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Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

Pulling back the curtain

I should be completely honest.  I think its time I took off the overcoat and revealed the shirt beneath.

I’m Dutch.  The shirt underneath is a shimmering orange finished with Robben #11 on the back.  I’m not ashamed by my background or bias it’s just that…well its a little hard to control sometimes.  As we move towards the World Cup a fever will take over.  Let me count down some of the worst moments in memory:

1. Losing to Russia in Euro 2008:  Talk about going out with a whimper.  After dismantling Italy and France earlier they play around with their system and line up and lost all of their momentum.

2.  Losing to Portugal in WC 2006:  One of dirtiest and most ill-tempered games I’ve ever watched.  Sixteen Yellow cards.  Four red cards.  At least two missed straight red cards, a tying goal smashed against the post and out and out cheating by the Portuguese.  Quite simply and ugly match.  Check out this really good article about the “Battle of Nuremberg” and you also have watch ‘highlights’ below to truly appreciate the depravity in its completeness.

3.  Beaten on penalties by Italy, Euro 2000(particularly painful): In the quarter finals against Yugoslavia was one of the best performances I’ve seen by a single player in a top international match.  Patrick Kluivert was sensational.  His every touch was goal bound.  I remember running up the stairs to update my family on the score and returning just in time to see the 4th go in.  Throughout the game the mostly orange crowd sang “Campeones (Champions)”.  They seemed to be able to do no wrong as the 6th goal came from a wicked deflection off the post that fell directly at the feet of the impeccable Overmars. 

     Now cue the Italians in the semi-final.  The Dutch had their chances.  The Italians down to 10 men.  Two penalties missed.  Bergkamp crashing a shot against post.  And then penalties.  I hate penalties.  I truly and deeply hate penalties.  They were always going to lose.  And as the Dutch prince looked on, smiling through the pain, they duly obliged.

I’ve frightened children with my screams and bruised my knuckles on low ceilings ove r the course of my relationship with the Oranje.  I’ve paid $5 just to get into a bar to sit at a table by myself to watch my team alongside a score of … err … unfriendly supporters of the opposition. 

I’m putting all of this down for a reason.  I want you to know that at some point in the future I may make an impassioned statement born solely out of frustration or euphoria.  Please remember that I am a flawed individual.  I open myself up to hurt and pain in the hope that I will be rewarded with happiness and joy.  Together we’ll make it through.  Thankfully this only happens every 4 years.

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Through Anyway…Bloody Injustice That

October 14, 2009 2 comments

Wouldn’t it have been interesting to have a World Cup without the two best players in the world? 

Is it so bad that I wanted someone to fail? 

So Portugal and Argentina are through despite having terrible qualifying campaigns, why should I feel disappointed?  I do either way and I can’t help it.  It’s nice to get something new for a change and Euro 2008 without England was just that.  It was fine and there was an even distribution of attention across the board.

Not Worthy of the Grandest StageFootball is ultimately an emotional sport and it tugs on all our memories and brings them into play.  I’m thinking of World Cup 2006 Portugal v. Netherlands.  Portugal cheated their way into the next round.

Then there is the “Hand of God” goal.  I’m sorry I have an issue with someone who blatantly cheats and then has the nerve to crack jokes about it for decades afterward.  Maradona may be the darling of Argentina and a wonderful former player but he has no place on the World Stage before a billion spectators. 

Personal biases are what make the sport great. 

They’re usually based on little to no fact and are so deeply rooted that nothing can dislodge them.

We’ve all tasted defeat and humiliation.  Being sure of, even knowing our team would win only to be left stripped of all belief and exposed.

Football really matters doesn’t it?  It really matters.  Beautiful.