Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Semi finals… the end is all too near

Bear Grylls needed hotel rooms; alcoholics need a sip of porter and Frank Lampard apparently needs Jose Mourinho. We all need our little comforts to keep us going but the passing of Euro 2008 will leave one gaping football-shaped hole in our lives that will be hard to fill. Even two days without games have been difficult such has been our luck in the previous two weeks.

The end of two matches a day after the second round of first phase games was difficult enough, the end of the quarter finals was just plain horrific. But the end? The real, actual end? What are we supposed to do? Watch Wimbledon? How dare you.

Anyway, before we get to Sunday’s final and the death knell of a fine, fine tournament, let’s go through the first semi final.

Germany v Turkey: Turkey are, so the stories say anyway, a team with only 14 players, several of which play in mid table in the Turkish league while another was once coached by Neil Warnock. Then there’s the third choice keeper who may come on as a striker. This team, under no circumstances, should be here, face to face with the final, but here they are.

I should preface this by saying that ever since the Turkey v Ireland play off for Euro 2000 I’ve hated the Turkish national side. Anyone else remember that dodgy Star TV prick who wouldn’t sell the rights to their home game to RTE (forcing me and many others into the shithole of choice for Dublin Celtic fans, Frasers, to watch a hazy satellite feed of the second leg)? Just as dodgy were the Turk officials who punched Tony Cascarino. Then to top it all off they had Hakan Sukur, the most instantly dislikeable footballer of our time, up front. Steven Gerrard and Ronaldo wish they could be as instantly hate worthy as this guy, but sorry lads, he was just born with it.

Anyway, begrudgingly I will have to admit that they deserve their place here simply for the frenetic, insanely late entertainment they have provided in their last three games. The equaliser against Croatia the other night was bizarrely predictable after their previous heroics in the dying seconds against the Swiss and the Czechs respectively. But do they have a chance against the Germans?

While Germany do possess a resurgent Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lucas Podolski in top form, Michael Ballack doing his usual pre-final heroics in the early stages as well as some other solid performers throughout the side, they still have the air of a team that could be found out. Their coach for one, just looks like a guy who will be discovered as the charlatan he is any minute. Not, that I know Joachim Low is a charlatan, I just know that he looks like an actor in a bad American soap opera and those guys always have secrets… anybody else getting the impression I’m finding it hard to pick out weaknesses for Germany? Thought so.

So logic and sense point to the northern Europeans and away from the frankly un-European Turks (come on, even if Turkey struggle to penalties, they’re playing the Germans for feck sake). Prediction: 3-1 to ze Germans.

I’ll be back to go over the far more difficult to predict Spain v Russia game tomorrow, and before any of you ask, yes I will address writing off the Rooskies earlier on in the tournament.

‘Til then folks,


Mal said...

I hate Frazers. Dump. I watched that Ireland v Turkey match in the sports bar on Parnell st that later became stringfellows. Can't remember the name of the pub.
Hope Germany do it tonight. I've a few quid on Ballack for top scorer.

JJ said...

I think that place was called Chasers or something like that. Wasn't the mae west anyway. That punt on Ballack needs a hat trick tonight I'd say.

Speaking of bets, my dosh is on germany half time and full time... livin on the edge so I am.

Mal said...

I was hoping for Spain to go out from a purely selfish point of view as I fear more Villa goals. He's on 4 with Podolski and an injured Nihat on 3. If Ballack gets one tonight and another in the final then I'm happy enough. I assume the bookies pay out the full amount if it's a tie for top scorer.
Still can't remember the name of that pub. You're right, it wasn't great. It was huge and was jammed that day for the turkey match. I live around the corner from it now.

JJ said...

Moved in beside stringfellows eh... you stay classy Mal.

Mal said...

Stringfellows is gone now. The protesters outside it were great craic. They used to stand outside with rosary beads and babies saying prayers in midwinter. We considered staging our own protest with banners saying "boobs out".

Anonymous said...

Aaagh JJ finally found a valid reason to use that "stay classy" tagline. Must think it's christmas! Dreading the end of this tournament too and reckon the apres match lads just hitting their stride about now. Good to see Stapleton getting some quality time. TMcG

Anonymous said...

Okay vow to never watch MOTD again. Just listened to Lawro explain that Spain played better after substitution because Fabregas plays like Gerrard. What how, just...what? Oh congrats okeydoke think one of you lads predicted Spanish German final well done. What's the odds on Brady giving Dunphy a slap before it's all over. Getting nice and cranky in the RTE studios. TMcG

Buckley said...

One fucking pod for the whole tourney. Unacceptable.

Giles winds me up with his over the top jizzing over Fabregas. "The best mid-field player in the World, by far". Its nauseating. Especially from a man that openly admits he doesn't watch any football outside of the Premiership. I love the man but his love for Fob Fabregas does get to me. Maybe i'm just jealous and long for some Giles loving.

Hope Germany win it now. Just to see the scowl on Dunphy's pissed up head. Was definitely on the booze for the Germany Turkey game and i wish Brady had slapped him.

JJ said...

Buckley we're doing a pod this evening, hope this makes up for our frankly paltry amount of europods so far. We did do a preview show as well though.

Can't wait for the final, as for Johnny's love of fab; well he was brilliant last night. The over-reaction to arshavin pre-semi final will be dwarfed by the eurphoria around the 'joy of cesc' in the run up to Sunday though. However, if he doesn't bottle it like the russian did last night then Johnny may well have a point.

TmcG (a) using that stay classy line did indeed make me ridiculously happy, and (b) that line from Lawro is proof that he is as stupid as he is stupid looking. What a load of balls. Didn't see any 70 yard hollywood balls pinged on to the corner flag for one. It shows how lazy the BBC panel are; instead of making an informed opinion of how spain played let's just head to rancho relaxo and talk about english football again, when, as the standard of this tournament has shown, they are nowhere near the top level of international football. If I was an english licence fee payer it may well be time to head to the small claims court to get my money back.

Mal said...

Fabregas was superb last night but I don't think that he's done a whole lot this summer up until now. He was disappointing in the one match that he did start in, against Greece, a match in which Alonso was fantastic. In saying that, it looks like Fabregas will indeed start the final as Villa appears injured. If he can play half as well as he did last night then it should be Spain's cup.