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Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro 2008: Netherlands Takes Down the Azzurri

My relatives in my soon to be visiting country of Italy will not take too kindly to this post, but I am quite excited about the first couple of days of UEFA Euro 2008 Championship. Today was a huge day, with the Netherlands taking it to the Azzurri of Italy to the tune of a 3-0 victory. With the loss, and in the group of death, the Italians have their backs against the wall.

This would not be so painful other than my cousins and uncle are Italians that live just outside the city of Florence, Italy. When I visit them in a couple of months, I will be sure to neither mention this post or discuss Euro 2008 should Italy be sent packing after the group stages.

That being said, I am quite delighted today. My dislike for the Azzurri soccer club was fed during the 2006 World Cup, especially against the United States. Italy seemingly benefited from miraculous calls and circumstances, only to tie my United States squad 1-1 during the group stages. That luck continued throughout the tournament ending in one of the most controversial finals ever, with Zinedine Zindane being sent off with a red card, effectively handing the cup to the Italians.

Fast forward to today's match against the Netherlands, where Ruud Van Nistelrooy returned to his proper spot at striker for the national team. For those who remember, Van Nistelrooy was curiously pulled from the starting lineup the final game of the group stage in 2006, which ended in a disastrous finish for their club.

Van Nistelrooy opened the scoring today and the Netherlands never looked back. Other than a few moments in the second half when the Italians pressured, the game never looked to be in doubt. A 3-0 victory, way to go Netherlands.

Having watch parts of every Eurocup game since the tournament start, I am very happy with the outcomes. The players I enjoy watching (Lukas Podolski, Ruud Van Nistelrooy) are performing well and the Spaniards with Fernando Torres start their action tomorrow. It is looking to be a great month of football watching here stateside.

On a final note, boy does it seem weird to not have England in this cup. In fact, I hold England directly responsible for my rekindled love for the sport. Back in 1996, I had the opportunity to attend the Eurocup semi-finals and watch the England side prevail against Spain -- in a shootout none the less featuring two of England's all-time heros, Alan Shearer and David Seaman. What a memory!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's just not the same without the English. Still, it was heart warming to see how close the Scots got to qualifying at Italy's expense. If only. I bet the Scots wouldn't have lost 3-0.

Ken Hanscom said...

Agreed. Just think if the Scots were in and England was out. I can only imagine what the reaction would be in London!