Saturday, June 14, 2008

Euro2008 Second Round Thoughts

After 16 matches, I still stand behind my theory about the new ball sailing high from long shots and free kicks more often than not.

Also, as much as we all hate ESPN and bash it, you have to credit them for their Euro2008 coverage. Hell just them buying the rights has been great; this is the first time for "mainstream" US coverage where we don't have to seek out footy pubs and pay $10 to 20 per day- that alone is great. Their World Cup 2006 coverage was abysmally bad, but this time they have done much, much better. First and foremost they have better talent, mainly that they have somehow hired BBC color commentator Andy Gray, who has been just outstanding. Compare that to Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa which is what we had last time around. Gray has always been good for EPL matches in the past, but he has been just outstanding in this tournament, and he truly adds something to the viewing experience, which truth be told is something new for ESPN soccer coverage.

Also, they have taken a page from Univision/Galavision/Telemundo and come on the air early enough to show the pregame fanfare and national anthems, which really sets the scene and gives a much better sense of the atmosphere and occasion than before when they didn't.

They have actually improved quite a bit, so credit where credit is due- full marks thusfar.

Very strange that after 2 group stage matches all 4 groups already have determined a winner. With the final matches being concurrent, 2 of the 4 groups basically have an elimination match and an exhibition match, so for the ADD non multitaskers out there, 2 of the next 4 days you can just focus on one match- the other two days you'll have to find a place that will have both matches on and get your multitask on.

Lots of good matches thusfar, I have really enjoyed watching them. Here's hoping for more attacking go-for-it soccer in round and less of scared to lose defensive, timid soccer.

I'm sticking with all of my original predictions with the obvious substitution of Netherlands for Italy, and looking forward I'm hoping like almost everyone else for a Netherlands-Spain semifinal...

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