In the quarter-finals and semi-finals of Euro 2008, I have supported Portugal against Germany, Croatia against Turkey, the Netherlands against Russia, Italy against Spain, Turkey against Germany, and Russia against Spain. I have, nevertheless, enjoyed myself enormously.

Since I shall be cheering for the Spanish on Sunday night, people who like to gamble may think this is reason enough to bet heavily on Germany to win the competition. (On the other hand, see this post.)

13 thoughts on “Losers”

  1. If it weren’t for the Rugby precedent, I’d suggest rooting for Germany – or does such bluffing not work?
    (But in future, could you not root for the Netherlands in the quarter- and semi-finals? The loss to Russia really was distressing.)

  2. Holland would have to get to the semi-finals first, before I could have the option of, um, rooting for them.

    Well done the Spanish last night. Good stuff. My goodness the German defence was crappy.

  3. Well, it wasn’t so much the German defence as their absolute lack of a second dimension once the Spanish had scored and then flooded the midfield. They did precisely the same against the Russians, enormously effectively – Löw and his team will have seen it, but it didn’t mean they had a clue what to do about it. No game is ever entirely dull while a team still has fresh ideas, but the Germans ran out of them before ever having one.

    However, they also ran out of luck. In all their previous wins they were watched on TV by a certain cat, Ichy, who wears white with a black trim and who has therefore been supporting Germans to the accompaniment of cries of “come on the cats!” from her secretary. She missed the Croatia game – and, last night, she was unavoidably absent once again…

  4. Enkidu was wearing German team colours, too; and while he did stay in to watch the final with me, he also spent a chunk of time yesterday trying to cough up a hairball, which I think can properly be interpreted as bad omen for his team.

  5. I think the game finally laid to rest the stereotype of German tactical ingenuity. I couldn’t believe how naive Low was. You can’t just replace midfielders with forwards unless you’re going to hoof the ball down the field all the time. All Germany succeeded in doing for the last half hour was isolating four men up front while the other six operated at walking pace having been totally overwhelmed by the Spanish midfield.

  6. I have fond memories of games in which Roy Evans’ Liverpool, chasing a late equaliser, ended up playing 2-4-4. What Low did, however, was tactically inept. The defenders were – as the commentators frequently observed – poor on the ball and unable to pass forwards. Depleting his midfield meant that we had effectively three strikers, plus Schweinsteiger and Ballack, but only really Frings to link between defence and attack. Never mind, it was a deserved victory for the Spaniards.

  7. Whoever said that has clearly never played or watched football.

    Or alternatively they managed an exceptionally boring team. Mourinho? Capello? Graham?

  8. No, it was Jimmy Sirrel.

    His point, of course, is that talking of who “deserved” to win is essentially a futile activity. Or, as I might put it, I’ve been watching football matches since 1971 and in all that time I’ve never seen a points colum for “deserved”.

    (I used to regularly annoy many Oxford supporters in the Butchers’s Arms in Headington by expounding that philosophy shortly after five o’clock on a Saturday. Mind you, they used to annoy me by expounding its opposite.)

  9. Jimmy Sirrell’s Notts County would be just before my time!

    But if winning was all the entertainment value of the game would be reduced. And you’ve got to admit that if supporters did stop talking about who deserved to win then football-related conversation would be a lot shorter than it is now! I did see a lot of games at the McCain Stadium where neither side deserved to win…

  10. I was pleased to learn last night from John Foot’s Calcio that Juventus play in black-and-white because about a century ago they got hold of some Notts County shirts. (Also that cricket was more popular than football for a brief moment in Italy in the 1890s.)

    then football-related conversation would be a lot shorter than it is now…

    This is not necessarily a bad thing…

  11. But if winning was all the entertainment value of the game would be reduced.

    So it would, but that was not Sirrel’s point.

    A friend of mine once saw him in the Black Boy before a game at the Manor – it was years after Sirrel’s retirement and it wasn’t a Notts County game, so it was a bit of a surprise. He played a “guess who I just saw?” game with me when I turned up – after Sirrel had left – with the clue “the man with the worst teeth in professional football”.

    Re: football-related conversation, I should observe that it depends what you think the alternative is going to be. I suspect it may not be “contradictions in the internal argument of Hobbes’ Leviathan.”

  12. In the 11th comment in a football-related thread:

    then football-related conversation would be a lot shorter than it is now…

    This is not necessarily a bad thing…


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