Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro '08: Netherlands - Italy live blog

Normally, I'm pretty hard on Canadians who pretend to care about soccer every 2 or 4 years so they can drive up and down trendy streets hanging out of their cars with Portugal or Italy flags. Especially since these are the same folks who get excited about Canada winning a meaningless hockey tournament like the world juniors.

But grand larceny aside, I do like the Oranje (the Dutch national team). I come by it somewhat honestly, with some Dutch blood in my lineage way back down the line, and having spent a year living in Amsterdam and surrounding area recently.

So I'll provide a live blog interspersed with some Canadian context this afternoon. The match starts in an hour.


Bern, Switzerland

TV: TSN - 1:45 CT / 2:45 ET

If you won't be near a TV this afternoon, there are some P2P streams available. I placed a bet on the Dutch, which doesn't seem all that wise to me, but at better than 3 to 1, it's worth risking a handful of euros.

The lineup for the Dutch has some injuries (Robben, of course), but here are the starters:
Opstelling Oranje:
Van der Sar; Boulahrouz, Mathijsen, Ooijer, Van Bronckhorst; De Jong, Engelaar; Kuyt, Van der Vaart, Sneijder; Van Nistelrooy.
Part of my connection to the team is that I've seen a bunch of these players live with Ajax. Namely, Van der Vaart, Sneijder, and de Jong, as well as substitutes Babel, Stekelenburg and Heitinga in a pair of matches I saw in 2005. Kuyt and van Bronckhorst are Feyenoorders and therefore complete scum (I'm not a big fan of Ajax either), but I'll forgive them for today.

A picture from one of the matches: Koeman rot op!

We're not too far away now.

5th: It's afternoon here on the prairies, so there is no way I can justify bringing some colour to this commentary by drinking along with the match.

I know Italy are world champions, but I don't really get it. There's nobody on the squad that strikes me as particularly dangerous. And they won on penalties, which is like tying for the World Cup.

France drew Romania 0-0 earlier, a match both teams would have very much liked to win.

8th: The pale blue socks with white shorts make the Dutch look een kleine beetje gay. Also on the fashion side, the shirts look a lot better than the old-school collars they wore at the last WC. The numbers, though, looked like they've been put on with hockey tape.

10th: Dangerous position for a Dutch free kick as Mr. Ed (Ruud) goes down. Sneijder to take it, but nothing comes of it.

Drifting off topic for a bit, one option for tracking Canada - St. Vincent live this Sunday, is that country's National Broadcasting Corportation. A radio broadcast is likely.

17th: Some good offense from the Dutch after Sneijder (or maybe it was van der Vaart) put Mr. Ed through. There was enough contact for a poor ref to call a penalty, but this Swede got it right.

24th: Good chance from a Sneijder free kick. Van Nistelrooy was close to it. The subsequent corner is cleared. Materazzi looks like a real asshole.

26th: Treffer! Van Nistelrooy scores, even though he was clearly offside. Hup! My friend just called and pointed out that an Italian player was behind the end line on the play, playing everyone onside. Will need to see another replay to confirm.

Mathijsen gets away with some grabbing on Toni in the area a bit later.

30th: Een tweede for Nederland!!! Gio clears off the line from an Italy corner, then works the counter with Kuijt and Sneijder finsihes! A brilliant shot from Wesley.

33rd: Van der Sar makes his first good save from di Natale. This is the type of situation where the Oranje could easily let their foot of the gas and choke away the rest of the match.

On the Canada front, I seem to recall from an article I read last week that the MNT would be opening camp on the island today, so an 18-man roster shouldn't be far away. But it could be.

Gattuso has the exact same goatee that Jon Favreau had when he played Monica's boyfriend on Friends.

43rd: The Dutch are on! Van der Vaart puts it on a platter for Ruud, but Buffon came out to close the angle and deflected the shot over.

HT: My friend was right about the Italian player out the back on the van Nistelrooy goal. The TSN panel will now engage in some under-informed discussion of the offside rule. "Not on the field of play" - does that matter? Seems like it shouldn't, since he wasn't pushed out by an orange shirt. Fill me in.

70th: The second half hasn't been half as interesting as the first. Neither team seems to be able to string together more than a handful of passes, and the one time the Dutch tried they ended up playing it into their own end, giving up the ball, and earning a yellow card (de Jong). Italy is piling on the pressure but haven't seriously threatened van der Sar.

Van Persie is on now for the Horseface Killah.

76th: Luca Toni totally botches a wide open chance one-on-one with van der Sar. Heitinga is on now for Bouhlarouz.

79th: Van der Sar pWNz, as the kids would say, Pirlo on a great free kick, and the Dutch hit back on the counter attack. Buffon saves a Kuijt shot, but Dirk crosses it back in and van Bronckhorst finishes. 3-0!!

FINAL: It's 3-0. I'd give my left nut to be on the Leidseplein right now, living it up. There might be some argument about a possible cockup by the linesman on the first goal, a veritable soccer boner if you will, but I don't care.

Looks like the officials got it right. The relevant FIFA law:
A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee's permission (and who thus requires the referee's permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.

The next live blog will be Sunday: Canada at St. Vincent and Grenadines. I don't know what kind of sources I'll have but I'll provide some kind of commentary, even if I have to make it up. Expect some more non-live posts before then.


Julian said...

Ah your welcome to join us in amsterdam, albeit mentally ;)
This game was amazing to watch and everybody was going crazy in the packed cafe. Have fun with your price money!

J said...

Thanks. I actually didn't win or lose any prize money because I screwed up somehow and never confirmed the bet. It was fun, though, and I now can count on seeing the Oranje in the quarterfinal round.