And then there were six

by Chris Bertram on June 26, 2004

Germany, Spain, Italy, England, all gone. And now France! This is getting interesting.



Nunya 06.26.04 at 6:32 am

Prediction for Saturday: Sweden 2, Holland 1

Prediction for Sunday: Czech Rep 3, Denmark 1


Matt McGrattan 06.26.04 at 8:46 am

I think (and hope) the Czech Republic are going to be too strong for Denmark but I think it might be a close game. Denmark have looked good in their group games.

I think you’re right Nunya that Sweden can take Holland. Holland have played some decent stuff here and there through the tournament but haven’t looked a massive force this time round.

[ČeÅ¡i do toho]


Andrew Boucher 06.26.04 at 11:22 am

Interesting? More like a disaster. With England, Italy, and France all gone, I really don’t care any more who wins or loses. In the US the tournament would be the equivalent of Minnesota against Tennessee – no New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Boston – outside the main media markets, with no one giving two cents who wins.


nick 06.26.04 at 2:09 pm

Interesting? More like a disaster. With England, Italy, and France all gone, I really don’t care any more who wins or loses.

Well, that’s because you’re a philistine. It’s been a bloody great competition, and all the better for the giant-killing. Do you turn up your nose at the third round of the FA Cup?

Others have pointed out that the ‘mighty fallen’ have domestic leagues that rely increasingly on foreign players. But in international competition, you can’t buy a winning team; you have to breed it. (Or, in some cases, naturalise it.) Could it be that the teams playing better as teams benefit from having domestic leagues that are less dependent upon imported talent? Perhaps, although the star players for the remaining countries tend to earn their livings abroad.

But I certainly wonder whether the heavy emphasis on club competition — and over the past four years, the Champions League has metastasised into a de facto European league, to the exclusion of teams from ‘smaller’ countries — has worked to the advantage of those smaller countries, in that national pride is more concentrated upon international competition. The days of Ducla Prague and Brondby getting to the last rounds of the European Cup are long gone — UEFA has turned the Champions League into the same old same old, taking away much of the novelty and magic of the competition.


Andrew Boucher 06.26.04 at 3:03 pm

“Do you turn up your nose at the third round of the FA Cup?”

Well that’s a parochial question. Most people in France (myself included) don’t follow the FA Cup, period.

But yes, if Tennessee played Minnesota in the Super Bowl, I would turn up my nose. Or rather turn it away. I think most Americans would find this perfectly natural. Another cultural divide?


Thlayli 06.26.04 at 4:59 pm

Germany, Spain, Italy, England, all gone. And now France!

The first European Championship ever (going back to 1960) in which none of those five countries made the semifinals.


yabonn 06.26.04 at 10:38 pm

Others have pointed out that the ‘mighty fallen’ have domestic leagues that rely increasingly on foreign players.

Not that much the case for france is it?

Nevermind :

on est dans l’avion,
on est dans l’avion,
on est, on est
on est dans l’avion



Michael G 06.26.04 at 11:27 pm

philistine? parochial? we can’t even get the games on television in the states, for god’s sake. enjoy them in any event – i have to follow the games on my bloody computer!


nick 06.27.04 at 8:15 am

Well that’s a parochial question. Most people in France (myself included) don’t follow the FA Cup, period.

Ah, forgive me for not knowing your current abode. It was somewhat hard to divine from your references. But you do appear to suffer from the American disease — ‘promotion? relegation? what’s that?’ — of wanting big-market successes. What did you think of Lens’ championship run, may I ask?

yabonn: France’s relative weakness in 2004 (following 2002) is a curious one. Thinking through it a bit more, I think the ‘foreign players dominate domestic leagues’ argument is less compelling than the ‘star players in Champions League teams’ one.

Those French players currently in the English Premiership — Makalele, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Saha & Wiltord — not only had a 38-game league season, but also a Champions League campaign and an FA Cup run alongside international commitments. Most of the other French players had similarly long seasons. (And indeed, only six of 23 play in France.)

The Czech squad plays in almost as many countries as there are players, but they have played much less football over the past six months. Even the Dutch and Portuguese squads feature players that have mainly been involved in domestic competition this year. Same with the Greeks and Danes. (Squads here.)

michael g: well, you can get the matches in the US if you’re prepared to pay for them. At $20 for the first round, and $25 for the knockout stages, my cable bill for this month is going to make upsetting reading. The pains of being an expat…


Randy Paul 06.27.04 at 4:27 pm

Fox Sports World ran a few games live and will have some of them on tape delay.

All the highlights are available on their news wrapups.


self 06.27.04 at 6:54 pm

Broadcasts are pay per view (cable or clubs are your options).

On the topic of fallen giants, I propose we change the topic. The fallen giants are being disposed by superior TEAMS. Those who love the complexity of football witnessed something very special during the Greek victory over France. I suppose one must love football more than your team to get it.

p.s. Martin Tyler is a god.


Randy Paul 06.27.04 at 9:16 pm

i really think that the smart money here is on the Czechs, 71 minutes and they’re beating the Danes 3-0. I would not want to have to mark Jan Koller.


howard 06.28.04 at 5:08 am

For what it’s worth, i entered a quarterfinals-and-on bet with the soccer-mad Scottish bartender of a neighborhood watering hole; we flipped a coin to determine picking order and he won.

I ended up with czech republic, portugal, holland, and greece.

I’d like to claim brilliance, but of course i felt that greece had no chance, and i was deeply uncertain about portugal and holland.

at this point, i’m looking to a czech-portugal final.

And it’s been a great tournament, excellent action, a variety of playing styles, and of course as a true sports fan, i don’t care if the big-name teams are still alive or not.

PS. My own bet as to why the mighty have fallen is that the players on the mighty just have to play too damn many games; how many members of the Greek team, for instance, have played anything close to the number of matches that the best of the french, italian, english, and spanish have played?


Doug 06.28.04 at 10:15 am

You’ll all just have to take it on faith that last Friday I told my office-mate I thought the Czechs would win it all. She said what about France, and I said well, yes, but did you see the Czech comeback against Holland? Nobody else in the tournament has even come close to that. And their reserves — reserves! — made beating Germany look easy.

What you won’t have to take on faith is that A Fistful of Euros has been all over this subject, here and here.

ps Congratulations for noticing that the Tennessee Titans and the Minnesota Vikings could, in fact, play each other in the Superbowl. It’s a fact probably not widely appreciated in France, where people are more likely to look for a Superbowl team from Los Angeles, which hasn’t had a football team since the Raiders went back to Oakland where they belong, and the league has gotten along quite nicely without the LA Whatevers.
pps I realize that Portugal is a small country, but I’m finding the attendance figures almost quaint. I mean places like Columbus, Ohio; Ann Arbor Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; Boulder, Colorado; or Baton Rouge, Louisiana pack like 60 thousand to 80 thousand people into football stadiums during the regular season. These are neither major metropolises, nor are we talking about a matter of national pride. Yet there are only 40 thousand or so in the stands in Portugal? What gives?


Ling 06.28.04 at 2:25 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how smart, scientific people on a site like this become blathering idiots when sports is the topic of discussion. How can rational people not see the silliness of reading grand theories into a fact (say England losing to Portugal or France to Greece) that may have been generated (considering how 1-0 is a typical score these days) by a single lucky bounce or a referee’s whim? Had the ref agreed with his linesman on Sol Campbell’s goal or one of Thierry Henry’s headers been a few inches to the left, we would now be discussing England and France’s current “success” instead of their “failure”, complete with attendant “explanations”. Any scientist proposing a theory based on such a small and capricious sampling would never have anything ever published again, yet here we are seriously considering all sorts of nonsense on the basis of a stroke of luck or the referee’s bias for or against a particular team on a particular day. Yes, I know, these sorts of discussions go better with beer… just let me order another pint and I’ll tell you why English (substitute the country of your choice) football is going to hell!


nunya 06.29.04 at 3:53 am

OK, so I was wrong. But who’d’a ever thunk that the Dutch would win a penalty shootout?

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