Thursday, June 19, 2008

Smellen Sie Later, Portugal

Germany, much as Fiona and her father predicted, bid Portugal Auf Wiedersehen today. Germany did it in the first 30 minutes, with some stellar passing and deadly running off the ball. Bastien Pig-Climber scored the kind of goal that junkyard goalscorers score (though he's been known to lace a pretty shot from the outside, too). Portugal made things very interesting in the final minutes, but when push came to shove that came to dives, Portugal found themselves to weak on the ball, too unwilling to sacrifice, and bit to easy to push off the ball to win this game.

Special boos have to go to Ricardo, the Portugese goalkeeper who came so far out on a ball that he couldn't make a play on that it seemed like he was actually behind Ballack as that whiny Kraut eased the ball into the net.


1. I enjoy Andy Gray angry Scottish former striker commentary, but he seems to miss some things that are awfully clear, even after they've been replayed four or five times. He's also got a little too much of a player in him. Also, I know the difference between a defender who stands his ground and has a winger run into him vs. a defender who hurls himself bodily into a winger who has slipped a ball by him. Why doesn't Andy? That said, I do love Andy's commentary--especially enjoyable--the way he exhales noisily into his mike when he is annoyed.

2. Where did Ronaldo go the last 20 minutes of the game? That Portugal side was clearly desperate for a leader to settle things down and organize an attack against Germany that was perfectly willing to allow conventional attacks, comfortable in their belief that they could withstand them. I should have seen Ronaldo in Simao's face after his 3rd 25 yard distant shot, screaming at him to get him the ball. The Portugese lack of a real leader (ala Figo) doomed them here; much like France's lack of a Zidane. Scolari could only sit and watch (and count his new millions) as Portugal fringe players blasted shot after shot from well beyond the box.

3. Physicality and diving. I love that both teams, when they sense an advantage, are supermen--pushing men off of them to deliver crosses or headers, or what have you, but when barely scuffed, they take fall down in a heap of shit. Favorite? Jens Lehman, clearly watching to see a ball roll out of bounds in the waning minutes before demanding treatment. Nicely placed, Jens.

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