Monday, April 30, 2012

EM 2008--Semifinals

Grüße fans mit der “Stadion-Feeling”
EM 2008

Hell yes. Electric quarterfinals obdurately refused to disappoint. Now only four teams remain, two of which are ACTUALLY in Europe. That’s what’s so wonderful about the Euros. Mediterranean gateway to the Middle East? We’ll take you. Asian barrier to the Pacific Ocean? Eh…why not? Before getting to the two surprise contenders, we’ve four countries to bid adieu:


Scolari is off to Chelsea, where he’ll coach the man who demolished his country’s dream, Michael Ballack. He may very well be the man to bring the “Kup” back to Stamford Bridge. We’ll all be rooting for him, and his Navigators. They’ll always be an enjoyable part of our summer tradition.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Scolari lasted less than a full season at Abramovich’s “Chelski”. He now coaches teams so meaningless that he might as well be selling real estate in California. The Navigators remains a force to be reckoned with. If I may be permitted an opportunity to channel my inner Sling-Blade, “I….er….I reckon they’ll be goin deep this Summer…uh-uh”


Ohhh…No way to describe this exit without getting homo-erotic. Bend over. Who’s got the lube? No, not the Vaseline. We need some of that special petroleum jelly for this one. Yes, the one your girlfriend sends you out to the drugstore for and the clerk won’t let you get away with asking for Vaseline for. Yep. It’s K-Y Time. Time to get sloppy. Did I say you could stand upright? Not yet my Balkan Brothers. The Turks fucked you and you’ve no choice but to lie back and accept it. You’re getting a full Santorum.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

Hahahaha….2008 gentlemen! 2008! A mere four years later a bunch of mentally retarded primary voters decided they would chose to ignore the fact that Rick Santorum is nothing more than an overweight piece of fecal matter. They also found themselves (briefly enough) enchanted by his fellow overweight piece of fecal matter, Newt Gingrich. Ever feel as if you’re the only person who remembers the last few years? If not, there’s a 50-50 chance you’re an ardent member of either American political party. No space for memories when there’s so much hatred clogging up your neural network. Before letting this commentary lie, I cannot resist telling all of you that you’re a worthless pack of pathetic fools. You waste so much energy focusing on talking points…when there are quality football games being televised.  


Van Basten is off to Ajax, where he’ll coach Heitinga and Klaus Jan Huntelaar. He could have used those two footballers in his starting eleven on Saturday as, far too early, overachieving opponents once again booted his obscenely talented squad out of the competition. Van Basten’s legacy will be one of spectacular group stage victories followed by questionable lineup changes in the knockout stages. Van der Vaart over van Perise? The Oranje should have made it to the semi-finals of the last two tournaments. The country never fails to disappoint, either on the pitch or during an actual visit. And to hell with all you pot pilgrims who think taking on hit off a 40% THC spliff somehow constitutes a fun time. Yes, precisely what everyone wants to do. Sit at a coffee table intensely paranoid about everything too afraid to move or talk to anyone for over an hour. Party on, stoners.

Editor’s retroactive notes:

The Dutch finally made it to the finals in 2010. In preemptive anticipation of some stoner hate mail, allow me to sincerely affirm that any drug one cannot read on is too fucking potent. Scale that shit back you hobby horticulturalists! If I wanted to stare at the wall for a while feeling weak and insecure I might as well just stick to my daily regimen of working myself into the ground.


Well, what happened the Italians this time? Dago…away. The Cannavaro injury really tore away the moorings of the squad. Zambrotta and Cameronesi had terrible tournaments. Donadoni might as well stay to oversee the forthcoming transitions necessitated by the retirements of del Piero and Fabio Grosso. You’ll take a younger and hopefully healthier team to South Africa. I’ll work on some new ways of disparaging your livelihoods in the interim J

My updated Stats:

Spread: 16-12
Straight up: 18-8-2


Deutschland vs. Turkey


Traditionally, FIFA’s “Say no to Racism Campaign” makes its appearance in the semi-finals of Champions League, Europa League, or any UEFA-sponsored tournament. This hump day, the prepared remarks to be read by the two opposing captains will be imbued with more meaning than ever. This is so much more than the U.S. vs. Mexico. This would be more akin to “Jim Jeffries vs. Jack Johnson” or “Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock”.

Turkish flags inundate every German Square on Turkish Holidays, after every PKK incursion, and indeed any time one the most vocal group of ethnic minorities a country has ever seen a country feel themselves in need of a day off. Now on our third generation of generation of the original industrial guest workers, there are at present over four million Turks living in the fatherland, approximately five percent of the overall population.

From the far Western factory enclaves of Bavaria up through the company towns of Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, and Nord-Rhine Westphalia to the Northern city-state of Bremen, many German municipalities through the manufacturing/mining belt have Turkish populations as high as 15 percent. Practically anywhere else in the country, Döner is available on demand. You shouldn’t have to walk more than three blocks. Come to think of it “Döner on Demand” sounds like a great name for the Food Kiosk I’ll open someday. No sneaky stealing of that idea, you rubes! “Döner on Demand: Demand more from your Döner”. Such a nice ring to it. I’m hungry L

So we’ll all be watching side-by-side. The country’s law enforcement apparatus is on high alert. Never a good sign, even if we’ve come a long-way from the “Deutschland im Herbst” Days. The hype notwithstanding, I fully expect matters to proceed with nary a hitch. The Hamits and Heinrichs, Emres and Eberhardts, Gokhans and Geoffs, Ahmets and Adolfs should be able to enjoy good sporting links with one another for a competitive and fair afternoon of football. I could go on with those alliterative name pairings all night. What incorrigible fun. J

Were the Crescent Stars capable of pulling off a fourth consecutive improbable comeback it would undoubtedly be the most sensational story in the history of the Euros. Who’s to say they can’t? We’ll, the ineligibility statistics are so unimaginably dire that Faith Terim may have difficulty even fielding a team. On a twenty-two-man roster (not counting the third keeper), five players are injured and four are suspended. For those aching for a bit of quick grade-school arithmetic that’s nine ineligible players (22-9 = 13). Terim has thirteen players from which to pick a starting eleven. He has two substitutes with which to work should there be an injury, sending-off, or long slog into extra time. Yikes!

No one questions the lionhearted play of the tenacious Turkmen, but can they really do it without Arda Turan, Tuncay, Nihat, Emre Asik, and Demirel? Meanwhile, the Mannschaft coalesces around the reformed Klose-Podolski partnership, backed up by Ballack, Schweinsteiger, and Hitzlsberger all at peak form. One expects a hard-fought Battle in Basel. In spite of the low line, all Kraut enthusiasts may officially start celebrating. We’re headed to the finals!

Projected Lineups:

“Die Mannschaft”  

1) Jens Lehman
2) Arne Friedrich
3) Phillip Lahm
4) Per Mertesacker
5) Christoph Metzelder
6) Bastian Schweinsteiger
7) Michael Ballack
8) Thomas Hitzlsberger
9) Simon Rolfes
10) Lucas Podolski
11) Miroslav Klose

“The Crescent Stars”  

1) Rüstü Recber
2) Hamit Altintop
3) Gökhan Zan
4) Mehmet Topal
5) Hakan Bata
6) Tümer Metin
7) Mehmet Aurelio
8) Semih Sentürk
9) Colin Kazim Richards
10) Ayhan Akman
11) Melvüt Erdinc

Prop Bets (As always, feel free to offer your own)
Over/Under ---4 Goals
120 Minutes— straight up
Penalty Shootout— straight up
Erdinc goal—3 to 1
Metin goal – 4 to 1
Altintop brace –2 to 1
Karadeniz start – 3 to 1
Boral start – straight up
Klose brace—straight up
Klose Hat Trick – 2 to 1
Ballack brace---2 to 1
Podolski brace –2 to 1
Schweinsteiger brace – straight up
Schweinsteiger set piece goal –straight up
Fritz substitution (60+) –2 to 1
Jansen substitution (65+) –2 to 1
Odonkor substitution (75+) –3 to 1

THE LINE: Deutschland +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Germany 3, Turkey 2. Those pesky Turks very nearly did it again! An immensely energetic encounter in Basel, interrupted twice by actual lightning strikes that took out the international feed. The Crescent Stars squad that took the pitch looked neither hobbled nor fatigued. Bursting with innovative energy, Altintop, Sentürk, Kazim-Richards, and Ayhan all got off quality chances in the opening twenty minutes. Out of the gate they seized the initiative, determined to place the burden of a comeback on the other country for a change. Everything was going swimmingly for them. In the 22nd Kazim hit the crossbar for the second time in five minutes. On this occasion Ugur Boral (booggie oogie oogie) was patrolling around the goalmouth and slipped the rebound underneath a Lehman not yet gone to ground.

The Krauts still couldn’t snap out of their funk. Aurelio and Sentürk brought the ball right back into the attacking third with Aurelio nearly pulling off a neat finish after a precision one two. Podolski, actually relocated to a supporting winger behind the lone striker Klose, sent in a long cross for Schweine to turn in on 26 minutes. Though the score was even, the Turkish onslaught continued. Altintop elicited a fingertip save from Lehman off a free kick while Ugur made him dive. Lehmann appeared to be assertive in his keeping, punching all of the distance strikes and crosses clear. Still, Rolfes and Hitzslsberger couldn't clear their lines and the Turks just kept coming. Sentürk may have been technically alone up front, but Sabri, Ugur, and Auerlio were pouring forward as if they were strikers.

With the Turks on pace to outshoot the Mannschaft four to one, Löw had to make changes in the central midfield. One expected he would dump both Rolfes and Hitzlsberberger come halftime in favor of more offensive choices such as Borowski, Odonkor, or Frings. Much to the amateur observer’s surprise, Hitzlsberger remained with Rolfes for Frings the only swap. It proved to be a clever strategy after all. Hitzlsberger came alive during the second half. His cutting runs and long-range strikes largely produced nothing of note unless one considers that Altintop, Auerlio, and Kazim were compelled to flock toward him to tackle away possession before he could make anything happen. This freed up the speedy little X-Factor, the ever-inventive and unconventionally mobile Phillip Lahm.

Lahm runs forward more often than any other left back I’m aware of. Any success against the Mannschaft begins with finding some way of containing him. He cannot be allowed to serve as a fourth attacking forward as he did in the final ten minutes of this match. Hitzlsberger found him with a long switch in the 79th. He then stampeded up the wide open left flank while the desperate Turks tried to find some way of closing in on him. Three defenders stood ready to greet him fifteen yards shy of the 18, but it mattered not. Three bodies were already in the box prepared to receive his cross. He smacked a long, arcing deep ball that Klose timed perfectly. 2-1 Mannschaft with ten minutes remaining.

The Comeback kids would not be denied. Seven minutes later Sentürk and Sabri combined for their own headed goal. Unbelievable. THEY HAD DONE IT AGAIN. At the advent of injury time, it looked as if this one would go 120. It was Lahm forward for Ballack. Ballack back toward the forward thinking Lahm. Lahm to center for Hitzlsberger. Hitzlsberger snakes pass the Turkish back line in need of a trailer as Rüstü came forward. The trailer was none other than Lahm, running all the way up to the touch line. Hitzlsberger cut back and Lahm produced one the schmoovest of ultra-schmoove finishes you’ll ever see…from a striker no less. A magnificent game. An exciting finish. No Turkish-German scuffles were reported. JJ


Russia vs. Spain


We’ve one more peripheral European Cinderella to dispose of and the Red Ruskies aren’t making it easy with their choice of color scheme. A little over two weeks ago the Spanish slaughtered the Arshavin-less Russians 4-1 in Innsbruck….but then they were wearing Red. Yes, you read that correctly. Aragones is already hedging his bets. Should the Spanish curse continue for yet another year, it shall be the fault of the yellow color of their alternate kits.

Why, pray tell, is Aragones so superstitious about the color yellow? It’s partly the result of the fact that La Roja have not won a major international tournament match in their alternate kits since they won the 1964 European Championship. Forty-four years later the country still has not one another major championship. Alternate kits have been blamed for inexplicable failures in  ’68, ’78, ’80,’82, ’84, ’86, ’90, ’94, ’96, ’98, and 2000. They’ve tried a variety of colors over the years: White, all shades of Blue, Black, even Purple. Now they’ve settled on yellow…a color so intensely disliked by Aragones that he’s forbidden his keepers from wearing it and banned it from the practice squad. In 2006 the arriving Spanish team was greeted in Germany with a bouquet of yellow flowers. He promptly spit on them and requested they be trashed immediately.

For the record, Aragones insists La Roja will be wearing “mustard” colored alternates on Thursday. Dearest Spanish fans, whatever pigmented hue your team dons, I’ve fantastic news. THE CURSE IS OVER. Hiddink doesn’t have the players. After watching Pavyluchenko for five matches and Arshavin for two, the only thing I can be certain of is that they are wildly inconsistent. Torres and Villa clearly have the answer to Zhirkov and Ingashevich. We’ll see you in the final, where two TRUE European teams play for the crown.

Projected Lineups:

“La Roja”  

1) Iker Casillas 
2) Sergio Ramos
3) Carlos Marchena
4) Carlos Puyol
5) Jaon Capdevilla
6) David Silva
7) Marcos Senna  
8) Andres Iniesta
9) Xavi
10) David Villa
11) Fernando Torres

“The Russian Selection”  
(Can someone PLEASE come up with a decent nickname? Be the first to earn a 2010 betting credit!)

1) Igor Akinfeev
2) Alexander Anyukov
3) Sergei Ingashevich 
4) Alexi Berezutski
5) Yuri Zhirkov
6) Sergei Semak
7) Konstantin Zyryanov 
8) Igor Semshov
9) Ivan Saenko
10) Andrei Arshavin
11) Roman Pavlyuchenko

Prop Bets (As always, feel free to offer your own)
Over/Under ---3 Goals
120 Minutes— 3 to 1
Penalty Shootout— 4 to 1
David Villa brace—straight up
David Villa Hat Trick –3 to 1
Fernando Torres brace – 2 to 1
Andres Iniesta substitution (70+) – 2 to 1
Fabregas substitution (75+) – 2 to 1
Xavi Alonso substitution (70+) –2 to 1
Pavlychencko brace – 2 to 1
Arshavin brace – 2 to 1
Bilyayentinov substitution (65+) -- 2 to 1
Wemak substitution (75+) – 2 to 1
Ingashevich substitution (70+) -- 3 to 1
Zhirkov substitution (75+) – 3 to 1

THE LINE: Spain +2 Goals


Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Spain 3, Russia 0. The Yellar fellars did a real job on Hiddink’s overachievers, thanks in large part to colossal games from fullbacks Carlos Puyol and Sergio Ramos. Pavlychecnko and Arshavin were well controlled, what efforts they did mange going embarrassingly wide. Nevertheless the game remained scoreless at halftime and La Roja had lost David Villa to a 34th minute injury. One had the sense that Hiddink’s men might just be able to eke out a victory if their strikers could fin their form

Five minutes after the restart, Marcos Senna put such conjecture to rest, feeding Xavi for a double give and go. Xavi finished with flourish and the end of the curse was in sight. Güiza and Xabi Alonso were brought on the 69th to protect the slender lead. They rather sought to pad it. Alonso fed Fabregas who put a beauty behind the defense in 79th. Güiza outhustled the back line and sharply flicked it over Akinfeev for the second goal. Three minutes later it was Fabregas to Silva for the emphatic win.