Last year, the football editor of The Independent ran an article with a surprising headline: “Portugal ‘sells’ Ronaldo to Spain in £160m deal on national debt.” Less than ten days earlier, Portugal’s prime minister, José Sócrates, had resigned upon failing to enact a fourth round of austerity measures to make up a severe budget shortfall.
Could there be a better final for this year’s Euro than Spain vs. Germany? One of the great joys of watching the Euro as an American is the ability to be unapologetically mercenary in my fandom. Germany vs. Portugal? I pick Germany because I can’t stand the smugness of Cristiano Ronaldo’s smile, and those young Germans seem like such good, wholesome guys. Germany vs. Greece? Can’t resist the geo-political underdog narrative, so Greece all the way. Ultimately, this approach is about rooting for one of two things: Either the most compelling story or the most entertaining match.
“No one believed in us at the start,” Steven Gerrard said morosely after England beat Ukraine 1-0. Since he mentions it, some of us still don’t believe that England will win this tournament, or that they deserve to, although we’ve already seen that virtue and quality are not always rewarded.
The only good thing I’ve ever heard about Dr. Joseph Goebbels is that he reportedly banned the publication of “overnight notices” in German newspapers, that is, reviews of operas, plays or concerts written immediately after the performance for the next morning’s paper. Most of of us think clearer after we have slept on it, and my instant response to France vs. England three days ago didn’t give the French their due. It was also, if anything, too generous to England.
This is what I like about the Euros: the tournament is an opportunity to watch soccer as an absolute neutral. I like many players (Xavi, Robin Van Persie, Mezut Ozil), dislike others (Arjen Robben, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo), but have nothing really invested in their success or failure. I’m certain I’ll enjoy watching Ozil do well now that he’s not wearing a Real Madrid jersey, and doesn’t have a petty tyrant as coach.
Best Player: In the first half of the tournament, I was very impressed with Argentina’s Lionel Messi, which is why I’m so dismayed by the talk that his goalless World Cup was somehow on the same level with Cristiano Ronaldo’s or Wayne Rooney’s disappointing performances. Granted, I’m a fan, and I won’t claim to be unbiased, but focusing on the fact that Messi didn’t score betrays a rather narrow understanding of an elite player’s impact on a game.
I apologize in advance to all Manchester United fans, including, but not limited to, my brother, his son, Alex Ferguson, and the majority of the 79,005 people on the last day of July, 2003, who traipsed to the hateful Giants Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey, to watch the Reds play Juventus in a pre-season friendly. I apologize because I’m about to state that the best player in this South African World Cup—and the best player by far—is none other than Diego Forlan. My hand doth shake to even type such a claim; I should probably drink deeply of some kind of poison, and thank god that’s not a da
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It has become a sign of spring: as swallows crowd the sky over Madrid, Real is eliminated at the knock-out stage of the European Champions League. Yet again, the richest club in the world has spent obscene amounts of money with the sole intention of winning the most important club competition in the world, but on March 10, they were knocked out from the last 16 for the sixth year in a row (in 2003, they were eliminated from the last eight). This time, they were brought low by Olympic Lyon, who beat them at home and tied them in Madrid.