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Euro 2004: Round 1: Psst... has anyone seen the form book?

ND sees a goalscoring English midfielder blubbering... and joins him

What a world this is, mate, what a world! Bald blokes score goals in injury time, visitors abuse hospitality, teams show no respect for recent form... and yes, yes, some teams insist on singing after they win matches. I mean, they should sing when they lose, right? Just like the heroes in Hindi films. The blokes get tight as owls, gamble away all their money, chase their dames away and top it off by singing sad songs. But let Hindi films be. Let's talk of the first round of Euro 2004, which has been marked by what can only be describe as extreme ingratitude.
 
Take those chaps from Greece, for instance. Did someone not tell them that the whole tournament would collapse if the hosts got stretchered out in the preliminary stages? Did someone not tell them that they should stand aside and let Figo, Torres and Ronaldo pepper them with goals? Well, trust a team from the land of Alexander the Great to abuse hospitality. Those lads have occupation in their blood. Poor Portugal must be wondering what hit them...and what else will hit them if they do not manage to qualify for the next round! And what of Denmark? Surely they had no
business giving three-time World champs such a fright! Of course, there were some teams that ensured that events ran to form. Those nice Russians allowed Spain to nick three points and at the time of writing had sent back their best player, Alexander Mostovoi, to improve Portugal's chances of reaching the next round.
 
Which brings us to your team. I hope someone reports Zidane to the UN Commission of Human Rights for the cruelty he meted out to you. Here you were doing your best to keep the match alive by sitting back and defending and giving France a chance (your skipper even missed a penalty) and what does mister Zizou do but make the net bulge in extra time. Not once, but twice! Hell, did not someone tell him that Becks was the star here? And then the French had the effrontery to celebrate the win, instead of thanking you guys for allowing them to command the midfield and giving a special pat to uncles Emil and Steven for creating goal-scoring opportunities. A cruel world it is, a cruel world.
 
I can understand your pain. I had predicted that Greece had no chance of getting a win, that Holland would hammer Germany, that Latvia would be thumped by the Czechs. In fact, but for you guys, I would have ended up with mud all over my face!
 
A sad world, Frank! No wonder you feel tempted to end it all in the local gutter. You don't? Well, you might change your mind after the match against Croatia.

PD profiles party-poopers

Send the Greeks to the top of the class in that subject. Clearly, they have no manners. Their mothers never told about not abusing hospitality, and they had the nerve to go and stun Portugal in the opener. Of course, Dabizas being injured might have had something to do with that, just might. There is a lesson over there for the Greek side, there is.

Given that a considerable proportion of Goal Post's subscribers belong to the England fan club, one shall desist from mentioning a certain Spock-ish looking midfielder who gave new meaning to the term 'adding insult to injury [time]'. David Beckham's unimaginative hairstyle and brainless comments, coupled with Steven Gerard's moment of madness, make talking about England a rather painful exercise. But with Nicky Butt on his way back home, things can only get better, right?

Even games that went as per expectation - and let us be pretty clear here that that included France beating England - threw up a few surprises. I mean to say, even though this is not the first time the Swedes have put am embarrassing scoreline across the Bulgarians, 5-0 was a bit of an extra cherry on the topping.

Latvia had the gall to start getting a few ideas of their own before the blundering Czech forwards finally found the net and three points, and Russia gave Spain a goodish run for their money despite a 1-0 loss. And honestly, most of us expected the Dutch to give the groping Oliver Kahn's Germans' noses a jolly good rub in the mud...

Two teams that I intend to keep an close eye on are Denmark and Switzerland. Both sides played some neat attractive football in their respective matches. After all, who would have backed the Danes to hold the relatively more fancied Italians to a draw?

England versus France might be done and dusted, but there are a few clashes lined up for the next round that could knit eyebrows in interested speculation. Things will get rather interested in Group A if Greece can hang on for a draw against Spain. In Group B England should get desperate if they are unable to beat the Swiss [something PD is not putting money on (NOTE: Unsubscription requests from English subscribers will NOT be entertained this week!)].

In Group C, if Denmark roger Bulgaria, but Italy are not able to beat Sweden, things should hot up. As for Group D, my money is still on Holland and Germany making it (but I am keeping a fig leaf or two handy to hide behind if needed!)

Final Whistle: Scores and scorers:

Portugal 1(Ronaldo) - Greece 2(Karadounis, Bassinas)
Spain 1 (Valeron)- Russia 0
Croatia 0 - Switzerland 0
France 2(Zidane 2) - England 1(Lampard)
Italy 0 - Denmark 0
Sweden 5(Ljunberg, Larsson 2, Ibramovich, Allback) - Bulgaria 0
Czech Republic (Barros, Heinz) 2 - Latvia 1(Verpakoviskis)
Germany 1(Frings)- Netherlands 1(van Nistelrooy)
 
Sent off: Sharonov (Russ=a), Vogel (Switzerland)
 
Not sent off: Lampard (England), James (England), Silvestre
(France)
 
Offside: Trivia

Quite incredibly, England have never won their opening match in any of the European championships so far. They came within minutes of changing that against France. But Zidane had other ideas.
 
Net Crackers: Best of the Web
 
"There is a problem - and he is called Sven-Goran Eriksson" says the BBC's Tom Fordyce as he points out what the English must do to stay in the running for Euro 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/euro_2004/england/3808127.stm

The Guardian's Richard Williams stress what PD and ND knew all along - you can never write off Germany and Oliver Kahn!
http://football.guardian.co.uk/euro2004/story/0,14577,1239761,00.html
 
The FA gave England goalkeeper David James a whole set of free-kick videotapes to study. Guess who they forgot to add to the collection? Zidane! Trust The Sun to come out with the story!
http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2002390000-2004272343,00.html
 
"What the f**k" happened to England, wails Football 365 and comes out with its own series of "What the f**k" moments of the England-France match. Not the most parliamentary language we have heard but we understand the sentiment.
http://www.football365.com/features/f365_features/story_114084.shtml

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