England Have No Shame
The motivation for doing it seems perplexing but perhaps not given the question marks surrounding issues of racism that have been abound in the Premier League this season. Still, a photo opportunity at Auschwitz is probably the most tasteless thing I’ve seen from an international football team.
While no one would say that they shouldn’t go, the fact that the attendance came with rolling coverage, including a nauseating, sycophantic article by the once great Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror, just seems poorly judged. The fact that there was a photographer there to ensure that the occasion was marked with a string of images shows it to be the cynical exercise it truly was.
Shadowy shots of Wayne Rooney stood in doorways trying to put on his best thoughtful face are bad enough, but the site of John Terry stood next to a photograph of nazi storm-troopers shouldn’t rest easy with anybody under the circumstances. One probably is right to conclude the vacant look on his face comes from him wondering about what it’d be like to live in a world where he can say whatever he likes without consequence.
A photo opportunity at Auschwitz is probably the most tasteless thing I’ve seen from an international football team
Attractive Football Will Not Win You A Thing
Barcelona might be the exception that proves the rule but after seeing how they were muscled out of the Champions League by a dogged Chelsea, the beautiful game is clearly in decline. The Netherlands found this out, lauded as being one of the favourites for the tournament due to their roster of creative stars, but chances are they’re not going to get out of the groups after losing to Denmark.
While everyone waxed lyrical about their players - including Robin Van Persie who is yet to shine on an international level - people seemed to skirt over the fact that Holland are a team that dominate possession but rarely dominate games. Brilliant up until the final third, their sheer volume of chances created was enough to win all of the games in their group but with no one capable of stick it in the net, the sublime build up play means nothing.
By contrast the Danish side are about as creative as the average chick-lit novel, happy to gift the Dutch possession and try and crowd them out with a pressing game. It didn’t really work but they managed to convert their solitary chance for the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
Sneijder Is Quite Possibly The Best All Round Midfielder In The World
Quite a claim perhaps but there’s no way he deserved to be on the losing side yesterday and his frustration was justified. A player capable of winning balls and distributing them as well as anyone you’re going to see playing the modern game, he was the stand-out performer in orange. A player of lesser temperament would have walked off the pitch after watching his hapless strikers produce yet another fresh-air shot from one of his brilliant through-balls. Oh, how Fergie must be ruing letting the Inter man slip away last summer.
Oh, how Fergie must be ruing letting the Inter man slip away last summer
Ronaldo Is Still MIA For Portugal
There’s a weight of expectation on all talismanic players that is completely justified. The best players in the world have to perform on the biggest stage both at club and international level if they want to be remembered as true greats. Portuguese fans must be wondering how a player who scored 62 goals in a domestic season, won La Liga and is the only other player mentioned in the same breath as Messi, consistently underperforms for his country.
And so it was again as Cristiano Ronaldo failed to make any impression against a young and inexperienced German side. Those wishing to defend the player may well point to the tactics employed by Portugal’s coach, as it was clear they had set up for a draw but that doesn’t excuse not producing anything of note when the ball was at his feet.
It was only really in the last twenty minutes we saw glimpses of the player that is the toast of Madrid, almost salvaging an equaliser with a run and precise cut back, but he’s going to have to do much, much more if he now wants to salvage something from this tournament for Portugal.
Germany Can Win The Championship
It was nothing like a vintage performance but the German team, reaping the dividends of a golden age of youth development, showed they can win ugly against teams that set out to frustrate them. Not only that, right now they have probably the most energetic, exciting squad besides Spain in world football.
Forget all the hyperbole you will hear about the “individual” players in the squad. Mostly, it is justified and they will once again be linked with a string of big moves come the end of the tournament. However, what makes this team tick is its togetherness. Few teams have shown such genuine camaraderie, a stark contrast to squads where the manager has to leave experienced players out due to racially aggravated squabbling, AKA football reasons.
Take for example Miroslav Klose, battling for the solitary striker spot with Mario Gomes, was about to come on for the player who has failed to shine. Just before the substitution is made, Gomes scores but before Klose takes his seat again he gives a wink and a thumbs up to the player.
The team has also retained the same core for getting on for six years. These players know each other, have grown up in footballing terms together and are now at that point where the younger players coming through can get a taste of the big time. Their ability to counter-attack is as good as anyone at the tournament and once the big games come rolling in my money will be going on the Germans.
Few teams have shown such genuine camaraderie like Germany have, a stark contrast to squads where the manager has to leave experienced players out due to racially aggravated squabbling, AKA football reasons
Mark Lawrenson’s Jaded Commentary Adds To The Occasion
Like Terry Wogan at Eurovision, Mark Lawrenson barely masks his contempt at the modern game and where once his commentary was something to be dodged at all costs, now it has an almost dangerous air about it.
Whether he’s berating people for diving or waving phantom cards at times he barely seems interested in the football, his hang-dog delivery of a series of sighs that suggest he is thinking “has the modern game really come to this”. Never shy of bitchy put-downs either, it’s clear that apart from his bromance with Steven Gerrard, he doesn’t really have a lot of time for the average premiership footballer and his withering assessment of their ability makes it more like listening to a bloke down the pub than the usual torrent of nonsense spewed by the likes of David Pleat.
Even if you don’t want to be down the pub with someone like Lawrenson there’s still plenty to enjoy, such as those moments when he interrupts an awkward silence by laughing to himself like a Manga villain. Has his mate just texted him? Has he seen something on the sidelines? Has he just thought of the next barb he’ll be using for the next player to dive? You’ll never know because he won’t be explaining himself. The transformation from MOTD irritant to loveable eccentric now seems complete.
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