- 12 Jun 08, 12:20 PM
So Switzerland have already bowed out of Euro 2008 and Austria could follow them tonight, but does anyone but the co-hosts care this morning? The big news today is Portugal and, in particular, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
As the Swiss were crying into their beers following their team's dramatic 2-1 loss to Turkey at a rain-drenched St Jacob-Park in Basel, it was emerging that Scolari, a Gene Hackman lookalike, had been appointed as the new boss of Chelsea.
The news caught most people by surprise, including the Portuguese media. In Lisbon, television shows were frantically flicking through the pages of Chelsea's official website live on air as they digested the sudden development.
Back in Switzerland, Scolari's appointment prompted some hasty alterations to travel arrangements, as newspapers and broadcasters set their compasses for Neuchatel, the Portuguese team's home away from home. But no sooner had trains and hotels been booked than an email from Uefa informed us that Portugal had cancelled their media commitments for the day.
As for their fans, one shell-shocked supporter in Geneva told my fellow blogger Fletch that he was hugely disappointed that Scolari was on his way. "He is a great loss for Portugal," said a downcast Joao Soares. "I'm very surprised. I don't think the people of Portugal were expecting this." Wistfully, he added: "Maybe Jose Mourinho can coach the national team now." Sorry, Joao, I don't think that's going to happen.
Just how big an impact the news of Scolari's imminent departure will have on Portugal's chances of success at Euro 2008 remains to be seen. But their decision to go to ground indicates few in the Portuguese camp are willing to talk about it right now. If they do, Fletch, who is currently hot-footing his way to Neuchatel, will bring you their reaction.
As for the Swiss media, well, they don't seem to be coming down too hard on Kobi Kuhn - help me here, does he look more like Henry Fonda or Jack Lemmon? - and his team for failing to make it past the group stages. Words and phrases like "heroic" and "champions of the heart" have dotted newspapers and websites following last night's game against the Turks that national newspaper Blick called a "water fight".
I'm not sure the Austrians will be as forgiving, although that largely depends on what kind of show Josef Hickersberger's side put on against Poland at the Ernst Happel Stadium tonight. There certainly seemed to be little sympathy for their co-hosts doing the rounds. "Switzerland Flop" was the headline in the first paper - the Vienna Kurier - I picked up this morning.
The Austrians will certainly need to play with the kind of passion they showed in the second half of their defeat against Croatia if they are to have any chance of progressing.
And I'm not sure I'd start with Ronald Gercaliu at left-back again. He may look a bit like John Arne Riise - a theme seems to be developing in this blog - and have a sweet left foot like the Liverpool defender, but he didn't play like him. Ponderous on the ball and with little pace, the Poles will target him if he plays.
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