Friday, 27 June 2008

24 boozeless hours on…

Sweet mother of god why do we do this to ourselves. I write with a tremendous hangover and a useless betting slip beside me. Someone is to blame and Germany, I’m looking at you…

That’s how my blog started yesterday and at that point I realised it would go no further. The keyboard in front of me was too intimidating, and also slightly blurry, so I decided instead to concentrate on getting a sandwich, sleeping and waking up in time for the Spain v Russia game. I succeeded on all counts. Well done me.

But what of the game, well not to pat myself on the back… but fuck it, I’m gonna pat myself on the back. This is the Russian side which choked in the qualifiers and got lucky that the Croatian national anthem was booed by the morons at Wembley, rousing Slaven Bilic’s side to dump England out and drag the Rooskies to Euro 2008 with them. I’m not saying that Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko, and several other Russian players have not been fantastic to watch in their last two games and definitely illuminated the tournament.

But I did question whether they would choke again at the crucial moment and last night they froze. Admittedly they did so against a brilliant Spanish side, but the Russians’ attitude after they went one nil down was terrible. They barely mustered a shot on goal after Xavi’s neat finish, allowing Fabregas to run the show. Was Johnny Giles over the top by calling Cesc the best midfielder on the planet? Well, I hate disagreeing with Gilesey so I just won’t do it. After all, who is better than Fabregas?

Gerrard – nope, far too greedy on the ball and prone to hissy fits, the like of which Happy Gilmore would think were ‘a little over the top’.

Ballack – nope, often ineffective in big games, see Champions League final and Wednesday’s game.

Lampard – no, no, no.

Essien – possibly, but he hasn’t had the chance to prove it yet and we should all hope that Lamps fecks off to Italy so that Essien’s full potential is realised.

Downing – okay, I’ll stop here.

All in all, Fabregas been fantastic for Arsenal for two seasons now and he absolutely controlled the semi final of the European Championships. He can’t do much more than that (the whole ‘best in the world’ obsession, no matter what the position, be it left back or centre forward, tends to be a fairly futile one anyway) but that still won’t make me read any of the gushing articles that will no doubt eulogise about his talents in Saturday and Sunday’s papers. He’s fantastic, let’s leave it at that.

Elsewhere for Spain, I like the look of Marchena at the back, mainly due to the fact that we know how dodgy Puyol is, so Spain’s solid back four must be mainly down to the Valencia man. Sergio Ramos was, as ever, good going forward, headless going back… in fact he was headless going forward on several occasions as well when he took on ridiculous shots with his bad foot.

As for the final, well Mark and I are doing a podcast this evening and our predictions will be made then. We both went for Ze Germans at the start of the tournament; and somewhere in amongst the cans and the sparse pub talk we’ll try and make some sensible comments.

One interesting story we’ll be discussing concerns former FIFA president Joao Havelange, who has claimed that England’s 1966 World Cup win was the result of a fixed tournament. Bloody hell, first they don’t qualify for Euro 2008 and now England’s only achievement, and the one they harp on about endlessly, may be tarnished. Good times for non-England fans.

Til tomorrow folks, stay Cescy,



Mark said...

Kaka >>>> Cesc

No contest. Fabregas is class though.

So is Arshavin a big game bottler now? Who isn't these days - seems to be all the rage

JJ said...

He's a semi final bottler, as opposed to Gerrard/Lamps/England who are quarter final bottlers. Very complicated lark altogether.

In reality, russia as a team didn't play well but when arshavin got the ball he was still very poor. But 'very poor' doesn't sound as good as 'bottler', and as apres match showed last night it's words such as this that get the ratings. "I'm just trying to help da little guy out Bill."

(Go to the 'apres section' here to see for yourselves:

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mark,You're fucking wrong. Kaka's a cunt! End of argument.LUHG.
p.s. It pains me to say it as a United fan, Fabregas has been the best player in England for years. His movement,ability to find space and his passing mark him out as the best player in the world (greedy Portugese cunts included!!) Brady reckons he's so good that he makes his team mates look like better players than they are,quite a statement, you'd have to agree though.

Buckley said...

Geeez, JJ, you've let yourself down there. Could you not have added a Pirlo, Xavi himself, Zanetti to your list of players worse than Fabregas? Very Andy Gray of you i have to say.

Where was the best player on the planet last night? Nowhere to be seen, and was rightly sacrificed for Alonso who immediately helped steady the ship as the Germans looked like applying real pressure.

JJ said...

Gonna give a politician's answer here Buckley... Myself and mark tend to stray away from saying that anyone in the spanish or italian leagues are world class as we don't see them every week so it's difficult to compare them with someone like fabregas who you see for around 60 games a season. Xavi and Iniesta are class but that hasn't stopped barca wishing they'd kept fabregas.

As for last night I thought he did okay but was being asked to play a role that demanded he get the ball to torres every time he touched it. I'd give him a six out of ten yesterday up until being subbed.