I don’t think it is a phrase you hear tous les jours but ‘the tournament gets the final it deserves’ seems appropriate after last night’s underwhelming game. Much like the tournament itself it was average fare; you weren’t on the edge of your seat and just as the occasional tantalising amuse bouche of footballling skill and daring would pique your interest, it was momentary and you were back to school dinner stodge football.
That is not to decry Portugal’s success. They have been tenacious and resolute, well managed by the wily old (cliché alert) Fernando Santos, although it would be a step far to agree with the actor…sorry defender Pepe’s description of the team, “That’s what the Portugese are about: humility, work, overcoming hardship.” It’s true; rolling around on the floor like you have been run over by a herd of raging wildebeest (very common in European football stadiums I hear) when actually no one really touched you has always been my definition of humility.
And all this without the other, slightly prettier Pantomime Villain that is Cristiano Ronaldo who limped off, distraught after 25 minutes. Much as je n’aime pas la Cristiano he did go up in my estimation as he ignored the HUGE moth that landed on his head when he was lying injured. My leg could have been hanging off and if a moth landed sur ma tete I would be leaping up and down shouting, “Getitoff Getitoff Getitoff!!!!!!” like the big brave TLF that I am.
France were unable to take advantage of CR’s grand depart, having left their inventiveness and creativity on the team coach. And then Portugal did to France what Greece did to them 12 years ago, squeezed the space and were relentless. The aforementioned Pepe might be un peu of a d1ck but he did his defensive duties superbly. Winning was a step too far for France and perhaps a relief to the rest of us – safe in the knowledge that there would no further recycling of the weekend’s press coverage which see-sawed between the “victory-will-help-heal-this –country-still-in-shock” line and the “ people-who-say-victory-will-help-heal-this –country-still-in-shock-are-kidding-themselves-it’s-only-football.” Face it, sport can unite people for a moment, but big tournament wins are fleeting in their impact. (SEE I am doing it now!)
I would suggest for a future tournament that France consider adding yellow spots to their white change strip. If only so that we could all sing “He wore an itsy bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot Matuidi.” Sorry that’s been in my head since the first game all those weeks ago.
Eh bien, nous sommes fini. Temps pour la tableau mural to come off the wall, to put the tournament T-shirts in the wash and relinquish control of the television scheduling Chez TLF.
It hasn’t been something to always ecrire home about admittedly; for TLF too many teams and too many jours de repose. Ingurland were a predictable disappointment, led (I use the word loosely)by the highest paid coach in the tournament, whose main tactics seemed to be to employ rien de tactic and play to his players’ weaknesses as often as possible.
The other home nations were an utter joy – some great perfomances and fans who seemed to realise that it is not essential to spend the hours between football matches chanting about past conflicts that are nothing to do with football and where a lot of people died.
Every tournament needs its ‘everyone’s favourite second team’ and Iceland stepped up beardfully to the plate. From really annoying Ronaldo in their obstinacy to let him score to their humiliation of Ingurland they kept the interest up and fair play to Alyson Rudd and a couple of other Times colleagues who predicted that the men from the fijords would be the surprise package of the tournmanet.
This year’s tournament mascot,’Super Victor’ was noticeably absent at all times (apart from on offical over-priced UEFA tat), whether this has anything to do with the fact that Super Victor is the name of a best selling sex toy in America, I couldn’t say.
Being in France was, of course the icing sur la gateau pour TLF. Not quite the chilled out, informal, footballing vacance that was in TLF’s petite tete when booking those tickets two years ago but that’s the way of the world these days. Lens was an utter blast and while they were rubbish on and off the pitch, hearing Russia’s national anthem belted out in Lille’s stadium, with the roof closed was spine-tingling.
Financially things are even – Mr Jennings probably just edged it but TLF’s victorie in la sweep de stake has bought things back into the black.
Time for TLF to get sur sa bicyclette and stop this self-inflicted torture of a blog a day ; doesn’t have the same effect as une pomme per jour I can tell you. Normal service will be resumed in August.
Non je ne regrette rien
Resultat – La finale
France 0 Portugal 1 (aet)