God, or any higher power up there, help us
VIEW FROM THE COUCH:DAY SIX, but it’s only felt like 90 minutes, unless you’re Dutch, in which case it feels like the tournament started 18 and a half years ago. But time flies when the football’s as half-decent as this. True, if we were to be a bit parochial about it we’d say it’s been a Dutch-like ’mare, but Giovanni Trapattoni and Robbie Keane soothed our nerves yesterday when they popped up, live from Poland, on RTÉ’s website.
Before introducing the nation’s manager and captain, the MC informed us that Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso would be along later, and the room seemed to fall silent – or maybe our live streaming just froze, as is oft the case. All he really needed to add to further dampen the mood was “but, alas, Casillas, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Busquets and the rest of the reigning World and European champions can’t make it.”
God, or any higher power up there, help us.
“Giovanni, can you give us your line-up,” asked Sky Sport’s Andy Burton.
“No,” he replied, he couldn’t give us his “up-line”, leaving Vicente del Bosque to ponder whether he’d have to cater for Kevin Doyle or Jonathan Walters.
May he have a sleepless night.
Next, Portugal v Denmark. A semi-reasonable start for the Portuguese, the two goals up after 36 minutes – but a frustrating auld time of it for Ronaldo.
“He looks to the heavens and gives it the double teapot,” noted Clive Tyldesley when Cristiano planted his hands on his hips after one of his free-kicks ended up soaring over Jupiter. Then he glared at the turf accusingly before taking his customary peak at himself on the stadium’s big screen. Come on, how can you not love the lad?
But then Nicklas Bendtner pulled a goal back, which surprised everyone but himself.
“He’s supposed to be a terrifically confident lad,” said John Giles at half-time. “He reckons he’s one of the best centre forwards in Europe – he does, honestly. If he was half as good as he thinks he is, he’d be a real player.”
So, you know what happened next: Bendtner, equaliser. And he celebrated by revealing underpants sponsored by an Irish betting company. He’s all class, this fella.
But then Portugal won. And how sublime was the winner? First Silvestre Varela makes an eejit of himself by volleying fresh air, his annoyance resulting in him thundering the ball past the Danish goalkeeper (Andersen, naturally). Ah here, Euro 2012 is a blast.
And the night had only just begun. Holland v Germany. Two words: Dee and licious.
Pitchside for the BBC, Jake Humphrey asked Martin Keown if he thought Robin van Persie’s 1.6 litre, turbocharged V6 would be effective in the contest ahead, Martin replying “huh?”. Okay, no, didn’t happen.
Jake did, though, refer to Holland and Germany’s “total” and “efficient” footballing pasts – respectively, lest you weren’t sure – proving his switch from Formula One to football had been seamlessly effortless.
And then we were handed over to Jonathan Pearce who told us the referee, Sweden’s Jonas Eriksson, was a multi-millionaire. True enough, he sold his 15 per cent share in Swedish media rights business IEC and he’s been laughing ever since. But still, despite his wealth, he was prepared to put in a shift keeping an eye on Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong. Granted, money can’t buy everything, but it can surely buy being spared 90 minutes in that pair’s company?
And then Jonathan started talking about Nazis. Well, to be precise, Dutch old boy Wim van Hanegem’s a bit habitually repeated quote about the Germans being the folk who “murdered my father, sister and two brothers. I am full of angst. I hate them”.
True, that quote came from 1974, but while van Hanegem has moved on since then, Jonathan’s script evidently hasn’t.
Game on. It’s official: Bastian Schweinsteiger is a footballing deity. He has been for a while, to be accurate, he just confirmed his status last night.
And Mario Gomez? Who’s laughing now?
And who didn’t feel for van Bommel when he was taken off, or Arjen Robben when he left the field, removing his shirt in a somewhat peeved manner, having been substituted late on?
Honest, Euro 2012 just gets better.
Tonight? Fabregas, Alonos, Casillas, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Busquets and the rest of the reigning World and European champions? You boys will take a hell of a beating. Possibly-ish.