Why wouldn’t you support France? Oh…that.
If you’ve been living in a box in the middle of the Sahara desert for the past month or so, let me fill you in on some marvelous news: the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship starts tomorrow.
Euro ’08 shall see a bunch of footballers commune in Switzerland and Austria for a few weeks to kick a ball round some grass and then take of their shirts.
It’s sure to be a riveting affair.
[Dame's note: Have fun on vacay England!]
Cristiano Ronaldo may unleash a devious winkity-wink; Greece will probably bring the hilarity attempting to defend their title and Holland will surely get tossed in a flurry of red cards.
But before I go on to unleash any of more of my own disastrous conclusions upon you, I’ve deemed it wise (because I am wise, duh) to subscribe to the “two heads are better than one” philosophy and consult a few of the cleverest lady footie bloggers I know – asking them to answer a few (read: a zillion) very, very important questions.
[Dame's note: And as most things go where the Dame's concerned, serious football conversation very quickly descended into talk about naked football and Michael Ballack throwing someone up against a wall “real good.”]
Shall we call this a roundtable? A table that is round? A girly-chat table? A table that, unfortunately, didn’t have any pie on it?
Whatever it is, it’s long and a touch smutty but if you ever wanted to know just how the ladies (small “l”) will get down to chatting about Euro this summer when the lads aren’t around then today’s your lucky day.
The clever footie ladies:
Amanda – You’ll Never Blog Alone
Georgina – For Girls Who Can’t Do Football
Inara – Lyon Offside
Jennifer – Footie Girl
Marnie – This Is Extra Time
Martha (formerly of Italy Offside) – Colpo di Testa
Sarah – Goalscoring Robot
Vanda – Spangly Princess
DAME: First thing’s first – Who are each of you supporting and why? I’m supporting France generally out of habit.
AMANDA: I guess I’m a neutral — my default is England, and we all know how that went. I would go with Spain, but that’s just asking for trouble. I’m open to be converted.
JENNIFER: I’ve got two teams: Germany, because I’m half German (the other half is English, and still bitter about Steve McClaren) AND Spain, because they are lovely to watch in more than one sense.
VANDA: Italy for me, I have the excuse of, er, being part Italian. And living here. Which I reckon is sufficient justification.
MARTHA: Romania, because I’ve recently realized they’re wonderful in about a hundred different ways. They will either finish without a point or get out of the Group of Death and scare the hell out of everyone else who’s left. And because as much as I would love it if Portugal won, I can’t support a team 12,000 people are paying to watch train.
MARNIE: I’ll be supporting a mixture of Spain (Cescy Cesc: he’s got some kind of hold on me), France (the many, many Arsenal players), Holland (just because) and Sweden (just because of Freddie’s bum-bum). But at the same time a part of me hopes Spain and France get kicked out early because of the resting Arsenal players thing.
GEORGINA: I’m supporting France because:
1. I think the French language is dead sexy.
2. They make great wine.
3. Thierry Henry.
SARAH: I’m supporting Sweden for lack of any other team to support, since my regulars either can’t play or didn’t make the cut (USA and Denmark respectively). Also, I have a thing for Scandinavians, a couple of friends of mine are Swedish, and I’ve got a thing for Markus Rosenberg.
INARA: I’m supporting France. My reasons for supporting them are kind of complicated. I have no French connections, have never even been to France, and even at the time of the last World Cup, I wasn’t a fan. But I support Lyon so fervently that I eventually grew into Les Bleus as well. And the more I saw of the France NT, both their qualities and personalities of the players AND the coach, the more I loved. So I adopted them.
JENNIFER: I saw the bit about 12,000 people watching Portugal train and thought that was crazy enough – I didn’t realize they’d paid to do it as well! Good lord.
AMANDA: I kind of want to know how much they paid, but I kind of don’t. Either way, probably too much.
JENNIFER: I suppose it depends on whether Ronaldo is training with his shirt off. I might pay to watch that. Maybe.
VANDA: I think you have to pay CRonaldo to keep his shirt on, nowadays. Not that he fancies himself at all, obviously.
DAME: 12,000 people? That’s a bit insane. I mean are they training naked? I’d pay to see that.
AMANDA: Training naked sounds like a bad idea. One two-footed tackle, and you’re not having kids.
GEORGINA: What naked football! Brings a whole new meaning to tackling.
DAME: How about a two-handed tackle? Wa-hey!
SARAH: [Ed's note: Then Sarah presents this sorta-NSFW link to the gals] — Also, that site is mostly safe for work, the video is probably not, since they are naked.
VANDA: I’m not into the idea of fully naked football… dangling and flapping and suchlike. I think pants only. Like a Freddie Ljungberg advert.
INARA: Also, about that naked football… I think that would be painful. But then what about those guys who play with no underwear on [Ed's note: Oh, Inara. NSFW, people]? Not much a flimsy layer of cloth can do for you if you’re…dangling…
DAME: Inara, I am so glad I didn’t have to be the one to bring up the Sebastian Kehl video.
VANDA: Ladies, it has taken us about 20 minutes to get out of hand and smutty, good work all round I think!
GEORGINA: I love how no matter how hard we try we always end up back at naked football.
JENNIFER: I wasn’t trying very hard, really.
DAME: How do you think the chances of Portugal actually winning the thing are? Will Ronaldo smush everyone to pieces?
SARAH: I always thought of Ronaldo as a big game bottler, even if my mother likes him.
GEORGINA: I fancy them to get to the semis but I fancy Spain may surprise us all and win. I’m still supporting France though. Vive la naked football!!
JENNIFER: I think Portugal will get to the semi-finals and then get knocked out by Germany. I just don’t think they’ve got enough in their team to get past the really big countries. Ronaldo can’t do it all on his own — especially if he doesn’t have the same quality players around him as he does with United. On the plus side, we’ll probably get to see him crying again.
MARTHA: They’re (obviously) going to need more than Ronaldo to make serious noise in the tournament. If Deco is Deco again, though, and Big Phil throws Quaresma out there and lets him play, anything’s possible.
VANDA: Portugal look pretty insubstantial to me. Spain are surely too… too Spain to actually win anything, ever. No?
DAME: I’m apprehensive about Spain. They were supposed to do so great at World Cup and that didn’t turn out as planned did it?
SARAH: I can’t see Spain winning, plus I still haven’t forgiven them for beating Ukraine in the WC in ’06.
JENNIFER: Spain are big choking chokers who choke. Sadly. They should get out of their group without much of a problem, but after that they’ll probably have to get past France or Italy. It could be a repeat of the World Cup where France knocked them out thanks to Thierry “I’m not a woman, I don’t dive” Henry. *still bitter*
MARTHA: I’m with Georgina in thinking Spain might finally get it together this time, but I don’t think I’ve ever been right about a prediction in my life, so look for them to go out without a point.
GEORGINA: Cesc Fabregas insubstantial? Never! And of course there’s the fact that Spain’s manager sounds like a character out of Lord of the Rings. The’ve got magic on their side.
INARA: I don’t think Spain will make it past the quarterfinals. They have a really talented team, but they aren’t that convincing defensively, Ramos and Casillas notwithstanding.
JENNIFER: Their defense is kind of shaky. Iker Casillas is possibly even more likely to have an aneurysm than he usually is with Real.
MARNIE: I really don’t know what to make of Spain. Maybe if Aragones actually played Cesc and Torres…
Iker Casillas: ‘likely to have an aneurysm’
DAME: On Germany: There’s been a bit of a big thing made about Jens not having any meaningful sort of match practice going into this Euro. So far, he’s not been so bad for the Germans but they qualified pretty easily in a handy group – do you think the cracks will start to show once Euro hits? There’s also a similar sort of situation brewing with defender, Christoph Metzelder – he’s not had much match practice with Real and he was out with injuries for a bulk of this season.
MARTHA: Germany is usually pretty solid at pulling results out of the back. Jens is a bit of an oldie now (see: bald patch) and he’s got enough experience, I think, not to crack under the pressure.
INARA: I think for goalkeepers it’s not that big of a deal if you don’t play super regularly. As long as you practice, playing competitively, especially if you’re experienced, isn’t a key factor. During the World Cup, the Angolan keeper (I forget his name) wasn’t attached to any club and had to practice on his own, but he was definitely one of the best keepers in the tournament.
VANDA: [crude stereotyping] Surely the German team is so efficient and disciplined that mere issues of match practice are irrelevant [/crude stereotyping]. I still think Germany are very likely finalists, if not necessarily eventual winners. My heart says Italy but my head says Germany.
INARA: It seems to me that the teams that are the most workmanlike get the furthest in the competition. I expect to see Germany, Italy, and France in the semifinals.
VANDA: I don’t know if that’s totally fair: sure both Italy & Germany can be workmanlike but that’s not all they’ve got to them. (though I would say that, at least about the Azzurri)
INARA: Well, a workmanlike team isn’t all that you need, but it really helps because those teams have very organized defenses. They tend to slip in on the counter more often than not. Germany, Italy, France, etc, all are capable of flair and style, but that’s not their modus operandi.
MARTHA: Romania only have four strikers on their entire roster! They’re all about the work! Now if only they can get a point or three off France in that opening match…
DAME: What hot young thing are we going to ‘discover’ this summer? Who should we all be keeping our eyes peeled for hotness-wise. (I’m thinking Ibrahim Afellay. He looks a bit like a young Marlon Brando, strangely.)
GEORGINA: Is it just me or does Ibrahim Afellay have the look or Cristiano Ronaldo about him?
DAME: Well, hopefully he doesn’t start tweezing and primping himself to death like Cristiano has. Speaking of Xtina – the hair is looking just awful right now. Bizarre haircut.
MARTHA: Hotness = Miguel Veloso; I think people will discover the guys who don’t play in Spain or England and go crazy. Not that Veloso is actually very attractive, IMHO, but he seems to be one of the Chosen these days. Karim’s also a target for mad explosion of fangirl SQUEEEEEEEE, too — I’m sure he’ll be equally proud of both achievements.
INARA: You know what’s really creeping me out? As a Lyon blogger, I get a lot of questions about Benzema, but recently, a few people on some forums have been asking for Benzema pictures that feature him shirtless and/or with a “bulge.” I love Benzema and all, but he’s still a little kid to me and really ought to be in a daycare when he’s not in practice.
MARTHA: SEE? It’s so happening! (Not that I’m not equally alarmed, mind you.) Benzema and Veloso are going to get their first major fangirl exposure this tournament, and the internets will explode with ZOMG HE’S SO HOT!
Karim Benzema: ‘Ought to be in a daycare’
INARA: Too bad for them that Benzema is really boring off the pitch. He’s dating his sister’s friend, he doesn’t go out partying or clubbing, he lives with his parents…he’s probably still a virgin. Ben Arfa on the other hand…
AMANDA: That doesn’t stop people from getting all excited about Mr. “I was a virgin on my wedding night” Kaka.
JENNIFER: Not young, exactly, but I’d nominate Marco Borriello. (You may remember him as the one who failed a drug test and then said it was because he’d been using a steroid cream to treat an STD. Yeah.) Anyway, he’s kind of got that dirty-hot thing working for him. I was a little disappointed to see that Hatem ben Arfa didn’t make the squad. He’s a cutie.
MARTHA: To me Borriello looks like he’s got sawdust where his brains should be which I just cannot get past, but vacant with pretty hair can move mountains on an Italian!
VANDA: Borriello is not superbright, no. In hotness terms, though hardly new, I am in mourning for the loss of Cannavaro.
JENNIFER: Aren’t we all? The number of hotass Italian defenders in the team is dwindling rapidly.
Part II to follow tomorrow: England chatter, Domenech’s squad selections and the ladies’ predictions