Tuesday, July 20, 2004
After a successful tournament, seeing the incredible triumph of the dark horses Greece, the blog has reached it's time to close. Thanks to all the readers, the site will stay open for comments. Look out for a new improved World Cup 2006 one coming a bit nearer the time. Will be a whole lot better than this! Thanks again to everyone for visiting the site.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Matchday 4 Report - 15th June
The final set of opening matches from each group saw Germany take on Holland in a match which is probably the biggest so far with the exception of England vs France. Elsewhere in group D, the supposed 'group of death', the Czech Republic took on Latvia.
Germany and Holland are two of the biggest countries on the world football stage, let alone the european stage, and both will be hoping to progress through the tournament. The start of the match was very slow and really nobody had a chance right until just before half time when the German central-midfielder Torsten Frings whipped in a nasty cross which wasn't dealt with and ended up bouncing past the Dutch goalkeeper and into the back of the net, untouched by any player! German went into half time 1 - 0 up. The second half was much the same story. Germany dominated most of the half and threatened to score but still couldn't manage to get more than a few shots on target. An under-par Holland side looked set to go out of the match with a loss, until the last 10 minutes when the game livened up a whole lot after Van Nistelrooy managed to acrobatically turn a wonderful cross into Oliver Kahn's net. After that neither side showed signs of pushing for the win but the Dutch side were finally getting some attacking moves going and threatened the German goal right up until the final whistle. 1 - 1 the final score.
Elsewhere, Latvia took a freak first half lead over the Czech Republic and managed to hold onto this lead all the way up until midway through the second half when the constant pressure from the Czechs finally left Milan Baros free to blast a shot into the back of the net. Latvia still showed great character in the match on got a few attacks going and managed to get a few shots at Petr Cech (newly recruited at Chelsea) in the Czech goal. Latvia were unlucky when in the last minutes of the match the Czechs managed to score again through substitute Heinz to give them a 2 - 1 victory at the final whistle. Unlucky Latvia!
Matchday 3 Report - 14th June
Today saw the opening matches of Group C. Sweden took on Bulgaria while Italy took on Denmark in what looked like it was going to be another dull day of matches.
It was not to be though, Sweden's striker, who came out of international retirement to compete in the tournament got two goals to help Sweden to an entertaining 5 - 0 win over Bulgaria finally giving the crowd something to enjoy (apart from the France vs England match).
Italy where there usually defensive selves against Denmark and got a somewhat boring 0 - 0 draw with Denmark. With the attacking prowess of Vieri, Del Piero and Totti you would think they might be able to produce some more interesting matches. The potential is there and hopefully they can produce in further matches.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Matchday 2 Report - 13th June
We're not singing any more!
Apologies for not posting last night following tha match but i though i ought to leave it as the only thing i could do was sware about the game. It's hard to understand how disapppointed I am and am sure a lot of England fans are the same. Why did we go and blow it like that. It all boils down to Liverpool in the end! (No offence to the KopBlog - quality site) Gerrard and ex Liverpool players Heskey and David James managed to turn a victory over France into a loss in under two minutes at the end of the match. At least the match was exciting, unlike the other game in the group.
England 1 - 2 France
I really don't have much to say to be quite honest. I'm incredibly disappointed in the team for letting it go after all their hard work in the first half. But that's the story of England i suppose, second half shockers. The first half was incredible. The midfield was combining perfectly and second choice centre back Ledley King was on fire! The only player not pulling his weight was Owen, who i don't think was on the ball once in his 70 minutes of the match. Our good play was rewarded after 35 minutes with a fantastic header from Lampard (Yey, he's in my Fantasy team!). The second half was all France but a superb performance from the defence, notably Ledley King kept France at bay, despite wave after wave of attacks. Then our luck changed and my man of the match, Wayne Rooney went on Henryesque run and earned us a penalty. Fortunately, Owen had left the field so wasn't taking it, up stepped the captain....... saved. An average penalty from Beckham was saved well by Barthez and the score remained 1-0. Rooney, having played his heart out, was substitued for Heskey around the 80th minute. It's hard to understand how a £6.5 million striker can be so so bad. It looked like Beckham was going to get away with his miss but it wasn't to be. Not only is Heskey a terrible attacker, he is an even worse defender and an incredibly clumsy foul gave away a free kick right on the edge of the box, and fairly central. When Zidane stepped up i think everybody knew in their heart of hearts that it was going in, and so it did, 1-1. At this stage i was not completely annoyed, just agitated at how they could let the win slip through their fingers like that. Never mind i thought, a draw is good, but No. Now it was another Liverpool player's turn. Gerrard picked up the ball in the middle of his half and decided to play an intricate lob back to the goalkeeper. Had Henry not got to it, and had James not fouled him and given away a penaty, James would have had to do one of the most acrobatic kicked clearances ever due to the sheer crapness of Gerrards completely unnecessary backpass. It happens i agree, but why then?!? Zidane stepped up once more, but this time he was even closer to the goal, with no wall in the way (although the wall for his free kick was shockingly placed). We all know what happened then. A penalty that Beckham could not produce. 2-1 and it was all over. You may well hold your head in your hand England but it's your own damn fault. Sort it out! I'm glad i'm not Heskey or Gerrard and have the potential to be remembered as 'the ones that ruined the tournament'.
Judging by the performance in the other match of the group though, England will struggle not to score at least 5 against either of the other side's: Croatia and Switzerland. Never have i seen such a poor match and my good friend Mark Lawrenson successfully summed up the game by quoting - "This is a good advert for cricket". Final score: Croatia 0 - 0 Switzerland.
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Matchday 1 Report - 12th June
So the tournament has begun and in the traditional fashion the hosts played the opening match, but a match it wasn't. Elsewhere Spain were facing Russia. Today's first stage matches were from group A.
Portugal 1 - 2 Greece
Possibly one of the worst opening matches of a major tournament ever. The match saw Portugal take over two thirds of the possesion yet stuggle to get even one shot on target! A truly dire piece of defending from Paulo Ferreira (Portugese left back, Yes he's in my Fantasy Football picks!) saw Greece take the advantage in the 7th minute of the match. Portugal took control of the game following that but managed only 2 attempts at goal in the whole of the first half, while Greece had 7, despite the opposite weighting of the possesion. The second half started quickly. Within five minutes of the restart, Portugal's substitute Christian Ronaldo, tracking back and attempting to make a useful midfielder, gave away a clear cut penalty with a stupid heel tap. The result was a beatifully converted penalty from Basinas. Again Portugal dominated the half but just couldn't convert the possession into even a reasonable shot at goal. A fairly decent last 15 minutes from Portugal saw them take a consolation goal in the 3rd minute of extra time, Christian Ronaldo the scorer trying to make up for his earlier mistake. Overall, on today's performance, Portugal should go out in the first stage which would disappoint many. A notable performances from Figo, who worked so hard but it wasn't his day, and nothing cam off for him. Figo and Portugal will have to up their game 100% if they plan on making it to the next round. Much credit in this match however must go to the Greek defence. I don't think i remember seeing a Portugal player with enough room to make a decent effort. Thumbs up Greece, thumbs down Portugal. For entertainment's sake let's hope Figo can pull some quality from his pasy so Portugal can progress and we can see the likes of Ronaldo, Deco and Figo showing us their tricks for the rest of the tournament.
Elsewhere today Spain got a 1 - 0 victory over Russia in Group A with Valeron scoring only one minute after coming on as a substitute.
How its going to work!
Just to sort this out now, every day of the tournament, I hope to review one match in full and give brief summaries of the rest of the day's play. You might find some reviews are fairly oriented towards the team with the higher expectancy. So make sure your prepared for that.
Enjoy the tournament.
Join our Fantasy Football League
One final note before the tournament begins, anybody that is registered on the fantasy football over at www.euro2004.com can join our league:
League Name: United Kinkdom
League Join Code: 105671-17745
Hope to see lots of you joining in.
Another thing, if anybody has a football blog and wants to link please mail me (left sidebar) as i need to increase my traffic. Any readers of the blog can also help by telling anybody that might be interested in it and we can make it the most popular Euro 2004 blog.
Not long now. Come on England! Come on England!
Friday, June 11, 2004
Guess the tune
Managed to put a background track to the website now. Give it a few seconds to kick in and then you will hear it in all it's glory! Can you guess what it is?
Nipped down to the local sports store yesterday to pick myself up a symbol of love, a symbol of power, a symbol of patriotism, an item of clothing aptly named, England Replica Shirt. And too right, replica is all it is. I have to admit, at first it was one of the most itchy things i've ever worn in my life but now i've been wearing my loyalties on my back it's starting to mold to my shape and is becoming more comfortable. Hopefully will last till sunday so i can go into the match knowing my shirt has had a bit of a warm up and won't go and get injured, which is what some vital England player will undoubtedly go and do in the opening minutes. Then again it's in my wishes that they don't!
Not long now, first matches kick off tomorrow, 12th June. England look set to kick off on Sunday 13th without the presence of John Terry at centre back. The Chelsea player who has just this season staked his claim as an England player, pulled his hamstring towards the very end of the match against Iceland last Saturday. Although earlier in the week it was believed he would recover in time, England would now appear to have to start with a second choice backline.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Countdown - 5 days to go
Only 5 days to go until Euro 2004 kicks off. For England however, it doesn't kick off until the following day when the Three Lions will be taking on .... the cockerel?!? Yes, odd as it may seem, France use a cockerel in their emblem. One might think that cockerels are somewhat lower in the food chain than lions but that isn't usually the case, at least in football. Will the lions finally stop lazing in the sun and get into hunting mode and take out some cockerels? Only time will tell. The big day - Sunday 13th June - 19:45 GMT - ITV1 - don't miss it. Come on England!
Saturday, June 05, 2004
England 6 - 1 Iceland
A much improved England side cruised to victory over the recently criticised "dirty" Iceland team.
Wayne Rooney and Darius Vassell each got two goals, while Wayne Bridge and Frank Lampard of Chelsea got one each. The England starting line-up was very similar to that played in the draw against Japan on tuesday. The only change was Jamie Carragher coming in to replace John Terry. The one notable difference though, was the formation. Sven made the right decision and reverted to the traditional 4-4-2 instead of his favoured midfield diamond formation, and the change was very noticeable. England's passing was much more precise, the play was much prettier, and you actually felt they were a good team, with a fair chance of doing well in Portugal, which begins in just over a week.
The first half saw Rooney get his double, scoring an absolutely stonking long range shot after some brilliant close range passing from the midfield. Lampard also got his name on the score sheet with another long range shot, but it was no match for Rooney's magnificent strike. Some sloppy defnding saw Iceland get no less than four players on the ball, in the box, without and England player near, and inevitably led to goal.
The boys came off the field for half time 3-1 up. Somewhat predictably, half time saw no less than 10 substitutes being made! Although this type of tactic had disappointed fans in the past, Sven felt the need to play all his players, and play they did. The fans could not have been disappointed as they saw sub Darius Vassell put two in the Iceland goal, and full back Wayne Bridge bring the goal tally to 6.
Overall the performance showed a lot more promise than tuesday's under-par draw with Japan. A notable performance from our man Steven Gerrard, and a wonderful team effort will leave english fans with just that little extra hope of success in Portugal.