Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Euro 2008: and the winner is.."Joga Bonito"

Austria and Switzerland succesfully hosted the european nations championship of 2008. This quadrennial tournament is considered to be the biggest football tournament on earth after the world cup. The pundits consider it the toughest tournament to win.
This year tournament was organised by two weak teams, austria and switzerland. Austria is currently ranked 92 in the world, and easily went out scoring only 1 goal in the tournament through a disputed penalty. Swiss fought hard, was unlucky to lose their 1st two matches, and salvaged some pride in the end by defeating portugal in the last group game. Portugal was one of the pre-tournament favorites, and many considered they will win it. Certainly they had the talent to do so.
But Christiano Rnaldo played one good match against Czech, nothing more. Scolari was named as Chelsea coach in the middle of the tournament, and I guess the whole Portugal squad lost their focus. Still they should have defeated Germany in the quarter-final.

Germany basically escaped through to the final. They lost to Croatia, then barely managed to beat a weak Austria, then their 3-2 wins over both Portugal and Turkey was lucky. They were playing against almost the second team of the Turkey , and still had to win by last minute goal showing unsportsman like conduct. Anyway, this article is not about Germans, this article is about Joga Bonito.
Yes, 3 teams in this tournament played good beautiful football, Spain, Russia and Holland. But Spain played complete joga bonito. But lets talk about Holland and Russia first. Holland started the tournament with blast, defeating Italy by 3-0 and Franc by 4-1. People were really going berserk about dutch footbal by that time. I felt dutch peaked too early, and they won against two aging side who couldnt match their speed o counter attacks. 5 of the 7 goals in the 1st two matches came in counter attacks. Against Romania they rested 9 of their first XI, and that definitely disturbed their momentum going into the quarterfinal against Russia. Russia lost to spain 1-4 in the 1st match, and never looked back till they faced the same opponents in
semifinal. They beat Greece 1-0 and Sweden 2-0 to meet Holland in the quarterfinal. The speed and artistry of Arshavin, and the finishing of Pavulychenko stunned the overconfident dutch. Russia won 3-1 and Holland again failed in the big stage.
Spain is another team which has a reputation of failing in the big stage. Their last and only victory in a major tournament came in 1964 euro, 44 years ago. This Spain team has too much talent, every position is overflowing with talented players. The marvelous ball player xavi, the little David Silva, the silken touch Iniesta, the guttsy Puyol, the opportunism personified Villa and Torres. And there is Casillas, Iker Cassilas, captain of spain, last line of defense
and victor of many intense battle. It is very seldom that a team which plays good beautiful footbal finally wins the tournament.
Examples are aplenty, but just go back to 2006 world cup. Argentina was playing heaven like football, there touches, passes and stunning finishing won every one's heart. Only cruel Germany and Slovakian referee didnt allow them to win.
This time Spain made sure that the beautiful game is still alive and winning. Xavi and Iniesta worked like painting on canvas. Their perfect passing football combined with david silva provided ample opportunities for Villa and Torres upfront. Spain was undefeated in the whole tournament, and did not concede a single goal in the knockout stages of the tournament.
They defeated Russia twice 3-0 and 4-1, and brought Germany to school level in the final. They should have scored at least 3-4 more goals in the final.
Spain needed this trophy badly, as they ended their drought of 44 years. This is a new golden generation of Spanish football which promises much more silverware in the near future.

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