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Euro 2012 Thus Far, and Other Soccer Musings

[ 11 ] June 12, 2012 |

A convenient overview of the state of play of the European Championships can be found here.  My typically ill-conceived predictions can be found here.

I watched three of the matches, and listened to a further two on BBC Radio 5.  The results from the first set of matches don’t make my predictions terribly embarrassing, only marginally so.  Two matches stand out: Russia 4-1 Czech Republic, and the Netherlands 0-1 Denmark.  The latter is egregious in that I predicted the Dutch to win the group and Denmark to finish last.  The Dutch did out play the Danes on almost every metric, aside from the small matter of goals scored.  That said, qualification suddenly looks in doubt: They’ll need to pick up four, and likely all six, points from their matches against Germany and Portugal.  Four is possible: three second place finishers qualified out of the groups in the past two Euros with four points.  Italy in 2008 (finishing second to the Dutch on nine points), both the Dutch and Greeks in 2004.  However, given the dynamics of the group, it’s a long shot.  I could be wrong, but they’d need to beat Germany and draw Portugal, hope the Danes run the table, and even then there would be a tie breaker involved (I very well might be missing something).  Easier just to win out.

The former, while I predicted Russia top and the Czechs second, losing 4-1 doesn’t seem to be what a group runner up should be all about.  That and I wish Arshivin looked that good while wearing an Arsenal shirt.

The other two groups didn’t have any stunning surprises.  Perhaps one could argue that Spain should have beat Italy, and it is possible that Spain’s time is over.  Croatia hammering the Republic, sadly, was not a surprise.  Ukraine pipping Sweden last night maybe, but I essentially have those level on chances.  England were unfamiliar to me: they were . . . organised.  Against a France side that I obviously underrated.

Today we have two more matches in the scintillating Group A, which are of interest to me only for the political overtones attached to Poland v Russia.

In other news, the embarrassing circus that is Rangers F.C. took a bad turn today: they’re dead certain to be liquidated now.  Given the news that HM Revenue and Customs will not vote for a Company Voluntary Agreement, liquidation is unavoidable; the only path back is through the formation of a new company that itself purchases key assets from liquidation.  I don’t see how a new company running the club will be justified its spot in the top tier of Scottish football (or, for that matter, even a position anywhere in the top four professional leagues.)  Chick Young indirectly predicted this over a month ago on the BBC.  As a Celtic supporter, it might strike readers as unlikely (and is definitely not an opinion universally shared amongst my fellow Celtic minded fans) but losing Rangers, even for a few years in the lower divisions, would not be good for Celtic.

Nor the whole of the SPL.  The problem faced by the other 11 SPL sides who are to vote on admitting a “new Rangers” is outlined here.  While it’s in the interests of the companies running the teams to admit Rangers, there is considerable disagreement among the fan support of all 11 sides:

In recent weeks clubs have expressed the dilemma they face: Rangers’ presence in the SPL brings revenue through the turnstiles and from broadcast deals, but many fans have said they will not return if “sporting integrity” is not seen to be upheld.

These supporters have been in contact with their clubs to demand that they vote against Rangers playing in the SPL next season. Their preference is for Rangers to apply to join the Scottish Football League and to start again in the Third Division.

That won’t happen.  The clubs will vote to re-admit (admit?) the new Rangers, and assume the fans will return.

And there’s the small matter of the USMNT away to Guatemala in the third round of the interminable CONCACAF qualifying system for the 2014 World Cup.  This is the most difficult match for the USA in the third round, and based on the sedate performance against Antigua & Barbuda the other day, optimism doesn’t prevail.

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Comments (11)

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  1. ajay says:

    losing Rangers, even for a few years in the lower divisions, would not be good for Celtic

    That’s for sure. They’re not called the Old Firm for nothing – with Rangers gone, who would there be to hate?

  2. DivGuy says:

    I could be wrong, but they’d need to beat Germany and draw Portugal, hope the Danes run the table, and even then there would be a tie breaker involved (I very well might be missing something).

    I think you’re missing one possibility.

    Portugal beats Denmark
    Netherlands draw Germany

    Germany beats Denmark
    Netherlands beats Portugal

    Germany 7, Netherlands 4, Denmark 3, Portugal 3

    4 points and they go through. The Dutch don’t have any easy path, and they need to either get two difficult wins or get some help, but it’s not crazy. I’m seeing odds around 2.5 or 2.75 for the Dutch to qualify.

  3. DivGuy says:

    Today we have two more matches in the scintillating Group A, which are of interest to me only for the political overtones attached to Poland v Russia.

    Certainly the politics are always fun and/or disturbing, but Russia looked really good in their first match and could put on another good show today. Admittedly it’s just the Czechs, but as Michael Cox at Zonal Marking argues, the Russians played together extremely well, as befits the side’s origins as basically the Zenit attack plus the CSKA central defense. 4-1 understates how totally the Russians blew the Czechs off the field. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Russia in the semis, perhaps.

  4. Thlayli says:

    … the interminable CONCACAF qualifying system ….

    CONCACAF has 40 members and 3.5 World Cup places. If you can think of a less-interminable process, I’m open to suggestions.

    • Bill Murray says:

      I suppose one could have 4 groups of 10 teams similar to CONMEBOL qualifying, or 8 groups of 5 teams with then a home and home playoff between 4 sets of two teams determined from the group winners. Of course how to figure the team that plays Oceania’s winner (New Zealand)is still a little fuzzy.

  5. Bill Murray says:

    I think the US defense may struggle tonight as they are down to Bocanegro at left back. Not that Carlos can’t play there, but that puts either an inexperienced player in the center or Gooch whose core competency at the moment seems to be giving up goals.

    Also, I don’t like the Chivas jerseys the US is using now. I think if we are to copy a team’s jersey there are better choices than Chivas.

  6. Mrs Tilton says:

    I still have an old Rangers top packed away somewhere, from the days before I came to see to they are as worthy of contempt as Celtic. Perhaps it will have some ironic value now.

    And it is ironic that I find myself with a measure of sympathy for the bluenoses, as they are experiencing (indeed, in far harsher form) what we Beşiktaşlılar are going through. Hey, maybe Rangers can drum up some cash selling topical tshirts. What’s the Scots for feda?

    Eh, anyway, contra il calcio moderno and all that.

  7. scott says:

    I’m not totally sure, but I think the Polish fans booed the Russian national anthem before the game. Hardcore!

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