Sunday, July 01, 2012

Lessons from Euro 2012 3 On/3 Off

It's all over in Kiev (and in Poland too...but...meh, it's Poland). And, despite our stubborn insistence that Europe is just one confederation among many (rather than the grand masters of football artistry), there's much to note in the UEFA final tournament, so in that spirit here's our run down of the rising (3 On) and the falling (3 Off)
Euro Cup 2012 Final: All conquering Spain demolish Italy 4-0
Yup, again (zeenews.india)

3 ON
  1. Spain still sets the gold standard: Say what you will about the monotony of European competitions (Spain comes, Spain conquers, Everyone else mimics Spain), nobody can quite match La Roja's fluidity, grace and efficiency of play. It seems illogical that this can really last much longer, but until its proven otherwise: Spain and the Spanish style of play remains the style to beat (if you can)
  2. Reports of Italy's Demise are greatly exaggerated: While many people [points ostentatiously at self] were giddy at Italy getting positively smashed at the last World Cup, the Azurri are not quite ready to be relegated to the second level of World Powers (unlike, say, France). Despite the probable end to careers of recent Cup winners Gianluigi Buffon and Andreo Pirlo; a future with Mario Balotelli and Daniele DiRossi can't be all bad.
  3. I admit it...Europe's good...: Cheering for underdogs makes us perpetual Europe-baiters, we'd much rather see a World Cup final of Ghana v. Mexico, or even Tahiti V.s. Lebanon than another Italy v.s. Germany "clash of the titans". Still, if you're at all interested in pure talent on the pitch you can't complain while watching Europe send their best sides out into the fray. No matter how much I may whinge, the road to greatness still goes through the continent.


 A steward removes a banana from the field during a Group C game between Italy and Croatia.
You stay classy, Croatia!
  1. PKs are guaranteed to spoil a good game: When I was a kid I used to think that anything that wasn't a penalty shoot out was just plain boring. My brothers and I created a backyard game of it: all PKs, all the time. And maybe, if that's all you watch it can be exciting, but after 90 minutes of solid play, having to sit through 30 minutes of "I'd-rather-not-even-try" extra time can make you cry. Solving these problems are decisions above my pay grade--but something, anything is better than this...(maybe a Hunger Games style fight to the finish?)
  2. England can't figure out how not to disappoint: Speaking of sad sacks on the verge of destruction...the Three Lions of England seem to actively seek ways to, first, inflate the hopes of their nation and, second, dash those hopes into a million, billion, broken pieces. Undefeated in the group stage (including some impressive little footwork in dispatching the Swedes), England was naturally defeated in one of the aforementioned penalty shoot outs. Lets go ahead and say it: England will look dominant in World Cup Qualifying but not come close to hoisting the cup in 2014.
  3. Europe's dirty secret isn't so secret any more...but it's still dirty: Along with a tournament of the beautiful game we got a tournament full of ugly racism. As the globalization of team rosters becomes ever more apparent (with Turkish Germans, Ghanaian Italians and Ethiopian Czechs), the spread of racism becomes equally apparent. While many point out that these are "isolated" incidents, and the acts of "only a few" those few seem to have no compunction about making it known in grossly inappropriate places: hence the cruel Croatians and rascally Russians being ignored just as often as they're fined. But since the fans don't pay the fines (and the federations have plenty of cash in their coffers) there's aren't really disincentives. How about this instead: get caught abusing players once in a match and it's a yellow, do it twice it's a red and your team forfeits. Two yellows in back-to-back games and the fans get suspended for the next works for friendlies, qualifiers, even tournaments--if you're going to change the culture, you've got to make it count. (And hey, keep it up Russia and we'll just see how long you keep that 2018 event you're planning on)