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.
6/7/2012 02:35:27 pm
Greets from Toronto George, where there's keen anticipation and lots of car flags. Yeah, I'm looking forward to Canada at Cuba tomorrow as well.
6/7/2012 04:53:03 pm
BEEN watching some of the euro predictions here on tv here in the people's republic of canuckistan. germany seems to be the choice. your story of navratilova reminded me of the 1968 hockey game between czechoslavkia and the soviet union. can't recall if it was the olympics or world championships, but i think the latter. czechs won and i can remember being very pleased. as an aside, navratilova is, to me, of those rare elite athletes who seems thoughtful and engaged with the world in ways outside sports. one of my faves.....
6/8/2012 12:19:37 am
Two Canadians chime in first. I didn't even mention the Yanks vs. Antigua, but I will be monitoring it.
6/8/2012 04:44:29 am
i didn't realize you'd helped her. nice to know that perception was reality. also, felt the same way about arthur ashe and a few others. always seemed to be one of those--again in my mind at least--rare elite athletes who thought about things and realized there were some things more important than winning or losing a sporting event. perspective and all that. i remember reading a quote from an athlete at the university of western ontario up here in the 70s after his team lost a championship basketball game. he said, 'i'm disappointed we lost, but if this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, i'm a very lucky guy.'
6/8/2012 07:20:22 am
6/8/2012 09:29:58 am
Casey Stengel used to say that about baseball.
6/8/2012 12:52:46 pm
The Russians were marvelous. Surprisingly talented, although they missed a ton of potential additional goals. The Russian return to the Stalinist national anthem a few years ago, albeit with different words, was a good thing for them in retrospect. The players enthusiastically joined in the old Soviet tune which I'm told Putin thought Russian athletes needed for on-field inspiration. Maybe he was right. Ah, for those "good old days" of Socialist Realism, eh?
Charles in Absecon
6/8/2012 09:32:05 am
I'd sound foolish if I tried to fake any passion for or knowledge of soccer and/or Euro 2012, but I keep an open enough mind to read about it here and there.
6/8/2012 12:39:12 pm
Thanks. I just caught up with the highlights from the second match. The Greek player did a good job getting tangled up with the keeper -- like Grosso of Italy who managed to trip over Neill of Australia in 2006. That's the game. Amazing to see a keeper cold off the bench make a stone save like that.
6/8/2012 02:21:41 pm
brian--didn't see anything but the final whistle for the russian game. however, their national anthem is one of the best; ranks up there with the french and japanese for me.......
6/8/2012 02:44:07 pm
Bruce, you left one out, you moddst Canadian, you.
6/10/2012 01:22:05 pm
Maybe it's all those years growing up watching Canada-USSR in hockey, but their old resurrected anthem has stuck. Quick story: we hired a driver to get us to Rustenburg & back for USA v Ghana two years ago at the WC, and had a similar debate about anthems en route. As we were making our way into town, we three Cdn reporters started to sing the old Russkie anthem, really belting out the high parts, laying on the accent and especially booming out those last four ascending notes. Our South African driver was dazzled: "What song was that?" he asked. "It was beautiful."
6/10/2012 02:14:54 pm
Chris, I don't think I've seen you since I was the token Yank at the Canadian dinner before the final. GV
6/8/2012 05:26:34 pm
george, not modesty. just think it's pretty ordinary. heard one lush version years ago that i thought was ok. mieko really liked canada's. they changed the words about 30 years ago (maybe 30 years) ago. didn't like the inclusion of 'god keep us free'. if we're free god isn't going to have anything to do with it. didn't care much about the holocaust etc etc, not sure why he/she/it would be particularly worried about keeping canada free.....the anthem is classic canadian too. the original was written in french by a french canadian. english translation came much later. words' meaning are completely different in each language. of course, they used to boo the french version in toronto during leaf games. dumb. finally, when i was a kid at greensville elementary school we used to sing 'god save the queen'. thought that odd even when i was young. odder was reading from the bible at a public school. be nice to be rid of that foreign monarchy.....
6/9/2012 02:26:18 am
You've given me an idea, Bruce, for side entertainment during any boring upcoming games. Keeping this confined to Europe in honor of their sporting event, to whose legislature should we give the Tin Ear Award for worst national anthem tune?
6/9/2012 04:26:31 am
what about worst jerseys in the world? right now it's those silly striped jerseys the US is pushing. It's all about selling something new. Candystriper players?
6/10/2012 10:30:53 am
Worst national anthem ever is thankfully gone: the DDR(aka East Germany). Truly awful, but a sonic reflection of the country itself. The new QPR-excuse me, USA-jersey is truly awful, though it might look OK on the rugby Eagles. These days it's all about getting the sheep to buy new shirts as frequently as possible. Nike is a relative newcomer to soccer and their designs tend to try too hard to be different. adidas seems to have a better sense of the sport's history and traditions and their more classic shirts tend to reflect that. Just my opinion.
6/10/2012 10:37:41 am
John, one of my soccer mates told me Saturday that they have darkened the numbers on the foolish US jerseys, so the fans (and tv commntators, etc) can see them. A novel concept that Nike did not seem to understand -- visibility. But as long as they can get consumers to consume, that is the point.
6/10/2012 10:56:18 am
My understanding is that, for whatever reason, US Soccer and not Nike is responsible for choosing and applying the numbers. Supposedly the change to more visible dark blue numbers has cost the Federation some serious money. But you're right, it's all about Nike and US Soccer creating sales opportunities by making the fans feel they must have the new shirt.
6/9/2012 04:35:05 am
george, i thought the comments were mostly positive about the candystripers. there were some uncomplimentary comments about canada's jerseys during the soccer game vs the states. predominantly blue wasn't popular with many. red and white is traditional, i guess.
6/9/2012 06:40:15 am
The current game is the only one in which I have a routing interest. I love the Dutch -- many, many friends there and their team always plays interesting games. No worsts here: Decent anthem, I like orange, always respectful cheers. Go Dutch!
6/9/2012 05:51:04 pm
George, a bit about Brazil-Argentina yesterday. Great report and the crowd shot is impressive. Reminds me of a; Cosmos-Greek match in the 80's, when the stadium was filled, some to see Pele, most to shout Hellas! I could taste the empenadas. The rerun on the matches over the years was a real treat. Also your report on Barcelona answered a question for me. "how did he get from theology to futbal?"
6/10/2012 10:40:08 am
Ed, thanks for noticing. When listening to most theology discussions, I used to daydream about something (often futbol).
6/10/2012 10:50:42 am
Even playing halfway around the world in New Jersey Leo Messi managed to upstage Cristiano Ronaldo on saturday. Three goals against Brazil, while Boateng and Co. made it very hard for Ronnie to do much of anything. No question in my mind who is the best player in the world. I like Ronaldo, but in my book he's not even number 2(that would be Andres Iniesta...).
6/15/2012 06:15:44 am
It got worse for C. Ronaldo in the second match. He duffed a couple of shots and my pub mates were convinced he sulked when his teammate converted for the winning goal. He never joined the pile. What a petulant lout.
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.