Monday, June 30, 2008

Craplacticos: Rivalry 1

Episode 1
Fans: Argentina vs. Italy

Euro 08- FINALS


This match ended in the 33rd minute when Liverpool's Fernando Torres victimized German keeper Jens Lehmann. First, Torres won a long ball by putting a swim move on a German defender that would make Osi Umenyiora proud, Lehmann decided too late to come out and try and meet him, and Torres was able to just poke it past him for the only goal.

Spain actually kept the pressure on throughout most of the match, and the big question was whether Spain would win 1-0 or 2-0, and whether I would stay awake long enough to find out.

But for me, there was one other question, and that was what the hell was that pregame show with the dancing stacks of balloons arranged in the flags of all the countries about? If you saw it, you know what I'm talking about. It looked something like the weird space opera Emperor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker were watching in Revenge of the Sith while discussing the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise. It was infinitely more fascinating than the match that followed.

Well, that's it. Euro 08 is over. Generalissimo Franco is smiling up at us from hell, toasting the new European champs with a glass of sangria, and collecting on his bets with Hitler and Kaiser Wilhelm.
The next Euro tournament will be in 2012, followed by the Earth falling off its axis 5 months later as the Mayans have been kind enough to let us know in advance about.

After the 4th of July holiday, its time to strap on the shoulderpads and whatever else you want to strap on, because I'll be NFL intensive, bringing you "Up to Speed" on the teams I haven't looked at yet, and bringing you news from training camps. Have a great holiday!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Euro 08- Semifinals

Throughout this entire tournament, Turkey has played the role of plucky underdog. So plucky in fact, that they managed to reach the semifinals with a series of stirring comebacks in the waning minutes of matches in which they were left for dead. It's been as if Ryan Dempster visited their locker room before the tournament and sprinkled them all with magical Cubby Dust.

Cubby Dust will only take you so far though, and in the end pluckyness and whimsy is always crushed by efficient, soulless, machinery, which of course, is what Germany does best.

Everyone expected Germany to blow out Turkey, which had a lot of guys hurt and a lot of guys suspended for getting 2 yellow cards in the previous match. Those expectations of a blowout went out the window when Ugur Boral scored in the 22nd minute to put the Turks up 1-0, a lead they held for five whole minutes before Germany equalised.

Turkey controlled the play for much of the rest of the match, but that and 10 lira will get you a klau kalash and crab juice on the streets of Istanbul. Germany took the lead late in the second half, only to see the hero of the quarterfinals, Semih Senturk, tie it up in the 86th minute.

Another miraculous comeback for Turkey, yes?? No. Phillip Lahm scored in the last minute of regulation to give the Germans a 3-2 lead, and Turkey had no more miracles left in them. Germany advances to the finals.


En route to the semis, Spain beat the defending Euro champion (Greece), the defending World Cup champion (Italy), and yes, Russia in a 4-1 romp.

Not a whole lot has changed in two weeks as far as how Mother Russia compares to Spain at playing soccer. Spain blew out Russia then, and they blew them out this time too.

Spain will go to the finals to face Germany, but they'll have to win without David Villa, who has been their best player in this tournament. Villa went down with an injury in the first half, and was replaced ably by Arsenal stud Cesc Fabregas, who had a huge hand in this victory, setting up a 2 of Spain's scores.
So there you go, after all this, we have our finals matchup:

You want my prediction? Germany has kind of doddered thru this whole tournament, while Spain has been winning big and winning with style (except for that ugly shootout win over Italy). I'm all about the Spain here, Germany touches the monkey, and the rain of Spain will fall mainly on their ass. Spain 3-1.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Craplacticos: Rivalry Trailer

I've been working on this since April 2008. I'm done with all six episodes for Season 2 of "Craplacticos." Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to violence.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Euro 08- Quarterfinals Weekend!

RIP George Carlin. You were a funny old bastard.

We already know that Germany advanced to the Euro 08 semifinals by virtue of beating Portugal, but this past weekend determined who, if anyone, would advance to stand up to the Germans, instead of pursuing a Lloyd George-esque policy of appeasement.

TURKEY 1, CROATIA 1 (Turkey wins 3-1 on PK's)

This game went on and on and on and on for hours with absolutely no offense. It was like watching a baseball game where the White Sox were playing against the White Sox.
Then, after the most boring 120 minutes I've ever seen that Matt Pinfield wasn't hosting, all hell broke loose. In the 124th minute, Croatia's Ivan Klasnic headed one in to break the deadlock, prompting the guy doing the game commentary on ESPN's gamecast to prophecy:

"GOAL! Croatia have won it! Klasnic!!"

Ooops. Two minutes later, Semih Senturk received a long pass, and in NFL parlance, took it to the hizzle, giving the Turks the equaliser on what amounts to a last second Hail Mary.

The match then went to PK's, and Turkey won. Great way to settle a match, those penalty kicks. It would be kind of like if after nine innings of a tie baseball game, they set up a tee at second base and settled things with a home run hitting contest. Nonetheless, Turkey heads to the semis. Gobble gobble, bitches!!


Of all the teams that advanced to the quarters, nobody did it with as much panache as the Netherlands. The Dutch made whatever it is the Dutch like to eat out of the "Group of Death", winning and scoring, and looking like the team to beat for the rest of the tournament.

Well, the team to beat has been beat.

Russia, which is actually coached by a Dutchman, shook off an 86th minute equaliser by Ruud Van Nistlerooy to score twice in extra time. Andrei Arshavin set up the go ahead score with a nice cross, and put down the nail in the coffin himself minutes later, and the biggest stunner of the tournament was complete.

Russian coach Guus Hiddink can now look forward to being beaten to death with wooden shoes and have his bedraggled corpse tied to a windmill when he returns home to Holland after this tournament. Andrei Arshavin, meanwhile, is going to get a 20 million pound offer to play for Chelsea.

SPAIN 0, ITALY 0 (Spain Wins 4-2 on PK's)

Italy seemingly played this game to keep it 0-0 and send it to PK's. That strategy worked out great. Italy limped thru this whole tournament and now they're gone. End communication.

YOUR Euro 08 Semifinal Matchups
Everyone on Turkey's squad is either injured or suspended or preparing for jihad. Germany should roll.
Spain already beat Russia 4-1 in Group play. Unless the Russians have been engaged in a hardcore training montage complete with St. Elmo's Fire playing in the background, I don't think they have much of a chance.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 13


It was a pretty uninspiring round of group play for Germany. They were one of the tournament favorites heading in, but they needed a snoozer of a win in their final match against Austria to qualify for the knockout round. Portugal, meanwhile, rolled thru 2 pretty good squads in Turkey and the Czech Republic, before resting their regulars in a loss to Switzerland. So you had to like Portugal going into this match.

But then they gave up 2 goals in a span of 5 minutes in what amounts to the third inning (soccer=90 minutes, baseball=9 innings), and all of a sudden you did not have to like them so much.

You could tell that both of these teams are good, because typically a 2-0 score means game over, but that wasn't the case here. Portugal fought back, scoring in the 39th minute when Nuno Gomes tallied off a rebound of a shot by Cristiano Ronaldo, but Chelsea's Michael Ballack scored for the second straight game in the 62nd to drive home the point that Portugal was not going to win this game.

Ballack's goal was the Germans' second of the game off a free kick set-piece, showing the German's superiority in matters of order and structure, and also serving as a metaphor for why lots of people by German cars but nobody buys Portugese cars.

Germany advances to the semifinals. Portugal is done and can now go back to their twin national past times of fado music and being sad.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 12


And finally, our quarterfinals are set. Good thing too, because they start today. Wouldn't want to have a quarterfinals without knowing whose playing in them would you?

Russia dominated this game as if they had poisoned the Swedes with some sort of radioactive compound, which they may have. Roman Pavluchenko scored for the Original Evil Empire, in the 24th minute, and Andrei Arshavin tallied early in the second half to put the game away.

This is the first time Russia has advanced out of the group stages since they were known as the Soviet Union. It's the same name change strategy that has worked so well for the Tampa Bay Rays this year.

My God Greece, that was the worst title defense I've seen since Bob Backlund lost in 7 seconds to Diesel at Wrestlemania that one year. Way to suck.



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 10 and 11


Entering play today, we knew that one of the 06 World Cup finalists would be going home. Both Italy and France got drummed by the Netherlands, and tied Romania, meaning they both entered the game with only 1 point apiece, and both needed a win and help from the Netherlands in their game against Romania to guarantee safe passage into the elimination round.

Italy won the 06 final, and it was clear they would win this one too, when in the 25th minute French defender Eric Abidal was given a red card for bringing down Luca Toni in the penalty box. Not only did the ensuing PK give Italy the 1-0 lead, but it meant that France would have to play the final 65 minutes with only 10 men, if they can even be called men.

This game was a bloodbath that saw 7 yellow cards, 1 red card, a beheading, 3 nut shots, and 1 waterboarding. These 2 countries hate each other. I'm sure they'd probably go to war if their men weren't so effeminate.

What Is This, a Mariners Game?


This game was going on simultaneously with the Italy/France game, so there was a lot of scoreboard watching. If Italy and France tied, Romania could possibly advance with a tie, but once it became clear Italy was going to win, that meant that Romania needed a win to advance.

Cue the Rocky IV training in Siberia music! I smell an upset!

Or not. Holland dominated Romania just like they did Italy and France, and ended their 3 game dominance of the group of death with a perfect record and a 9-1 goal differential. Hope you all like windmills, because this team is the favorite right now.

RRRRROWWWRRRR...I'm gonna gets me an online degree!!


Austria entered this tournament as the 90 somethingth ranked national team in the world, behind Mozambique and a few other made-up countries. They were one of the host nations though, so they got an automatic spot in the tournament, and whaddaya know, they still had a chance to advance heading into their final opening round game.

Germany, meanwhile, is one of the favorites but has been terrible so far, teetering on the brink of a national catastrophe of not qualifying for the quarterfinals that would be rivalled only by David Hasselhoff's embarrassing YouTube video of last year.

No worries for Germany though. Austria summoned the spirit of 1938 and laid down for Germany faster than you could say "Anschluss". Well, actually, it wasn't THAT bad. Chelsea's Michael Ballack scored early in the second half, and Austria had no prayer of answering. Germany wobbles into the quarters, while we say goodbye to Austria, and their heroically named goalkeeper, Jurgen Macho. I encourage you to go start a band called Jurgen Macho now.


This was like a Week 17 NFL game that doesn't mean anything where all the scrubs play. I'm pretty sure Kyle Orton was playing goalie for one of these teams.




So, to review, we've got seven of our final 8 revealed! Come on down!

Span, I mean, SPAIN!

The only spot still in doubt is either going to go to Sweden or Russia, who play tomorrow. Since Russia is playing, you know the game will be fixed, I just don't know for who though.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 8 and 9


Forget Tiger Woods, this past weekend belonged to Nihat Kahveci. No that's not a word jumble you need to rearrange, that is the name of the Turkish forward (who plays his club ball for Spain's Villarreal), who scored twice in the final 3 minutes of the match to lead Turkey to an absolutely insane 3-2 win over the Czech Republic, sending Turkey on into the elimination round of the tournament and sending the Czechs home.

The Czechs led this match 2-0 in the second half, before everything went to hell. Arda Turan scored his second goal of the tournament in the 72nd minute to bring the Turks within a goal. Then, with time running out, a high cross bounced off the hands of the Czech keeper, right to Kahveci, who put it in the net to tie the game. It was a big boo boo by the goal keeper. Minutes later, Kahveci put one under the crossbar from the top of the box to win the game, and it was fire up the hooka time all over the Anatolian peninsula.

Kahveci is now the greatest Turkish sports hero since Bald Bull. Maybe even greater.


Oh woe to me, Greece is eliminated and won't repeat as Euro Champions. Their no-scoring, Chicago White Sox-esque, wrist slashingly boring style of play won't lead them to victory this time. Russian midfielder Konstantin Zurianov scored in the 33rd minute, and that was, as expected, an insurmountable deficit for the Greeks. They will now have to turn their attention to winning the World Cup of Buttsex in 2009.


Coming into this tournament, everyone was all like, "Ooooh Cristiano Ronaldo, he's so great, I totally want his balls". Well, Ronaldo is still good, but the best player in this tournament so far has been Spain's David Villa. The tiny (5-9, 152 lbs), forward from Valencia scored his 4th goal of the tournament in this match, and it was a huge one. He put home the winner in the 90th minute to send Spain on to the elimination round, and send Sweden into a do-or-die All-Viking Ragnorok against Russia in their Group D finale.

Sweden got their second goal of the tournament from Inter Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He'll be the best player on the field in that Russia finale, and it should be a good one to watch.


Aaand this game was a big wack-off as Portugal had nothing to play for, and neither did Switzerland except to avoid getting 0 pts as one of the host nations. Swiss midfielder Hakan Yakin had two goals. Yakin plays for a club called "Young Boys", how gay is that?


*TURKEY 6 (0 GD)

*-Advances to Elimination Round

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Euro 08- Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess- Day 7


Welllllity, wellity, I was last week making fun of Romania for being a bunch of vampires and stuff, and look at them now.

Like the gypsys they are, they have cursed the championship hopes of first France, and now Italy. Only the healing powers of the Romanian's gypsy tears can save the Italian squad now, as the defending World Cup Champions stumble into their Group of Death finale against France with a but a single point to their name.

It could have been worse. Romania scored first when Adrian Mutu, of Italy Serie A's Fiorentina, put a goal in that was a gift from Italy's defense. Mutu intercepted what was supposed to be a header pass to the goalie, and put it in the net. Italy equalised like 2 seconds later, but shortly after Romania was awarded a PK that looked like it was going to doom the Italians. Gianluigi Buffon came up huge though and made the stop (pictured above) on Mutu to keep the game at 1-1.

Please to note, Italy had a goal disallowed in the 1st half when Luca Toni's score was nullified after he was ruled offside, wrongly. Julie Foudy broke that down for me on, and she called Toni "Luca Tona". Even our American soccer "experts" are clueless.

They are living it up in the hash bars and legal brothels all over Amsterdam this weekend, as Holland, for the second straight match, destroyed one of the 06 World Cup finalists, this time embarrassing the French 4-1.

Holland's Eredivisie may be terrible, but the Dutch national team has a lot of guys that play for some tippy top clubs. Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring in the 1oth minute, then in the second half an Orange Crush of goals deluged the French, as Arsenal's Robin Van Perise, and Real Madrid's Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder all scored.
The Netherlands advances to the second round as the winner of the Group of Death, while France meets Italy in a game that not only is a must-win for both teams (as opposed to must win or tie), but they'll need help from Holland's reserves, as most of the starters will be out for their finale against Romania. If Romania beats Holland, then both France and Italy are going home to drown their sorrows in wine, cheese, and sex.

Netherlands 6 PTS
Romania 2
Italy 1
France 1

Friday, June 13, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 6

This tournament hasn't lacked for the unexpected. You've got Holland taking off their wooden shoes and beating the Italians mercilessly with them, and Romania sucking the blood out of France for a 0-0 draw.

Now you can add this match to the list. Germany entered this tournament as the odds-on favorite, but it was Croatia that was the better side on this day. They opened the scoring in the 24th minute when midfielder Dario Srna showed he has as much regard for Germany's defense as he does vowels in his last name, slipping behind the defense behind a beautiful cross and converting to make it 1-0.

Ivica Olic made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute, drilling home a rebound that caromed off the post. Lukas Podolski scored his third goal of the tournament to bring Germany within a goal late in the game, but by then there was nothing left for the Germans to do besides lock themselves in their bunker with their dog and their mistress and end it all, as Croatia made off with a stunning 2-1 victory.


Poland led this game 1-0, before a controversial penalty was called in extra time, giving Austria a PK that tied it at 1, and the game finished that way.
Poland is very upset about this penalty.The Polish Prime Minister summed up his feelings by saying, 'As the prime minister I have to be balanced and collected. But last night I was speaking very differently about the whole thing, I wanted to kill (the referee)." It's been a rough 500 years or so for Poland, so I guess that's understandable.
As for Austria, they were supposed to lose every game in this tournament 20-0, but they've been OK so far. They can actually advance to the second round with a win over Germany. But the Germans are angry now after their defeat. And we all know if there's one thing we can all count on Austria for, it's to capitulate to an angry, recently defeated Germany without a fight.


Croatia 6 PTS
Germany 3
Austria 1
Poland 1

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 5

After both of these teams won their opener, we were guaranteed to have our first 2-0 team after this one.
Unless they tied, in which case all both of these teams would have to do in the final is just get a tie against Turkey (Czech's opponent), and Switzerland (Portugal's), and then they are both in the final 8. Given that, it would have made more sense for these teams just to come out and kick the ball back and forth to each other for 90 minutes. Guess they don't teach math in these countries.

Anyway, the two teams went all out, and Cristiano Ronaldo looked like the best player in the world he purportedly is, scoring a goal and setting up another to lead Portugal to victory.
Barca midfielder Deco opened the scoring in the 7th minute to put the winners up 1-0. The Czechs equalised in the 16th minute off a corner kick, before Ronaldo fired a homing device from the edge of the box that threaded its way through the Czech defense like Catherine Z. Jones evading those laser beams in that movie she did with Sean Connery that I can't remember the name of right now, to give the Portugese a lead they would not relinquish.

And we've got our first team to be eliminated from Euro 08, and it's one of the hosts, Switzerland. This game looked like it was heading for a 1-1 draw that would have kept both teams alive (barely), but in the 90th minute, Turkish midfielder Arda Turan toe-bashed a shot from the edge of the box that just found its way under the crossbar, stunning the crowd and giving the Turks the 2-1 win. Turkey can now advance with a win over the Czechs in the finale. A loss would be an insult to Turkishness and punishable by death.

Portugal 6 PTS
Czech Rep 3
Turkey 3
Switzerland 0

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 4


The Spaniards are always the great underachievers in any international tournament. It goes the same way for them every time, they are always picked as one of the top 4 teams, and then they shit the bed and disappoint. Most blame it on the fragmented nature of the nation itself, and the inability of Castillans, Basques, Catalonians, and Andalucians to play together as a harmonious unit. They'd much rather bomb each other's subway stations then play futbol together.

Russia kind of backed into this tournament. They needed England to lose its qualifying finale in order to get in, and coupled that needed outcome with 1-0 win over mighty Andorra to reach the tournament. Despite this, they are seen as a darkhorse pick to make some noise, probably because if they lose Russia will cut off all the electricity for the rest of the tournament and that'll be it.

If Russia was the dark horse, the dark horse broke down, bled out, and had to be euthanized. Valencia striker David Villa had 3 goals, which I think was more than the rest of the teams have scored in this tournament combined so far, as Spain rolled in a driving rainstorm, 4-1. The rain and the goals made this the most aesthetically pleasing match of the tournament so far, and the dominating score makes Spain look like the team to beat right now.


As I've mentioned before, Greece won this thing in 2004. To draw an analogy to the most famous American tournament, that would be something like George Mason not only advancing to the Final 4, but winning the whole thing.

They did it by playing excruciatingly boring football, with long stretches of their defensemen kicking the ball back and forth to each other in their own half of the field. Since it worked so well last time, they came out doing the same thing this time.

For the first 2/3 of the game, it was working, if by "working" you mean getting a 0-0 draw and inciting all the fans who paid a big heap of Euros for a ticket to start whistling and throwing things.

Finally, Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic broke the ice in the 67th minute, and since Greece was never really trying to score anyway that was pretty much a wrap.

Everyone hates the way Greece plays. Me, I'm wondering how someone named "Zlatan Ibrahimovic" is Swedish. To me he sounds about as Swedish as this guy:

Today, we're back around to Group A again already! Turkey (0-1-0) plays the Swiss (0-1-0) in a battle of two sandwich ingredients, and the Czechs (1-0-0) take on Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal (1-0-0) to determine which is the greatest nation on Earth.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 3

You all remember this right? Of course you do. World Cup Final, 2 years ago, Greasy Daygo calls bald French guy's sister a whore, bald French guy headbutts greasy Daygo. It was awesome.

Well, here we are two years later, and, by some crazy coincidence that would embarrass David Stern, Italy and France somehow end up in the SAME GROUP of the Euro 08 draw. I know, crazy how that stuff works out, right?
In addition to Italy and France, Group C also drew the Netherlands, earning it the designation as this tournament's "Group Of Death"!!

So what happened when the Group Of Doom convened for the first time on Monday? Let's find out.



Like the vampires they probably are, Romania sucked the life out of heavily favored France's jugular vein, impaling anyone's desire to watch this game as they ground to a 0-0 draw. They celebrated this moral victory well into the night, all the way until sunrise in fact, when they all crawled back in their coffins and went to sleep.

Ayyyyyy.....Ohhhhhhh....Whatsammatta You???

As you might remember, Italy is the defending World Cup champion. They may have months old mountains of garbage piled up in the streets of Naples, but you can't take that away from them. On Monday, the Dutch paid no mind to that though, and handed the Italians their worst loss evah in European Championship play.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy got things started by scoring a goal on which he was clearly offsides, and the Italians protested, as seen above.

That Ruud was offsides shouldn't be much of a surprise though. You know that guy you play hoops with at the gym that is always cherry picking and never playing defense, that's Van Nistelrooy. He can score though.

That goal ended up being just one of many though, as the Dutch continued to pour it on, virtually raping the comatose bodies of the Italian team, then calling their friend Dowry to take it out into the water and dump the body. That's how the Dutch roll, just ask Joran Van Der Sloot.

The Italians looked old (9 starters over 30) and bad (scoreboard). Their goalie, Giorgi Buffon, gave up three goals, but at least he has this hotness to go home to (wife pictured below):

Very nice. I'm pretty sure she's Russian though, which, according to my Polish born soon to be bride, automatically makes her a big whore. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess, Day 2

Day 1 of Euro 08 didn't make me all that horny. The Switzerland/Czech Republic game destroyed my will to live, while Portugal's 2-0 win over Turkey was just an excercise in waiting for Portugal to flip the switch. Nothing too compelling. Would Day 2 bring more thrills?

I'm Drunk!!


The Croatians entered this match as the team perhaps most responsible for keeping the English out of the tournament, having beaten them twice in qualifying and finishing ahead of them in their group.

Austria is one of the host nations, which usually portends big things, but ESPN's Soccernet describes them as "unfancied" entering the tournament, giving more evidence why I love soccer, because you'll never hear, say, the Houston Texans be described as "unfancied". Another preview I read about them described them as being, "Comfortably the worst side to be taking part in the European Championships, possibly ever." Alright then.

Given the description of the Austrian side, you would expect their defensemen to spend half the game sitting cross-legged on the grass, picking dandelions. I watched the game and that wasn't the case. Croatia scored early in the game on a penalty kick, but Austria pressured the Croats the remainder of the game, finishing the game with an 18-9 shot advantage, and forcing the Croatian goaltender to make 12 saves.

Croatia won 1-0, but for a team expected to contend for the title, it was disappointing.

Yakszemash, Gupee Dupa


When you think of world soccer powers, Germany definitely comes to mind. They consistently do well at the World Cup, and are one of the favorites in this tournament. However, they entered this match having not won a match at the Euro tournament since 1996?!? I no believe.

In their Euro 08 opener, they faced a Poland side who they beat 1-0 at the 06 World Cup, thanks to a goal in stoppage time.

This time, there was no such drama, as the Germans shrugged off a shaky start to win 2-0 behind a pair of goals by Bayern Munich's Lukas Podolski. Podolski was actually born in Poland, but here he was scoring a pair of goals against the country of his birth. Judas. I hope he chokes on his sauerbraten.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Euro 08--Kinda Like The World Cup I Guess

The European Championship is kind of like the World Cup. It's an international football tournament that takes place every 4 years, and is treated with life and death significance by football fans in Europe.

I remain a little underwhelmed with the event. The last one, in 2004, was won by Greece. How in the hell that happened I don't know. Greece didn't even qualify for the 2006 World Cup, and the Greek domestic football league probably would be defined as Division I-AA or Division II if you think of it in terms of American college football. But they won it, and they're the defending champs.

Another thing about this tournament that makes it a little hard to get all hot and bothered over it is that England is not in it. I kept looking for them in the group tables. I must have looked about 10 times, thinking I was just missing them. But no, England is really not in this. They did not qualify. So they are not competing for the European championship, which is kind of like having an American football tournament that doesn't have America in it.

But, all this considered, it's still probably the next best thing to the World Cup, and it started today.

This Is Why Switzerland Doesn't Fight Any Wars


Switzerland is one of the host countries for this tournament, and they treated their fans to a 1-0 loss that was as boring as everyone says soccer is.

That's to be expected though, because that's just the way Switzerland rolls. They are as neutral on the football pitch as they are in international affairs. In the last World Cup, they were the first team ever to be eliminated from the tournament despite not having conceded a goal. I won't get into the metaphysics of how that is possible, but let's just say it involves some excruciatingly boring football.

They came with more of the same, and it seemed for a while that they would get one of their patented 0-0 draws. Former Hertha Berlin scrubeenie Vaclav Sverkos ruined that though, when he came on as a sub and scored in the 70th minute. The Czechs took 2 shots the whole game, and this one went in. Now all the Swiss fans will have to cry themselves to sleep tonight on their big piles of Nazi gold.

A Manly Embrace Of a Guy Named "Pepe"


Portugal was the team that lost to Greece in the 04 Euro finals. They also were a semifinalist in World Cup 06. They're good, and they've got the consensus best player in the world right now in Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo didn't score in this game, despite being turned away on a few opportunities. Ream Madrid defender Pepe, who is actually a native Brazilian, broke the tie in the 60th minute, and the Portugese added a goal in extra time to stuff Turkey.