Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Soccer overload

As I write this, Switzerland is playing Turkey on TV and it's not even pay-per-view. And no, I didn't figure out a way to hijack a neighbor's cable that has a special international sports package. Today marks the fifth day in a row that ESPN 2 has broadcast the 2008 European Soccer Championships and it's going to be like this for almost three more weeks.

Unfortunately, lack of access to television, a hangover and school (in that order) prevented me from catching the first two days of the tournament. But the two games I did catch more than made up for the games I had missed, a 3-0 thumping of defending world champions Italy at the hands of The Netherlands, then an electric 4-1 Spain triumph over Russia. With all 16 teams having played one match, the theme of Euro 2008 in its nascent stages is clear: the teams playing a more attacking, free-flowing style are having the most success.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst celebrates after scoring to put Holland up 3-0 on Italy. The name may sound kind of familiar to some. (Photo courtesy of

What does this mean exactly? Well, the more defensive-minded (read: boring) teams have failed miserably. Italy won the last World Cup in 2006 by packing its entire team into the defensive end, diving to earn free kicks and playing for corners, and getting opposing players sent off (we all remember this). As a result, they allowed only two goals in seven matches and did so in the most boring way possible.

When it comes to club soccer, my favorite team is Arsenal because, besides the fact that their logo is a fucking cannon, they play the most beautiful style of soccer in the world. Now compare that with what I like to call the "Sam Allardyce approach to soccer," which is downright ugly and tedious, but had been somewhat effective in recent years. The good news is that Allardyce has since been fired as the manager of Bolton Wanderers FC and, more recently, Newcastle FC. Additionally, with attacking football prevailing so far, chances are this will become the order of the day for the rest of the tourney and maybe for the near future in both club and international soccer.

So if you aren't that big of a soccer fan, tune in anyway and you might be treated to some very entertaining matches featuring some of the world's strongest soccer nations. For those who already consider themselves quite the "footie" fans, sit back and enjoy the next few weeks, when you can turn on your TV and see soccer pretty much every day. Four years ago, I would have never thought that this would happen in the United States.


  1. Thughorst! sorry for bumping your post, we must have been a few minutes apart. Hopefully the free flowing teams keep wining and send a strong message for the next world cup of what tactics to emulate.

    I'm also insanely jealous of the games you've gotten to watch compared to my NONE - but hopefully Sweden-Spain on Saturday will make up for that.

  2. hate to rub it in, but watched all of croatia's shock upset of germany. this is just payback for 2006 though when i missed so many crucial world cup games and you not only got to see most of them, but got to give your opinion to your friend's website/podcast dealy. sorry. its the universe.