Tag Archives: ozil

Reflecting on the Euros: Team of the Tournament

So that’s it for this summer’s football entertainment. Once again, the streamers were red and yellow. Those who dared to question tiki-taka were well and truly silenced. All is as it should be. A month of tedious transfer gossip is just around the corner.

By the way, here’s my team of the tournament (playing a trendy 4-2-3-1 formation):

GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)- It’s not enough just to stand in between the goalposts, popcorn at the ready, and watch your defenders effortlessly repel opposition forwards. That’s why Iker Casillas didn’t get my pick. Buffon was consistently impressive throughout Italy’s ultimately unsuccessful run, saving Ashley Cole’s penalty in the quarterfinal shootout and making several important stops against Germany. Spain’s four goals weren’t his fault.

LB: Jordi Alba (Spain)- Arguably the best defender at Euro 2012. Alba is a distinctively modern fullback, fit enough to play a significant role in both penalty areas. In the final, he took his goal with the poise of a natural finisher, and the run that preceded it showcased his speed and timing. With Alba rampaging up the left flank, Barcelona should be better than ever next season.

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Balotelli’s Talent Comes Good

Mario Balotelli stood shirtless, his intimidating muscles flexed, staring straight ahead. He refused to betray any emotion. Indeed, he refused to do anything other than stand and stare. But then his teammates engulfed him, and, through a crowd of sweating bodies, his face slowly softened into the faintest trace of a smile.

On Thursday night, Loew’s German players stopped being world beaters and instead became nearly-men. Italy progressed to the final, where they will serve as the last obstacle in Spain’s pursuit of a historic third consecutive tournament victory. Antonio Cassano, who suffered a stroke in October, elevated himself from endearing bad boy to national hero. Andrea Pirlo commanded midfield with his customary elegance and poise, but the contributions of others overshadowed him. Italy’s was the ultimate team performance. 

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Germany Smash Stereotypes

Look under the letter “G” in football’s coffee-stained, dog eared lexicon. Run your finger down the page, past “Garrincha,” past “Gascoigne.” Stop. Squint closely. Absorb the clichés, the fallacies, the half-truths, the stereotypes, and the crass World War II references. Shut the book. Burn it.

The Germany of the lexicon are efficient and pragmatic, the big bullies who nicked Johan Cruyff’s lunch money.  

For fans and the media this traditional picture of a German footballer – quiet, serious, stolid, ice-cold – is a comfortable, self-perpetuating myth. The more the public believes that all German footballers are cold-hearted killers, the more reality seems to conform to that belief, even if the belief is blatantly erroneous. Terms like “German efficiency” are standard football vernacular. But anyone with a background in German football history knows that the truth is more complicated. And anyone with eyes can see that Joachim Loew’s Germany are hardly an emotionless winning machine.

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