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.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)