Saturday, June 7, 2008
Game 2: Just call me Pepe
After a well fought and tight opening match in group Basel, Group A's second game was nowhere near as close. While it took the Portuguese side 61 minutes to find the back of the net, there was never any doubt that the Turks were out of their league against the free-flowing Iberians. In the 16th minute it looked as though Pepe scored his first ever international goal, but it was then waived off since he came from an offside position. All eyes were on Ronaldo in this match, and though he did not get on the score sheet, he dominated his 1/2 of the field, setting up many dangerous opportunities inlcuding hitting the post on a free kick thanks to a fingertip deflection from Volkan Demirel. Ricardo was not tested much all game, and for the most part played well outside of being caught out of position on one or two crosses. The best players on the field were on the Portuguese backline, and I'm not talking about Ferreira or Carvalho; Pepe was denied one goal, but was able to make an amazing run and finished off a beautiful wall pass from Nuno Gomes and gave the Portuguese the lead they deserved. Right back Bosingwa's name will not appear anywhere on the stats sheet either, but he was the best pure defender on the day, he was never beat, always properly positioned, and was a threat when he pushed forward to support the attack. I look forward to seeing the young defender anchoring the right back position for Chelsea next year, he impressed me the most out of anyone today. Deco and Hugo Gomes both played well, and when Nani was substituted on he injected a new energy into the squad. If Portugal can keep up this type of effort, they well be favored to take home the championship. Turkey struggled to provide any type of pressure or sustained possession, and they can take pride in the fact that they held Portugal to 1 goal up until injury time. If Fatih Terim can adjust his formation to provide more offensive pressure up top, Turkey should be favored to beat Switzerland, and possibly even upset the Czech Republic in their third game and squeak into the quarterfinals.
On a separate note, I thought ESPN's studio coverage today was terribly painful to watch. Who the hell is Steve Bunin?....and has he ever seen a soccer game before today? Not only was his soccer knowledge non-existent, but he bumbled and fumbled his way through the lead-ins and technical aspects of the show as well. Having Julie Foudy as your best studio commentator is not a good sign. Maybe he can look through a media guide and roster sheet before coverage starts tomorrow, if that doesn't take away from his hair and make-up preparation.
Tomorrow Group B kicks off, and the opening match should see Austria get embarrassed by Croatia, followed by a much closer Germany-Poland showdown. Overall, I would say day 1 lived up to the hype, and for the most part results went as planned.
Posted by Tgalietti at 1:42 PM