Portugal plays Turkey tonight. Crissie better take off his shirt.
Euro ’08 will finally get rolling today.
I’ve got the ladies back around the table and we’re talkin’ a whole lotta smack.
Today’s Group A matches will feature Switzerland hottie Philippe Senderos face off against the Czech Republic and their very-pretty-despite-the-headgear keeper, Petr Cech. Trick-pony and goopy-haired pretty boy, Cristiano Ronaldo, will line-up for Portugal to do battle with Turkey who, annoyingly, haven’t got a single hottie among them.
[Dame’s note: Well, unless you want to count Kazim-Kazim but isn’t he English? I mean, really.]
On Sunday you can look forward to watching Group B and tourney co-hosts, Austria, get schooled by Croatia and the ever scrumptious, Niko Kranjcar.
And if you love German boys, then you’ll probably tune in to the ultimate grudge match: Germany v Poland. Germans Klose, Podolski and Trochowski are all sort of Polish after all – it’ll be lots of fun.
[Dame's note: Yes, "fun" or Germany will just crush this entire group and giggle their way out of the round-robin stage causing this to be an absolute snore unless someone mans the hell up and takes off their freaking shirt. Your pick.]
Before you scurry off to plop yourself in front of your TV for the next month or so, let’s consult the wise footie ladies once more, shall we?
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
[Click here to read Pt. I of the Ladies… Euro Roundtable.]
DAME: How does everyone feel about England not making it to the tournament this summer? Georgina and Marnie, you ladies are English – how are you going to be dealing with England’s absence? I think I’m going to miss the obligatory “boo-hoo England” roundabout in the press, myself.
MARNIE: Even being English, I doubt I would support England even if they were in the competition. I’m not a huge fan of internationals, I guess I’m a glory-hunter as far as England are concerned: I hate them and the way the press constantly talk them up, but if they get as far as the semis I turn into an England fan. Otherwise, I’m amused when they lose.
JENNIFER: I do wish England was going to be there. Not only because they’re usually who I support, but also because it’s depriving us of some potential hotness. On the other hand, it means we get a summer without the endless debates over David Beckham, Lampard vs Gerrard, Brave John Terry, etc., etc. And no more Steve McClaren, thank the gods. The other team I wish had qualified is Serbia. I like them for no apparent reason. (Actually, there is a reason: it’s called Nemanja Vidic.)
GEORGINA: The most hateful thing of all is that McLaren has got a job as a radio commentator in England for the tournament. I mean not only does he get us knocked out but then we have to listen to him talking about what a good time everyone else is having. May his brolly turn inside out
INARA: Well, I miss England, but only because I won’t be able to see them go out in a penalty shootout. Honestly, England not being there is a good thing. That’ll give the boys ample time to work on their next autobiographies.
JENNIFER: I know I’ve been waiting with bated breath for Ashley Cole’s “My Defence: Part 2.”
DAME: Domenech’s squad selections were a bit controversial. It seems he’s gone for youth over experience on one end and then has totally neglected current form on the other. Do you think he’s made wise choices?
SARAH: I think he has, if only because these are the guys who are going to be playing club football for a lot of the top teams after this tournament (if they don’t already).
MARTHA: I’ll always say he’s mad for leaving Mexes out, but he had the “injured” excuse this time, so … At least he took Frey, that’s something — he must have forgotten he plays in Italy and isn’t Vieira.
JENNIFER: I don’t agree with all the choices Domenech made, but I think he’s still got a solid enough squad – it’s mostly going to depend on who he actually puts on the pitch. I’d vote for Benzema over Anelka, for example. And I think it’s probably not so bad if Vieira turns out to be not fit enough to play.
VANDA: I think Domenech has gone a bit doolally, selection wise. I think it’s a very divided dressing room and that is reflected in the inconsistency they show in the pitch. But in fairness, they are in what people insist on calling a “transitional stage”. The ’98 world cup/ Euro 2000 generation are finally gone, and they haven’t quite worked out what sort of team they think they are now.
AMANDA: I think it’s always hard to know when you should give the little ones a chance. Some players can handle it sooner than others (I can’t think of a French example right now, but Cesc is maybe a good one).
DAME: I’d pick Benzema to have a good tournament. I think he’s ready. Now that Vieira’s out (sort of – is he really?) I’d also like to see what Flamini does.
INARA: I think his squad selections were fine. Trezeguet and Cisse were left out at the expense of Gomis and Benzema. Sure, he’s [Trezeguet] second top scorer in Serie A, but club form is not always equal to NT form. And in Trezeguet’s case, it’s very true.
Mexes was dropped from the squad because Domenech doesn’t like his personality on the bench. Mexes apparently doesn’t take being benched very kindly. So Domenech took Boumsong because he knows that Boumsong won’t play a single minute of the tournament but will still keep the atmosphere harmonious.
Sagna was dropped for Clerc, and if anyone saw the way Clerc played last weekend against Paraguay, they’d know why Domenech picked him. For me, the big shock was Landreau being dropped for Mandanda. Landreau is one of Domenech’s favorites (as is Cisse), and I never thought he’d drop the keeper who helped carry France through qualifying. But he did.
Honestly, I think Domenech has a good squad. I’m satisfied with it.
Philippe Mexes: ‘Defensive wonderment and superior hotness’
VANDA: I was very good and resisted the temptation to go on about my poor lovely Mexes. Which is not an easy thing for me to do. But since someone else mentioned him first… Domenech has been persistently and selfishly depriving his national team of both defensive wonderment and superior hotness and I can’t understand why.
INARA: Well, obviously Mexes has the quality to be a starter. But Domenech will keep playing Thuram until he can no longer play. But to be fair, Thuram has been stellar for France – probably because he didn’t play often for Barca. At the same time, Mexes doesn’t want to be on the bench, and there have been reports that he’s among those who create dissent in the dressing room. So Domenech is doing the smart thing by just avoiding the problem entirely by leaving him off. Anyway, should something happen to either Thuram or Gallas,Domenech would play Abidal as a CB before getting to Squillaci or Boumsong. So that’s why Mexes missing the tournament isn’t a big deal to me. Plus he’s also a card shark – yellows and reds galore.
DAME: I’m actually really happy to see Mandanda get a chance – he’s quite young but I think he deserves it the way he’s been playing. And although I’m sad about Trezeguet being left off, there wasn’t really much else Domenech could do considering the big hoopla Trez was creating around him. The boy wouldn’t shut up. Sagna should have been on though. Domenech used injury as an excuse, I think.
MARNIE: Hasn’t Sagna recovered from whatever tiny injury he had now? For me he was Arsenal’s best player last season- so I don’t see how he hasn’t made it into the team. Especially considering the number of other French players in Arsenal’s squad.
INARA: Domenech just likes Clerc better, who works well with the team, etc. And Clerc is more experienced than Sagna in terms of internationals and Champions league games. Plus Clerc is more versatile (he can play anywhere on the right side), and we all know Domenech loves versatility. It’s the drawback of supporting France – there is so much quality that it’s impossible to accommodate them all.
VANDA: So who is everyone’s choice for an outsider then? Croatia? Czech Rep? is there going to be a Greece-like surprise package this year?
GEORGINA: Either could spring a surprise on us IMO. Both have their strengths. Czech Republic have experience and Croatia some real rising stars. Croatia won’t be the same without Eduardo though.
DAME: Definitely Croatia. Although like Georgina said, I’ll miss Eduardo. The Czech have got Cech though so they can’t be underestimated either.
INARA: I like Croatia’s chances. I think they’ll make the semifinals at least.
JENNIFER: Croatia seem to be the official dark horse team this year. The other team I might pick to surprise people is Russia. They did knock England out, after all. And plus they have the Guus Hiddink factor.
MARNIE: Croatia could struggle a bit without Eduardo. But I’d hope they could make it out of their group.
MARTHA: ROMANIA. ROMANIA! Yes, that’s mostly my heart talking, but I really think they can surprise people. They took four points off Holland in qualifying, and if they can get out of that group, anything can happen — Mutu is in the form of his life as is their keeper, and they can defend.
Philippe Senderos: Ruffle-head
DAME: Asking for the sake of asking: Do either of the hosts (Switzerland and Austria) have a chance of making it out of their groups at least? Is Senderos’s gorgeous little forehead going to be more wrinkled than usual?
JENNIFER: Austria have no chance. They’ll be lucky to win a game.
Switzerland might get out of their group, I don’t know. It depends on which version of the Czech and Turkish teams shows up. And whether Senderos + whoever can get it together in the middle of their defence.
INARA: Partnering Senderos will probably be Patrick Muller. Which could be a good or bad thing. He’s spent the entire year out because of injury, but he’s supposedly looking good. Supposedly.
Switzerland did make it out of the group stages in the World Cup. If they have enough luck, they could do it again. But no further.
Plus they have Alexander Frei, who can look very appealing on his day.
SARAH: I’d say no to both Austria and Switzerland, but especially Austria, they’re pretty awful.
AMANDA: Austria is the luckiest team in the world. Well, them or South Africa in 2010.
JENNIFER: I don’t know how lucky you can be if your own fans have started a petition to get you to drop out of the tournament.
DAME: Important questions now. Think hard – major brain power is required.
The hottest player of the tournament will be?
The hottest team of the tournament will be?
The best player of the tournament will be?
Predictions – Groups, Quarters, Semis, Finals
JENNIFER: Hottest player: Xabi Alonso, because I have a deep and abiding love for him. Hottest team: Spain. Best player: Fernando Torres (maybe Ronniecakes, but I think he’s going to bottle it.)
Group predictions, in order:
Group A: Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Turkey
Group B: Germany, Croatia, Poland, Austria
Group C: Italy, France, Romania, Netherlands
Group D: Spain, Russia, Sweden, Greece
Portugal over Croatia
Germany over Switzerland
Italy over Russia
France over Spain
Germany over Portugal
Italy over France
Final: Germany over Italy
I reserve the right to be totally wrong about all of this.
AMANDA: Well, I’ll co-sign Jen, with the caveat that the “best player” is usually one that no one’s really been paying attention to before the tournament. Ugh, I just said “caveat.”
MARNIE: Hottest player: I am a total Cesc lover, but as far as HOTness is concerned, Freddie is, well, the most insanely good-looking man I have ever witnessed in my entire life.
Hottest team: As in yummy or hottest football? Spain have a nice collection of yum-bags. I’d tip Germany to win.
Best player: Well, you’d be tempted to say the best player in the world right now: Cristiano Ronaldo. But whether he’ll play with the same quality as he does for Man Utd… Knowing my luck, Nasri will probably set Europe on fire and his price-tag will rise to a gazillion.
SARAH: Hottest player: Markus Rosenberg. Hottest team: Sweden. Best Player: Luca Toni, maybe? My predictions? Germany wins it all. Plays Italy (if this is possible) in the finals.
MARTHA: Gosh, these are important. And difficult. Hottest player as in one we secretly love most or the ones that’s most empirically hot? My answer to the second is Olof Mellberg. Hottest team: Sweden. Best player: I so badly want it to be Mutu or Quaresma, but would be very happy if it was Zlatan instead. I’m going to go against all logic (because logic never works for me) and pick Spain to win it all. Even though I don’t like any of them. And hate their coach. (See? Against logic.)
VANDA: OK. Here goes.
Hottest team of the tournament, despite the injury to Fabio, will still be Italy because we still have Luca Toni and Gennaro Gattuso (if he shaves a bit he is SUPER HOT) and Boriello and if all else fails the luscious hair of Camoranesi (no need to consider the face: I am happy to brutally objectify every part of these players for my personal gratification).
Hottest player: Eek I don’t know. I have a soft spot for Christian Chivu but I’m not supposed to say that because he’s a dead ringer for my ex. At the end of the day… Thierry Henry will be there, no? So….
Group A: Portugal, Czech Republic
Group B: Germany, Croatia
Group C: Italy, France
Group D: Russia, Spain
Portugal, Germany, Italy, France
INARA: Hottest player: I gotta go with Zlatan. He’s not pretty, but he does it for me. Hottest team: Looks wise, Sweden. Style wise, Netherlands. Best player: I’d say Cristiano Ronaldo, but I don’t expect Portugal to get far in the tournament. So instead I vote for Karim Benzema (who has been looking REALLY good in the last couple of France friendlies. Just fyi).
Group A: Turkey, Portugal, Czech Republic, Switzerland
Group B: Germany, Croatia, Poland, Austria
Group C: France, Netherlands, Italy, Romania
Group D: Spain, Sweden, Russia, Greece
Croatia over Turkey
Germany over Portugal
France over Sweden
Netherlands over Spain
Germany over Croatia
France over Netherlands
Final: France over Germany
My predictions are grounded in a lot of optimism, as you can see.
DAME: And to answer my own questions… Hottest player of the tournament: Thierry Henry. Also: Zlatan, Andrea Barzagli and Christoph Metzelder if he can find it in him to shave. The hottest team of the tournament: Germany – I’m going by hotness per capita here. Spain’s got a few hotties but Germany have got it down from keepers all the way up front.
The best player of the tournament: The obvious choice would be Cristiano Ronaldo. Or someone Spanish – Cesc or Torres. I’m going for Benzema and Nasri. I also hope Jens Lehmann can stick to Wenger by being completely amazing.
Group A: Portugal, Czech
Group B: Germany, Croatia
Group C: France, Netherlands
Group D: Sweden, Spain
Quarter: Croatia, Germany, France, Netherlands
Semi: Germany, France
Final: France (Optimism on my end as well, Inara)
Michael Ballack; ‘His nipples scare me.’
VANDA: I feel like I should add that while doing some research for this evening I had a look through the German players’ photos, and they had not one single hot player. Not one! I think this deserves some recognition in itself.
INARA: Well, Mario Gomez is kind of cute though…
JENNIFER: Aw, come on. No love for Michael Ballack?
AMANDA: His nipples scare me.
MARTHA: His brow is very … early man.
JENNIFER: Yeah, I know, but he’s tall. He looks like he could throw you up against a wall real good. Um. Have I said too much?
DAME: Vanda! How can you say that! Metzelder, Lehmann, Gomez, Ballack, Podolski. Frings.
SARAH: I know lots of people who like Frings. I do not get it.
JENNIFER: Frings needs to cut his damn hair. That is all.
DAME: Yes, Frings. FRINGS. And Rene Adler while we’re on the topic of Germans.
VANDA: Dame, my faith in you is seriously shaken. Lehmann? Really? Podolski is like a cartoon of a German (ironically given that he’s Polish). Torsten Frings is at least not gross. Metzelder is just normalissimo.
DAME: I love when Lehmann gets pissed and hits people.
JENNIFER: Crazy German keepers are the best kind. Frings used to have short hair a long time ago. It was a vast improvement.
INARA: I think it’s his caveman persona. Put Frings in a loincloth and give him a club, and RAWRRR. And I just can’t believe I wrote that…