Tag: Portugal

The World Cup Of National Anthems: Part Four

For many people, major sports tournaments are the only occasion that national anthems are heard. These peculiar tunes have become a genre of their own, transcending the mere hymns that many of them were in first place, and they range from the gloriously uplifting to mournful dirges. The selection of words has, in many countries, brought about national debate that has been all-encompassing. In the case of Spain, it was decided that it would probably be for the best just to not bother having any for the sake of national unity.

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Portugal 3-1 Czech Republic

It is a curious anomaly of Euro 2008 that this evening’s match between Portugal and the Czech Republic saw, in the tournament’s ninth match, the first equalizing goal of the competition. It counted for nothing in the end, but it did at least breathe life into a match that, prior to this, had started to look as if it would be little more than a procession for Portugal, who further reinstated their case for being amongst the favourites to win the trophy outright. Both sides won their opening matches – Portugal at a canter against Turkey, the Czechs with considerable labour and no small amount of luck against Switzerland – so the only result that would beyond doubt would be that the winners would be through to the quarter-finals (barring something just shy of a miracle). Portugal started the stronger of the two sides, and it took them just eight minutes to take the lead. For all of his artistry and jiggery pokery, it’s difficult to fault the sheer persistence of Deco, who bundled the ball over the line with Cech scrambling to get across the goal to smother it. The Czechs, however, were showing signs of being able to make a real game of it, and with Sionko looking very impressive on the wing, it was no surprise when they equalised through Sionko’s diving header. For a while,...

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Portugal 2-0 Turkey

It was comprehensive and uncompromising result and, in many respects, the only major questions emerging from last night’s match between Turkey and Portugal is one of whether the Portuguese will peak or have already peaked too soon because, with an easier draw than most of the serious contenders for this tournament and having played the way that they did last night, there is now a powerful case for saying that Portugal might just be able to go all the way at Euro 2008. It wasn’t that Turkey were a weak side or that they couldn’t live with their opponents. They might have looked a little light-weight in attack, but ultimately they simply couldn’t live with the vast array of attacking options that Portugal had. By the last fifteen minutes, the Portuguese were effectively playing four men up front and all four of the seemed to be trying to score the goal of the tournament. They were, to be frank, not a major taking a major risk since the Turks were, without Hakan Sukur, lightweight looking up front (although Colin Kazam looked spritely, living up to his billing as “The Man In The Premier League Shop Window”), and Portugal were never seriously in danger of their lead. Indeed, the delightful, artful second goal that Portugal scored right at the very death was the mere icing of the cake that was...

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Euro 2008 – Group A

It’s that time again. The closing date for the squad lists to be submitted to UEFA for Euro 2008 is the 28th of May, but we already know enough about who will be there and who won’t to be able to start having a look at the groups for the finals of this year’s European Championships. This year’s finals haven’t been without controversy already, with numerous complaints about the seeding of the competition. The four seeds are Switzerland, Austria, Greece and the Netherlands, with Switzerland and Austria being seeded as the hosts, Greece earning their place as the holders and the Netherlands, on the basis of UEFA’s hilariously complicated co-efficient system that calculated the average number of points obtained in qualifying and in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. This idiosyncratic way of doing things has, of course, thrown up a “Group Of Death” (Group C, which features the Netherlands, Italy and France), but has also done a couple of the other “bigger” nations a favour. Anyway, first up, here’s a look at Group A. Switzerland – What Are Expectations Like? Well, not as low as they are for their co-hosts, Austria. Switzerland have had a reasonably favourable draw and have got half a chance of getting through the group stages, though there won’t be too many people staring in disbelief if they do get through. Their key match...

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A Host Of Entertainment

Germany 3-1 Portugal At half-time last night, I rather thought that I had, as promised, jinxed proceedings. But then the Germans came out and played. As I said yesterday, I really enjoy the World Cup third place play-off match, and in the end we had a match to be proud of, as Germany overcame Portugal comfortably. Eventually. The first half was surprisingly pedestrian. Portugal continued to suffer from not being able to do anything once they got the ball near the opposition penalty area, whilst the Germans appeared strangely nervous. It was, frankly, a dull first-half. I couldn’t help but think this was the World Cup letting us down again… but then Jurgen Klinsmann had a word at half-time, and Germany came out for the second half looking, as they had done in several previous matches, like one of the best attacking teams in the world. I was delighted to see Bastian Schweinsteiger turn, briefly, into the best striker of a ball from twenty yards out. This is partly because is name translates as “Pig-riser”, but also because he has worked so damn hard during this World Cup. His efforts finally reaped some sort of reward. It was harsh, though, on the excellent Ricardo, who was beaten three times in the second half. Twice there was nothing he could really do about, and once he was fooled by a...

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