June 23, 2008

Underdog weekend

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It looks like the karma deities were looking out for the underdogs and teams that didn’t rest their players for inconsequential third group games. Three out the four lower seeds advanced out of the quarterfinals and the one favourite that did survive, Spain, was taken to penalty kicks by a seemingly improving Italian side. But then again, this was the first time in 88 years that Spain has beaten Italy in a competitive match so maybe they were the underdog after all.

What a shock it is to see Turkey preparing for a semifinal match with Germany. Ze Germans had better not take the Turks too lightly or they may be just as doomed as Croatia was. But then again, their win could be chalked up to a slow minute-hand on the referee’s watch that allowed Turkey to tie up the game.

And how weird is it to have Russia defeat the Netherlands, who were the most highly touted team going into their quarterfinal match? It wasn’t even like the Russians barely scraped by either, the Dutch were the team that was reeling most of the match. Andrei Arshavin has been nothing short of awesome since coming back from suspension. The Russians made a wise (and risky) choice bringing him along despite his band.

Spain’s win on Sunday also closed out an amazing little feat for Running The Point. With their shootout victory, it made my picks go 0-4 for the quarters. In fairness, I’d only call them pseudo-picks since I wouldn’t really call them official by any stretch but let’s not get bogged down in semantics. As for the semis, I don’t think Turkey is the team of destiny that Greece was four years ago and while Russia’s and Spain’s offences have proven hard to stop, I think that the Spanish will be a bit harder to penetrate. That game should be a barnburner though.

Now, time to find something to do in the afternoon for the next two days. Soccer withdrawal is starting to kick in and I have no affinity to watch early round Wimbledon coverage.

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