Wednesday, November 21, 2007

England Miss Euro 2008

England lost to Croatia this evening 3-2 in a very exciting soccer game and will now miss the European Championships for the first time since 1984. This sucks. I cheer for England right behind Canada in most things and in soccer, unlike Canada, they actually have a chance to do something at major competitions. This especially sucks as it would have been a lot of fun to be in England during the Euro Championships and to have seen the atmosphere.

Now, if you want analysis on the match or team, there is no shortage of places to find it online. The short of it is that McClaren will be fired and, in short, England badly missed Terry, Rooney and Owen; they had no formulated plan as a team; Lampard and Gerrard just cannot play together and they sorely lack a world-class goalkeeper (Carson has potential, but he’s not an international starter right now).

What you’re not going to read a lot of online (or at least I’m hardly hearing any of in the post-match reports and analysis) is credit to Croatia, which they absolutely deserve. Croatia’s in my list of second favourite soccer teams and has been since the days of Davor Suker. They’re right there behind Nigeria, who is my all-time #2 favourite (behind #1a Canada and #1b England), along with a couple of other nations. And, after watching them play today, I’m cheering for them at Euro. They’re a very good team, with excellent ball control, a very dangerous offence and they’re not weak defensively either. It takes a very good team to go into Wembley and score 3 goals against England. It takes a very motivated team to go into Wembley in an absolutely meaningless game and score 3 goals against England. I have to give Croatia a lot of credit for taking the game seriously and playing like it was a regular competition, especially when it was tied 2-2 in the last 20 minutes. Croatia is a very good team and they deserve a ton of credit for beating England tonight, no matter how uninspired England was.

And with that I’ll leave the last word to Croatia’s coach:

"I read in your papers that no Croatian player would start on your team," Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said to the English reporters. "I mean, seriously, wake up."


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