|photo by j.reed||via PhotoRee|
If we're getting down to the business end of the Euro 2012 tournament, we must be talking about Spain:
o If anyone out there is the least bit surprised by the comfortable nature of the Spanish victory yesterday -- positively Barcalounger-ish -- you should ask yourself the following question: what in the world were the French doing in the Euro 2012 Quarterfinals anyway? This was a team that had won one -- count it, one -- game at a major international tournament since 2006. And that was over a Ukraine side that failed to reach the knockout round of a tournament played on its home ground.
o For all the talk about France's vaunted midfield -- featuring Malouda, M'Vila, Ribery, Cabaye among others -- they were completely asleep for Spain's first goal of the day, allowing Xabi Alonso to ghost in completely untouched for a free header. In fact, the midfielders' view of the action was so good, so close up, that Laurent Blanc should think about charging his players a price equal to
the highest ticket for the privilege of watching Spain cut them apart.
o It may have taken Spain a while to get rolling, but they began to dominate possession about halfway through the first period, and looked in a completely different class than their Pyrenean neighbors by the interval. Second gear is seemingly enough against almost all teams but a very select few. And the French aren't in that group.
o The game got a tiny bit more interesting around the hour mark, as the French seemed to both 1) attack more and 2) wear down from their constant defending. The result was a bunch of chances for the Spanish and a more exciting game to watch for the neutral fan.
o I guess Karim Benzema got his just desserts for coming out pre-tourney and bragging that Manchester United had made repeatedly approaches to sign him. Based on your rather unproductive shgowing at the Euros, Karim, I could show you about 600 million fans that are glad you didn't pull the trigger.
o In the end, the Spanish victory was about as confortable as a 1-nil victory can be -- until Xabi Alosno added a second from the spot in stoppage time to give us the final score. The French were never really in the game and only rarely offered even the meekest of threats to the Spanish net. In the words of Correspondent Ed's favorite band -- Orleans, for those of you asking -- Spain is "still the one" to beat.
This is farlieonfootie for June 24.