Arrivederci - and good riddance
by Robbo Robson (U5722413) 23 June 2008
Thank God Italy are out, eh?
For the moment we can all take a breather. Wimbledon started Monday. Joy of joys. Derek 'Robbo' Robson
Instead, Villa resorted to woeful belly-flopping and the sort of cry-baby whingeing at his team-mates that made Cristiano Ronaldo look like John Wayne. Torres, meanwhile, was replaced by the very pointy-faceed Guiza - a geezer who proceeded to play like a man in fear of his life.
Since Germany 2006, the first thing you do when a game reaches penalties is see who's up for it. Senna looked relaxed but Guiza looked like he'd taken too much senna. You knew Di Natale was going to miss too.
But while penalties guarantee a dramatic ending, extra-time was ruined by the fact teams would rather take their chances in a shoot-out than get on with winning the game.
Start extra-time with nine v nine. Reduce it every five or 10 minutes by one player each - and if after 30 minutes you still haven't got a winner, just keep playing 'til someone scores. Then a team like Italy would have to attack. Job done.
There was only one thing I enjoyed about Sunday's game and that was Motty's pronunciation. This is a man who I will always remember for his epic description of the 1981 FA Cup winning goal by one Ricky Veal-Ear.
During Italy-Spain we had Capdeveal-ear and even better Di Natalie (as in Portman). It's not up there with Mick Channon's 'the boy Line-Acre' – or some of David Pleat's attempts to say Bennayoun, but I like it.
Maybe we've been spoilt... Germany v Portugal
was top-notch entertainment and Schweinsteiger's goal was a masterful team effort.
Holland were thoroughly outplayed by the Russians and Arshavin – top of David Moyes's wish-list so the papers say, but he can kiss that goodbye now – has emerged as the best player in the tournament.
Croatia v Turkey, while not thrill-a-minute stuff, was full of fight and passion and just made you wish you were in the stadium – and of course the finish was sensational with the Turkish equaliser in the 11.99999999th hour by the appropriately named Semih.
The Germans will be in the final now that the Turkish squad haven't even got a Walcott to warm the bench and bring round the tea, it's so racked with injury.
And I can see Hiddink's genius coming to the fore for a second time against Spain. Fabio's fine, but the Dutchman was always my pick as McClaren's replacement.
Here's my team of the quarters:
Altintop, Chiellini, R. Kovac, Lahm
Schweinsteiger, Senna, Ballack, Sneijder,
Feel free to slag it off, people – like you need asking.
In the meantime we can all take a breather. Wimbledon started Monday. Joy of joys.
Isn't it enough that we can ignore British sporting underachievement in the footie, without it being rammed down our throats by a whole series of paltry efforts from feeble racquet-wafting chaps and gals with wild cards? (Wild cards? Jokers more like.)
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