June 27, 2008

Euro 2008 tough on Greece

Euro 2008 hasn't been easy on Greek national pride, as we've watched the champions slink home from Salzburg as the only team who failed to register a point at the tournament, whilst arch-rivals The Ottoman Empire Turkey sensationally advanced as far as the semis thanks to an improbable 'Roy Of The Rovers' style series of late goal comebacks.

Any criticism of the Greek team's performance from the English press seems to be met with a prickly "well you didn't even qualify". England can take some crumb of comfort from the fact that they were in the only qualifying group that produced two quarter-finalists (Croatia and Russia), but to be honest the tournament has probably been better for our absence. None of the gut-wrenching anxiety for days before an England game means I've enjoyed it much more than usual as well.

And, of course, it is always good to be able to observe German, Polish, Croatian and Turkish fans fighting, and a deafening silence from UEFA about expelling them - in contrast to the way England were treated at Euro 2000.

But just because England didn't qualify, doesn't mean we can't criticise the style of play adopted by the Greek team. It was a joyful surprise to see a nation from outside the big 6 win the trophy in 2004 - but this time around the Greeks were simply dour.

Still, one can understand the Greek attitude to criticism - 'my country, right or wrong' is a policy adopted by the highest echelons of Greek society. Only the other week Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos was complaining about Greece's MEPs:

"A lot has been said about Greece, and also, unfortunately, by Greek Euro-deputies...they accuse Greece of not following asylum rules. The least I would expect from Euro-deputies is to support the country."

Indeed. Never mind the facts. Never mind political principle. Never mind human compassion - the least we expect is for Greek MEPs to support the country, right or wrong.

In truth my biggest problem with supporting Greece at Euro 2008 was nothing to do with the style of play, but everything to do with the players. I have spent the last two years watching Greek domestic football and cursing Olympiakos, and I found it almost impossible to suddenly start cheering Torosidis, or not finding myself smiling at mistakes by Nikopolidis which cost goals. It isn't an anti-Greek thing - I find myself feeling exactly like that with Ashley Cole and David Bentley for England as well!

June 06, 2007

Back to Agia Marina for footie Saturday

Following the previous night's adventures watching England versus Brazil, we went back to Agia Marina on Saturday for some Euro2008 qualifying action. We had a stroll along the beach and then made our way to the Kiss Bar to watch Walse versus the Czech Republic.

It wasn't the most gripping of games to be honest, but at least Claire got to use the laptop for a bit whilst I moaned about Ryan Giggs useless record of actually turning up for his country.

There was a comedy misunderstanding with the owner as well.

"How long are you staying for?" he asked at the end of the match.

"Oh, well...", I mumbled, "we haven't really made plans" I said, knowing full well we were leaving that instant.

Of course, he actually meant how long was our holiday, which we eventually twigged, and so explained we lived down the road.

After that we walked through to Platanias to try a restaurant we had fancied for a long time at the far end of town. It turned out to be a really good choice, and we both had some excellent lamb from the spit.

20070606_denswe We went to get the bus back home around 9pm, and Platanias had turned into Little Scandanavia.

With Denmark and Sweden playing each other in a crucial Euro2008 qualifier, and Norway playing Malta as well, it seemed that every bar and restaurant had a television showing one of the games, and was packed.

We waited about twenty minutes for the bus, with no luck, so eneded up in a taxi, with me half wanting to stay and sample the atmosphere of this high pressure derby game. However, Greece were on the TV, and we wanted to get back for that.

In fact, we had very nearly gone to Greece's Euro2008 match against Hungary. Seeing as how my ticket application for the final was unsuccessful with UEFA, it might have been the closest I'll get to seeing any Euro2008 action live.

Greece's last home game was a disastrous 4-1 defeat to arch-rivals, the 'evil empire' of Turkey. Despite the fact that Turkish fans were not allowed into the stadium for the game, the Greek fans still caused enough trouble to warrant a ban from UEFA from playing in Athens for a couple of games.

Which meant that Greece versus Hungary, and Wednesday's game against Moldova, are both being staged in Iraklio.

Denamrkfan There has been a stand outside the market in Chania selling tickets for the matches for about a fortnight - and I was tempted. In the end though, with it being a 9:30pm kick-off, we decided the expense of staying the night in Iraklio, or the experience of trying to drive back to Chania from Iraklio in the middle of the night, were too much time, money and effort.

Of course, as it turned out, what with it going from 3-0 to Sweden to 3-3, and then being abandoned in the 88th minute, Denmark vs Sweden was the game to watch.

Posts about Euro2008 on 'A lemon tree of our own' within the last month


We hoped to be back in Salzburg to actually go and watch games at Euro2008. UEFA's ticket allocation minions had other ideas. This is a list of all the posts we wrote about Euro2008 before September 2007.

A lemon tree of our own

  • The journal of a British couple who left the UK to set up home in Hania, Crete.
  • Homepage

Search this site

Powered by TypePad