Saturday, June 07, 2008

Czech Republic - Switzerland : Take That Goal And Shove It Tommy Smith

Euro 2008 kicked off today in Basle, Swizterland. The Czech Republic faced off against the co-hosts Switzerland. Many pundits have picked Switzerland to get out of Group A. For myself, I didn't. In fact, the Czechs are my dark horse pick for winning it. Today, this morning for those of us in Colorado, the Swiss showed why the pundits shouldn't have gone with them.

What is that? They showed why they shouldn't have been picked to advance? But they generated more chances and better chances for goals.

It's true that the Swiss generated better chances. In failing to convert on those, they demonstrated on the pitch what we already knew on paper. The Swiss have shown they're solid but not the sort of team that's capable of putting away an opponent. They're missing that killer instinct, so to speak.

The embodiment of that was in the 70th minute. With the Czech Republic already in the lead, the Swiss had a golden opportunity. I believe it was Yakim, who came in at half-time for the injured Alexandr Frei, who had an excellent shot parried by Petr Cech. Swiss substitute Johan Vonlanthen was wide open and well position for the rebound. He only had to beat Cech who was still recovering from the initial save. Vonlanthen put the shot off the cross bar. The Czech's held on to the lead and won the game 1-0.

Vonlanthen was unlucky to not score on that chance. But add that in with the other opportunities and it's not a matter of luck, it's a matter of skill. In this case the lack of ability to put away a chance when it presents itself.

Other than a the last half of the first half, the Czech's didn't manage to control the game for long periods of time. They weren't generating shots like they needed. But they've been in these games before and didn't panic.

Early in the second half long-time Czech manager Karel Brückner replaced Jan Koller, who at the point had disappeared from the match, with 25 yyear-old Václav Svěrkoš. Svěrkoš went on to finish the one chance he had at goal. The Swiss failed to effectively clear from a corner. A header from David Rozehnal(or was it Tomáš Ujfaluši?) went over the Swiss defense. An unmarked Svěrkoš scooted through and used the outside of his right foot to put the ball away.

The difference in the match? The Czech's now how to put the ball away when needed (they won Group D in qualifying; beating out Germany and scoring 27 goals in 12 games). The 26-year old Petr Cech is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. It showed in qualifying with the Czech's allowing a miserly 5 goals in 12 games. And it showed today with Cech having several excellent saves and the Czechs blanking Switzerland.

Friday, June 06, 2008

History of German Soccer... I Mean, Football

A little video that seemed appropriate with Euro2008 kicking off tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dallas, Everton, KC, and Galaxy

There's been a lot going on lately. Euro 2008 is about to get started. The US Men are going to play Spain in a friendly. Southampton's coaching situation is an even bigger mess with Nigel Pearson's contract not renewed and the new coach, that Dutch P guy, apparently still under contract someplace else (I thought Lowe was going to clean up the mess instead of adding to it). The Rapids are taking on Kansas City in the US Open Cup. Tickets for the fancy-pants scrimmage between Everton and the Rapids go on sale in a few hours.

As for last week's FC Dallas game, well, I hope they can repeat that performance against the Galaxy. In theory they should be able to. The Rapids didn't let FC Dallas' midfield do very much. On paper they should be able to do the same again. Then again, we're talking about Clavijo's tactics versus Guillit's. That doesn't seem to bode as well for the Rapids.

We Want Rapidman was happy for the win but wasn't overly impressed by it. More by Nick here.
FC Rocky looks at the Dallas match noting the sloppy defending by the Rapids. He also mentions that, and I agree, Rapids' Scottish striker Tom McManus may be emerging as a player that can score goals when the team needs them. More on that at FC Rocky.
View From The Couch looks back at the match at Dicks Sporting Goods Park against FC Dallas. He notes 2 interesting facts :
1) This is the first time we've given up a lead this season.
2) Its also the first time we've won when allowing the opposition to score.
More from View From The Couch on the game here.

FC Rocky is passing on some comments from a fellow Rocky Mountain News employee who is in Italy and went to see Pisa and Bologna play. Are the marketers paying attention to this?
"To me, it's kind of how sports used to be when we were growing up without all of the annoying music, dancers, blimps flying around etc. Just the passion for the game."

More on the Colorado Rapids - Kansas US Open Cup game at The Offside.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Colorado Rapids - Frisco Burn : Part 1

One of the many things that was more interesting that most of the Rapids - FC Dallas game yesterday.