Sunday, July 02, 2006

Portugal vs England - The Aftermath

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

The fallout from Saturday's World Cup quarter-final matchup between Portugal and England continues; not surprisingly, the British press has vilifed Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is being pointed to as the primary reason for the red card being given to England's Wayne Rooney after he "rubbed" (stomped/jammed/buried) his studs into the groin of Portugal's Ricardo Carvalho.

For those of you who didn't see it - in the ensuing scrum after the incident, Ronaldo rushed in to speak to the referree (granted he probably shouldn't have), Rooney took exception to this and shoved Ronaldo. The British press, and players (John Terry and Steven Gerrard) claim that the Rooney was ejected for the shove on Ronaldo - after the game, the referee said it was for the spike on Carvalho.

The ironic thing is that Rooney likely fell victim because of the firestorm of controversy the British press started after Portugal's game vs. Holland. The British press was particularly vocal in demanding that FIFA review the incident where Portuguese Captain Luis Figo head-butted Holland's Van Bommel - AFTER Van Bommel put his hands on Figo - calling for FIFA to suspend Figo for the game vs. England. So if I understand the British press, the Figo incident was unacceptable under FIFA's fair play rules - but the spiking a man's groin, sorry..."Rubbing" a man's groin with your boot should be dismissed with a simple warning.

These guys are something special - they started last week with fabricated stories about how Portugal's Pauleta claimed that England's goalkeeper was the week link on the team. Portuguese press officials were quick to point out that Pauleta's only interview was the FIFA's sanctioned question period - where Pauleta said no such thing. Rather than print a retraction - they instead moved on to call for Figo's banishment from the upcoming game.

The reaction from fans has also been ridiculous - as expected, the messageboards were filled with hateful messages about how Portugal cheated their way to victories over Holland and England, when most neutral observers asserted that Holland was to blame for the Round of 16 game getting out of hand. The commentator in Saturday's game noted that England was being particularly physical on the field - likely a strategy to try to intimidate Portugal. Some of these special soccer fans have filled the boards with xenophobic messages about how foreigners like Ronaldo are ruining the British Premiership - calling for England to ban all foreign players.

This in itself is a joke, and shows how ignorant most of these fans are - the Premiership and their teams would suffer greatly if such a rule were to be implemented. England's greatest teams are stockpiled with talent from around Europe - Chelsea would be missing 3/4 of the rock solid defence, not to mention their strikers; Arsenal would be devastated by the loss of Thierry Henry and most of their midfield; Liverpool, who at times field up to four Spaniards would be bereft of any creative play; and Manchester United would lose 2 of their 3 top strikers and the "kid" who makes the offense go - Ronaldo.

The blame for England's early exit rest with the Manager and the team itself. Sven Goran Eriksson made a number of bad calls with his roster picks - not the least of which was taking a 17 year old striker (Theo Walcott) that he knew he wasn't going to play. Eriksson, much to the chagrin of the British media and the fans, employed a system with five midfielders - when it was clear that Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard couldn't play well together; truth be told, David Beckham has not been a factor in internation or league play for close to two years. Eriksson also took two strikers coming off of major injuries - and a 3rd striker who couldn't score in league play...where did he expect the goals to come from? He left himself no options.

The team itself played ok - but they lied to themselves and their fans when they kept talking about "not yet having seen the best of the team". I never understood this line of thinking - a common axiom in sports is that you can't just turn it on and off. I don't know what these guys were waiting for, if you can't get up to play your best in the World Cup - what could possibly motivate you to play better? I think the English team fell victim to believing their own hype - they have some very good players, no doubt...but when you match them up against some of the world's best - they are a good team...not a great one. The British press keeps trying to make stars in English football - the press and fans are dying for a star....someone to be looked at as one of the best in the world. Wayne Rooney scored four goals at Euro 2004 and hasn't done much since. He isn't going to be the guy.

Back to the fallout - David Beckham stepped down as captain of England. I have to hand it to Beckham - while many England fans will no doubt greet this news with cheers, I have to say that it was a pretty classy move. Beckham cited that with a new manager taking over, it may be time for England to be led by a new man - likely John Terry. Beckham claims that he wants to continue to play for England, though I don't see how that is possible. First off, he is 31 years old and his play has slipped considerably over the last couple of years. Second, new manager Steve McClaren is unlikely to employ Eriksson's 4-5-1 formation, meaning that Beckham will certainly be the odd man out in the mix - with Gerrard leading the attack and Lampard being the gunner in midfield, as well as taking the set pieces. Third, England has some up and coming midfielders who are going to need playing time at the international level. Beckham leaves the international on a disappointing note - but at least he leaves with his head held high.

Wow, who would have thought that I could write about the World Cup without going on and on about Portugal? There will be plenty of time for that over the next couple of days.

In other sporting news - the NHL Free-Agent period opened with a bang. Some big names changed teams - we'll look at that tomorrow. Time to head on over to yahoo (from my self imposed exile) to see what's what. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - for what David Beckham must be feeling like.

Estranha Forma Da Vida - Amalia Rodrigues

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


Post a Comment

<< Home

Website Counter
Website Counter