TV Review - Sunday 4th July - Portugal v Greece (BBC)
Stuck between a church and a stretch of water, Gary's keen to show us that this is more than just a football match, indeed being between "two of the world's great civilisations who have upset the new world order". What sounds, both in terms of the script and the style of recording, like a museum video voiceover runs through the building, exploring and prosthletysing of Greek and Portuguese history. Charisteas' header against France is illustrated by an equation, Archimedes, Homer and Plato are quoted and it's hard to know what the idea behind all of this is. It's not exactly designed to up the anticipation levels after all. Only then do we get what should have been referred to earlier, with clips from the first meeting. "Who said there were too many repeats on the BBC?" Alan, Peter and Ian express surprise that this is the final, although surely nobody's shaking their heads in disbelief that Portugal could have got this far, Ian claiming his prediction Portugal wouldn't win was "just to wind them up" and that he rang a couple of the team earlier. Who, exactly? He gets a ribbing about his predictions of Pauleta being top scorer after "amazing pictures" of the Portuguese team coach, Gary referencing Vasco de Gama again as if he spent the previous day on a crash course, are shown, as is a group of fans on a tractor following some way behind. Ray Stubbs has an enormous pair of industrial headphones on at pitchside telling us the Greek fans are "black and blue from pinching themselves" before, yes, referring to the effect on Olympic building work. Gary reckons "there is one obvious similarity between Portugal and England - they'll both be at home for the final." Oh, come on! It's the final, we don't need a package of England clips! We're all aware of it already! "Twelve nations have been in major finals since England were last there - it says something" Gary informs us, like it matters or anyone now cares. Shut up about the disallowed goal, for fuck's sake! Especially as nobody in Britain now thinks it was a goal, but anyway. "If England had either of these coaches, would they be here?" is perhaps the most leading question Gary has asked or will ever ask, and off goes Alan on a good Sven-slagging spree, the quick, playing off a target man Vassell now apparently being the wrong player to bring on for Rooney all along. Pundits On Portugal is the catch-all title for, well, pundits telling us their favourite moment of the tournament, after the minor contributors had had their say on Focus the previous day. This means Jamie Redknapp sheepishly admitting he'd picked his own cousin's goal against Portugal as his best moment, as well as Lawro going for Ricardo's penalty. He's a one, isn't he? There's always room for film of the pundits reacting to here Lampard's goal against Portugal, Hansen watching a monitor sitting with his feet on the table while everyone else is looking out of the window and jumping around. More England follows, the BBC heeding Everton's request to help keep Wayne Rooney's feet on the ground by showing a great big montage of his runs and shots backed by Billy Bragg's God's Footballer. Back to the game, and discussing Luis Figo Wright floats the idea he was taken off against England "for the reaction that he gave", in other words tearing Holland apart. It's an interesting thought, resting a player for the next game when 1-0 down in the knockout stages. Ian then reminds us Maniche had a reputation all along as "a shoot...a shot, a good shot" and gets away with it, only to weigh in again with "a good shoot... a shot... shot... shotter! A good shotter!" Gary, Alan and Ian don't quite recover. The panel are unanimous in picking Portugal, despite plenty of "oh, if you are..." badinage, before we head to John and Mark. "If anybody involved with the new Wembley is listening, I can assure you that the international broadcasters would like to feel that they'll be put in the kind of position there that we've had the privilege of sitting in here." Always have to find something, don't they? "Pride and patriotism" have apparently brought Portugal this far against Greeks who "growl with intent", a loose train of thought Motson continues with references to "scowling Scolari and ranting, raving Rehhagel". He's trying today, bless him, deciding re Markus Merk that "we won't be referring to the fact he's a dentist from Hamburg or indeed that referees are sometimes referred to as a homer". Some things never change, of course, and a shot of Abramovich casually leaning over a barrier is greeted by "I wonder how many players on the pitch he'd like to sign?" After ruining Motty's big excitable moment in the semi-final the Portuguese TV directors are getting something akin to a kicking, Lawro pointing out of one Ronaldo move "his first touch was brilliant - course, our host director missed it", then eventually some time after a good save "we're watching a very belated replay here", Lawro wondering "was that from last week?" and Motson responding "probably from Euro 2000". More consideration takes place of Ferreira's move, Motty pointing out "there's a transfer market, and then there's Chelsea". He seems non-committal at half time, leaving it to Gary to wonder "the street parties in Portugal are supposed to have started by now". Ian resurrects the "best shotter" business for a Maniche chance before pleading "please, Pauleta, if you can hear me..." "We have sat in here for 45 minutes and listened to Mr Schmeichel whinge about the referee" Gary admits. Even Goal Of The Tournament doesn't escape, Alan ("who picks these goals?" "Well, you!") blaming the editor's "anti-Liverpool" sentiment. There's always time for a cheap laugh at Scolari getting worked up pitchside, Gary suggesting "he needs to get that Subbuteo board out" while Ian reckons "he reminds me of my little boy". What, Shaun? After Wright's made time to make some very odd faces on camera at Peter we're back to, well, whatever this passes for, Motty starting talking about "the poorest period for German football" seven minutes after the restart. But then - "up with the goalkeeper... and he's scored! Charisteas got the touch!" Greece are off, and "it's the older generation who are going to have to pull Portugal round" as "Scolari is scowling now". He's really been working hard on these alliteration, has John, while still making it sound like it's off the top of his head. He's thinking too about what the scowler might do - "at what point does he start thinking about Nuno Gomes? At what point does he start thinking about Postiga?" "He'll think about Nuno Gomes before the other guy" Lawro wisely points out, although why he can't bring himself to say Postiga's name is unknown. He's got tactical awareness, though, when he points out "you watch Rehhagel - he'll make a change". Who's have thought? "Scolari, what can he scheme now? Rehhagel remains resolute." See what we mean? John's liking Greece's play, as they "look as determined and as fresh and as deliberate in their play as they did in the fir... first seconds", while "the Portuguese nation was poised to celebrate - they may have to swallow hard". Wondering whether this is greater than Denmark's 1992 victory Motty states "Greece haven't come off the beach, they've come from nowhere", whatever that's supposed to mean. "There's a foot or a body or something in the way of every shot" as Greece defend resolutely, especially when they realise "they're going to play five minutes of injury time - partly thanks to the intruder!", as Motty harrumphs on the clock striking 90. In case you were wondering, no, we haven't mentioned him, as while it was all anybody could go on about after the game, and there was a certain irony to how a pitch invader got two replays from a director who missed the crucial goal in the home side's semi-final, the bloke turned out to be a twat, and the type who's probably been putting his name through Google ever since, so we're ignoring him. Lawro goes for the obvious line when pondering of Merk "you certainly couldn't accuse him of being a homer, could you?", Motty slapping him down with "I'm sure there'll be a lot of things written about Greek mythology and civilisation if they win this, but we'll stick to the football, we think." Remember that. "What a silly thing to do, Nuno Valente!" Not that the foul matters that much as we hit 94:30 and "all eyes now will be on Markus Merk, the dentist from Hamburg - and he blows! The unbelievable, the unfathomable and the almost impossible has happened!" He's excited, you can tell. "This modern Greek football odyssey will be relived and retold just as their ancient past has its special place in history... it's not Socrates who's the philosopher here, it's Rehhagel." Like he said, he'll stick to the football. Handing back briefly from "one of the most amazing scores and stories in the history of international football" Gary is lost for words - "well, would you believe it?... as it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end". Alan admits "never in the history of predictions have so many people got it so wrong", while everyone commiserates with the losers picking up their medals, Ian rhetorically questioning "this is a nightmare, isn't it?", Alan agreeing "No good news there". Motty feels the need to mention the podium is "decorated with Euro 2004 colours and motifs", like he expected anything different, but soon enough the winners are "ready for the biggest cheer of their lives". "Greece - yes, Greece - are the European champions in 2004... and they can hardly believe it themselves." "The biggest thing to hit Greece since Demis Roussos" quips Gary, which we hope was his own line. Ian, however, has his own agenda, as ever. "If you see from behind the goal, I don't want to bring it back up like sour grapes and that, but if we could see it from behind, just watch the position that the goalkeeper... are we going to see it from behind? Look where he's got himself, and that's exactly what he done against England, he got himself into a position where he could not challenge for the ball, and the only difference there is that he can't get to it... he's headed it like Sol did." Yes, Ian. Pictures from Athens reveal a substantial number of people at the front, Peter reckoning "they're in shock", Gary rejoining "they're the tourists, Portuguese tourists". Alan picks out an excellent replay, we're pretty sure unshown during the game, of Stelios signalling for the defence not to drop so deep at a free kick, then running back to push one forward to play the last man offside. Everyone agrees this is a great occasion, Peter going for "a fanatstic story for football" while Ian settles for "a fairytale ending", Alan off on his own with "the great thing about it is there's hope for Scotland yet". Gary signs off by hailing "quite possibly the biggest surprise in the competition's history... no-one's going to be working in Athens for a while". Goodnight.
And that's your lot for Lisbonic Plague. If you've enjoyed reading it as much as we've enjoyed compiling it,
it must be a terrible strain that's all for the good. It's Up For Grabs Now will from now pick up the slack for the season proper with its traditional mix of sarcasm and forgetting to update regularly. This has been an IUFGN/Armchair Football production, not in association with BenQ.