España : Campeóna! Champion!

Campeones! Oooé
Campeones! Oooé
Campeones! Oooooé

Campeones! Oé Oé Oéeee!!!
1-0 was how it ended. Ended 44 years of futility. They always had the skill and the game to challenge the best. Yet, they would find trouble in one form or the other. A team that believed in winning in style. Winning not only the games but winning the hearts of their supporters and their opponents as well. They always had the style, skill. But they would be found wanting in physical ability to last the 90 minutes. To last a long tournament like this. Their ability to react to adversity would come into question and with no answers forthcoming.

Not this time around.
Spain answered all the questions. Disproved the doubters. Self-belief. And I am sure deep down many a critic of yester years wanted Spain to succeed. Because they are dying breed of those who want to entertain and then win. Reminds you of a team from South America that wears yellow shirts (when they used to play well that is..).
Its true, they didnt play their best game against Italy. They only game in which they failed to score. Credit to Italy and poor Donadoni. They devised the perfect game plan mix-and-matching fullbacks and auxiliary midfielders to subdue the nimble-footed Villa and his cohorts in the midfield. But Spain wouldnt be cowed down.
They take down the Italians in the same fashion they won the last World Cup 2 years ago. Penalties.
Let us talk about the final :).
With Villa ruled out, Aragones reverted to a 4-1-4-1. Senna between the lines. Fabregas and Xavi in the middle, Iniesta and Silva wide to support Torres upfront. Germany didnt make any changes. 4-2-3-1. Poldi-Ballack-Schweini supporting Klose upfront.
Contrary to what many pundits thought (that Villa injury is a blessing in disguise to let Fabregas start), I thought it wasnt the ideal formation for Spain. Simply because Xavi and Fabregas are made for the same position and Xavi has a more patient passing philosophy the famous 'tiki-taka' of the Barcelona school. Fabregas has a more vertical approach always looking to pass it upwards to the striker. With the height advantage the germans have over the Spaniards, that would never work. Germany would be very happy with that. (Ok, I didnt write this early enough and one might accuse i am talking in hindsight. which is fine, all it means is >> early bird catches the worm :)).

The Germans started briskly. Spain trying to probe the opposition looked as if they were running on eggshells..barefoot. Soon enough the killer (almost) backpass from Sergio Ramos almost had Klose poking home the first goal. Luckily for Spain, Klose's first touch was too heavy and Puyol had no difficulty dealing with it.
After about 10 minutes, Xavi started coming into the game. Then Silva who gives a wonderful pass to Torres who controls it expertly but he couldnt get a good shot off. Good stuff and this is where the momentum started shifting rapidly. Torres has matured a lot as a striker. From his inconsistent play in the World Cup 2 years go he has evolved into a very dangerous striker whether he is on his own on supported by another forward.
He beat the Merte and Metze central defence pair of Germany repeatedly. He would get the ball in great position but a cautious start by Spain meant they werent attacking in numbers and he would get isolated and forced to a low percentage shot. But that changed very quickly. One quick byline lob by Sergio Ramos had Torres leaping over the tall Metzelder to head onto the inner edge of the post and the ball would bounce out.
The bad luck of Torres continues. But it was a great leap by the Liverpool striker. Spain are on the ascendancy around the half-hour mark.
Poldi and Schweini are frustrated as the spanish midfield gradually imposed themselves on the game and the tiki-taka short passing game of Spain was in full follow.
Minute 33 - moment of brilliance. Xavi passes a ball to Iniesta or Silva who passes it up for Torres to come from the righside. At the outset it looked like a 50-50 ball for Lahm and Torres. But Torres literally ran around Lahm, who when he realized Torres is past him he was already in the penalty box and Lehmann was rushing towards the ball now at the feet of Torres. Lehmann dives to take the ball away from Fernando's legs. Too late. Torres flicks the ball majestically over Lehmann. the ball makes it into the back of the net, eventually.
Gooooooooooooooooooool!!!! España!!!! Torres has scored for Spain. And what a goal. !!
0-1 Spain.
Spain raised the tempo of the game and a few minutes later Iniesta had a great chance but get caught on his wrongfoot and by the time he switches, it was too late.
Spain is in total control of the game by now.

Germany have to change something here. They are not evening getting meaningful possession. Germany sub Lahm due to injury. But they keep their shape. A brief 5-10 minutes where Germany tries to impose their mark on the game by some surging runs and physical play. Loew brings a 2nd striker in Kuranyi. But the coach can only do so much. If Germany dont have the ball, they cant score. It was as simple as that.
A few moments of little clashes between players. Silva is slightly lucky to not to see red for his head-butt with Poldi although, Poldi seemed to have initiated it by sticking his head into the face of Silva. Aragones has seen enough. He has seen enough of the great German comebacks to let this slip by.
He sends in Xabi Alonso for the off-colour Fabregas (much to displeasure of the crowd) and Santi Cazorla in place of Silva, to calm down the nerves of the Spanish.
Spain settle down into the 2nd half and dominate the ball for sustained periods of posession. Numerous opportunities to score goals go begging. This is where they sorely missed Villa. Torres meanwhile was menace and causing havoc in the german area everytime he got the ball. He gets booked for a strange foul and Aragones has seen enough of him. In comes Dani Guiza. And immediately he gets a chance.
A note about Guiza - this dude might look clumsy at times but he is one of those strikers who are always there or thereabouts around the goal.
One of the characterstics of Aragones and Spain in this Cup is his confident changes and not caring for reputations. He has his gameplan and he stuck to it. Of course, it helps if you have the likes of Cesc, Guiza and Xabi on the bench.
A great move started by Santi culminates in Guiza heading across an empty goal mouth for Senna to poke home a well deserved goal and end the misery of the Germans, but the misses making contact by centimeters.

Germany get increasingly frustrated as the Spain keep passing the ball around, changing the pace and Xavi was a master controlling everything from the middle.

Its over. Se acabó!!!!
España Campeón!
Spain wins 1-0, The margin is too flattering to the Germans, they were never really in the game after the first 10 minutes.
Spain deserved this. The Germans tried their best, in the end they dint have enough quality to overhaul this talented Spanish Armada and even their luck deserted them a bit today.
Spain won the power of their midfield and their marauding fullbacks Sergio Ramos all over the pitch and the steady and steely Joan Capdevila, never afraid of going up to support the strikers at the same time keeping it simple at the back. Another Excellent game by Marcos Senna.
What a game!!! for the neutrals it would have been boring a bit if they expected this to be like one of those runaway games we have seen in this tournament like Russia-Dutch, Germany-Portugal etc.. but Spain were never going to let Germany dictate the pace. The posession stats UEFA spews out dont tell the full story. Most of the german posession was in their own box, doesnt mean a thing. Ballack tried gamely but I am not sure it is a good decision to play a half-fit player just because he is eager to play and he is the captain.
Spain has done it.
To cap off, Here is an excerpt from one the Spanish Papers after the historic victory over the Italians in QF. Of course this is the translated version >>
Face painted, Spain flag between his teeth, and performing a V-sign like a grinning tourist, AS's resident loony Tomás Roncero was letting it all out: "Take that historic inferiority complex! Take that Spanish victimism! Take that Buffon and Cassano! Take that June 22 curse! Take that 88-year jinx against the unbeatable Italians! Take that pessimists! Take that disbelievers! Take that Tassotti! Take that Pagliuca! And long live King Juan Carlos of Spain!"
Viva España! Felicidades!


A por ellos!!! oooooée


Vamos Vamos!!!

It all boils down to this. Spain X Germany. España X Alemania! the final.
In less than 24 hours, Spain will step on the field to end a generation of misery, ridicule, 'curse' (maldición) and finally do some justification to the vast talent they had in the past and the present.

44 years since their only Championship.
24 years since the last time they were in a Final.

There is a lot of pressure on this team to wipeout decades of disappointment of a nation who always were up with the best in the world as far as talent players and technical ability is concerned. But too often they cant rise in adversity. They seem to lose against opponents who seemed mentally tougher than themselves. Or too often they get ridden with internal strife in the squad.

Things have been refreshingly different this time around in the Spanish camp. Almost none of the players who featured in those losses in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Players like Torres and Fabregas exceling outside of Spain helped in giving an added dimension to the team. Aragones stuck to his guns by not including popular players who he didnt believe as a part of his setup in Raul and Joaquin.

After a tentative start (eventhough masked by the scoreline 4-1) against Russia, they faced a tough opponent in Sweden. Villa won it for Spain on a last gasp solo run in added time. the largely 2nd team came from behind to beat Greece 2-1 to complete a perfect group record.

And their reward for sweeping group D is a QF clash with dreaded, loathed Italy - the defending world champions. Spain always believed that they play better football than the Italians who are supposed to win through their sheer will to win, physical play and gamesmanship and cheeky tactics. The Italians have a 4 World Cups and a Euro to Spains only Euro.

Italy missing Pirlo, seemed to play for penalties from the get go. They stifled the more enterprising Spanish for all of 120 minutes. Penalties. Spain for once took their penalties with aplomb and riding on the 2 saves of Iker Casillas exorcised 2 ghosts in 1 match.
1. The Italians - The Spainish havent gotten past the Italian in 88 years.
2. QF curse - The Spanish have taken on the dubious tag of QF Bottlers as they havent gotten past that stage in a major cup for the past 20 odd years.

Semifinal against a resurgent Russian team who had beaten the dutch at their own game in a scintillating display of attacking and running football in the QF. Spain never worried about Russian resurgence despite all the hype and the gungho statements that the Russian's have come of age in the span of a few matches. Sadly for the Russians all those who believed in the hype didnt include the Spanish.
The slick spanish passing ran the Russians ragged for the better part of an hour before scoring the 1st and then the 2nd and then the 3rd to put them out of the tourney. In the process they lost David Villa for the final. A big loss. One that cant be filled without changing their tactics. Spain reverted to a 4-5-1 system and will employ them same against the Germans in the final today.

This is it. Spain are ready to end the wait of 44 years today.

There is no point in talking formations and tactics. Spain is playing against itself, its history and all the disappointment of its predecessors. To be fair, this bunch has already broken through the glass ceilings which seemed insurmountable in the past.
As the old saying goes :: Finals are to be won. And none remembers who finished 2nd.

Aupa España
Vamos a ganar!


España - Ya es la hora!

Vamos España!

A final llegó el día.

España X Italia en Vienna. Hoy.

Todo la afición de la Furia Roja.. espera.. a una victoria ante los Italianos. Ante La actual campeona del Mundo. Ante un equipo que lo sabe como sobrevivir cuando las cosas y la suerte no estan en su lado. Así que una paradon espectacular del Buffon a un penalti de Mutu ante rumania la dejo con vida en el torneo, y luego ante un equipo Gallo que esta pasando de su peores momentos, gano y califico a las cuartos.

Todos los ganadores del grupo ya dijeron adiós a la copa. Portugal, Croacia y Holanda los ganadores de los grupos A, B, C perdieron en las cuartos.
Asi las estadisticas no ayudan a España.

David Villa o Luca Toni?

Veremos! Espero que gane España :)
Vaya Vaya España!

Russian Delight!

Guus Hiddink sinks his home country in an epic game underlining the ascent of the Russians!


day 11 - what remains of the group of death?

Who and what will remain of the Group of death. We know the Dutch have already survived and in great style. Now it is upto Romania, France and Italy to avoid death.
Italy seems to have forgotten how to defend and France well they seem all at sea, so much so that their coach either doesnt know or doesnt want to play the best formation to take advantage of the exicting young talent he has at his disposal.
Retreads and retirement candidates like Viera, Thuram wont help them. Henry is past his prime longtime ago.

Italy on the otherhand seemed to play good in patches but their defence and Luca Toni's terrible first touch have left them in the mess they are in. When they did get their line-up right in the 2nd game they ran into a spirited Adrian Mutu and Romania. Thanks to Buffon they are still in the hunt for the 2nd place.

However, the France X Italy match will turn into a dead rubber if Romania wins against the Oranje Crush who are sure to rest most of their line-up from the 1st 2 games.

Cant wait for the games to start! One of those days you wish you had 2 pairs of eyes to watch these games simultaneously!

Prediction - Everything points to a Romanian win. So I go the opposite. Romania gets beat by Holland 3-2 and much to the chagrin of a lot of Italian fans France will go through with 1-0 in the 84th minute.

Bye Bye Austria - if only you had a half-decent striker.

day 10 : Córdoba didnt repeat

Germany huffed, puffed, stalled but won through a powerful shot from captain Ballack.


Day 11 - Cordoba :: the word every Austrian is buzzing about

Cordoba, Argentina 1978.
The last time Austria shocked West Germany 3-2. They have to do it again tomorrow if they want to advance to the 2nd round.
Defying all logic, form, strength of squads the Austrians actually seem to believe it. The coach of Austria was a part of the miracle 30 years ago. Even he believes they can achieve this and not losing anytime to point out that the pressure is on their more illustrious neighbors.

Germany on the otherhand seemed a total disaster against a well drilled Croat outfit 3 days ago and with injury doubts to Podolski and Lahm, their run-up to this game which suddenly became a do-or-die game has been anything but ideal. German coach Loew has promised a different looking and a more hungry German team come Monday. They better be at their 100%. Because the Austrians are going to be at their peak, and have the huge home crowd behind them.

Can Austria pull this off? or the Germans will regain their composture to advance to take on Portugal in the QF?

At the beginning of the Cup, I thought this would be one of the boring games. Boy was I wrong :)

The other game has Poland play Croatia. The Poles still have a mathematical chance to qualify they win and Austria wins and end with higher GD than they Austrians. Improbable but no impossible.

cant wait for day 11.

Calamity C(h)ech

The Czechs came out firing. Mt.Everest Koller was in sparkling form. Sionko and Grygera swinging crosses at the tall striker.
Czechs score in the first half and then again in the 2nd half.
2-0 and 15 minutes to go. Turks are truly out of this.. not a bad guess. Only that we forget the Czechs are big-time chokes.
Look at WC 2006. They spanked the US in the first game, only to lose their next two to Italy and Cote d'Ivore in bizarre fashion to crash out of the cup.
Going back to Euro 2004 they lost to a silver goal of the Greeks in the last minute of 1st extra time!
Further back to 96 they lost to the golden goal of the 3-week wonder striker Oliver Bierhoff of Germany.

History repeated itself for the Czechs and the poor old Bruckner who is retiring after the Euro.

Arda Turan, the man that revived Turkish hopes against the Swiss scored in the 76th minute. Suddenly the Turks are firing on all cylinders and the resolute back four of Czech Republic started wobbling.
Fouls, more fouls and the cards. and then the GK Cech drops a cross at the feet of Nihat, the lethal but grossly underestimated striker who plays for Villareal(vaya submarino :)).
And then Nihat scores a superb goal in the 89th minute to avoid penalties!!!
There was more drama to follow.
Turkish GK is sent off for a 2nd yellow for timewasting. But Turkey had made all the 3 substitutions by then. One of the Outfield players had to don the keeper gloves for a minute or so. Imagine the surreal mess had the Czechs scored a 3rd and took it to penalties. But the Czechs had lost it by then. They just choked.

Croatia faces Turkey in 4 days. I think they will be careful of the Turkish resilience. In all the 3 games they showed great spirit in coming back from a deficit, eventhough they didnt score against Portugal in the opener, the played a better 2nd half than the Portuguese on the opening day.

Swiss get their first win in Euros when the beat a 2nd string Portugal team. None of the big stars for Portugal played the game and sometimes this sort of things can hurt the momentum of the team. But I dont think that is the case with this Portuguese team.
But their most likely opponent in the next round is Germany, who have to beat the hosts in Vienna tomorrow!

day 8 adiós Greece! and nobody's is crying for that

On a day when Spain looked frustrated for most of the night only to bailed out by the poacher's instinct of David Villa deep into injury time, Greece made an uncerimonious exit to the tourney. And they deserved every bit of that. Probably the worst team of this cup. Yes I think even Austria and the Swiss have more to offer than the Greeks and their tactics. They worked in 2004 but 2008 is a different ball game. Much more competitive games and interesting games.

Match day 2 ended with todays games with 2 teams eliminated, 4 teams qualifying for the QF and 10 teams fighting for the remaining 4 QF berths.

Sweden can feel undone by the late goal of Villa but they didnt deserve much in a game where they had the Spanish frustrated for long spells during the game. The injury to Ibrahimovic didnt help either. But they are still in with a good chance against the Russians. A draw is enough to carry them into the Quarterfinals where the Oranje Dutch are waiting.



Oranje all over Austria and Switzerland.
Oranje all over Euro2008.

This is still group stage. But 2 games into it, they have decimated the finalists of the 2006 world cup.

How long were the odds on Netherlands and Romania advancing from group C last week? No idea but they must have shortened considerably by now :)

I am running backlog on reports. I have to do it. What to do? I use up all my time to watch.. and marvel.. no time to write as I have to work for Uncle Bill as well.


day 4 - La furia Roja

2 words to sum up Spain X Russia

David Villa :)

El guaje Villa - Que maravilla

Color of the day :: RED


day 3 - O R A N J E

the title says it all. :)

The dutch splash Oranje allover Italy and Euro 08.
Details soon.


day 2 - recap

Both games played out on the expected lines.

I thought Austria would surprise and they were distinctly unlucky not to get atleast a point against Croatia. After the first 20 min when they looked every bit the 'weakest link' of this tourney, they improved by the end of the 1st half. That fateful 20 minutes included a penalty for Croatia which was well taken by Luka Modric.
Austria played much much better in the 2nd half. They sent in 3 attacking substitutes and Croatia were on the ropes for sustained periods in the 2nd half. Austrians did everything except putting the ball in the net.
The had one last chance in added time but it was not meant to be for the co-hosts. They looked much better than the dire and boring Swiss.

Moving to the 2nd game of the day, one of the favorites Germany playing debutants Poland. As I wrote in the previous post, a lot has been said and written about this game. A lot of it unnecessary rubbish, as usual.

Germany started a very attacking lineup including 2 center forwards in Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose + Lucas Podolski on the left as a winger and the always dangerous Philip Lahm at right back.
The pace of the game was furious at the beginning. Both teams had sharp chances in the initial exchanges. However Germany seemed more dangerous purely because of the kind of clincial finishers they have in Klose, Podolski and Gomez. Poland moved the ball nicely until the 3/4 of th pitch but they lose posession very easily in front of the German box.
As expected Jens Lehmann had a couple of "lemon" moments :). But to his and germany's relief the Poles didnt have the means to exploit them.

Every time Germany attacked. they looked like scoring and in one of those attacks where Gomez gave a difficult pass with great technique to release Klose, who sees the keeper charging at him and passes it across to Podolski who was all alone himself to slot the ball into empty net. Great ball movement. The two poles(by birth) combined to score the first goal. As respect to his motherland and to not add more arsenic to the already hot controversial situation Podolski didnt celebrate his goal. neither did Klose. A sensible thing. In the situation it is very easy to rub it in by some ugly pre-planned celebration. It was refreshing to see something sensible.

2nd half didnt have the pace of the 1st half. Germany seemed to pull back a bit but they looked very very dangerous everytime they had the ball near the Polish box. There were a few rough challenges but nothing really serious.

Germany looked more likely to score the 2nd than Poland their 1st. Poland just didnt have the stuff upfront to make a move and score a goal. It was like watching a Ferrari race a drag-race car. Both had the break-neck speed but one can only travel in straight line and the other can do more sophisticated moves and avoid crashing into walls (the central defenders in this case :)).

And they did score towards the end of the match. Podolski again. Not much of a celebration. And soon after the Poles were put out of their misery.

After 4 games, I still have that empty feeling.

More observations.
1. there are too many teams which wear red(home strip) in this cup. - Austria, Swiss, Czech, Spain, Turkey.
2. I dont like the fat blackstrip in the middle of the new germany jersey.
3. How many goals will germany score against Austria? 4 atleast :)
4. Alteast Kubica won his first GP, something to cheer for the Poles.
5. Rafa Nadal annihilated Roger Federer at Roland Garros. Alberto Contador won the Giro'd Italia last week. So is this the year of the Spanish? La roja? No no. all this means nothing. Just wait to see Spain struggle to score against Russia on Tuesday.
6. 4 games. 0 draws and only 1 team scored in each of the 4 games.

Worst Game(s) of the Cup(descending order)

>>Swiss X Czech game is easily the worst offering so far

Best Game(s)

>>Portugal X Turkey

Tomorrow >> France X Romania && Netherlands X Italy.
Romania is my dark horse. Mutu for Golden Boot :)

day 2 - too much talk about Germany X Poland

Fact : i found that 2/7 who cared to voice their opinion voted that this blog is lame. :)

Its day 2 in Austria and Switzerland.

There is a huge buildup for the Germany and Poland game. Mostly due to what was said by the ex-manager of Germany, Klinnsmann in a team meeting (or something similar) and then the photos of a few german players beheaded along with polish coach Leo Beenhakker in a Polish tabloid. Leo has apologized since then but then the damage is already done.
Germany will win this very easily. They have too much all round firepower compared to the Poles.

The 2nd co-host Austria kick-off their campaign today. Widely tipped as not only the worst team in this edition of Euro but over the past few. That said, they are playing and home and might cause a surprise or two. Croatia is consensus dark-horse among the media. But I only remember similar tags attached to them in the last world cup 2 years ago. I think Austria might spring a surprise by getting a draw.

Ou la la! I have so much work to do. :(. Its weekend and these matches. Oh well... Back to work.

Oh and on the otherside of the draw, Spain is poised to play with two strikers. Villa and Torres in what would be a 4-4-2 formation. This in my opinion is better than 4-1-4-1 favored by the coach because 4-4-2 ensures Villa starts and they wont be too dependent on Torres to score. And then there is Xavi, the savior :). Vamos España!


day 1

Really boring game to kick-off the tournament. Not that there were any great things expected from the Swiss and the Czechs who are missing their most exciting and entertaining player Rosicky.

I fell asleep 10 minutes into the first half. Woke up around the 40 minute mark only to see the disaster of Swiss captain and talisman Alexander Frei limp off the field in tears. I think his Euro 2008 is over. Really sad.

To be fair to the Swiss, they played better in the 2nd half and were distinctly unlucky with a couple of referee non-decisions of what seemed like handball fouls in the penalty area by Czech defenders.
An opportunistic (seemed a tad offside too) strike around the 70 minute mark sealed the deal in this game.

1-0 Fulltime. I dont think neither of these teams deserve to advance to the QF based on this result. They were dire.

Portugal x Turkey

This game promised more, and by and large delivered it. There was much more talent on display including the "world's best" Ronaldo. Portugal lined up in their usual 2-7-1 formation full of midlfielders and passers. Cristiano hit the post from freekick early in the 1st half. And Pepe had a goal ruled offside.
20 minutes of this game had more action than all of the SWI x CZE game!
Turkey looked dangerous on the counter-attacks and shaky in defence.
Portugal stroked the ball with confidence all over the park but as usual things will terminate either with a bad last pass or over-elaboration of the move.

Pepe wouldnt be denied in the 2nd half, when he slots a ball expertly in the far-post. Pepe looked more like a center forward than central defender in that move. May be Portugal should consider letting him make some runs at the opponents goal.

Turkey fought gamely but their midfield couldnt cope with likes of Ronaldo, Simao and Deco. Portugal sealed it in the dying moments with a counterattack when Turkey sent everyone foward pushing for an equalizer.

2-0 Fulltime.

I think it will be between the Czechs and the Turks for the 2nd QF spot from this group. Portugal are poised to take the first. Swiss, well they are nice hosts.

Here we go!

Just about 15 minutes to go! In Basel

Opening ceremony is on.
Swiss entertain the Czech's in the first game!

I am not a big fan of opening ceremonies but I appreciate the effort these people put to make it happen.

That was a quick and crisp ceremony. Teams are running to the pitch. Ou la la!


Brazil x Canada - 31/05/08 Qwest Field, Seattle.

Last Saturday I paid my first visit to the Qwest Field in Seattle, the home of the Seattle Seahawks American football team and the soon to be home of the Seattle Sounders FC football team to watch an international friendly match between the Mighty Brasil and little O'Canada :).

Anyone who follows football (ok, soccer) knows that international friendlies are usually dull and drab affairs which start of boring and slow only to degenerate into a farce of million subsititutions from both sides in the 2nd half. Players take it easy in their effort not to pick up an injuries and this being a post-season friendly most players just want to get over with and go for vacation.

So my expectations were pretty low. But I have never seen Brasil play live. If there is any team in the world that can WoW even with a 2nd string team, its gotta be the Brasilians. And their fans are known for their rabid support for their team and will go in numbers to support them, no matter where they play.

Enough preamble ramble.

Brasil brought their best team except for Kaka - injured and Ronaldinho (they say he is injured but well.. he is just tuned out of football these days). They brought Robinho, Diego, Adriano, Luis Fabiano, Danny Alves, Julio Baptista, Elano and the latest teen sensation, Alexandre Pato of AC Milan.
Canada - well I havent heard much about them. I know they have a very good player in Dwayne D'Rosario and Julian de Guzman who plays for the spanish club Deportivo La Coruña.

630pm - Entering the stadium. Sea of Yellow with a tinge of green. jerseys, caps, pom poms. facepaint, portuguese language and a few Red maple leafs as well.. loud and happening it was.

And then I spotted a guy with this T-shirt :)

The autograph of Ronaldo is beneath that papers taped to his shirt. I didnt ask for the price but I found it definitely enterprising. If it was autographed in 1994 and he has been trying to sell it this way then I wonder if he ever put it to laundry. :)). That said.. i think he is 5 years too late in trying to sell this. Ronaldo is way past his time.

6.45ish - Players came out to warm-up, to the loud cheers of the crowd especially when the Brazilian team strutted out.

7.30ish - American national anthem, followed by Canadian and the Brasilian. Crowd was well behaved all through, although I still dont get the point of playing national anthems before a game of football not least that of US cos they arent playing. I feel its kind of devaluing national anthem with people liquored up or having beer glasses in hands.
Oh btw - there were a lot of promotion for the Seattle Sounders and their title sponsors, Xbox 360.


Brasil quickly hit the top gear and before the Canadians could string a few passes together, Robinho was doing his thing. takes a ball on the left , near the byline, dummies a defender passes it to Diego (who plays for Werder Bremen) who slots across to the far bottom far corner.

1-0 Brasil.
The crowd erupts! trumpets, drums all kinds of noise. And I was impressed. As I said earlier, I never watched Brasil live. Their ball movement was smooth. The ball control. the moves.. its all there.. wow.. Canada are in for a long long evening..save for a small fact..

Brasil dont really have a defence. Dont get me wrong, the put a couple so called 'defenders' at the back, only that the dont know to defend. The can attack, pass the ball, run into advanced positions skillfully but man-on-man they can neither mark nor defend without fouling.

A long ball from Canada from the left into the penalty area.. Julio Caesar comes out to catch the ball and makes a meal of it as he get out-muscled by a Canadian forward (Friend is his name) who heads the ball seemingly from the outstretched hands of the keeper into the empty goal.


Canadian supporters were ecstatic. Their voices go up a few notches. I was sitting with a friend in the middle of Brasilian crowd and they were upset. Some swear words in Portuguese followed.
This happened around the 10-12 minute mark. From then on Canada played much better football, created more chances than Brasil. D'Rosario was every bit as good as I read he was. Rest of the players played well too. There was a #13 who played very well as well. with half-time approaching, Brazil score against the run of play. Nice cross into the 6 yard box, the big and tall Luis Fabiano jumps high to knock it in.

2-1 half-time.

2nd half is where the friendly games usually descend into a farce. Luckily, this one didnt. Brasil kept the starters on. So did the Canadians.
And then came the goal of the match. Not from the Brasilians. But Shock Shock! O' Canada score a screamer!

From about 25 yards out Julian de Guzman picks up a lose ball (as a result of some typical clumsy defending from Brasil) and unleashes a quick shot into the top left corner. Julio Caesar had no chance of stopping that.


Around the 60 th Minute this was getting interesting. Can Canada stun the Brasilians? They kept up the tempo with tremendous work-rate.

If Guzman was hero 10 minutes ago, the fickle nature of football brings him crashing down to earth. He back-passes to his goalkeeper nonchalantly only to realise the horror that there was Robinho lurking for a mistake. The pass never makes it to the keeper. Robinhos intercepts, goes around the keeper and slots into an empty net.

3-2 !!!

What a mistake? he was not even under any pressure when he back-passes. He just made a hash of what could have been a great result for the Canada.

70 minutes+. Subsitutions galore. both sides. in comes, Adriano and Pato.

- I knew he is a big forward. Read and saw on TV. But to see him in person. he is really really huge. He is like a Hummer H3 among Rav4's and CR-V's. What a load.. You have to be really really strong to even foul him without hurting or making a fool of yourself. :):)

Both teams have a few more chances, mostly Brasil but Canada fought on gamely till the end. And thus it ended 3-2 to Brasil.

A 2-2 or 3-3 would have been a much fair result but then again, football is never fair. If there are any doubts ask Julian de Guzman.

'high' of my evening not related to football :)
All in all I had a great time but nothing can beat "Ou la la". There were a few french folks behind me - and heard "Ou la la" quite a few times. Somethings just cant be bought. This is one of those.
Conclusions and a few more pictures.

1. Brasil are a treat to watch
2. Brasilians defenders are at their best when they are attacking. they dont track back, they dont mark.
3. O' Canada has a very good team. If they can play this way in the WC 2010 qualifiers, they can make it.
4. Robinho's step-overs (bicicletas) are awesome.
5. Diego is a very good #10.
6. Brasilian fans are awesome. Even little babies have their own custom-made Brasilian shirts :)
7. I wish we get more big teams and good games in Seattle.

Brazilan fan :)

Random Game shots

Qwest Field from outside - not enough power in the flash of my little canon