Friday, June 20, 2008

The View from the Tank: Liveblogging the Replay of Croatia-Turkey Euro 2008 Quarterfinals

I know the result of this game, but I'm going to watch the whole thing nonetheless. I caught the first half during lunch sitting alone at the bar at a Chinese restaurant. The waiters at the restaurant all appeared to be rooting for Turkey. The red and white checker pattern on the Croatian jerseys always makes me think of Ralston-Purina.

The sneaky people at ESPN apparently cut out a good fifteen minutes from the beginning of the second half in tonight's replay. Mrs. Octopus and I watched the whole first half, and then were settling in for the second half after the halftime break, when Mrs. Octopus noticed that the clock somehow had gone to 60 minutes. ESPN just cut out minutes 45 to 60, deciding that that time was expendable because no goals were scored. Also, ESPN probably had to shorten the match -- which went through extra time to penalty kicks -- to fit into their nighttime schedule. Right now we're at the break before the second fifteen-minute period of extra time. Turkey is starting to turn up the heat on offense and have produced a number of excellent chances in extra time. The Turkish goalie, Rustu, seems like the hero of the match so far, with a few superb saves to keep the Turks in the game. The winner here meets the frighteningly strong, powerful, and efficient German side that dominated Portugal yesterday. (Croatia surprised Germany during group play earlier in the tournament.)

Another Turkish player picks up a yellow, making it a total of three Turkish players who will miss the next match. The Turks are pretty physical and sometimes rough, but they also have surprising speed and creativity on the ball. It's an interesting mix, rough around the edges, and not always smooth, but effective so far this tournament: they're Euro 2008's Paul Pierce.

All of this is making me want to play soccer, but I probably won't have the chance this weekend. I will be watching the spectacular Dutch side take on Russia tomorrow morning. The Orange Crush, after destroying both Italy and France, looks to be the strong favorite to win it all, but I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Spain will win the tournament. Just my gut.

Update: I just saw the final two minutes of the extra time. Semih's goal, in the last few seconds of injury time tacked onto the extra time was an unreal electric shock. I knew it was going to happen, having read about it, but it was still shocking and impossible to believe as I saw it. It came as the commentators were eulogizing Turkey, noting that they had had a good run, but their tournament was over. No one saw it coming. Amazing.

1 comment:

toddy said...

I couldn't stand the Turk play before. Now I have a begrudging respect. I am bummed so many players will be out for the German clash.

The Russians are really fantastic. Hiddink is such a great coach for young teams. It helps that they field so many guys from the club team. Often, the lack of continuity is what sinks teams. Netherlands and Spain (usually), France and Portugal (this year) being chief losers in this sense. Also the Italians tend to all play in the same league and have such an interesting sense of fraternity that they always pluck out a win.
Not having Pirlo yesterday really hurt them though.

I am looking to a Spin/German final in which I will be pulling for the Spanish and they will lose.

Perhaps I should pull for the Germans so they will lose...