Select Page

Day: May 23, 2012

Euro 2012 – The Runners & Riders: The Netherlands

With the benefit of hindsight, there seems something inevitable about the crowning of Spain as the world champions in South Africa two years ago. Yet the Netherlands came within minutes of taking the match to a penalty shoot-out and since then have continued the form that they demonstrated, becoming, in August of last year, only the second team in the history of the game to reach number one in FIFAs world rankings without having won the tournament. The Dutch team remains one of the favourites to win this summer’s competition, but the side that fought – in some respects literally – its way to the finals of the World Cup won few friends on the way, and represented something of a break with the in some ways idealistic traditions of the team with its defensive and aggressive system. The History: World Cup finalists on three occasions and European Champions once, there is probably no other nation on earth for which there is such a contrast between size and population with success on the football pitch. This is a dynasty that began in the early 1970s with the development of the total football system of Rinus Michels. In 1974, his team coasted to the World Cup final before being beaten by the host nation West Germany, and it is this team which inspires one of the great what ifs in...

Read More

Euro Moments: Poland

Twohundredpercent’s semi-resident artist (he has a kennel out the back) Dotmund loves international football almost as much as he fears shop mannequins. So, to celebrate the approach of UEFA Euro 2012, he has produced 16 new pictures for each participating country. One of these will appear here every day in the run up to the kick-off of the tournament, which mathematicians will no doubt tell you is in 17 days today. For more European Championship tomfoolery, you can read our Euro Stories here; or download and play with our retro interactive Euro 2012 spreadsheet here Dotmund’s blog is here,...

Read More

Euro 2012: The Super-Duper Interactive Retro Spreadsheet

The finals of major football tournaments bring out the obsessive in many football supporters. Grown men can be seen in the queues in newsagents buying Panini stickers for sons and nephews that don’t exist, while it is entirely possible that the only wallpapering that will be done throughout the tournament will be of posters on walls, lovingly filled in by the hands of those that perhaps should be old enough to know better. In the twenty-first century, though, many of us will be spending much of our time during the tournament at the screen of a PC, a laptop or a tablet, and such manual updating is unfeasible. With this in mind, we are delighted to welcome Dave Boyle’s interactive spreadsheet to 200% for this summer’s jamboree. Here’s Dave to explain it to you himself: So, after not being bothered last time due to fatherhood and England not being there, I’ve done a Euro 2012 spreadsheet to record results, predict pathways and work out who might win, to fill those spare hours before the tournament starts. I say retro because the future is apps etc, but I’m a geek, not a proper programmer, so we can ditch that notion. You can use the sheet entitled ‘Customise’ to customise (clever, eh?) the time zone in which you are, which then puts the right kick off times in! And, if you’re...

Read More

Déjà Vu for Toshack in Macedonia

Wales versus Paraguay at the Millennium Stadium, March 2006. A warm up match for Wales’ opponents ahead of the World Cup and a match I remember well for typifying John Toshack’s Wales. The performance was satisfactory, Wales didn’t have as many shots as their opponents, but held possession reasonably well. As per the norm there were a number of defensive errors, but on this occasion, Wales were not punished. The flyer for the game had promised that “The Future Starts Now”, but this nil – nil draw had not done much to suggest this was true. Many Wales fans will regard John Toshack’s second spell in charge as lacklustre, uninspiring and fraught with internal strife. Mark Hughes had left his post as manager of the Welsh national team in 2004 after getting so tantalisingly close to qualifying for a major international competition. You would anticipate that Toshack would be under pressure from the success of the man he had replaced, but it’s not in the Welsh psyche to be too optimistic, so I can only say that he met expectations. When Toshack resigned his post in 2010, he had a fairly respectable win percentage of forty percent (twenty-one wins in fifty-three games). But his time with Wales will often be remembered for his fraught relationships with some senior players, most notably, Robbie Savage. Savage was playing under Mark Hughes at...

Read More