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Eurover and Out 29/06/2008

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
29 comments

A propos of nothing, but in the absence of ANY Watford news worth talking about… here’s my team of a blinding Euro 2008 tournament. And one is tempted to say, all the more enjoyable for England’s non-participation.

GK – Iker Casillas (Spain)
Yeah, sure, not very imaginative. But he let in three goals – all, ultimately, consolations – in six games, didn’t put a foot wrong and captained the winning side. Volkan Demirel of Turkey, Edwin van der Sar and Jens Lehmann also had good tournaments, Volkan’s dismissal against the Czech Republic either foolish agression or high comedy depending on your point of view. Not in contention: Ricardo of Portugal; a catastrophe waiting to happen, it came in the quarter finals against the Germans.

RB – Sergio Ramos (Spain)
You are forgiven if you stop reading now. But from providing Spain’s ONLY height at the back to providing their ONLY height attacking set pieces to achieving what was a rare feat in this tournament of looking competent both attacking and defending as a full back, Ramos has to get in. Not in contention: Stephan Lichtsteiner of Switzerland, who came in as cover for the injured Degen and looked like a pub player.

LB – Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)
It’s impossible to follow the above comment without acknowledging that Zhirkov looked a lot more comfortable attacking than defending, as befits a midfielder playing at left back. Nonetheless, only in two disappointing games against Spain did the Russians look at all vulnerable at the back, and Zhirkov was a key part of counterattacks that flowed like water. Not in contention: Eric Abidal of France. Yes, OK, his worst performance was at Centre Back, but let’s not be picky – most of the French side could stake a claim to a “worst eleven” place.

CB: Servet Cetin (Turkey)
Just for being enormous. How the hell do you play against that? Managed to not hold being part of Jim Beglin’s infuriating “big fella” double act against Czech Republic against him (“The Big Fella’s up for the corner” etc). Not in contention: Per Mertesacker of Germany, for proving that being enormous isn’t enough on it’s own. Couldn’t trap a bag of cement.

CB: Khalid Boulahrouz (Netherlands)
Looking absolutely nothing like the nervous mess who briefly played for Chelsea, Boulahrouz looked a calm, solid, ball-playing centre-back in a defence that was the foundation of the Dutch counter-attacking style… until they were murdered by the Russians in the quarter-finals. Not in contention: Traianos Dellas, or any of the other Greeks who’d done so well four years ago. The disappointment of the tournament (and no, France weren’t disappointing. Ha ha.)

RM: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany)
The Pig Shagger made a nonsense of his earlier exclusion with a series of incisive and effective displays, culminating in a magnificent semi-final goal against the Turks. Not in contention: Sidney Govou, for the latest in a series of flimsy cameos for the French. Ha ha.

CM: Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)
Great feet, great engine; there’s nothing more exhilarating than a lethal counter-attack. It’d have been called long ball if Watford played it, of course. Not in contention: Claude Makelele. Ha ha ha ha ha.

CM: Hamit Altintop (Turkey)
A couple of effective displays at right back were eclipsed by superlative orchestration of the midfield in replacement of the injured Emre Belozoglu. The one calming influence in a Turkish side that verged on the manic depressive. Not in contention: Simon Rolfes (Germany). Will want to forget his involvement against the Turks.

LM: David Silva (Spain)
Apart from looking like a rodent he made a terrific impression; strong on either foot and either flank. Not in contention: Andreas Ivanschitz (Austria); touted as Austria’s one attacking threat, he was one of few on the Austrian side who didn’t appear to be pulling out all the stops.

CF: Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
Yeah, OK. So he missed two games suspended for getting sent off against Andorra of all people. And he completely vanished against the Spanish in the semi final. But good god that Dutch game will live long in the memory. Not since Maradona has one player looked on such a plateau above his contemporaries at this level of competition. One assumes that his failure to cope with the man-marking of Marcos Senna explains why, at 27, he is only now making the move west, but my word you’d have to man-mark him on that evidence. Not in contention: Mario Gomez (Germany). Dear oh dear.

CF: Fernando Torres (Spain)
Ultimately Spain had what arguably nobody else in the tournament had; a striker capable of playing the lone role and yet still being the central rapier threat (unlike the nonetheless effective lynchpin van Nistelrooy for the Dutch). Not in contention: Luca Toni (Italy). To quote half of Europe: Cow’s. Arse. Banjo.

Coach: Joachim Löw (Germany)
Goes without saying really. Getting that defence to a Championship final, with that serious a lack of attacking options (note: None of the forwards in the German squad are German by birth) and coming across as a thoroughly decent bloke to boot. Not in contention: Raymond Domenech (France). Ha ha ha ha. Etc.

Also not in contention: TV coverage. Good god. BBC pundits’ assertion that Spain’s victory was “proof of the superiority of possession football” (as if a one-goal victory, despite Spain’s superiority in every department, proved that point) was eclipsed only by Clive Tyldesley and David Pleat’s defiant ignorance of the basics of the offside rule in the Netherlands’ annihilation of Italy.

Right. When are we going to sign someone then…

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