Morning to you and today starts with a little touch of *boilk*
Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm day here yesterday (don’t panic, it’s lashing rain again as normal now), perhaps it was the football which would, in all fairness, drive anyone to drink, but it seemed to me that just one more glass of delicious wine was in order. Then another one. And another one.
It did help with the football as we were treated to another game in which very little happened. Portugal worked really hard to deny Spain the time and space they like so much and it was pretty effective. Spain started with the usual 10 and just to make it a bit more of a challenge stuck the kitman’s assistant up front. As expected he never got a touch until he was replaced by Cesc at some point in the second half.
With Fernando Torres chomping at the bit, del Bosque continued on his one-man crusade to make strikers extinct by throwing on Jesus of Nazareth and then Pedro who doesn’t have a last name and was raised in the storm drains of Barcelona. Torres looked like he might cry. Ronaldo had a great chance in the final minute of normal time. A Portugal break fell to him from a position where you’d expect him to trouble the keeper at least, but he lashed a left footed shot high over the bar. I laughed. Then drank more wine.
In extra-time Spain seemed to realise that it’d be a good thing to score and upped their game, the best chance falling to Andres Iniesta. With just whoever the Portuguese goalkeeper is to beat he scuffed his shot, allowing whoever the Portuguese goalkeeper is to save it. They had some corners too but scoring from corners is too ugly for Spain and one of them, with just a few seconds to go, ended up back with Casillas inside 3 seconds. Seriously.
So, a pelanty shoot-in ensued, Spain went first and Xabi Alonso, the man with the gingerest beard outside of Ireland, had his kick saved. Now this is where I think Portugal went wrong. They sent up some bloke who decided he’d run on the spot for about 30 seconds before kicking it, at which point he was too knackered to do anything but dribble one that Casillas grabbed as easily as taking candy from Eboue. To my mind, Ronaldo should have taken the first one for them.
I know they were probably gambling on the technical efficiency of Spain, thus meaning his penalty (the 5th we assume), would have been a super-pressure spot kick but also quite possibly one of ultimate glory which would suit Ronaldo down to the ground as his obvious ambition is to be the most famous man alive. Ever. Instead, after Sergio Ramos did a kind of Pirlo, Bruno Alves, on loan from Monsters Inc for the duration of the tournament, smacked his shot against the bar.
And lo it all came down to former Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas and I would say there was a half a second where his heart was well and truly in his mouth and a little turtle’s tail did appear as the ball struck the post … then rattled in the side of the net on the opposite side of the goal. It was a big penalty but I’d say when you’ve scored one with a broken leg this was no bother at all. Spain went through, and as John Terry cavorted with his new team, Ronaldo stood there aghast that once again the fates had stolen from him the chance to be even more famous and to display his outrageously hideous neck in triumph.
But, you know, that’s what happens when you try and milk the glory instead of setting the example as the captain and the best penalty taker on your team. You step up first, show the way, infuse your teammates with confidence and belief, not stand their preening like a peacock with an outrageously hideous neck. If he’d gone first and scored they’d have had the advantage and might very well be in Sunday’s final. As it is, they’re not, and while I understand people are a bit tired of Spain’s style, I’d much rather they were happy than Ronaldo who had to taste his own tears of unfathomable sadness.
We’ll find out tonight who they meet when Germany meet Italy and surely this tournament owes us a game at this stage. We’ve suffered four quarter-finals so bad it’s like they were sung to us by Phil Collins using an acoustic guitar at 2am in a party in a student bedsit, and one semi-final which left a lot to be desired. Come on football gods, give us a belter of a game tonight. We deserve it. If only Germany and Italy had some kind of history to spice things up. Oh well.
Right, onto matters Arsenal and there’s very little happening. Olivier Giroud says he turned down Chelsea because he wasn’t sure Roberto di Matteo knew who he was. Which is very polite because we all know it’s because he couldn’t spend the duration of his contract working with a man who looks like a turtle who lost his shell at a service station somewhere. He also said he’s here to work with Robin van Persie rather than replace him, which is kinda what he has to say really, and I wouldn’t read too much into it.
The club confirmed that their opponents for the pre-season game in Nigeria on August 5th would be … er … Nigeria. Which makes a lot of sense. Obviously we’ve got a massive amount of support in Africa and in Nigeria the old Kanu connection must make us very popular indeed. Here’s to a successful trip and a great chance for fans to see the team in the flesh.
This morning’s Independent suggests that Terry Burton is in line to become the reserve team manager in the wake of the promotion of Neil Banfield to the first team set-up. He’s a very well regarded coach with huge experience, and as well as bringing all that knowledge to the youngsters he’ll be working with, he might also be the man to bridge the gap at a coaching level too, imparting his wisdom to potential successors.
Finally, a youngster who hasn’t made it at the club, Alban Bunjaku (he really should have become a doctor, no?), has left the club to join Sevilla. It’s quite unusual for a young English player to go abroad so best of luck to him down there.
And that’s as much as I’ve got. Time for an omelette sandwich and more coffee. Till tomorrow.