June 15, 2008

What happened?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

That’s what the Czechs should be asking themselves after their stunning loss to Turkey. “Instant Classic” might not be the correct phrase, but it’s the first that comes to mind. Can the final 15 minutes of any game possibly live up to that segment? One goal to get things rolling then one more to tie the game at the 87th minute and then the eventual game-winner on a break out two minutes later? Then the Turkish goalie gets red-carded in injury time for foolishly shoving a Czech player. Even better, since Turkey was out of subs, they couldn’t bring in a new goalie so another player had to take over the duties. They really lucked out that he wasn’t tested or it could have been ugly.

And if I’m Peter Cech, I’m overjoyed that the off-season is here. Going from losing the Champions League finals with Chelsea on penalties to giving up three goals and getting your team bounced by Turkey is a horrible bad-to-worse scenario. He’ll be needing some time to clear his head.

As nice as it was for the co-hosting Swiss to beat Portugal 2-0 in their penultimate game of the tournament, it should be remembered that the Portuguese side rested eight of its starters — including Cristiano Ronaldo. I still don’t understand why this game was broadcast instead of the Czech Republic-Turkey tilt when the other game actually had quarterfinal ramifications.

So with Croatia already settled into the first-place slot of Group B, we know that they’ll face Turkey. The “lucky” team that squirms into second place — Germany, Poland and Austria all still have chances — will get the honour of taking on the well-rested Portuguese and try to slow down their daunting attack.

Also, good work to the U.S.A. for embarassing the Barbados 8-0 in World Cup qualifying. Way to assert yourself against lesser nations. Big thumbs up.

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