Lisbonic Plague - the Euro 2004 blog

Sunday, July 11, 2004

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.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

TV Review - Sunday 4th July - Portugal v Greece (ITV)

The previous day Gabby had done a very echoey set of links from the dressing rooms at the Stadio del Luz, but they seem to have sorted out the sound for Des' opening links, sitting under the shirts. Nothing can excuse the idea this is Greece's hardest game since "that tough fixture in Troy". The usual dramatic filmic music and fast cutting of action follows before Des tells us that should Portugal win "every city, every village, every town will celebrate... none shall sleep - Nessun Dorma!" Nessun Dorma, like the BBC in 1990, which Des presented, you see? He may not be about to make much of his last live game, but he's not going to forget easily. Bobby, Tel and Ally are in the studio, Robson using his first hand knowledge of Portuguese life to claim "they eat, they sleep, they drink football...they get angry about it, they get very hysteric about it". That Coca-Cola contract comes a step closer. Master tactician Terry claims Otto Rehhagel's strength is that he "makes his changes before the match", while Ally goes through the Greek side in a reasonable fashion, leaving it to Des to say "well done on the pronunciations". Because they all have lots of consonants in, you understand. Ally, of course, plays along, claiming they're "worth 150 points on the Scrabble board", although of course if he played any of them they would be illegal moves. Sir Bobby tells us Luis Figo's fame is "similar to what Beckham was... now", which is an interesting take on time's structures. Des "can't imagine what sort of life he's going to have if he wins this", Bobby getting all sentimental, telling us "it's sad just to see a great player like this just evaporate, disappear from the game". "People do disappear, Bob, it happens" Des pointlessly reminds us, at which only Tel laughs. Matt and Andy are pitchside, Townsend labelling "the penalty shoot out, the greatest laxative known to any footballer out there". Ah, that's why they missed. Meanwhile Dave Beckett's in a fan park, pointlessly claiming there's "not a prawn sandwich down here". Mixed metaphor ahoy. Des exhorts us to keep on for the closing ceremony as "actually, tonight I think it's gonna be good", telling us after the break "Clive Tyldesley goes cultural for a few minutes". "We'll be having your closing ceremony in the bar later" Tyldesley reminds us of the game's real weight for ITV before getting excited about "the delightful Nelly Furtado". Worth noting the BBC team just along the way were letting this all play out behind them. "Only sport can do this, uniting a nation under one flag" Clive hints amid an attempt at interpreting the images after a Coleman/Davies style, including after a poorly miked up Furtado's song reading part of the press notes about her. "Every daytime TV host wears a Portuguese scarf here" he notes, although how this is meant to be different to ITV is unclear. We get a good CommentatorCam shot, and Clive's wearing reading glasses! "One or two of us talked whimsically about England and France making it to the final - well, we had the right idea but the wrong teams". He won't let it go, will he? Instead we have Portugal, a country that has previously given us "some good athletes, a decent hockey team", against Greece, and "just think of the legendary status England has afforded its one and only team" when summing up how these players will be remembered there. It's a memorable feat, you understand. Clive reckons it "doesn't take much to knock Deco over" - are you questioning his professionalism, Mr Tyldesley? He certainly needs questioning, given lines like "if you watched Ronaldo's feet you'd go dizzy and literally fall over", presumably as opposed to metaphorically falling over. But you wouldn't anyway, would you? Clive "gave him (Greece's keeper) a medal of honour before for his courage", which ITV cameras must have missed. Townsend's the co-commentator, praising Scolari as "he's been a proper manager in this competition" - what this is opposed to is not stated. There's many cutaways of the Portuguese prime minister, Clive chiding "they're not supposed to get excited in the royal box", while just underneath he sees "David Letterman and Gene Hackman... Scolari manages like a Hackman character too". Er, if you like. It's not inspiring stuff, Figo off for "a tyre change... he's putting the old Odor-Eaters in" - changing his boot, you see. Seitaridis is impressing as "no-one has run him", Clive making the comparison with Paulo Ferreira possibly just to take the piss out of Chelsea. Miguel's off, "disappearing beneath a cloud of spray" as we reach half time in a contest Tyldesley describes as "absorbing". Yeah, there are other ways of describing it too. At half time Sir Bobby keeps saying "we ha..." before seemingly suggesting "the two on the ball can be the two without the ball", he and Tel appearing to disagree on what tactics Portugal should adopt. As the players come back out Andy sees "no changes - we know Big Phil's not shy when it comes to making a few big ones", which is why you've just told us he's not made any, is it? He's trying, bless him, stating "the most dangerous ball to give away in international football (is) the square ball", when we thought the backpass would be a live contender for that. And then look what happens. "It's in! Goalkeeper lost it, and Charisteas found it, and surprise surprise, it's Greece in the lead!" Oddly Clive doesn't sound overly excited by this, as if he expects it to merely be the consolation. "What is Ricardo doing? Where is he?" asks Andy rhetorically, plurally suggesting he "stay in your goals". Meanwhile Clive appears to exert more passion about Setaridis' yellow card, before another replay leads him to query "doesn't look any nearer to it, does he?" No, Clive, it's a replay. Greece are cocky now, Zagorakis knocking the ball over an onrushing attacker's head, Clive marvelling "he never did that at Filbert Street". Prove it. Fyssas gets booked, but obviously "he's getting married on Friday, he's excited". Mmm. Clive recalls how "they had all their attackers except Eusebio on the pitch by the end against England", despite alluding for most of the night to how the hardly defensive Luis Figo was taken off. Indeed, Andy "so want him to produce a bit of magic tonight, Figo, I really do". Not that he's got long, as Greece become slightly desperate in their clearances and Andy remarks "nine more minutes - now, that is worth running around for". Figo comes "inches from redemption" - well, he doesn't really - but it's not enough. "Greece is the word - it is the word with which the European Championship trophy will be engraved tonight" is Clive's summation, reaching into the most overused cliche of all as if he's not prepared anything better. "They can dream on" he suggests, although surely having, like, just won the thing the dreaming is no longer necessary. A hasty cut to Athens city centre shows lots of flag waving and a man attempting to scale the scaffolding around the big screen while Clive drones on about "new Greek gods" and how they'll "enjoy it as only they can". Theo Zagorakis, he used to play for Leicester, you know. "What drama when you never know the ending" is Des' opinion, and while everyone around was praising Greece's defending he doesn't appear so sure, stating "I felt they were going to give a penalty away at some stage, but it never happened". He then cuts into Tel's train of thought to remind us that the "presentation coming up shortly, incidentally". Clive quotes the chief executive of UEFA praising the tournament as "'it's difficult to find something that's not worked' - well, he clearly hasn't stayed at the same hotel as us". Got to go back tonight, Clive. On a "head shaking night" for Portuguese there's always room for another bloody reference to Olympic stadia getting held up, but conversely "what would you do the day after final defeat in your country?" Mope, generally, and here talk like your team lost 20-0 and how everybody in it should never play football again, but maybe the attitude in Portugal is different. By the way, Clive, have you quite exhausted your run of patronising cliches yet? Clearly not - "many of them had names unfamiliar to most of you at the start of the championship - some of them you may still find difficult... think of how we can recite that 1966 World Cup team almost like we count the alphabet - well, these long and complicated Greek names now will be every bit as much a part of Greek folklore as were the Charltons and Hurst and Moore to us". Hold on, let's see how 2006 goes first. Clive describes Karagoudis as "an interesting character" without elaboration before working out the one remaining angle, this being "a truly Olympian effort". ITV go to adverts before the Greek players have got off the podium, having shown all post-game events until then. Well done, again. Afterwards Sir Bobby seems to talk himself to a standstill, while Des queries why a non-Big Three team can't win the Premiership this season, somewhat overlooking the difference between a six-game tournament and a 38 game league season.
Ally cuts into the celebrations by comparing our honourable winners to "like watching paint dry", the party pooper. Des cuts them off after all of three minutes to revive a catchphrase he failed to get off the ground in the early days of Grandstand and certainly won't at this late stage, namely "it's been our business to do pleasure with you", which he recites as if he's never seen those words before. "Personally, my privilege - I'll see you again some time." And, as the classical music fades in over the fast-cut montage linked by a boy on a beach, Lynam sets slowly in the west. Wonder what's on the other side?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Euro 2004 - our perspective only

For those of you eagerly waiting for our verdict on the final coverage straight after tonight's game... come back in the next couple of days, when we'll have looked in our usual detail at both sides' live coverage. Before then, from our perspective, what have and haven't we enjoyed about this tournament? Our five highlights of the coverage of Euro 2004:

* BBC INTERACTIVE ANALYSIS CHANNEL : Our big regret is we didn't see more of this, but by what we've heard it appears we've missed some kind of genius in Croft and Claridge's double act (no disrespect to David Oates, but he's more concerned with minor details like commentating on the game). Dead-on tactical analysis, texter abuse and wild tangents alike abounded. Give them a proper stage.
* JIM BEGLIN : Probably the two most likely to make the break to the Beeb if anyone for next season made a great double act, and given what's ahead of them they proved why the third choice team should have been used more all along.
* GARETH SOUTHGATE : Typical. ITV find a pundit who speaks sense and has a proper insight into tactics, and they won't be able to use him next season because he'll be playing. Marks off for the stilted way he read the researcher's scribbled facts over the England team graphics, marks on for showing Townsend up.
* IAN WRIGHT : Leavening the tone, that's what we needed? Previously a man who only talked in blind patriotism terms, possibly for effect, but while his contributions to the Totti spitting debate were rarely in sync with his first hand knowledge we've found ourselves warming to him. Plus we suspect there's a good an anti-Hansen positive spinner on how goals and top strikers come about lying just dormant under the pub everyman persona.

And five lowlights:

* SIR BOBBY ROBSON : starting with loads of ITV, we know. You can read us like a book, can't you? This seemed a bad idea from the moment it was announced, and so it proved as Sir Bobby contributed to decent amounts of bad air by just not talking when Clive left a gap for him, and when he did talk it was in a very one-track way, like how he went on for a good ten minutes about Gary Neville needing to press further forward irrespective of what was happening in the interim. Two live games and one studio appearance? Yeah, worth bringing him out, wasn't it?
* ROBBIE EARLE : See, had it been Robbie Earle's Tactics Truck more people would have noticed how poor he is. This was his apogee, as seemingly kept out of the travelling team to Portugal he was left to state the obvious while the producers tried their hardest to make him out as some sort of tactical genius in London. A word too for the men at the games, as they seemed to be playing to their weaknesses almost deliberately - Andy Townsend saying nothing of further interest, self-indulgent laughter, Des hardly bothered.
* PETER DRURY : It's a good job they've got Champion working for them as, with Guy Mowbray almost sidelined, their commentators have been awful. Tyldesley's open bias and virtually missing the importance of Greece's semi-final goal is one thing, but Drury's plummeting reputation continued its downward curve with a set of too clever-clever one-liners, overzealous screaming and tendency to stick to a line once he's found it to its illogical conclusion. Thank god Thierry Henry had a poor tournament.
* PETER REID : Let's be frank, Reid's best performances for the Beeb in 2002 came when he was either genuinely or seemingly pissed. Kept away from the mini-bar in Portugal he was exposed as someone who could hardly string a sentence or opinion together. We're not among those who say 'ah, what's he to tell us how to play the game when he can't manage?', but managing yourself is quite another thing.
* JAMIE REDKNAPP : Really, why? Redknapp only seems to get BBC work for major tournaments, wherein he imparts nothing that betrays extra knowledge of the game and doesn't help his cause by having the same accent as Andy Townsend. Plus when we saw him once he was wearing shades at dusk, surely the mark of the overexerted.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

TV Review - Thursday 1st July - Czech Republic v Greece

They've got images of the tournament in the opening titles already, we see. "Portugal has gone stark staring bonkers", and tonight we learn whether it'll be accompanied by "dancing in the streets of downtown Athens". Not quite how the famous line works, Des, but close enough. "We could have a stylish game on tonight here, I think" is tempting fate, especially with Tel dubbing Greece "the heartbreakers". "Poborksy's playing better than ever since Euro 96" apparently, which doesn't work with or without a comma. Everyone then goes on about going on about Baros' inability to score at Liverpool, Tel reckoning of his good international scoring record "you don't know who they're playing in those games". Well, look it up then. Tel then questions "why I'm here with you two", completely ignoring a salient question about the age of the two coaches. He might have expanded on this were it not for the big phone-in competition, which by now is just insulting - Eric Cantona a possible 2000 final winning goal scorer? If you like. Des is thinking laterally, and filmic topically, in saying "some of the Greek fans think they're playing the Trojans" upon spotting someone in appropriate gear. The most important thing about the game turns out to be that Pierluigi Collina is reffing this game but not the final, probably the ITV camera picking out a 'Farewell Collina Next Stop The Premiership' banner accompanied by a paper plate with eyes drawn on. Clive's in charge, hailing "the best team in the competition - France? Spain? Holland? Italy? England? No, the Czech Republic". Ooh. There's "more familiar names on right of screen than left", because Greece are underdogs don't you know. The Czechs start well, Tomas Rosicky hitting the post, Clive thinking "sometimes it needs an explosive incident to lift some of the tension in a semi-final". Or a bald referee, admiringly captioning a close-up of Collina "the one and only". Karagoudis "enjoys himself on the ball, he is a ball player", which is nice to know. Clive manages some world class fence-sitting, adjudging a penalty shout "it was struck towards the arm of Pavel Nedved, and Nedved kind of moved his arm towards it". Mmm? While the Czech defence are "prone to conceding errors", Townsend illiterately reckons, they at least have a tall striker, and "when you've got Jan Koller in the wall (at a conceded free kick) it's difficult to get it up and down". As Koller and Kapsis battle for a 50-50 ball Clive is moved to "look at the difference in height there", a mismatch that apparently "reminds me of one of Audley Harrison's early fights". BBC, you see. Rehhagel, a "German with a Greek temperament", is seeing his side come back into it slowly, but of course the real central figure is Collina, Clive dredging up a wrong Dutch penalty decision in 2000 and reckoning "I don't think he's been fooled a lot before or since". Given he was briefly suspended from Serie A a year later, we'd suggest perhaps so. Then we have the unedifying spectacle of Clive forgetting a punchline in the middle of delivering it - "two balls on the pitch at the moment - even Sepp Blatter would... would..." Yes, Clive. Maybe it's this that shakes him up so much he briefly claims a Rusedski is playing in midfield for the Czechs. He's still going on with his earlier obsession - "not exactly a player who can sneak up on you, Koller" - while Andy - your co-commentator tonight, which means Sir Bobby must have been sent out for two commentaries and one studio appearance alone, and also we'll not yet get to hear David Pleat tackling the pronunciation of Ujfalusi - picks up the other loose constant thread, continually claiming "another good decision" whenever Collina makes a decision of any kind. Let it go! Then there's a problem, as "Pavel Nedved's knee is to be the problem here" and he's going off, Tyldesley claiming "I think he's in distress emotionally and physically at the moment" while "Smicer's job is to replace the irreplacable". Not quite, actually. "It's not the pain from the knee" that's causing him to look disconsolate, like he'd know for sure. The half-time verdict is "at about five to eight tonight" the Czechs were dominating but not so much as the half went on, Des suspecting Rehhagel has "won the coaching manual contest of the first half", Venables worryingly suggesting part of his tactics is man-marking so tight they're "right inside their shorts", meaning "by the end of the half time their noses were in front". "No goals yet, but there will be some" is Des' appeal to the viewers, which should come as music to the ears of the sponsors and advertisers. Back at the game Clive's chancing it with "Koller held back - he had his collar felt" while suggesting Collina receives "not a hint of dissent to any decision he gives". No, Clive, of course he doesn't, and he never has. Satirism follows, of a particularly poor stripe, as he considers "the English papers were reporting this morning that Milan Mandaric, the Portsmouth chairman, is interested in Poborsky. I was beginning to think there was one player at these championships who wouldn't be linked with Portsmouth, and there was the last one". Yes, we particularly recall the Zidane To Pompey headlines, Clive. He then destroys his own one-liner by listing four. Greece are trying hard, Rosicky missing out as Clive ponders "you probably saw the bubble coming out of his head saying 'crikey, these guys are difficult to play against'", and the fans are enjoying it at least, as "the whole of the Greek corner of the ground is just bouncing at the moment". Shouldn't these major competitions be subject to stringent safety tests? "Katsouragis has just enough inches to grow" apparently, while Poborsky proves himself "the master of the chip" as one, um, goes well over. There's no replay, much to Clive's chagrin, who perhaps mindful of the previous night's Maniche goal reminds us with more than a hint of ire that "the pictures are being provided by Portuguese television tonight". Four bookings down, Clive spots none of the five starters already on a yellow has had a second, wondering "do you think that Pierluigi Collina knows who they are?" What difference that makes we're not sure, and not long afterwards he books one anyway, making mincemeat of Andy's view that this is because "they have a better referee in charge of it". Townsend's sure of where the game will be won and lost, hailing "coaches who are prepared to take a risk to win a game" like nobody ever brought on an extra striker before. Clive reminds us that Sunday is "Des Lynam's last show for us - our lives won't be quite the same afterwards". Really. He then goes "mmm, footballers!" for no reason, which just worries us. The Czechs press on, Koller missing ("it was a bad miss, but who's going to tell him?" - big, you see) and Baros shooting wide, Clive still calling him "the man with the midas touch" despite missing "what would surely have been a golden goal". But Clive, it's silv... forget it. He misses a cutaway of Platini with someone who looks not unlike Alan Shearer next to him, in any case, so be grateful for small mercies. He then tops his own baffling efforts by insisting Kapsis, when pushed by Koller, "goes to the ground, almost Basil Fawlty style". We must have missed that one. Where has Des' insistence on referring to games as "nought-nought" come from?

So we're into extra time, and because silver goal rules are so impossible to follow Clive feels it necessary to inform us "the key to understanding the golden goal is not to think of it as a goal at all". What is it, then? He reminds us "the last goal that we (as in he and Townsend) saw was scored by Frank Lampard", which is heartening. "It's another one of those nights when it's almost impossible to ask your son to go to bed" apparently, this being the main thing to talk about in games that go to extra time obviously. But the other end of the age scale isn't neglected, Clive noting it's "a late night for the two senior citizen coaches". But not too late. And here's an odd thing, as Greece take the free kick, Dellas heads and Clive remarks casually "they have scored..." It's as if he hasn't cottoned on to the thought that when the ball goes into the goal it's a moment of some importance, and the gap afterwards is long enough for Andy or the engineer to give him a nudge before he shouts "perfect timing!" That would take some explaining if anyone ever takes it up with him, and it's fair to say that'll be heavily edited before Sunday. Eventually he realises, stating "not even they believed that was possible at the start". Within a couple of minutes pictures from Athens are inserted, Clive going into cliche overdrive, saying "there will be no sleeping in that, or any other Greek town tonight" and reckoning "plenty of ouzo will be downed". "Hands up at home, who tipped Greece to make it to the final? No, thought so." "We are back where we started" is his final comment, Des adding "Greek football is in wonderland - well, they're in the final of Euro 2004". Interesting tautology. Just as Terry tells us man to man marking is "a German tactic" we go to Stelios Giannakopolous, and "he's with his son, is he?" Yes he is, parrying every Matt question. Tel wants to praise Greece, but Des stops him with "sorry to interrupt, but the big centre forward for the Czechs could have won the match". Well, clearly that couldn't have waited. Unbelievably, we get a Tour de France trail, followed by Portugal-Holland highlights ("it's old twinkletoes again"), and not before time the Campbell disallowed goal makes another appearance, giving Terry another chance to sit on the fence at length, while Ally thinks "there'll be a lot of disappointment from the big nations". Oh, well, Ally, let's give the whole tournament another go and see if we can come up with finalists that are more glamorous for the advertisers, shall we? Again, they could have finished much earlier, especially as there's a live Fantasy Football on next, but oh, we must get ITV's own Goal Of The Tournament competition, Des introducing it "here's a chance to start a row in your house". We doubt anyone's really that bothered, but thanks for thinking of us all the same. "It's not a competition, it's just an argument" is Des' words out of the package, and it doesn't even appear to be a phone-in to boot, just something for Tel and Andy to engineer an argument about. If it was a phone-in, of course, as we know from the Premiership Goal Of The Months, the winner wouldn't be anybody else's idea of Goal Of The Tournament. They seem to be rounding up the tournament in advance, perhaps knowing nobody will watch the final with them. "Why don't we watch it together? It's a date" Des coyly flirts at the end. On the back of this date?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

TV Review - Wednesday 30th June - Portugal v Holland

Hang on, Platini's famous winner against Spain in 1984 to open? Ah, we see, "a remarkable statistic" - "no, not the last time Motty got excited" Gary gags, perhaps forgetting Alfonso - being this was the last time the hosts got to the final, all having fallen at the semi-final hurdle since. Big Phil Scolari gets mobbed on his way in as Gary gets all clever about how he could become the first foreign coach to win a major tournament - "yes, I know strictly speaking they're all foreigners to us, but you know what I mean." Tonight the Dutch are wearing "white, with just a dash of orange". Schmeichel has been appointed Portugal expert in situ, saying of Scolari that after a slow start in winning public opinion "they love him... they want him as president or prime minister". They have both? Hansen's job is to analyse a defender, Carvalho, as "it's not often we get a Portuguese defender to eulogise". "What awaits us now, apart from the national anthems?" is Motty's rhetorical, not to mention prosaic, question. The referee is "Anders Frisk - he is frisk, the way he runs around the pitch", which is more information than we strictly required. Motty starts awkwardly, slipping up with "Figo for Holland - sorry, Portugal" and mentioning "the omens would appear to be with the hosts - except for that curse Gary Lineker was talking about earlier", surely a producer reminder. "Deco, aptly named - he decorates the game in midfield" is Barry Davies at his most hackneyed. Portugal start well, Lawro reckoning "this is the best start to any game that they've made", but Motty is star spotting, seeing Platini on the monitor and commenting "we showed that famous goal from 1984, and the scorer is in the stadium". Lawro invokes Ron Atkinson by reckoning "he beat him for fun" - and in no other way - before suggesting he's been ringing home like a typical British tourist when Motson comments on the heat, replying "don't tell them at home, it's raining, isn't it?" Someone in crowd appears to have a harmonica, but it's not Johan Cruyff, who Motson points out in another crowd shot, Lawro curiously suggesting "we'll take your word he's in the stadium". "Maybe Cruyff will come and comment on the game in the second half". We can but hope. As Portugal press and someone in the crowd plays a harmonica Lawro suggests drastic measures early, harking back to when "they brought van Hooijdonk on towards the end and played real route one football", Motty replying "that was against Germany, I saw that game". He watches football? Wow! Ronaldo's getting in, running with "first one foot, then the other", and he's quite good with his head too. Not that that's Motson's primary concern. "Oh, and that's Ronaldo! A goal for Portugal... but he's taken his shirt off and Anders Frisk is going to book him! He's gone to the crowd and Frisk is reaching for his yellow card!" Ever the football romantic. "But never mind, Portugal won't worry too much about that" he eventually concedes, although he seems more rattled than Cristiano himself. "A halting performance by Holland, but a positive one by Portugal" seems the sort of line he's been writing down for five minutes, which seems awkward. Of course, we all love Motty when he really gets excited. "Stil Luis FigOOAAAAAAAAOOO! He's hit the post! One of the moments of the tournament!" Well, it wasn't a goal and they're still behind in the semi-final, but it's the thought that counts. "Every time it gets into the Portuguese half, Portugal break away" is Lawro's adjudication, while even Motty gets critical of "Seedorf and Davids, two players whose reputations I've never quite understood". "Dutch players arguing with each other" Motty observes as they defend a free kick, which Lawro observes is "nothing new there, then". "After a slow start that certainly livened up" Gary reckons at half time, the pundits all in praise of the Portuguese. Peter admits previously "I haven't been the greatest fan of Figo in this tournament", Ian pointing out "You've been slaughtering him". Gary relays the news that a Dutch pundit thought Advocaat should be "hung or (mutters)" "Or what?" "Hung or stabbed!" That gets them in a good mood, Wright's observation on Davids' defending at the goal, "why do people hold the post?", leading everyone to piss themselves at the slo-mo. Alan sees Scolari reflecting "happy, happy times", Gary jumping the gun in labelling him a "genius". Luis Figo's performance is a particular high point, Alan remarking "Beckham used to do that" as if David was a contemporary of Stanley Matthews. Ian says van der Sar "looks like a Subbuteo goalie" diving for Figo's shot, while Peter suggests his improved game has been helped because after the England substitution "he needed a good kick... I won't say the next part of it". What next part? "They've got a mountain to climb - no mountains in Holland" is far too quick from Gary, who mocks Ian for his liking for Arjen Robben by showing a clip of him booting the ball 60 yards to nowhere, Wright straight-facedly asking "how do you do that?" On re-emerging Motson notes the Portuguese "look to me to have the more lively expressions", while on the other side "he's having one, Van Bronckhorst, I'm afraid". Interesting vernacular. "They're so much more mobile, Portugal, than Holland" Lawro chips in, and Portugal are continuing where they left off. "And here's Pauleta, real chance for Portugal - and van der Sar saves! That was the moment when they could have put one foot in the final!" That came a bit later, at which Motson nearly went stratospheric : "it's been taken quickly... and Maniche! Amazing! 2-0 Holland! Where did that come from?" Lawro adds "this'll be up there, one of the goals of the tournament". And it was, not that we knew at the time, the director having missed the strike showing a replay of the corner being conceded, although Motson had spotted the danger in his commentary. "I don't think our host broadcasters really caught it" he later notes, adding "it's almost a Van Basten - it wasn't on the volley, of course." Well, cheers. Just as we suspect the BBC duty log switchboard overflows, he adds "we're sorry that the local coverage didn't give you better coverage of that goal, as you know the BBC aren't in control of these pictures - I don't think van der Sar caught it either". Ho ho. "All over Lisbon, all over the country there'll be great scenes of jubilation" he states not exactly chancing his arm with rash predictions, but before we know it "van Nistelrooy's in here... oh, it's an own goal!" John's speech suddenly becomes very clipped when identifying Jorge Andrade as the defender whose interception meant "Holland, almost accidentally, are back in the semi-final". Lawro thinks had his defender not got there "the goalkeeper might have saved it also." "also." "That's the end of that." Nice to have these exchanges during the live game, chaps. Motson spends the rest of the game a notch above his already fairly excitable state, chastising the coverage ("not quite sure why we're seeing Ronaldo's goal again"), noting "there's a row going on with the referee" on a semi-regular basis and pacifying Lawro when he comes in with lines like "you could say the goalkeeper's hopping mad, I suppose" when Ricardo goes down injured. "Anything can happen in this semi-final now" he predicts, although perhaps putting it a little too all-inclusively. Ricardo rolls around again, an unsympathetic Lawro commenting "he's been shot". Holland have their dander up, Davids marauding so well Motson is forced to concede "I take back what I said about him in the first half". Holland are trying everything - "he's won a free kick - I thought he threw himself there a bit" - but just as Motson ventures "surely Anders Frisk will blow any time?" "He has!" and Portugal are in a final. John celebrates by turning into Barry Davies. "500 years ago the explorer Vasco de Gama discovered a new world from these parts, and now Portugal are in uncharted territory." Mmm. Looking back, Gary remarks on Ronaldo's celebration "if I had a body like that I'd take my shirt off too" and there's more Davids post-minding comedy, Ian taking the biscuit with "he's a little dreadlocked teapot!" Gary again apologises for them Portugals missing the second goal, attempting "rumours that the cameraman was David James are incorrect" to groans, and worries "we've got no chance of getting any sleep whatsoever". At least he's got a few days off now. Wright analyses the own goal, reckoning "if a forward tried to get onto that to chip the keeper he couldn't do it - only a defender could do that". Ian's own abilities to read strikers come into question, being royally prodded about his predictions of great things for Pauleta and admitting "I think I've jinxed the guy", Alan teasing "How many goals has he got?" and receiving "he's not got any, Al, and I think you know that" before vainly offering up "I tipped Milan Baros as well. Do you not remember me doing that?" Luis Figo doing the British TV post-match interview again! "I think Portugal have fantastic players, youngest players..." is his declaration for the team's success. "The good news is we'll see Pauleta in the final, the bad news is we won't see Robben" Gary wraps up with the pundits. Overmatey in the circumstances, yes, but let's see Des and Andy do that sort of thing. So that's the stadium full for the final - let's see the quality of opponent before we become too hasty...

Monday, June 28, 2004

TV Review - Sunday 27th June - Czech Republic v Denmark

"I think I've just about got over the first of them" Gary assures us introducing the last quarter-final, but "what would you rather win - the European Championships or the World Cup?" OK, Gary, we know you've not been on since, but get over it already. Pointlessly, Jamie Redknapp's been upgraded to the live team - it can't be because he impressed on the highlights shows, can it? "The not so great Dane, Alan Hansen" reveals his grandfather was Danish, which is a turn-up. Even with a slightly shortened intro Gary has to fill with a quiz question which confuses everyone before Barry's ready. "There are quite a few empty seats in the stadium tonight" is his almost regretful early note, but he does perk up on seeing a "very tuneful young lad" among the Czechs. Jose Mourinho's there, as "he seems to be everywhere at the moment, and saying a lot". To who? The Czechs are top of the Fair Play league at least, Barry remembering to note they're "among the contenders at playing the game as well". His usual foibles come into play, as a felled player recovers "like Lazarus" and he virtually scolds the referee for giving "a free kick for such a silly thing like that". Oh, and all them foreign funny names, especially those that "sounds like a ladies' netball match". As a trumpeter starts playing Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye Baz notes "it was league football, now it's cup football", perhaps misinterpreting the tournament structure. A long stoppage leads to Barry and Mark Lawrenson casting an eye over the stands, Lawro wondering "I'm sure there was a man at the back who was asleep" while Baz points to "the man in the bare chest with 1992 written across it" and "a lady looking up at the monitor". No, it's not a classic. "You know how bad the game is? We've got a Mexican wave." Don't commentators usually love that kind of thing? Lawro has a plan, as in "last night's game, the best bit was extra time, so let's just fast forward and cut out the middle". Baz harks back to the days when "I mentioned players wanting other players to be booked and I was taken to task by Joe Mercer", expanding on this no more. We know Mercer was one of the first regular BBC pundits, but that's taking it a bit too far. "That half was so bad, even the technique on the Mexican wave was poor" is Gary's summation, adding "the reserves were better than this - perhaps they should come back". Hansen says "they've been on the booze every night", which may well be libellous, while Gary calls Koller "the proverbial head on a stick". Alan complains "you always give us something that's half-decent", which leads Gary to promise "special moments", Alan accurately predicting "oh, it's comedy then?" When the two Czechs late back onto the pitch return we get going, and soon enough "the goalkeeper comes and doesn't get there", Koller putting in so little effort "the lighthouse barely had to flash its light". Er, if you want. Barry's ire is raised by Jesper Gronkjaer combining a neat fall under no pressure with a pull of Nedved's hair : "Unbelievable! Unbelievable! And that wasn't too good either... cheating is the word." Milan Baros gets his revenge for Pavel soon enough and the Czechs are coasting through, Lawro replying to a substitution query "and your reading of that is?" "the Czechs are winning 2-0" and leaving it at that. "There might be more, there might be here... there is!" 3-0, and "as against England in the World Cup, so against the Czech Republic". "They're certainly not the only team in this Championship who have contributed to their own downfall" he helpfully adds, while Mark suggests someone "take Peter's shoelaces off before it gets any worse". Otto Rehhagel is spotted making copious notes, Lawro suggesting "he's given a Viking funeral to his Danish notes". In the middle of a stadium? "Listen to the hand he's being given" is Barry's illogical but proud statement as Baros goes off. Another old chestnut is revived when Cech makes a diving block and Barry tut-tuts "in the Premiership he might be made to pay for it". Foreign keepers, you see, always parrying or punching the ball away. Nedved's still trying, Barry almost proudly noting "you'd have thought it was still 0-0, the determination to win that ball" as the Danes start to lose it, Gravesen kicking Heinz and then shouting at him, Barry rhetorically asking "what's he complaining about?". As Lawro refers to someone called Groncher Baz notes "a reluctance from Danish supporters to join in the rave, save to say goodbye". "Tomas Sorensen, warming the air" doesn't sound like the most workable of eco-systems to us. Barry by this stage has completely lost it, reckoning the Czechs in Porto is "appropriate... fine wine, well matured", with "a sprinkling of youngsters to fortify the wine". But Barry, it's not wine. They're enjoying this, the Republic, "all the noise is coming from the throats of Czechs" and "even their goalkeeper can show he's useful on the deck" as he turns an onrushing striker. 3-0, then, "the Czech Republic challenge goes on, and it is a considerable challenge". Peter Schmeichel back in the box gives a lesson on defending corners which includes the wise advice "you need to have players inside the box, and players outside the box", gary chiding "it must be very difficult for Sorensen, he looks up and in the top left hand corner there's Schmeichel". Top left? From both boxes? Gary and Alan find amusement in Nedved falling over some bottles until Gary admits "I think we're overdoing that joke", something you'd never hear from, say, Ally McCoist, before Hansen turns on Lineker's dismissals of Koller, claiming "you said he's such a bad player you couldn't believe he was playing in such a good team" and knowingly concluding "he knows nothing about centre forwards". He's happy, though, given "Holland were one of the five teams I picked before the start... Peter Reid picked 16". Gary does however spoil the mood at the death with another one from the Bumper Book Of Czech Jokes, being "Czech-out time for the Danes". Three games left...

TV Review - Saturday 26th June - Holland v Sweden

But they are bothering. "England would have played the winners of this" is Des' take, as opposed to, say, "the winners of this play Portugal". Holland are "slight favourites", whatever that means, while Ally refers to "questions whether he can do it outside Scotland", because he was nothing before moving to Celtic, wasn't he? Alongside him Robbie refers to "one of the few Dutch players who play in Holland", er, Ibrahimovic. Well, we're not going to tell him. "Next we'll meet the players" Des promises before the first break, but of course there's no such thing unless you count the players coming onto the pitch. Clive's in the box, warning "you may wish to fiddle with the colour controls on your remote... ITV1 will be rather yellow and orange for the next couple of hours, you may wear sunglasses if you wish." Those crazy foreigners with their non-primary coloured kits, eh? He then refers to "some red raw European flesh on show to match the red raw European nerves", which is a distressing thought. The colours obsession continues with a reference to "oranges and lemons", even though Holland are playing in white, eventually working round to proper sarcasm, "the referee tonight, by the way, is Edgar Davids of Holland" as Davids and the actual ref argue. Well, it's a start, give him a break. Clive reminds us that Sweden made it here after notoriously drawing 2-2 with Denmark, but "I can assure you I was at that match and it was all fair and square", and anyway they wouldn't be in that position were it not for the goals of Henrik Larsson, such as his header against Bulgaria "which I know is a favourite goal of the championships for many of you". How does he know? Does he have written proof? He will go on to call the countries "neighbours", which is stretching it a little, in mentioning that they haven't played each other since 1983 but club duties mean there's "not too many mysteries out there". van Nistelrooy goes down easily in the area and is threatened with "a card the colour of their (the Swedes') shirts". Let it go, man! Andy, in common with many other co-commentators, wields the word "simulation" as a damning criticism, Clive commenting "there are one or two million nodding heads around the country" at his reference to Ruud's diving. No bitterness there. A few minutes later at a free kick Andy refers to his "usual offside position" with a mixture of scorn and anticipation. It comes to nothing, luckily for us all. So little is happening by this stage Clive is reduced to talking about Midsummer's Eve celebrations in Sweden. "What's going on, Ally?" What does go on is Des almost desperately having to stop the sometime McHaddock going on about Ruud and offside again, and then issuing a "steady, chaps" over the latest close-up of a bikini topped female fan. For the second time in two days an ITV commentator reminds us at half time that the game may well go to extra time and penalties with reference to England. Not that they're obsessed. Ah, Manolo. "You'd love to be sat next to him, wouldn't you?" Clive remarks, as if he were your mum. He then continues his occasional habit of captioning cutaways, offering a "cheer up, Dick" at Advocaat looking slightly concerned. His big decision is to take off Davids, "not exactly derring-do from Dick Advocaat, but there you go" says Clive, who adjudges that "the fall of night here in Faro has brought the temperature down a degree or two, and the quality of the game has gone up", a game, in fact, "now dancing to a rather quicker beat". Not quick enough, though, to stop Clive from really stretching for a reference for those at home to grab onto, settling as he does for "you're not old enough to remember Roger Davies of Derby County? Ibrahimovic reminds me of him". Age must be doing something to him, as he speculates "it's getting to that time of night when the children of England are hoping for extra time and they might just get to stay up a bit later again tonight. No school tomorrow - why not?" No, Clive. Just... no. Michael Reiziger's throw-in technique comes in for close scrutiny, Tyldesley observing it "looks like a foul throw... he comes round the side" before wondering if "one or two cricket umpires would like to have a look at that action - Muralitharan..." He gets no further with that thought, possibly on realising it's pointless. He goes on to offer no proof that "they call him Balloo in Sweden, Tommy Soderbergh" before playing the home card again - "the more we see, the more we wonder what a chance England had... nothing to fear here". Plenty to fear, surely? "That is the end of 90 goalless minutes" eventually, and into the ads we go, after which Des has just enough time to admit it's "not quite the classic we've been expecting" before interrupting the punditry in mid-flow because the game's about to restart and Clive has to attempt to explain the silver goal rules as if it's further maths, coming up with "the best way to think of it is two mini games of football" as if he's Humphrey Lyttleton introducing One Song To The Tune Of Another on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. "Not one player on the field tonight has looked like he's wanted to get hold of the game and be the man" is Andy's hypothesis, conjuring up all sorts of thoughts of Ruud, who according to Clive "doesn't always see the pass", suddenly declaiming himself as if he were Eddie Murphy. Holland nearly get the break when Isaksson lets the ball bounce away and - "lucky, lucky man!" - onto the post. "He looked like the little boy who didn't really want to play cricket today so they stuck him on the boundary and suddenly the ball was coming at him a little bit faster than he wanted" Clive continues with his other obsession, adding "they should move him to third man quickly". That'd screw up the gameplan. A Swede goes down in a heap after Ruud "just caught him right on the Adam's apple" accidentally, but Andy's not so sure, replying "you're not convincing me, you know". Clive's "I'll do it to you after the game and see how you like it" is a little too forceful for comfort. Even after a half of extra time "a pin and a blindfold" is still needed to determine what we must now refer to as the man, and so "another mini-game" ensues. Or just extra time continuing until the normal end of proceedings. Jaap Stam lines up a free kick, which would be odd to most of our untrained eyes but not to Clive, who assures us "I've seen Stam take free kicks and when he strikes them they stay struck". It sails over, but not as badly as "Cocu... I know what word I want to say to you, as that's what Cocu's just done". What word's that, then? With the game "gradually being shaken and opened up" - what, again? - but heading for a goalless end Clive bites the bullet and has to sound serious while declaring "those of you waiting for the Stars In Their Eyes Celebrity Special" will have to wait. An immediate cutaway of the Swedish bench brings the almost inevitable, if scientifically inaccurate, "tonight, Tommy, I will be a European Championship semi-final match". Patronisation follows as he reckons "the Dutch do bring colour to every game, and they do support their team in a really engaging way, as do the Swedes". Engaging. Now there's a word you don't see often enough in celebrations of fan culture. Clive then elects to take the piss out of Ljungberg's declaration he'd like to play in the Olympics, wondering what Wenger would say. Two small points here : the Olympic competition is essentially a under-21 world cup now but with overage players allowed, and moreover Sweden didn't qualify for it. Finally it's finished and we can "enjoy the sight of someone else's nation's players going through the agony of a penalty shootout". And of *course* ITV head straight for a commercial break on the final whistle and rejoin as the keepers head for the goal. "it's a lottery, of course, but it's thrilling" remarks Des, while Clive goes for satirism in mentioning "the penalty spot didn't move". "Advantage Holland!" Townsend analyses where Ibrahimovic went wrong, claiming "most people come at the ball these days from a slight angle, he ran straight at that one". Ljungberg gets his enormous, if technically illegal in a shoot-out, stroke of luck, and he "cannot repeat that - I thought he'd scooped it over". Andy's advice on going past the five penalties is "not a penalty taker? Hit it." Mellberg doesn't - more Villa! Juan Pablo Angel's getting the spot kicks next season, then - Robben does and "it's Holland's turn - overdue turn". The Dutch celebrate like they've won the thing, Kluivert and van der Sar bringing their kids out for the lap of honour, Tyldesley captioning the latter "my dad saved a penalty tonight!" Andy can only hark back to the Republic's 1990 triumph "15 years ago", a mathematical error possibly explained when he wonders "I wonder if the Dutch players will be able to drink as much as we did." "I'd like to see them try" is Clive's response. Finely tuned top level athletes there. Much of the ITV talk is about how great penalty shoot-outs are, Robbie defending them with the line "it makes great TV" while Ally reckons "they're compulsive viewing". Nobody actually thinks this outside ITV pundits, do they? "It's as if they didn't both want to lose" Earle somewhat obviously declares. And of course they now have 15 minutes to pad out by talking at length about David Beckham, so all's well that ends well. If you're ITV.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Anyone hanging on for our review of Holland-Sweden...

...sorry, but for reasons we're not entirely sure of ourselves our PC crashed during the write-up and we lost a good portion of our work. Luckily we've got the game on video, so if you don't mind hanging on for a day or so? Cheers.

From the Whose Bloody Idea Was This? department

a search for not only lookalikes of the England squad but of their partners too. If Colleen McLoughlin is your "idol" we'd suggest you seriously consider your system of values. Plus, under 16 year olds only? Have fun finding a Svenalike.