The Beautiful Game
Monday, June 14, 2004
Weekend Review:

With Euro 2004 underway the eyes of the world are on Portugal. Portugal opened the tournament in typical fashion. The Portuguese squad did not fail to disappoint. As I had previously said Portugal lacks the concentration and killer instinct displayed by the world’s top teams. Portugal looked as if they did not know that the opening whistle had sounded, and that the game was underway. They looked flat footed and disorganized at the back, they failed to hold possession of the ball, and thus failed to feed Pauleta. The Greeks took advantage, and scored a quick opening goal. After that, they defended superbly, and gained a deserve victory. Some would say that Portugal played better than Greece, and that they dominated the game, but what matters in the end is the final score. Portugal continues to disappoint. They will need to win their next game in order to stand a chance, and even then they will need to gain points against Spain if they wish to continue taking part in their Euro.

Spain cruised to victory over Russia in their Group A bout. They attacked all game long, and forced the Russians back into their half. Spain created more opportunities, but had a hard time breaking through to victory, that is until Juan Carlos Valeron scored just seconds after coming into the game. Spain’s next match against Greece could see them qualify for the next round with a victory.

Sunday’s first match sounded rather unattractive. Croatia and Switzerland are not names that would immediately arouse interest. The game turned out to be very entertaining, despite the goalless draw. The 10 man Swiss held off the Balkans to gain a much deserved draw. The Swiss looked more likely to score a goal, even while being a man down.

The biggest game of the weekend was worthy of being a final. England – France started out slowly but ended with a bang. England was first to tally, and relied on the counter attack effectively. Wayne Rooney even gained a penalty, that had David Beckham converted, we could very well have England sitting at the top of the group. Beckham’s missed penalty was the turning point of the match, from that moment on the French clamped down and forced England further and further back towards their own goal. A marvelous Zinedine Zidane goal tied it with very little time left, and at the game’s dying moments French flair created an opportunity whose only result could be the winning goal. Henry was brought down inside the box, and Zidane banged it in for the win.

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