|photo by iboy_daniel||via PhotoRee|
The Euro express rolls on:
o Although they won on Wednesday, Portugal looked rather pedestrian for the supposed 7th best team in the world. If not for Silvestre Varela's 87th minute strike, the European papers would have been sharpening their knives on the stunningly poor effort turned in by Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead, Varela saved his compatriot's bacon with a world class winner.
o Although Twitter was filled in the game's aftermath with regular fans and even media types lining up to label the game a classic -- due to the Dane's fight back from 2-nil and then the late Varela winner -- in truth the contest was anything but classic to my eyes. Filled by long portions of ugly and thoroughly uninspiring football, the game was punctuated by two brief periods in which multiple goals were scored, leading to a score line that made the game seem more exciting than it actually was. Here's an important lesson for you: don't confuse close final scores with "classic" games. This one was rather ugly, plain and simple.
o For all of their supposed "superstars" -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Raul Meireles and Pepe among them -- Portugal has never struck me as a great team. If I remember correctly, they barely made the last World Cup, and -- including yesterday's narrow victory -- they've done nothing in Euro 2012 to disabuse me of my opinion.
o Ronaldo looks as if the weight of the world is hanging on his slight shoulders. Every shanked shot or lost ball was met with hands in the air or that faraway wistful look. His complete and utter bollocksing of a virtual empty netter in the game's 78th minute made it look as if the ghost of Fernando Torres was possessing the Real Madrid man's body.
o On the other hand, Michael Ballack is having a much better tournament, albeit off the pitch in his role as a commentator for ESPN. The Leverkusen man is growing on me -- he's not afraid to speak his mind, in contrast to many other athletes who toe the politically correct line. Acting like Johnny Miller, Ballack -- seemingly having found his feet while calling England's win on Monday "ugly" -- is a breathe of fresh air on the airwaves, and I would rather listen to him for days at a time than have to hear another second of Alexi Lalas.
o So, how about those Dutch....?
o Everyone's talking about Mario Gomez -- and why shouldn't they be -- but for my money Bastian Schweinsteiger is the man who is making the German train run on time. Afforded all the space in the world by the Orangemen on Wednesday, Schweini carved them apart like a starving man with a sharp knife and a juicy schweinhaxe in front of him.
This is farlieonfootie for June 15.