as good as the game between the Netherlands and the Czeck Republic (which so far has been the outstanding game of this tournament). Portugal played really well and took a firm grip of the game early. Did they do it because England automatically backed down after the early lead or was it problems at the midfield? I would say probably a combination of both plus an energetic team (Portugal) that finally found "their" game. Portugal did so many things right except they slowed down as soon as they came close to the penalty lines - why? Yesterday they had many opportunities to pass forward for the deep play that would cut right into the English goal - instead they choose to pass sidewards. This pattern was repeated over and over again. They blow several good chances that way.

I was a little bit surprised to see the English team become so defensive. It did not work against France (even though I think it was quite skillfully done until over time) and yesterday it did not work against Portugal. When Portugal tied they also backed - which nearly cost them the game!

I don't think it was a conspiracy against England, but if the referee had approved the English goal in the end of the game I don't think anyone would have protested. Now he fell for the pressure of the hometeam and decided to not give England the game. I personally (as well as the Swedish comentators) had a hard time accepting his judgement. Many goals have been done with some pressure on the goalie, that's just one part of the game. I didn't see any particular rough play...but it's the referee that decides.

I was a bit surprised on how Portugal managed to continue with their pressure in the following 2 * 15 minutes. It was also reassuring to see how England came back and scored after the Portugese lead (why didn't they try to play like that before...).

Penalty kicks is a sad thing - I never cared for it. Then suddenly the blame will be put on one or two individuals for missing a specific kick (or not saving it). That's not how a great game should end. Maybe they should have a "golden goal" after the 2 * 15 minutes of "silver goal"... I don't know, but as I said I really don't care for an end like this.

Portugal did play well - but at the same time I can't help feeling sad for the English team which I think won with a perfectly OK goal in the very end. The English team never came up to the standard I expected. The accomplishment of the team is therefore quite remarkable - not being on top and still perform well. I also wonder what effect Wayne Roonies early departure had - Darius Vassell was not very good last night...

In Sweden we have a bit of hope for the game against the Netherlands, but at the same time I don't hear anyone who belives that we would be the stronger team out of the two. Everybody claims that the Netherlands is the absolute favourite (big time). Swedens problem with the midfield and the defence (reminds me a bit of Englands problem - just that ours is much bigger) will have to come to an end if we should have a chance. On the other hand - the Swedish team is hard to defeat which many countries have experienced over the last years. A major mistake of the Dutch team would be to play a defensive game (after an early lead). Pressure on the Swedish players high up in the Swedish defensive line will give the Netherlands an advantage. My hope is that the Swedish coaches uses one of the two defense players that actually is in Portugal - instead of a midfielder... They don't seem to have enough confidence in these two players (so why did they bring them in the first place???).

Tonight it's France and Greece. A Greece victory would sure be an incredible surprise... I don't think that will happen, but notice England, Germany, Italy, Spain are all gone. Who would have predicted that at the beginning of the tournament?

Edited by Anders
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I don't think it was a conspiracy against England, but if the referee had approved the English goal in the end of the game I don't think anyone would have protested. Now he fell for the pressure of the hometeam and decided to not give England the game. I personally (as well as the Swedish comentators) had a hard time accepting his judgement. Many goals have been done with some pressure on the goalie, that's just one part of the game. I didn't see any particular rough play...but it's the referee that decides.

Despite my belief in conspiracies I do not believe the referee last night had been bought. He was just guilty of making a terrible mistake. I am afraid that referees are quick to protect goalkeepers from physical challenges. In slow motion it was clear that the goalkeeper jumped into Terry when he realised he could not get the ball. The linesman, who had a better view of the incident, gave the goal. Unfortunately, he was overruled. The referee also made the terrible decision of allowing the free kick to be taken from the wrong position and this nearly led to a Portuguese goal. However, the referee also made decisions that favoured England. For example, Portugal should have had a penalty as a result of a foul by Neville.

Overall, Portugal were the better side and deserved to win. I have no complaints about this.

Much of what happened last night was fairly predictable. The early goal and the injury to Rooney encouraged the England to defend deep and as result they did not attack in numbers like they did against Croatia. Losing control of the midfield and defending so deep meant it was only a matter of time before Portugal scored (the only surprise is that they only scored once).

Signs of tiredness in certain midfield players identified in the Croatia game became a major problem against Portugal (Gerrard, Scholes, Beckham). Only Lampard maintained his energy levels. This was partly caused by the decision by Eriksson to play the same midfield for every game. Even so, it was a surprise to see them so tired in last night’s game. Although they seemed to recover their energy levels after Portugal scored (on both occasions).

Eriksson made serious mistakes with his substitutions. It was a serious error to bring on Vassell for Rooney. He has looked good when replacing Owen but he is two much like his fellow striker to succeed against Portugal. Vassell also looks good when he is fresh and playing against tired defenders. He is not so effective when he plays for most of the game (ask Aston Villa fans). Owen and Vassell were completely unsuccessful at getting the pull when it was played long and high. They never had a chance of holding the ball up (something that Rooney had done so well in the previous two games). Heskey was the obvious choice to replace Rooney but clearly Eriksson did not trust him after his mistake against France. Eriksson should have discovered Heskey’s limitations before he picked the squad. It would have been better to have played Owen up front on his own with Joe Cole playing just behind him. He would have made a much better job of keeping the ball (he would have also been more successful at getting the ball from the midfield players).

Hargreaves was also disappointing. His mistake led to the Portugal goal. He failed to keep the ball and his distribution was poor. The same was true of Philip Neville.

The big mystery was the performance of Beckham. Except for free kicks and corners, he failed to get anywhere near the form he was showing before the last World Cup. He seems to have lost all his pace and energy levels. He hardly made one good long ball pass. Some of the mistakes he made last night were those of a non-league player. He spent most of his time as a defender (a fairly poor one at that and caused two of the goals against England by poor tackling). The penalty kick was embarrassing (the one against France was also poor). What are we to make of his performance? Was it just a case of mental and physical exhaustion? Can he cope with the big stage like World Cups and European Championships? Was he carrying an injury? Had he been injected with the same substance used against Tony Benn when he challenged Denis Healey as deputy leader of the Labour Party. What do you mean, you did not know about that?

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

England, France, Italy and the Czech Republic. "John"

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) "Juan Carlos"

Semi finals - France, England, Holland, Italy "Dan"

Who will win?? I will win the golf and France will win Euro 2004 "Andy"
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  (like for example Sweden...) will surprise me... "My own..."

I think it's time to make new predictions about the semifinals and the final... :blink:

Edited by Anders
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So I start the new prediction...

I think that Czech Republic will win the European Mastership. They will defeat the Netherlands in the final (and Portugal + Greece will be defeated in the semi finals). My hope though is that I'm wrong with at least one of the teams - guess which one? :blink:

Edited by Anders
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As you have pointed out. The Czech Republic is the only team left of my original four still in the competition. Dan is left with Holland and you have Sweden (although I don’t mind if you now adopt the Czech Republic).

You can also have your manager back as well. Once again Scotari completely out-thought Eriksson (he did the same when Brazil played England in the World Cup). Eriksson’s problem, like all average coaches is that he is traditional, timid, predictable and defensive. Results had shown him that the team played better with an attacking midfield. He reluctantly played Scholes, Gerrard, Beckham and Lampard together. However, this was tempered by orders to Beckham to play as a defender rather than as an attacker (the only time he got forward was for free kicks and corners – the only time he played to his usual standards).

I wrongly thought that the England players would ignore orders to play a defensive game. However, after the early goal, the team returned to their defensive formation. The only time they changed this was on the two occasions the Portuguese scored their goals.

One way a coach is judged is by the changes he made during the game. As I argued earlier, it was a terrible mistake to replace Rooney with Vassel (it should have been Joe Cole). Hargraves and Philip Neville were also bad choices. Instead of thinking of people who could keep the ball in attacking situations, he selected men who he thought would have more chance of winning the ball in midfield. On the rare occasions that they did this, they then gave the ball away by playing long balls up field. Back came the Portuguese and England once again had the problem of winning the ball back.

Eriksson is incapable of taking bold decisions. Beckham should have been brought off during the game against France and then placed on the substitute bench. Terry should have played because he was clearly unfit. After being proved right by playing King, he should have kept him in the team. Gerrard and Scholes (another man who seemed unfit) should have been substituted earlier than they were in all three games. However, because Beckham, Gerrard and Scholes are considered to be world class players, he keeps them on the field for longer than he should.

Compare this with Scotari. Look at his substitutions. He took off world class Figo and replaced him with Postiga, a man whose recent form has been poor. His response is to score soon afterwards. Look at his other substitutions. During extra time he had Rui Costa, Postiga, Nuno Gomes, Simao Sambrosa, Ronaldo and Deco. Compare that with the attacking options that we had. Eriksson was playing for penalties and deserved his fate.

On a purely economic issue, it is interesting to note that Eriksson was given an expensive long-term contract before Euro 2004 (an example of a successful Eriksson strategy). Here is a list of the top earning national team coaches: Eriksson (£4,000,000), Voller: Germany (£1,900,000); Scotari: Portugal (£1,100,000), Trapattoni: Italy (£1,100,000), Santani: France (£350,000), Olsen: Denmark (£245,000), Soderberg/Largerback: Sweden (£125,000 each) and Bruckner: Czech Republic (£70,000).

Eriksson does not have to worry if he gets the sack. Nor does Beckham. He has already grasped the opportunity to market his new image:

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Eriksson’s problem, like all average coaches is that he is traditional, timid, predictable and defensive. Results had shown him that the team played better with an attacking midfield. "John"

I agree with you! It has been pretty obvious that several teams have been penalized for this kind of defensive behaviour - but what do you think the headlines and the general comments would have been if the referee had the guts to approve the goal that England made in the very last minutes?

"Sven-Göran Eriksson's team effort and hard work paid off" or something like it.

I (and I think most people interested in football) like the more unconventional ideas - such as a team that challenges in a way not expected - like Greece against France (and they have a German coach).

I would be very pleased if our coaches dared to use the great offensive line up we have tonight, but I expect them to do like Sven-Göran Eriksson - play a common traditional defense and give the initiative to the Netherlands. The result of that can only be one - disaster! I don't mean that a team should attack without thinking, but i would like a high offensive with immediate pressure on the ball holder as well as a close and aggressive game. On the field should be several players who are familiar with this kind of play - and we have quite a few just now which is rare.

I would move Henrik Larsson a little bit back as an offensive midfield player. On his sides I would put Freddie and Kim (Källström) - and on the top I'll have Zlatan; Pontus Farnerud and Marcus Allbäck. To get a certain stability in the defense I would play Olof Mellberg, Peter Hansson, Tobias Linderoth and Teddy Lucic. This would make an interesting 4-3-3 line up, but I'm sure that this will not happen... :blink:

Edited by Anders
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An exciting game for us Swedes, probably the best of our games. I was positively surprised yesterday that Sweden tried to play more offensive during the first half - that play was better than in any of the other games that involved Sweden in this tournament. This time we tried to play a whole game. The second half against Bulgaria and Italy was better, but that was more because they invited us into the game.

I know that we saw a lot of long passes, but when we saw that Zlatan and Henrik Larsson often dominated the air it was a tactic that could have worked...

The expected dominance from the Dutch team was not as big as I had feared. They were more dominant than the Swedes but at the same time the Netherlands had obvious problems on the midfield. I enjoyed the Swedish attempt to play more aggressive which worked at times.

The Netherlands did some good changes in the game which established a better Dutch midfield and more pressure on the Swedes. Van Nistleroy got several big chances - but I guess it wasn't his day during the ordinary play time.

We also saw several other chances that could have ended the game before the unfortunate penalty kicks. Our goalie (and the goalposts) saved us a few times - as well as the referee when he choose not to see the hand on the ball - or the fact that the goal might not have been a clear offside. But the referee also choose to warn Zlatan when he was tripped inside the penalty box instead of giving Sweden a penalty kick. In the last 15 minutes Sweden produced two balls in the posts - one by Henrik Larsson and the other one by Freddie.

Zlatan did his worst game yesterday. The coaches should have considered a change when they saw his inability to get something done. This was one of the problems - another one was that we are still to nice close to our own defend lines. The defending players were more aggressive yesterday than before, but still... You also got to see one of the younger defenders come in yesterday (Östlund) - and he did very well. Why didn't our coaches use him in the other games???

As I said before - the other team might be a bit better (at least on the paper) but Sweden is a hard team to beat. That was quite obvious yesterday as well.

When it came to penalty kicks I was very unhappy. As I said after the Enland-Portugal game - this is not how a game should end. :o

In the middle of my own misery I was happy for the Netherlands after all the problems they had with penalty kicks in earlier tournaments. Now they finally got to break the curse of loosing this way. They deserved to win (I just wished that it hadn't been against us). :blink:

For us Swedes - we have to resort to the only cure against defeats in bigger tournaments - :angry:

Edited by Anders
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