Rarely has a country underperformed as often as Portugal at major soccer tournaments. Along with Spain and England these three countries tease their fans every two years with hopes and expectations that maybe this is the year that they win a major tournament and then they fall flat on their face when a little bit of pressure is applied to them. They are the Chicago Cubs of international football.
Germany is the complete opposite to Portugal. Every tournament they are in contention because they expect to be and Euro 2008 is no exception. After an uninspiring start to the tournament Germany is now one win away from another final and beating Portugal 3-1 on Thursday.
Throughout the Euros’ the very small Portugal defense has looked vulnerable to high balls all two of Germany’s three goals brutally exposed the Portuguese weakness in the air.
The Portugal team could not compete with the more physical Germans and questions will be asked whether the transfer rumors about Ronaldo and Deco and the move to Chelsea by Scolari distracted the Portuguese team. The constant presence in the Portugal hotel of agents had to make the players lose focus and in the end that might have been the difference between finally winning a tournament that was there’s for the taking, or losing again in the semi-finals.
Update: Portugal have lashed out at Chelsea for announcing during Euro 2008 that Luiz Felipe Scolari had accepted an offer to coach the Premier League side.
Portuguese Football Federation president Gilberto Madail addressed the media on Friday following his team’s elimination from the European Championship at the hands of Germany the previous night, and believes the timing of the announcement of Scolari’s impending departure had a destabilising effect.
“It wasn’t the best moment for us for Chelsea to announce Scolari’s appointment,” said Madail. I know Scolari had nothing to do with it and I was surprised not by the appointment, because Scolari is a great coach, but at the timing chosen. I wish Chelsea would have consulted us before so that we could have chosen a better time.”
Did not take long for Peter Kenyon to become as disliked in Portugal as he is in the rest of the world!
Germany will now play the winner of Friday’s quarter-final between Croatia and Turkey next Wednesday in Basle. I expect that Croatia will win their quarter-final game with Turkey setting up the rematch with Germany with the winners going to the final.