Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Germany is Out!

And Holland goes on to the next round! For once talent told! I'm absolutely ecstatic. I do feel a twinge of pity for Rudi Völler, who made the best of the material he had to work with, but I'm not so sorry for him that my pleasure at the outcome of today's results will be dampened overmuch.

What's most amazing about the Germany-Czech Republic game is just how well the Czechs played. How is it that a country with so few people was able to field a team of such quality that even their B-team was able to defeat the (admittedly unusually mediocre) German first-choice squad? This definitely puts weight behind the notion that Italy's exit from the championships had nothing to do with any demographic changes going on in that country - with such an exceptional squad I'd say the odds are very good that the Czechs will end up winning the competition.

Now it's time to start looking forward to tomorrow's contest between England and Portugal. Neither of these teams is a pushover, though the English expectation that Wayne Rooney will carry them to victory gives one cause for doubt, while on the Portuguese side the disappointing 2002 World cup campaign means I'm not about to be blinded by the presence of players like Louis Figo in their squad. Anything can happen tomorrow, and I'm not about to make any predictions of the outcome.