June 9, 2008

Running scared

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

The Dutch claimed that the Italian side was scared of them going into their “Group of Death” match on Monday; they surely came out scared, I can tell you that much. Who would have thought the defending World Cup champions — even if they were down their captain — would lose 3-0 in their opening match of the Euros with a similar lineup? A betting man (america’s line) wouldn’t have put too much money on the Netherlands unless they had some Oranje pride.

While the first goal of the game will be talked about — and it is moot considering they scored two other fine goals — it should be noted that, according to the rules, it should have been called offside. Since the Italian player was pushed out behind the touch line (even if by his own goalie), he does not count towards an offside call. Sure, I’m not going to argue for the Italians (whom I would never support), but I will say that they are right on that one.

As for the French, how could those cheese-eating surrender monkeys underperform more than they did against Romania? In a group that has teams at the quality it does, the French needed those two extra points for the decision. They ran around with a complete lack of urgency and hardly generated chances to potentially capitalize on. A 0-0 draw only helps out Romania (whom come out of this smelling like roses) and hurts France (smelling like the opposite of roses. who knows, maybe French manager Raymond Domenech’s horoscope told him to take it easy and go for a stroll through the park. It certainly looked like his team was.

And finally, it should be said that the best part about Group C is not the fact that the Dutch look sure to advance but it is that Italy’s goal differential is shot and they’ll have to do quite well to advance. Starting Del Piero instead of subbing him in late would be a fantastic start.

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