EURO 2008- WTF!? (1/4 Finals)
So shit went crazy in these quarterfinals, resulting in two semi-final matchups few would’ve predicted
Germany vs Turkey
Russia vs Spain
Germany beat Portugal soundly which was only a little surprising. Turkey stole the game, fair and square, from Croatia. OK, fine. Two surprises (one mild, one mildly spicy), that’s enough unexpected excitement for one round… but wait!!
Russia beat The Netherlands 3-1 after extra time. Not only that, they made the high-flying heavily favorited Dutch look bad. The Oranje lacked the attacking rhythm and constant pressure that made them so dangerous (and fun to watch) in the Group Stage. The attacking midfield combos couldn’t combine, couldn’t click, and Ruudy just lumbered around upfront without much ambition or effect.
I underestimated Russia in this game because I really only watched their final Group Game against Sweden . In that game they looked good, but mostly Sweden looked bad. I mistakenly thought that was Sweden’s fault. But as it turns out, the Russians can make even the most high-flying offense look feckless. Spain beware – this is not the team you thrashed 4-1 in the opener.
And speaking of Spain, they beat Italy in what was a long and boring game that culminated in disappointment. Not the best way to spend a Sunday night. Spain deserved to win. The goalspree I was hoping for was, not unexpectedly, nowhere to be seen. As much as I wanted Italy to win, this result was merited.
Italy was mediocre in the 120 minutes on the field and failed in the penalty shoot-out. The bright spot being that Torres and Villa didn’t score much credit due to Chiellini, who should be assured of his spot as half the national team central defence for some time to come. Antonio Cassano played well again, though he didn’t create any goals. Italy just could not penetrate.
The sad thing is that my man, AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi, a world-beater on the pitch, set the stage for penalty shoot-out disaster with a just-decent PK that was unable to beat a world-class keeper. That put Italy in the hole.
Di Natale finished Italy off with an excruciatingly weak effort that was easily parried by Casillas, sending the Spanish through to see if they can defy the Russian juggernaut.
Germany, for their part, should easily dispatch an overachieving Turkish team who, through injury or suspension, will be without five starters. Five!
My predictions, as useless and inaccurate as they are, will be upcoming.