Pete’s Futbol Experiment: Day One Random Commentary

DAY 1

 GAME 1- POLAND VS. GREECE

The first thing I noticed was that the commentators mentioned that the European Championships are more difficult to win than the World Cup. Wow. Had no idea, and have no idea why. They never really said.

Question 1- Why is this tournament more difficult to win than the World Cup?

Super Fan Rakesh- Bigger concentration of good teams in Euros, but still missing some outstanding teams. Group stages are more difficult.

It’s just 5 minutes in and there’s actually been a decent amount of action. Poland has had a few offensive chances.

Announcers are reiterating what I was told about this group from the Montrose Super Fans, Group A is “soft” and “weak.”  That brings me to my next question.

Question 2- How is each group decided? I know there aren’t seedings because it’s a round-robin format, but there has to be a way those four teams in each group are decided right?

Super Fan Rakesh- Random draws.

Fourteen minutes in we have our first “injury.” Ludovic Obraniak from Poland. Didn’t seem to be that big of a collision. Player is back up and back to normal after lying on the ground for 20 seconds. That annoys me. Was he injured? No. He was hurt. Shake it off and don’t waste our time watching you pretend you have some sort of injury.

16:47 And in just over a quarter in real football (15:00) Poland scores off a header. Pretty cool centering play and headed in by Robert Lewandowski. Now that’s a polish name! #Pride It was only a matter of time (I’m assuming) Poland has been putting pressure on Greece for the majority of the game.

Aaaaaand another injury. They’ve taken his shoe and sock off and spraying him with the magic spray. You know what my next question will be.

Question 3- What is that spray? What does it do? Is it like Icy Hot?

Super Fan Rakesh- Pain relieving spray, like Icy Hot.

Greece is playing with 10 players while the injured fella is being attended to. If the remedy for the player’s injury is a bit of spray then it doesn’t seem worth putting his team down a man for any amount of time. Walk it off?

After a collision between a Polish player and a Greek player, both go down and throw arms up into the air. Looked like a pair of dives to me, but what do I know?

Stadium is packed full of Polish fans. They whistle every time the Greeks get possession. It’s nearly as annoying as Vuvuzelas.  I’m guessing it’s supposed to get the Greeks off their game. But really, I think it’s just annoying.

 Question 4- How long is the grass on these fields? It doesn’t seem to be as short as golf greens, but maybe the fringe?

The net seems so damn big. How do these guys miss from in close? I’m guessing it’s harder than it looks, certainly under pressure.

It’s nearly half way through the match and Greece hasn’t had any legit scoring chances. They look incredibly inept.

First red card at 43 minutes. ENTIRE Greek team is pleading with ref to change the call. Did look like a crap call, I don’t know what he did to deserve the ejection.

Greece is mobbing the referee and getting a yellow card. They are arguing an alleged hand ball. Not getting the call. Maybe they should play better and score rather than arguing everything. That’s a sign of a really struggling team. Frustrated by its own limitations.

So we are now at the half and the score is 1-0. Poland was entertaining for a few minutes, Greece is a bunch of whiners and so far, this game is not turning me into a soccer fan.

So the ref that gave the red card apparently does that a lot in “La Leaga” whatever that is. Gotta be careful around ticky-tacky refs.

So if you lose the opening game, apparently it’s basically impossible to qualify for next round. Is that BS? I guess Greece can’t afford to lose one game in the group stage.

But scoring one goal seems like an insurmountable task for Greece at this point, so they should probably give up.

And at 50 minutes, Greece scores, making my previous comment…not…good.

Now we have a ball game! Can this end in a tie? That would irritate me.

 American Soccer Fan Charlie Ash’s Commentary- Yes. Tie’s in the group stage. The top two from each group advance to the knockout rounds. Once knock out rounds start then there are no ties.

In the group stage:

3pts for a win

1pt for a draw

0pts for a loss

WOW goalie gets a red card and there’s a penalty kick! This game is starting to interest me. Poland has been in control basically the whole game and now, Greece can take the lead. This is karma from that earlier phantom red card to Greece.

SAVE! WOW I don’t know what’s crazy in soccer, but this is now crazy.

That offsides call prevented a goal. I’m guessing there’s no replay in soccer? The call was actually correct, but the situation reminds me of a certain Briere goal in the Pens/Flyers series that should have been called offsides.

Since the game was tied, there hasn’t been much action. I guess both teams are playing for the tie? That’s no fun, whatsoever.

Game ends in a 1-1 tie. It was exciting at times, but ultimately I can’t stand ties. In competition, there should be a winner and a loser. Period.

 

GAME 2 CZECH REPUBLIC VS. RUSSIA

First 10 minutes are done and I haven’t seen anything to note so far. My only question is why is the Czech goalie wearing wrestling head gear?

GOAL RUSSIA AT 14:29. A centering ball gets headed into the post and the rebound is pounded in. 1-0 blowout so far. Yes that was sarcasm.

Aaaaaand someone throws a flare onto the field. Yes, a flare. A. How does someone get that into the stadium? B. Why the hell would you throw a flare onto the field? Are all soccer fans mindless idiots?

RUSSIA SCORES AGAIN IN THE 23RD MINUTE. Great through ball/centering pass and a quick kick past the goalie. 2-0 and the rout is on.

Czechs better do something. They are just getting out played…I think.

After seeing these giant stadiums filled to the brim, it’s hard not to give “futbol” some credit. This kind of popularity is unrivaled, even in American college football. People just love this stuff.

And the Czechs are back in the game, netting a GOAL in the 51st minute. A great move by the Czech player to get around the goalie and tuck it home. I’m pleased that both teams have scored in both games I’ve watched so far. Nothing turns me off about soccer worse than goose eggs on the board.

Small collision just occurred. Both players fell, then immediately got up and said nothing. THAT’S what I want to see. Play the sport, don’t run your mouth, don’t complain for penalties and don’t act as if you were taken down by sniper fire.

Another thing I have to give soccer, there are some smoking hot females at these matches and the camera operators aren’t afraid to show them. Kinda like watching an NBA game.

Noticed that I haven’t written nearly as much during this game as the first. Am I paying less attention? Maybe. But I also think that I’m starting to get used to the many things that initially caused me to pause.

Also, this game hasn’t been quite as interesting, I think?

RUSSIA EXTENDS THE LEAD TO TWO. Some player whose name I can’t pronounce or spell has his second of the game. He DRILLED it right past the goal keeper and with 10 minutes left, it doesn’t look like the Czechs can do much now.

RUSSIA PUTS THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN. Only minutes after the previous goal, the Russians strike again. Great ball handling and a superb individual effort to fire the ball past the goalie. Keeper got a hand on the ball, but it wasn’t enough to keep it out of the net. Out of the four teams I’ve watched today, the Russians seem to be the most dominant.

The Czechs play Greece in their next game. I anticipate that to be…ugly? Not very fun to watch? I’d take Greece over them right now, just based on the surge they were able to generate late in their game against Poland.

Game over. Russia takes it 4-1. Once they went up big, I lost a lot of interest, just like the 4-0 Kings win in the Stanley Cup final. Blowouts are boring once they happen and this one didn’t happen until late. Generally, was a pretty entertaining game. The more goals, the better as far as I’m concerned. But there weren’t any red cards in this game and the penalty shot in the Greece/Poland game added extra drama. Poland/Greece wins the day.

 

My Overall Take After Day One

Unfortunately, this just doesn’t feel as dramatic as the World Cup, and that was to be expected. But I feel that I was able to sit here and watch soccer without complaining for the most part. I still hate seeing players pretend they’re hurt and ties infuriate me. There was some drama in the first game with a penalty save and some strange calls, so I was pretty entertained. The Russia/Czech game wasn’t as good because it was one-sided, but still interesting. I like goals. The more the better. I don’t know how I’ll feel as I continue to watch group play, but I’m guessing that once the teams emerge from the groups, the soccer will be far more entertaining.

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About Pete Dombrosky
Pete is a graduate of Penn State University and a life-long Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan. He covered men's hockey, golf, tennis, swimming and the enterprise beat as a reporter at the Daily Collegian, Penn State's award-winning, independent student-operated paper. He currently serves as the Assistant Managing Editor for Thrillist Media Group (www.thrillist.com).

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