Tuesday, June 3, 2008

do you have a euro 2008 team?

Why? Isn't it just another excuse for Europeans to hate each other?

Oh, alright, kidding. I love international tournaments. For a long time I had no idea that teams existed outside internationals. Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio -- these were just words that echoed off Star Sports' Football Mundial advertisements. My father and grandfather would dutifully exchange cricket for football once every four summers or so, and a lot of my ideas about football - Maradona unquestionably world's greatest, Romario not more talented than Baggio [in fact Baggio simply unlucky poor bugger], Malayalis always support Argentina and Bengalis always go for Brazil, etc - were formed in this crucible.

I suppose I was a neutral, in those days. I should still be. I think I may safely tell you that I am, to an extent. I mean, here is a tourney and a sport in which I have no rational national biases whatsoever. It would be stupid to support anything but exciting football, even if it's a Raymond Domenech team that plays it. This is obviously not the entire truth, however. The truth is that I would like it if Italy won it. In fact, I even have second-favourites: Croatia.

Having confessed as much, what I now put to you is: what about you, reader? Are you supporting a team? A player? An ideology? A kit [thank you, Puma, thank you for bringing back the blue and white]? Why?


rahul batra said...

It could be the effect of the premiership's popularity on Indian television for the past few years - I find is hard not to hope for the three lions to do well at an International event. Of course, subject to their qualification!

I've been an Azzurri fan for years now, but thats cos I'm a big Del Piero fan. Since he's been chosen once again (4th Euro), I'm backing the Azzurri again. Not that he'll win it for them, I just feel they're a top side over all. Of course, I'd love to see him exorcise the ghosts of Euro 2000 and have a great tournament.

Otherwise, I think the dutch have a great attack - Rudd, Huntelaar, Robben, Van der Vaart, Sneijder and possibly Van Persie.

I'm a huge ManU fan and frankly, I don't endorse CRon's recent response to the media furor over his transfer to Madrid. So I'm praying Portugal doesn't win this, cos that'll just inflate his ego more.

Can't wait for the action to start...

A. said...

I've always followed the Serie A so I have predilection for the Azzuri when Argentina or Brazil are not involved.

It's a strange affinity because I love attacking football and the Italians do not always oblige, to say the least, but on their day, in the mood and when they put their minds to it, they're the only Europeans that can match those two South American giants for exuberance of style.

Yes people talk about the Hollands, Spanish, Portuguese et al, but non of those teams bring such a consistent level of top talent to tournaments like the Italians do.

ursus arctos said...


Consistently since 1974, and "cutting" school to watch the Oranje do their magic on "closed circuit television" in the Felt Forum, a theatre/boxing arena below Madison Square Garden.

They make you fall in love and then break your heart. Repeatedly. Very much in keeping with almost all of my other sporting allegiances.

Martha said...

Romania, dammit. If only they can get out of the group ....

(Oh, Ursus. Ick. Robben ruins everything for me. Well, that and the whining after they were played off the pitch by Portugal @ Euro 2004.)

Angharad said...

Well, obviously I support Wales.

...When I can be bothered to notice they're playing. Since my country has more of a national embarrassment than a national football team, I get to choose who to support when the real competitions come around.

Germany is my #1 team-of-choice because it was the Bundesliga that brought me back to football after the arrogance and crass commercialism of the EPL drove me away. There is a realness to German football that I don't find anywhere else. Sweden is my #2 team-of-choice (and by all the gods of football I hope they don't play each other again) because they're obnoxious, plucky, and have Henrik Larsson.

I'm thinking of also starting to support Denmark just so I can have heart attacks when they play Sweden in the WC qualifiers.

another joe said...

I would say Holland for me too.

Learning about Rinus Michels/Johann Cruyff/Total Football makes me want to gravitate towards them.

ursus arctos said...

Martha, it's not like you get to pick and choose once you've lost your heart, is it?

Kluivert, anyone? Boulharouz? Van der Vaart? Rijkaard spitting at Voeller? Even Cruyff himself in '78?

Robben can be a massively unpleasant twit, but he's also seriously talented, and therefore fits into a long tradition of similarly imperfect men who have worn the Oranje.

Besides, "you" won in '94 (in one of the great World Cup matches of all time, I would add).

And yeah, that Portugal match was downright ugly.

roswitha said...

@ Rahul: Hello! It's amazing how different our motives for supporting Italy are. I used to be a del Piero fan in my salad days, but now I'm supporting the Azzurri in spite of, not because of him.

As for CRon - I feel your pain. I dislike the way the English media have been touting Portugal as a one-man team, which they really aren't. I like some of their players and I like the way they play [plus, they share a general reputation as prats and scoundrels with the Italians, and that sort of thing always makes me perversely fond of teams], so I'll definitely be hoping for some good performances from them. :)

@ A. - I know! I love them when they're playing smartly. I've had no quibbles with their being organisationally, er, conservative, but the times they make me despair most is when they get smug and entitled and don't care. Of course, they've regularly got their come-uppance when they've done that over the last few years. Their committment was a beautiful thing to see in the last World Cup - I hope they mean to continue.

@ Ursus: Ah, sympathies and good luck. So does that seal your wish for the two escapees from the Group Of Iron, or do you feel no particular interest in Italy this time?

@ Martha: What rotten luck for them, no? I can't think of another group where they'd be so disadvantaged, not even the Spain-Sweden one. [Well, this would be true for most teams not named Germany, I'm thinking.] Still, they're facing possibly the three smuggest teams in the tournament, so they might

@ Angharad: I don't blame you, performance or no, it's got to be hard to support a team with Craig Bellamy in it.

Not sure I understand about the realness of the Germans - do you mean they're more committed to their cause?

I do join you in cheering Sweden to the top of their group. Perhaps a little too fool-hardily, but even if I wasn't thinking well of them I'm sure the combined appearance of Zlatan and Larsson would wreak havoc on any thoughts of negativity.

@ another joe: And all that drama, as well!

Anonymous said...

The closer we get to kick-off, the sadder I am that England has not qualified. I will be cheering the Netherlands, because of Edwin (I'm a United supporter). It will be his last international tournament, and he has been a rock for the Oranje. And he's a great guy and a great goalkeeper.

A. said...

Roswitha, smugness comes as part of territory when they know they're good but as you say those teams(and players) often get a rude awakening, and rightly so.

Of course the opposite is true too, when they don't quite know how good they really are, like Argentina (or should I say Peckerman) against Germany in the last WC.


ursus arctos said...

Roswitha, I very much want Holland and Italy to escape the group. And Romania to beat France.

And Domenech to be attacked by a horde of peasants with flaming torches upon his return to Charles de Gaulle. It would be great if the horde was led by Mexes, Escude and Trezeguet, and if Flamini and Frey delivered Domenech to the horde, but asking for that much would be greedy.

But I pretty much never get what I want.

roswitha said...

Ursus, we have this in common. You've had better luck than I in your footballing wishes this year, though, so I'm just going to cross my fingers for you. :)