I’ve been looking forward to the tournament for weeks. I raved about the Euros on the Times Goal blog earlier this week (comments welcome there) and will undoubtedly write more for the Times’ soccer site, with all its resources.
In the meantime, I am putting up this entry as sort of an experiment, to keep it open for the next 24 days. I welcome my friends – anybody -- to comment on whatever happens. Or just watch the Euros and get outdoors as much as possible and do all the other good things at this time of year.
I’m heading to the Meadowlands Saturday for Brazil-Argentina and will file for the Sunday paper.
A few thoughts about the Euros:
One thing I noticed in writing my Times essay was that surprising teams have won the Euros – Denmark in 1992, Greece in 2004. And other fans wrote about teams like Turkey that had their wonderful runs.
Conversely, when you think about it, the Euros are a very tough tournament because they are the 16 survivors of European qualifying. There are few soft spots, as there can be in the World Cup, with its qualifiers from other regions.
Sometimes the Euros can be a jumping-off point for a new dynasty, the way 2008 was for Spain. But given the hideous year-round schedule of soccer, dynasties do not last long. Remember how France won the World Cup in 1998 and then the Euros in 2000? I was sitting in Seoul in 2002 watching television as the French team got off the bus for a warmup – and those guys looked dead, and subsequently played that way. This sport chews you up.
No nation has ever won the Euro championship twice in a row. Tough league.
There are some great matchups in the first four days:
Friday: Russia-Czech Republic. (Martina Navratilova beat a Soviet junior right after the clampdown of 1968 and she marched to the net and said in Russian: “You need a tank to beat me.”)
Saturday: The Group of Death. Germany-Portugal right away. Good enough to be a semifinal.
Sunday: Spain-Italy. I think I am going to be driving while that one is on. Unless...
Monday: England-France. A tale of two anciens régimes.
Love to hear your reactions from now through the finals.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.