Jun 222008
 

Meh.

Now that both Portugal (on a post-foul goal by Ballack) and Netherlands (on being run down by flowing Russian offense) are out, it’s time to either pick a new country to support (temporarily only, obviously) or wish that the games run out with maximally enjoyable football.

I think the latter option will be more enjoyable by all.

Jun 212008
 

Thus far it’s been a pretty conventional urban midsummer:

  • Summer Party – good music for a change (Lauri Tähkä), beer chilled and official nachspiel locations hopelessly crowded.
  • Pre-eve barbecue – excellent steaks once again, conversation that stumbled between subjects at lightspeed, and the first drink ever named after me.
  • Getting rained on – not seriously, and only a couple of times.
  • Neo-punk is back once again – Offspring’s new album is not bad at all, and Green DayFoxboro Hottubs’ debut definitely mandates further investigation.
  • Watching only the last three minutes of the extra time Croatia-Turkey was the most economical way for football spectatorship ever – two goals and cosmic amounts of drama.
  • And speaking of football, ended up actually sharing the top position at the office EURO 2008 pool, but as the organizer was not awarded for the skills.
Jun 132008
 

Dutch jerseyFrance and Italy – the finalists from 2006 World Cup are having a hard time in the EURO 2008.

Italy has a grand total of one point after two games, and France is down 3-1 against Netherlands.

So the two top-rated teams in the so-called “group of death” are on the bottom of the standings.

My picks in the office pool are thoroughly demolished, but I’m glad to trade personal gain for the benefit of the Dutch team.

Jun 072008
 

Portugal FlagThe first game of the EURO2008 tournament, where Czech Republic beat Switzerland, the co-hosts 1-0, will not go down in the annals of history as an all-time classic. Then again, it was far better than some of the kickoff games seen in tournaments past.

The second game has barely started in Austria Geneve. Portugal, the sliver medalists from 2004, takes on Turkey, who’ve been absent from the major tournaments ever since their 2002 surprise bronze.

I root for the Portuguese. Both in this game and in the entire tournament. My other perennial favorite, the orange-shirted Netherlands, has a steep hill to climb in their group – with both World Cup finalists from 2006 (Italy and France), qualifying to the playoff stage will be complicated to say the least.

We set up office pool on the tournament again. This time the number of participants was far lower than back in 2006, but at 20+ players the spread will be pleasantly large.

EDIT: Corrected the location.

Nov 222007
 

The finns are out of the Euro 2008.

We held onto the qualifying position until the very last game of the series, which is far longer than what usually happens.

The team fell with its cleats on, only one ugly loss (to Azerbaidzhan) really mars the series. But the number of draws was unseemly high as well, at least a couple of recent goalless games could have been easily converted.

So the qualifiers for the swiss/austrian games are now over, and the campaign for the 2010 games begins next summer. It’s too early to say how many of the aging players are calling it quits by the time the next series rolls in. But it’s a safe bet that some of them will, sooner or later.

Sep 092007
 

Rarely has a scoreless draw felt so much like a victory.

Finland defended (and occasionally counterattacked) well yesterday in Belgrade, and came off with the bounty of a single point. And more importantly, two points away from the hosts.

With Portugal and Poland also splitting the points, Finland’s position at #2 in the group is slightly stabler.

Oct 112006
 

Missed most of the game, but saw the last fifteen minutes and the post-game highlights reel.

The finnish team had obviously put the goalless draw with Armenia on saturday behind them, and approached the game with fresh interest.

And that, happily, led to a good result – with the visitors marching off with the whole three points.

Four games into the campaign, and the finns have eight points. More than most hoped for, considering that the sole home contest was against the top dog of the group, Portugal, and the three others have not exactly been pushovers either.

Oct 072006
 

A decade or so ago, being disappointed for a draw in an away qualification game would have been unthinkable. For the most part – San Marino was a pushover back then already.

However, today’s goalless draw in Jerevan, Armenia, for the Euro 2008, was a disappointment. Finns dominated the game, but were unable to score (apart from two that were – rightly – ruled out as offsides), the Armenian goalkeeper had a couple of dream saves, but partly the drought can be blamed on the finnish offense.

But a draw is always better than a loss, and a single point better than zero. Let’s just hope neither of the finnish injuries on the second half (Väyrynen and Johansson) is serious enough to affect the next game in Almaty on wednesday.