Monday, June 11, 2012

UEFA EURO 2012: Group D Preview: No Champions Here!

England - With a long habit of fucking up major tournaments, dating back just short of 1966, this England team has really had their act together as far as maintaining that losing streak.  At least Fabio Capello had the good sense to get out in the heat of yet another controversy that could have been avoided if his captain, John Terry, was not such a colossal scumbag.  Sleeping with a national teammate's baby mama?  Check!  Racially abusing a national teammate's brother during a match for Chelsea?  Check!  With Terry's judicial trial looming on charges for said racial abuse, which was compassionately pushed back until after this tournament, Capello wisely resigned just a few months before a major international tournament.  I always thought there were also just as many footballing reasons to expect disappointment, an apex being Wayne Rooney's two-match ban for violent conduct, and there was certainly a matter of convenience to his resignation.

After two months of rampant speculation over the identity of a new manager, the English FA took their talents in a much blander, safer direction with Old English Dog Roy Hodgson, manager of middling teams such as West Bromwich Albion and (sadly, honestly) Liverpool.  It's these less exciting qualities that Woy was likely hired for, as he'll drag these dynamic players through the muck of pragmatism and the mud of discipline.  They'll be set up to get results, and should have little trouble advancing from their group.

Puff Puff Pass: Puff Puff!

France - After the sham that was Les Blues 2010, including a full on mutiny in South Africa, there is absolutely no where for this French team to go but up.  It's a veritable Mos Eisley of scumbags, though one short as Nikolas Anelka is collecting big paychecks over in China.  I'd fancy their chances if the tournament matches were contested with three or four balls, but with football's current one-ball-per-game format, paired with a squad chock full of selfish players, there just aren't enough balls to go around.  Frank Ribery would require his own ball, if he weren't out soliciting underage prostitutes ALL THE TIME, and Karim Benzema would just as soon die than pass up a shooting opportunity for a chance to open up the play. 

Either the French or the English will meltdown to allow our next team to advance...

Puff Puff Pass:  Puff!

Sweden - If I could impart one piece of advice to Swedish opposition, it would follow thusly:  DO NOT FOUL them around the box.  Between Sebastien Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimvoic, there is almost no place within 35 yards where I wouldn't fancy their chances at a dead ball.  You will marvel at the spin of Larsson's kicks, and equally be dumbfounded when Zlatan's appears to not spin at all, as both players are capable of curling balls this way AND that.

I recently heard Zlatan Ibrahimovic reffered to as the bastard love child of Derek Zoolander and Ivan Drago.  While this made me laugh, I would swap Ivan Drago for Steven Segal, what with the appaling pony tail and all the karate.  As for Zlatan, the player...what a player he is, though he is coming off a relatively disappointing season, where he failed to win a domestic championship for the eigth season IN A ROW.  Consider that run paired with his scoring record, and he is a player no team will want to see playing, no matter who surrounds him. 

Puff Puff Pass:  Puff!

Ukraine - As co-hosts, the Ukrainians will have the adrenaline advantage and little else in their favor.  In what could be Andriy Shevchenko's final bow at a major tournament...well, what's Ukrainian for the opposite of a victory lap?

Puff Puff Pass:  Pass!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

UEFA EURO 2012: Group C Preview: Los Conquistadores! (Sic)

Just as I set down to write this, I found myself transfixed by highlights of Leo Messi's hat trick, which illuminated the dank Jersey swamp-lands with pure genius.  Unfortunately, I don't expect such a glimmer from this afternoon's Italy-Spain match, but hey, I can be wrong.

Spain - The defending champions of the world as well as Europe have little to prove to anyone anymore.  Their quick, short passing style will be on display, but it won't reach the dizzying spectacle of its Barcelona counterpart, in part due to the ineligibility of Leo Messi, who would otherwise be the crown jewel of the current Spanish brand of football, his Argentinian heritage notwithstanding.  Another side, win or lose, who will provide great entertainment.

Puff Puff Pass: Puff Puff!

Italy - Arriving at yet another major tournament with a major match-fixing scandal over their heads, the Azzurri are poised in a uniquely and equally enviable and unlucky position.  On the back of such a scandal, the Italians galvanized and rescued a World Cup trophy in Germany just 6 years ago.  They also have a spark plug, and perhaps my favorite player in the game, Mario Balotelli, always presenting himself as a gigantic question mark.  Like some of the all-time greats such as Cantona or Rooney, you never quite know if he'll bring pure genius or pure madness, and it's incredibly difficult to focus attention anywhere else.  Considering the drama is guaranteed, another strong ranking for this group:

Puff Puff Pass:  Puff Puff!

Croatia - Looking at this Croat side, there are a few names I am fond of, mostly due to Premier League exposure.  Luka Modric is the metronome in the Tottenham midfield, and Nikita Jelavic has been a strong goalscorer for an Everton team who desperately needed one.  They will have entertaining matches, but having said this, I don't know if they have the squad depth to deal with the brutal grind of a 3.5 week tourney.

Puff Puff Pass:  Lighly Puff!

Republic of Ireland - I am primarily of Irish descent.  Rarely is this a point of pride.  In this case, I will gladly take up the cause.

Puff Puff Pass: Puff Puff!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

UEFA EURO 2012: Group B Preview! Death to Groups!


Netherlands - Now we get to the good stuff.  As good a representative of the global capital of WatchStuffHigh's inspiration as could be imagined, this Netherlands side is capable of producing perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing brand of football to be found at the Euro.  Anytime the ball leaves the ground, there's a chance Robin Van Persie will volley it into the back of the net, simultaneously violating seven different laws of physics.  The only knock on this iteration of Oranje, and pretty much every other iteration, is their penchant to wilt in crunch time.  Arjen Robben has been to three MAJOR cup finals over the last two years, and has collected only a runners-up medal at each.  He's a one-man Buffalo Bill.  For all their prowess, influence, and preternatural instincts and abilities, they have only once won a major international trophy, at Euro 1988 hosted in West Germany.  They have a good chance to match that feat over the next three or so weeks, and will at the very least entertain exquisitely.

Puff Puff Pass:  Puff Puff!

Denmark - The most obvious sacrificial lambs in one of three separate groups of death, these Danes will either overachieve or be sent packing.  Nicklas Bendtner will lead the line, which is basically all you need to know about this side's chances.  Despite accumulating a respectable scoring record this past season for Sunderland, it's not hard to wonder if he'd still be at higher-profiled and prestige-d Arsenal if he were capable of hitting wide open targets.  Of course, there are myriad reasons to hate most any player, but his ineptitude in front of gaping goal mouths combined with an arrogance, and also a nonchalance, as well as a palpable insouciance, send him to the top of my talentless douche informal research.  Despite their forthcoming rating, you may want to watch their matches on account of their group stage opponents.  Blink and you'll miss them.

Puff Puff Pass:  Pass!

Ze Germans - Dangerously precise and mechanical, this German football team has the engines and the wheels to race straight down or across the Autobahn and over the tournament finish line, with pistons and other car stuff happening that would also be metaphorical.  I have high expectations of this team, and have tipped them to leave as Champions Of Europe.  However, this is partly to do with not really wishing to see Spain continue their recent triumphance in both club and international football.  And again, heavily factor in the glee factor in pronouncing some of these German names: Bastian Schweinsteiger!  Mesut Ozil!  And who could forget my personal favorite:  Per Mertesacker!!!  Loosely translated as "of my nut sack-er."  If they manage to top their group, as I predict that they shall, that would speak volumes about this team's qualities and potential going forward into the knockout stage of the tournament.  Strongly recommended.

Puff Puff Pass: Puff Puff!

Portugal - As is so often the case with major international squads, their results will matter little in the enjoyment factor of watching them play.  Either they will gel together and find ways to play to each others' strengths, or they will make really distressed faces for the camera.  As a neutral, there's virtually no difference.  And as it continues to be for this Portugal side, the perpetual knock against them is their ego problems.  In Nani and Ronaldo, there are two star wingers that would walk into almost any team, club or country, in the world.  They have quality and experience all over the pitch, and yet, no one knows what will become of this generation of Portuguese.  Most would expect them to run-up third to Germany and Netherlands, and they'd be right.

Puff Puff Pass: Puff!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

UEFA EURO 2012 Preview: Lord Don't Bore Me Now!

With the quadrennial Euro 2012 set to kick off this Friday, we are about to witness the world's second (apart from the annual Champions League) finest continental competition's final stages, in the culmination of a nearly two years long qualification process.  And as always, the questions this site will seek to answer are simple but important:  is this worth my high?

Before analyzing the group stage matches over the next few days, let's go balls-deep into some squad rankings.

Poland - So I watched about 2 minutes of the BBC's Panorama hate-porn which is said to paint Poland with the broadest of rascist, fascist brushes.  Highlights included monkey chants directed at black players, as well as fascist salutes that were simply far too derivative and unoriginal for my tastes as it comes to fascist salutes.  Nazi salutes are so last century.  But, it was refreshing to see violent Ultras in such low rent, rinky-dink high school football stadia.  In one case, when traveling supporters were banned from attendance to curb the threat of violence, the numbskulls eventually turned their violent passions on the police, which for me is as good a move as any at that point.  The riot police on screen, and purportedly in real life, behaved like Grand Theft Auto A.I. being funneled to the next checkpoint.  It's as if two of the three parties required for that particular riot turned up for a threesome, and decided, "Well.  We've already bought all these condoms and all this lube.  It'd be a damn shame see it all go to waste."

Which is to say that, playing ability aside, there's certainly plenty of food for thought to mentally chew on and digest during the Polish nationalist team matches. 

Puff Puff Pass:  Puff!

Greece - So, how can they afford to send a team?  Great question!  Who knows?  As for the football, it's likely to be dreadfully dull, and only possibly effective.  The names are incredibly fun to say (say "Apostos Vellios" aloud), and there can certainly be no shortage of debt-related to jokes to make at their expense.  Personally, I'm excited to see how their tournament plays out, but I would not recommend watching them to anyone.

Puff Puff Pass:  Pass!

Russia - Sizing up the teams in this group, there is a real deep good history among all of them.  I mean, not a lot of "good" history, especially over the last couple centuries.  But there are some intriguing players, some enigmas, and some gnarly names.  Try playing a game of FIFA while hearing the name "Zhirkov" and not giggle incessantly.  Andrei Arshavin was one of the rising stars of 2008, and four years later he has raised more questions than he's answered.  Pavel Pogrebniak found a tremendous vein of form following his transfer to Fulham, and the Russians should expect to profit from it.  They may not advance from the group stage, but they will likely produce two or three goal-of-the-tourney candidates.

Puff Puff Pass:  Puff!

Czech Republic - Petr Cech borrows his headgear from a different local special needs kid for every game. 

Puff Puff Pass:  Pass!

Thursday, October 13, 2011