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?