Blogs & Opinion


Euros from afar

How's Euro 2012 gone down on the otherside of the pond?

Features Posted 26th June 2012 view comments

Sometimes it takes distance to provide a true picture of an event. Distance and a valid comparison.

That is certainly the case with Euro 2012, which has, rather surprisingly, grabbed a lot of attention and TV time over here in the US.

I certainly have the distance from my base in Florida but the right simile had escaped me, until watching Spain's velvet dismantling of France in Saturday's quarter-final.

Artists: Spain have impressed US viewers with their Euro 2012 displays

Artists: Spain have impressed US viewers with their Euro 2012 displays

You see, just down the road on the coast in St Petersburg (currently being battered by Tropical Storm Debby) is the fancy new Salvador Dali Museum, a space-age vision of architecture and artistry. And it struck me that the Spanish wizard of the paintbrush would have had a lot in common with Vicente del Bosque's team.

For, if ever a Football XI were to swap their boots for brushes, it would be Spain, 2012 edition.

It all follows on from record American TV viewership of the recent Premier League campaign and a growing audience for the MLS, proving that 'soccer' not only has a strong foothold in the land of 'football' but is thriving and able to command as much interest as ice-hockey, the traditional 'fourth sport.'

Simon Veness
Quotes of the week

Just like their illustrious artist countryman of the 20th century, here is a whole team that paints in beautiful broad, abstract terms, luring viewers in with their dynamic, swift brush-strokes, but then not revealing their true genius until you stand well back and see the finished picture for what it truly is.

The end result is audacious, thrilling - and totally incomprehensible to many.

For 'viewers' in Euro 2012 terms, read 'opposition,' and for 'end result' just read 'scoreline.' And you can certainly add France to the list of teams that surely feel completely bamboozled by what just happened to them in sporting terms.

That's right. Samir Nasri and Co just got painted to death.

The French you see, were still painting in standard, orthodox terms; sticking to the usual footballing conventions of attack and defence, never realising they were ensnared in a three-dimensional puzzle, another masterpiece constructed by Del Bosque but carried out by his team of artists. Strikers? Who needs strikers in this new era of the Soccer Surreal?

Almost before France knew it, the 90 minutes were up, the scoreline read 2-0 Spain, and the latest victims of these sporting surrealists had been hustled out of the door marked 'Exit.'

OK, in prosaic terms you can argue a team that scored only three goals in four games (even England scored five) did not deserve to hang around much longer and, certainly, Laurent Blanc has a challenge on his hands to conjure something even vaguely threatening out of Les Bleus.

But the fact they were ushered out of the tournament with barely a whimper, hardly a decent goal threat in the whole game, is totally symptomatic of playing these sons of Dali.

Catching on in the US

And the style is certainly catching on, as observers here have been quick to point out, with every game being shown live and all the main sports agencies carrying detailed reports and analysis. Heck, even the heavyweight radio station NPR - the US equivalent of Radio Four - has offered its own observations, notably on the Greece-Germany game, which proved a fascinating socio-political commentary for those tuned in to the slow sinking of the European currency!

It all follows on from record American TV viewership of the recent Premier League campaign and a growing audience for the MLS, proving that 'soccer' not only has a strong foothold in the land of 'football' but is thriving and able to command as much interest as ice-hockey, the traditional 'fourth sport.'

But back to long-distance observations on Euro 2012. It is now pretty clear there are three elite teams, and Everyone Else.

There are Spain, Portugal and Germany, and then the likes of Italy, England, France, Holland, etc, etc. And, yes, not many people here fancy the Italians to upset Joachim Loew's impressive outfit, let alone tackle the Iberian Twosome who now boast the Artist's Touch par excellence.

Suddenly, there is a gulf between the new Big Three and The Rest, and it would be a major surprise if one of them isn't triumphant on 1 July.

Portugal, recently derided as Spain Lite, have proved unarguably they now have the confidence and cool to back up their talent, while Germany's strength in depth is quite awesome after they 'rested' some of the prime talents against Greece and still looked like they had plenty in reserve.

Top trio

It means we have two of the most compelling semi-finals of a major tournament in recent memory.

In the Battle of Iberia, something has to give between two sides that revel in the possession game that almost literally paints the opposition into corners and can rout a team 1-0, where that hapless opposition can feel fortunate to get '0'.

Just look at the demeanour of both France and the Czech Republic after facing Spain and Portugal respectively. They seemed like they were happy just to get off the field without being humiliated in the scoreline, albeit they were a distant second-best in quality terms.

And, although the Greeks did manage to record a positive number in their result against the Germans, there was never any doubt they were always going to be on the wrong end of another, distinctly higher, numeral.

That theme is also prevalent in the way many people - from ESPN to Sports Illustrated - summed up England's 0-0 'thrashing' by Italy, where pundits were fixated by the number of attempts on goal, which was a staggering 36-9 in The Azzurri's favour.

Indeed, ESPN's commentators pointed out that Cesare Prandelli's men piled up 20 on-target efforts in the full 120 minutes - more than England managed in four GAMES.

Statistics, of course, don't tell the whole story, but they are mighty powerful. And, for once, you suspect the pundits are spot on in saying this England team are miles away from being competitive at top level.

Not so much Dali as Daley. Arthur Daley.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Chris Kamara

Kammy's Weekend Review

Chris Kamara says Alan Pardew needs results and explains why referees must visit football clubs....

Jamie Redknapp

Di Maria 'in United mould'

Jamie Redknapp says Angel di Maria can follow in the footsteps of Manchester United greats after his QPR masterclass...

Niall Quinn

Cost effective

Diego Costa has made life easier for Chelsea with his goalscoring, Niall Quinn says...

Latest News RSS feeds

Van Gaal has lofty ambitions

Louis van Gaal is keen not to make Manchester United supporters wait too long for the return of the Premier League title.

Live transfer updates

Cristiano Ronaldo linked with Manchester United return, Paul Pogba wants new Juventus deal and Roma eye Glen Johnson.

Costa knows run will end

Chelsea striker Diego Costa has paid tribute to his team-mates for his flying start, but concedes his goals will dry up.

Hull City v West Ham preview

Hull City will get a first look at their deadline day signings when they play host to West Ham on Monday Night Football.

Wenger jumps to Ozil's defence

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has defended Mesut Ozil, insisting the Germany international is a crucial team player.

Features

Angel di Maria shows why he can be the difference maker for Manchester United in emphatic 4-0 win over QPR

Angel di Maria shows why he can be the difference maker for Manchester United in emphatic 4-0 win over QPR

“Every time he gets on the ball it comes alive. The game just looks quicker when he’s on it.” Radamel Falcao might have been the focus of attention in the build-up but Gary Neville’s assessment of the game itself was spot on. It was Angel di Maria who stole the show against Queens Park Rangers.

Tom Cleverley kicks off his stay at Aston Villa with a 1-0 win at Liverpool and must now kickstart his career too

Tom Cleverley kicks off his stay at Aston Villa with a 1-0 win at Liverpool and must now kickstart his career too

“Cleverley had no physique, was wiry as hell, but he was as brave as a lion, had good feet and could score a goal.”

Danny Welbeck's Arsenal debut against Manchester City showcased his potential as well as his current limitations

Danny Welbeck's Arsenal debut against Manchester City showcased his potential as well as his current limitations

Arsenal fans. Meet Danny Welbeck. The England international had raised expectations after his brace against Switzerland earlier in the week and proceeded to produce a Gunners debut against Manchester City that offered plenty of encouragement without delivering the killing stroke.