Euro 2012: England vs France, Ukraine vs Sweden, BBC vs ITV

The 8th game of the tournament, Ukraine v Sweden has just got its second half underway, and Ibrahimovic just scored for the Swedes giving them a one goal lead. Hopefully they can keep their lead because if they win it will be my first correct prediction of the tournament, I’m starting to think I’m a jinx.
Oh, dear.
Ukraine have equalised.
Anyway, in today’s early game I’d predicted that England would be beaten by the French, but they held them to a 1-1 draw.
On balance I’d say France were the better team, but only by a whisker. England played fairly well (Ukraine 2-1 up now, the jinx strikes again) and made the French work.
Being Welsh watching England in major tournaments is always an odd experience. In 1996 I cheered them on, but since then I haven’t.
I always feel a little bad that I end up wanting them to go out, it feels mean and I know a fair few English people, including my Dad. Bur the thing is England make it really easy to dislike them.
First up there’s the fact that if they do win a major tournament we’d never hear the end of it. Look how often the ghost of ’66 is raised, and that’s so long ago the players are starting to die of natural causes. I’m sure Brazil, Italy and all the other winners probably laud their world champions, but you also get the feeling their more concerned with the future and commited to adding to the legacy.
With England you get the fact they cling to it to try and justify their place as a major international football force.
Which they’re not, really. The England myth goes that they always get tripped at the last hurdle by penalties, or dodgy refereeing. But falling at the last hurdle would be losing a final, aside from ’66 they’ve never played in a final. Hell, they’ve only reached the semis twice (90 and 96).
And they speak of penalties like its some cheat FIFA have made to rob them of glory, when really its a combination of handling pressure and luck.
Ah, luck.
The Hand of God, the Lampard non-goal in South Africa, noone can deny England have fallen foul of lady luck. But come on, Germany beat them 4-1 two years ago, and utterly dominated them, Lampard’s goal would merely have been a consolation.
The other reason I quickly get annoyed with England is all the pre-tournament hype. Unrealistic expectation, average players promoted to almost godlike status and a stream of hyperbolic adverts.
For the wannabe neutral it makes it really hard as it just grates, especially as you know the beer companies don’t really give a toss and are just pandering to make more cash. Carlsberg in particular are the worst for these.
It doesn’t help that the England team also includes some of the biggest douches to ever kick a ball, and this is football, which aside from bus drivers has the highest proportion of douchebags for any job. John Terry and Ashley Cole could play against a team of Nazis, serial killers and Lee Ryan, and I’d probably wind up rooting for the Nazis and co.


Adding to the irritation is the horribly biased commentary you get, particularly from ITV.
Every tournament they do a “who’s coverage will be better” thing pitting ITV against the Beeb. Its always gonna be BBC.
They have Alan Hansen, who’s a punditry god, the likable Gary Lineker and the surprisingly insightful Alan Shearer. Sure they have weak links, but they have a strong core, and better commentators. Oh, and Gabby Logan.


ITV are fronted by the slappable oaf Adrian Childes and have some woeful commentators, not least the execrable Clive Tyldesley.


Tyldesley is tedious and lacks any real insight, and today spent much of the game whinging about how the ref was biased to the French, even when it was blatant an England had dived.
Ukraine have just won. So I’m 0-8 in predictions.
Given the rather shaky performances from both teams tonight, Englans might come out of their group quite well.
And I will try and root for them, especially against the Ukraine, and to aid this I’ll have to mute the match if its on ITV.
The only thing to recommend the ITV coverage is the inclusion of Roy Keane, the second scariest man in football. He has an aura of menace and you suspect he’s always mere moments away from violence.
You expect him to deliver his analysis from a throne made of skulls, and doing outside broadcasts with him is brave as you fear he might dive into the crowd if they make too much noise.


Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO

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