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Monday, 09 June 2008

Euro 2008 Diary; Flagging French Foiled; Dutch Devour Donadoni's Dummies


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Squarefootball Euro 2008 Diary - Monday June 9 2008

The much vaunted Group of Death gets under way, and there are plenty of horrors on show for Italy and France.

First up it’s the French, who toil through 90 goalless minutes of tedium with Romania in Zurich. The underdogs lack ambition throughout, but Raymond Domenech’s side respond with some of the most predictable, lamentable football played so far in the tournament. Chances are at a premium, though the best fall to grapevine superstar Karim Benzema and Chelsea’s much travelled sulk-meister Nicolas Anelka;

“Every match is now effectively a knockout match.” reckons Domenech, unable to resist a dig at the approach of Victor Piturca‘s side;

“We were playing against a team that didn't want to play, just wanted a draw.” he comments, having gone into the clash without injured former Arsenal duo Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.

Romania may have been dull, but they put on a master class in bus-parking. Yet Piturca pretends not to be pleased, observing;

“We wanted all three points.”

For an encore he tries his hand at irony, failing badly with;

“Maybe the French are bored with playing at the highest level and let us Romanians win a point.”

If Romania’s point is unexpected, events in Berne take a turn for the sensational. World champions Italy are downed 3-0 by a Holland side which had apparently lost it’s flair coming into Euro 2008.

In a stunning display of what used to be known as Total Football, a massively offside Ruud van Nistelrooy puts the Dutch in front, before sweeping counter attacking movements lead to breathtaking goals for Wesley Sneijder and Gio van Bronckhorst. There are golden opportunities for van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie to add to the misery of Roberto Donadoni’s side, but nevertheless the scoreline is comprehensive enough;

“To win 3-0 against Italy, a team with so much experience and quality in their team, we didn't expect that. It was a truly good performance from everyone.” says Dutch coach Marco van Basten;

“They (the players) fought like a team and if the spirit is like it was tonight, with all the quality we have, we can have nice dreams.” he adds, catching himself staring through a window and beginning to snooze lightly;

“In the first-half, we conceded two goals from mistakes, but despite that we were not overrun by Holland.” responds Donadoni, who looks destined for an airport fruit-pelting in a week or so’s time on this evidence;

“We have made mistakes in our approach to the game, but the guys will respond positively.” he promises.

By Stephen Orford

9 June 2008

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