Euro 2004: First Round, Group D, Day 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
June 19th, 2004 • 10:47 pm

I must admit that we fast-forwarded through most of yesterday’s games. There is only so much football that you can watch… and when none of the teams in the group are particularly inspiring (with the possible exception of the Czech Republic), well, you take the opportunity to do something else with your time.

Still, it looks like the Holland – Czech Republic game was rather exciting. Based on what I saw (including the last 30 minutes without fast-forwarding), it didn’t match the level of technical quality of the Italy – Sweden game, and there was a fair amount of play-acting and general ugliness. (I personally cannot stand watching players like Davids and Cocu.) But when the underdog comes back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, it obviously cannot be a boring game.

The Czechs seem to have decided to make things difficult for themselves (much like the French, in fact), by going down 1-0 against Latvia only to win 2-1 after a late rally — and now this. Poor defense on both Dutch goals — although the second one looked highly dubious to me, with Ruud van Nistelrooy never really coming back from his blatantly off-side position.

Anyway, the Czech Republic pulled it off, and they are the first team through, although I don’t think anyone should read anything into that particular fact. The Czechs will have to defend better than they did in the first half if they hope to go much farther. Still, there was something irresistible about their rally in the second half, and you know that players like Nedved and Baros are always going to be dangerous, until the very end.

Today is the first day of the last series of group games. Both games in each group are taking place at the same time, presumably in order to avoid seeing the result in one game influencing the teams in the other game. It makes for more complicated TV watching — but hey, sporting spirit comes first!

6 Responses to “Euro 2004: First Round, Group D, Day 2”

  1. vaag says:

    This is a very poor review. If you had known the history of the game and thus all those high quality meetings between Holland and the Czech Republic, you would not have wanted to miss this one. Everybody is praising it as the best game of the tournament so far, and all you bring are platitudes. By the way: since when are the Chechs the underdog against the Dutch?

    >there was a fair amount of play-acting and general ugliness. (I personally cannot
    >stand watching players like Davids and Cocu.)

    Well, football isn’t a game for softies. It is and should always be a physical game too. This game was fair by any means, as all really great games are.
    Davids? He played one of his better games ever, so much commitment and technical skill. He was one of the best players on the field. Every team needs someone like Davids.
    Cocu? “Play-acting and general ugliness”? Please explain?

    >the second one looked highly dubious to me, with Ruud van Nistelrooy never really
    >coming back from his blatantly off-side position.

    You simply don’t know the rules!

    This was a great, well-balanced game with Holland having the better chances and the Chech Republic overall having the better team, decided in the end by poor reffereeing (the red card wasn’t one; Van Nistelrooy deserved a penalty), but mostly because of very bad coaching by Advocaat (Holland; taking out Robben was his most ridiculous decision) and extremely well coaching by Brückner (Chech Rep.), who did everything right. The tactical game that he played with his substitutions was brilliant.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    You know as well as I do that off-side rules are far from clear-cut and that there has been a fair amount of controversy lately regarding whether people in Ruud’s position are considered “involved” in the game phase or not. I think there is room for some flexibility, but when a player is blatantly off-side at the start of play (even if the pass is not intended for him) and never returns from this offside position until the other player from the team becomes level with him and thus makes him no longer be off-side, then you must admit that the decision is rather contentious. That’s exactly what happened here.

    As for my appreciation of the physical aspects of the Dutch game, well, let’s just say we have different tastes, shall we? It’s hard enough for the referees to come to an agreement among themselves and to achieve consistency from game to game, so I don’t think we’ll ever get to any kind of agreement by trying to discuss the issue here. I don’t like this particular generation of Dutch players, including the Davids, Cocu, DeBoers, van Nistelrooy, and others — and that’s all there is to it. My personal appreciation of it. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t watch the game in full. But what I saw didn’t change my mind about the Dutch. And it makes me glad for the Czechs.

  3. Warren Beck says:

    Well, this has been van Nistelrooy’s tactic for corner-kicks and other set pieces for a long time. He is cheating most of the time. It places the man marking him in a bad position—what to do, mark him because he is known to burst “on side” and then receive a ball in the air, but that places him on side and then….. but if you don’t mark him, then he is free to run underneath the defense _anywhere he wants_. Very clever. But it is cheating. If I were marking him, I’d knock the hell out of him as he ran onside, but then I’d get a red card and my team would suffer a PK.

    By the way, the Dutch ride bicycles the same way they play soccer. They actually like cobblestones (pavé). But they also like mayonnaise with their french fries. Well, chaque à son gout.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    I wouldn’t dare make such generalizations about the Dutch — I don’t know them well enough :). But I certainly don’t think much of their current squad. One exception to what you are saying is someone like Bergkamp. Now, I must admit that, when I first saw him play in the 1998 World Cup, I wasn’t too impressed. I thought there was too much of a “mean streak” to his game. But of course with Arsenal over the years I’ve grown to appreciate his game and, except for the occasional ugliness, he’s a superb player. But he no longer plays for his country… I don’t see anyone like him in the current crop of players.

    Of course, if I were a Juventus supporter and followed them closely, I might learn to appreciate a player like Davids. There’s always that possibility. That’s why I certainly am not claiming that I know all these players well enough. But from what I see in international games (clubs or countries), there isn’t that much to admire, and there are far too many ugly aspects in his game.

    As for RvN, well, I certainly see enough of him to be able to make a definitive judgment :). To me it’s settled. The guy might score lots of goals, but they all come from about 6 yards out. Even if some of them are quite skillful, on the whole there’s not much to admire about poachers. But… everyone is entitled to their own opinion :).

  5. vaag says:

    > the Dutch ride bicycles the same way they play soccer. They actually like cobblestones

    Please behave yourself! You are obviously one of those who did once a One-Country-A-Day-Europe-Tour by omnibus. “Cobblestones (pavé)” – [hilarious laughter] you were in Belgium!

  6. vaag says:

    The moment Van Nistelrooy changed his movement from walking back to attacking, Robben had already passed him. So that’s not the point of your problem (and which actually is mine too). It doesn’t feel allright because Van Nistelrooy still has a big advantage over the Chech defense. It would somehow only feel allright if Van Nistelrooy had to be on level with the Chech defense before becoming active again. But then you should ask yourself: who should judge this? The linesman cannot, because he should be on line with Robben, and the referee cannot because he never is on line with the defense. And actually that’s exactly why they did change the passive off-side rule: the former situation was not manageable.
    Now rules are rules and as long as they are in force one should accept them and thus accept its weaknesses too; otherwise change them.

    >I don?t like this particular generation of Dutch players, including the Davids, Cocu, DeBoers,
    > van Nistelrooy, and others
    >if I were a Juventus supporter and followed them closely, I might learn to appreciate a player
    >like Davids.

    I really wonder who those ‘others’ are that you know? It’s all matured old generation!
    Davids changed Juventus half way the season for Barcelona, becoming the driving force after Barcelona’s weak start of the season to finally still finish as second in the Spanish league; although he has an ongoing poisened relationship with the outer world, especially the press, as a player with a career that started in 1991 he is still going strong. Cocu leaves Barcelona to spend his last active year(s) with his former club PSV. In his younger years as midfielder he was the ‘invisible man’ doing his job in silence, someone you would miss when he wasn’t there. The last years in Barcelona he was more of a leading figure, organising the defense. Frank and Ronald de Boer (N.B. It’s De Boer, not DeBoer; I wonder how you pronounce it?) are already retiring by moving to Qatar the coming season. Frank de Boer in his best years was a very capable and intelligent leader of the defense, he had a very nice long pass and he was a good header; Ronald was a skilful, manoeuverable midfielder with a surplus of technique.
    These players had respectful long careers, you cannot simply bash them with judgements like “I don’t like them” and “play-acting and general ugliness”. I lived three years in England and I was surprised to see how little knowledge in general there was of continental European football, the same with all those football loving people outside Europe that I’ve met (especially from Australia and Canada). They all had one thing in common: Premier League-watchers; star-watchers, you know, that kind of people that, when he still played there, proclaimed Beckam [sic!] as the best player in the world; people that are only interested in watching so-called ‘Star’ clubs, clubs with loads of money in the bank who think buying a bunch of stars will automatically create a world class team. Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid or AC Milan were easily outplayed by Porto or Monaco in the latest Champions League not because Porto or Monaco had better players, but because they certainly had more team spirit.
    You are a ‘Premier League-watcher’ too.

    p.s. Last night I saw the third boring game of France, really a team full of stars but without any spirit. As I saw again a lackluster performance of Henry I was longing for Jérôme Rothen. I saw many games of him with Monaco during the last season and I really fell in love with his play. Please bring on Jérôme Rothen!

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.