Sunday, June 29, 2008

Who are the Spaniards?

Let's look at the Spaniards who played today:

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Carlos Marchena (Velancia)
Carles Puyol (Barcelona)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Joan Capdevila (Villareal)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Marcos Senna (Villareal)
David Silva (Valencia)
Santi Carzorla (Villareal)
Xabi Alonso (Liverpool)
Daniel Guiza (Mallorca)

It is simply amazing to see almost all of the players are playing the Spain. The two playing for Liverpool are playing under a Spanish Coach. The sole Arsenal's player also play very similar passing football.

This is not just a victory for the national team, but also a victory for La Liga, a victory for beautiful and entertaining football. We have seen anything like this for a long long time where the winning team represents no just the 23 players, but a whole range of ideas and style.


Congratulations to the Spanish team!

Today, a team I rooted for finally won a trophy, and a huge one! I am really trying to enjoy the moment but somehow I am not getting it.

It's not the first time I watch a live game alone. Once a while I would yell very loud one a goal is scored. But today, there was only 1 goal, and it's not like it was coming from behind.

I think as long as it is an European tournament, or a tournament held in the Europe or the Americas, the situation will not change. What I meant is to watch a final in the morning or afternoon. After the game, the trophy ceremony, there is a long day left, and we are off doing something else. It's not like we can go on the street and parade. There is no one else to talk about the game too.

Back when I was at home, I used to stayed up for games starting at 2am or 4am. Then when my team won, I was always so excited and cannot go back to sleep. Lying on bed, I would try replaying all the great moments in my mind. If my team were to loose, then it's at least a week long mourning.

Yes, we are out of luck in the US when it comes to soccer. For every other sports, most of the final goes into late night, or at least pass TV prime time. Then people can really start to close the day with the joy.

Well, I am going out now to meet with some friends. Hopefully we will come to consensus to get some Spanish food. Or perhaps not because I am afraid to find a dead quite atmosphere in a Spanish restaurant.


You can't find an article about the Spanish Euro '08 team that doesn't mention Cesc Frabregas. Whether it is about the game winning penalty he took against the Italian, or the two assists that helped Spain advanced to a major final in 40 years.

Well, I think Cesc has shown the world how, at his young age, has grown to become one of the greatest footballer, and athelete in the World.

Cesc doesn't has the flare of Christiono Ronaldo, or even the celebrity status of many of his teammates who plays at Real Madrid or Barcelona. He is not the one that is expected to score, like David Villa or Fernando Torres. He is not the hot commudity like Russian Ashevin.

But quietly this year, Cesc was elected the young player of the year in the EPL. He is probably the MVP of Arsenal. Without him, his team would not have gone so far in the league, and yet he did it quietly, without many people even notice. You would notice how important he is when he is absense.

Time after time he has been linked to big Spanish clubs. He has politely and firmly rejected their lucrative offers. He could easily have created head line news just like someone else who is doing right at this moment. But he didn't. Instead he is firm about his objective, and how he wants to improve his game despite he is already one of the best midfield player in the World. And he is rewarded by becoming one of the highest paid in Arsenal.

Would Aragones starts Cesc in the Final today? Does he deserve in the starting eleven? Sure he deserve it. But it really doesn't matter how and when he enter the game. I am sure Aragones know what is best. And as for Cesc, he has already won the heart of many, as one of the best in this tournament. If Spain lift the cup later today, which I think they would, Cesc deserve to be the player of the tournament, not merely base on his on the field performance, but his humility, team spirity and characters.

12 Hours Away.

It's exactly 12 hours from kickoff and I must say I have not been so excited about a game for a long time. I am still debating where I am going to watch the game.

The Euro is not as big a deal to most of my friends. So there will not be a party like the one in '06. It's good and bad. I definitely like to hang around some football fans but then I'd like to focus on the game too. It's pretty tough to sit down and really watch a game when there are comments flyings all over the place.

Maybe I should look for a sport bar or something. I am sure there will be a lot of Spanish speaking fans this time around.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

In response to this post about football contracts:

Flamini left Arsenal after his contract has ended. He has become famous after being played at Arsenal filling in other people absence but most players who played for Arsenal in the last few years have become famous, regardless of how well they play. Just look at Helb and Rosicky. They are pretty good players but if they were not playing at Arsenal, no one would pay high price for them. They are just not good enough to make huge difference in smaller club and less successful clubs.

Another example is Gilberto Silva. Even though he wasn't played often last season at Arsenal, he is still in the Brazillian National team. Where is Edu now? When Edu was at Arsenal, he at least got some chances to play, at the Copa America, and there were even talks he would switch Citizenship and played for England. Now he is hardly mentioned anymore. There are many good defensive midfielders who would serve Brazillian team well, but from the inclusion of Giberto Silva now, and Edu at some point in the past, you can tell how respected is Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger.

As for Flamini, this is his chance to get more money, and to play for a different big team. No one should blame him because he has served his contract term. He now is not going to play in Champions League, and lost his chance to play in Euro '08. I am wondering if he has regretted his decision. I wonder after a year, if any non AC Milan fan would still remember who Flamini is.

Who are the European Soccer Powerhouses

In the last 20 years, we saw five nations, the Netherland, Denmark, Germany, France and Greece winning the European Cup titles. However if we look at World Cup results, only three countries have managed to get into the finals in the last 5 finals. Germany, Italy and France.

Do European Cup winners really represent European best?

Base on 2004 tournament final alone, I have no doubt the European Cup is loosing it's status and the most prestigious cup after World Cup. Yes, there is no shortage of fans who travel across borders to support their team, even if they couldn't get ticket to watch the game in the stadiums. There is country and you know which one that was devastated become they did not qualified. But even if the strongest team and the most talented players were to participate in the tournament this year, there is no guarantee they will even reach the semi-final.

Today the second tournament "favorite" the Netherlands exited the competition after loosing to a true underdog Russia. Not many would bet for Russia to even get out of their group, let alone beat Netherlands such convincingly. And who would have thought that Germany would came out of their group second, and ended up playing Portugal in the quarter final? Of course, one of them had to go, and Germany deserved to win.

It seems a bit cruel to see Netherlands go out today, after their superb displays in the group stage. They didn't just play beautiful football, but they totally trashed the World Cup champion and runner up. How is it that a team like this not getting a second chance to get to the final?

If Italy were to beat Spain tomorrow, then it would really make the Dutch and their fans heart broken.

Perhaps there is a flaw in these modern tournament. All of these nations played in the qualifying matches for almost two years, and played each opponents twice. It takes a lot of hard work to get here, and then one poor game at the wrong stage, everything is over.

Perhaps there should be a rotation of some sort where one country has to play most of the other countries, and whoever get the higher point get the trophy. If the 16 teams are split into 2 big groups of 8. then each teams will get to play 7 games. And then the top team from each group get to play in a one match final. It's kind of like the World Cup qualifying group for South America. Even though Argentina and Brazil slipped once a while, they usually end up qualified since they are so much better then the rests.

It's a pitty we don't get to see the likes of Christiano Ronaldo (though he is not my favorite), van Nistelrooy, Aryen Roben, Ricardo Quaresma, and many more play more games.

Who knows, the way things are going, it might be a Turkey - Russia final. If they do get to the final, they certainly deserve it. But they are no way the best teams in Europe.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Michael Ballack and Christiano Ronaldo

I have never supported Germany in any major football tournament before. Maybe once during World Cup 2006 when Germany played my number one non-supported team, Italy. Portugal, though not my favorite team, have been once of those teams I would rather seen winning then loosing. During World Cup '06, I was totally isolated during Portugal - England game, when all my friends whom I invited to watch the game at my home rooted for England except me. I was not very popular that day.

But yesterday when I watched Germany taking on tournament favorite Portugal, there is not doubt which team I wanted to win. It was an organized and discipline team versus a talented but sometimes arrogant team. It was an experience and talented Michael Ballack versus a skillful but unproven Christiano Ronaldo.

When Christiano Ronaldo started playing for Man U, he was infamous for faking and diving. He may not be doing that as often these days, but his crying face shows up times after times when he thought that the referee should call a foul against the opponent.

Ronaldo has a lot of movement, but I never think he is fast. He does appear to be quick but if a defender is good enough to concentrate on the ball, most of the time he could block Ronaldo from getting pass.

Did Ronaldo showed up in this game? Yes most definetely. However he showed up as a selfish player who think he could change the whole game. Whenever he has the ball, his teammate dared not ask for it. When he decided to shoot and miss, instead of passing to a better position player, no body dared say anything. And when he failed to mark a player he was suppose to, and the player scored, he started pointing fingers at his team mate.

In 2004, Portugal did not win the Euro because Ronaldo did not show up. When he could have play his tricks, he had stage fright. This year, he is simple too big yet not good enough as a player.

Ronaldo is not to be blamed for everything. The Brazillian coach who decided to pick up Portugese National Anthem has failed miserably in these last few years. He has the most talented players in his disposal and yet he has not gone anywhere. Loosing to Greece in '04 twice was a disgrace. Actually they should have been out of the cup much earlier if the referee of the day did not disallow an English goal for reason absolutely not related to the game.

I have seen another equally arrogant player who has showed up but failed to deliver. Nani is probably the most disturbed player in the team. He looks like Ronaldo in certain way, walk like Ronaldo, and run like Ronaldo. In my mind, I have certain that Ronaldo is his biggest rival everywhere. Unfortunately he has been the second behind Ronaldo in Man U, and in the national team. And when he was sent to the field, he was just trying to claim glory for himself, and not for his team. We two players like this, Portugal was never going anywhere.

A player with much more humility is Caresma. I know he does like to show off but he is never that annoying to watch as the other two. A player with such skill like him who was willing to move from Barcelona back to Porto got to have some humility in him. I am disappointed he wasn't played yesterday.

Nevertheless, it was a good display by Germany. Well, I will root for Germany for another game at least, when they face Turkey. If any one can beat Turkey, it has to be Germany. And I will cheer for Ballack if he score again. He deserve all the praise as a best captain of all the teams in the cup this year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Not so lucky the second time around.

When Ibrahimovic scored the best goal of Euro 2008 so far, the camera turned to the Greek Coach and I can tell how hopeless he felt.

Not so lucky this time Greece! I believe in his heart, he was still hoping his team can hold off their opponents and maybe sneak in a goal or two, just like how they did four years ago. I am glad this is not one of those year when a dark house team comes and steal the trophy away.

I am sorry but I have to say a team like Greece does not deserve to be in Euro. We have seen lower ranking teams like Austria and Russia played wonderfully, and tried their best to score, and to beat their opponents. Greece, pack your bag and go home, and fire your coach. Maybe learn from your neighbor Turkey.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Yes, I didn't even have to look up his name using Google search. But I still have some problem with Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Oh well, I am so glad to see Ruud leading the Dutch team up front again.

I was never a fan of Ruud, mostly because he played for Man United. But I have never doubted his ability to score. In '06 when Marco van Bastan grounded him for the game versus Portugal, I was kind of disappointed. Portugal was such a flat team and the Dutch should taken advantage of it. I don't remember much about that game but I do recall it was one of the most entertaining game.

But yesterday, the wonderful Dutch football we saw in 1988, when Marco himself was playing along the legend Ruud Gullit, resurrected. What a wonderful and entertaining game to watch, especially when the looser in this match was the World Cup holder Italy. Ruud v. N. has shown how deadly he can be, and how much threat he can give merely by his presence. So far, I haven't seen anyone as effective as he is, including Christiano Ronaldo.

Let's hope they can grow as the tournament progresses. Let's hope beautiful football can prevail this time.

Fabregas Header

This must be the first header scored by Fabregas I have ever seen. Maybe not his first in competition but it shouldn't be too hard to find out. But I am glad to see him score the goal that complements his brilliant on the field today.

Spain dominant in today's game is special. After watching all 8 games, I have not seen a team that plays with such confident and so comfortable around each other. It looks just like a professional club team, or a La Liga all star, with a few from the EPL.

I just hope Arsene Wenger doesn't hesitate this time about signing David Villa when he himself said he is interested to play at the Emirate.

Way to go Espana!