The game started at 17:45 on Saturday the 14th of June. The final whistle blew at 19:51. That’s two hours and six minutes. And I won’t lie to you. I didn’t watch all of it. I just couldn’t do it. I know its Euro 2008. Or Euro ’08. Or whatever the hell it’s called. But I couldn’t do it.
The average baseball game is about two hours and fifty-one minutes. That’s from the first pitch to the last out. The average hockey game lasts about two hours and nineteen minutes. From the drop of the puck to the final horn. The average basketball game lasts about two hours and thirty minutes. From the tip to the final whistle. And I gladly sit through them. But two hours and six minutes of soccer I couldn’t do. So I missed parts of the first half. But sat through the entire second half.
In the end Sweden lost. At the 90+2 minute mark. Because of the extra time allotted at the end of the game. The announcers had been singing the praises of Sweden’s ability to fight and stay in the game. Basically the announcers were pumped about the potential tie. While we are talking about the announcers I was a little weirded out when one of the guys commented on the nice smile of Markus Rosenberg. Fair enough. Not really sure that the second half of a Sweden-Spain game in the European Championships is the time to be bringing that up. But, it being soccer, there was a bit of dead time.
What I saw was though was Sweden getting dominated and just being downright lucky to have not been down by that extra goal well before the 90+2 mark. They got away with a push in the back in the box that should have resulted in a penalty kick at the end of the first half. And still there is controversy. And Sweden is pissed because the play that led to Spain’s winning goal was thought to have been a foul. At least worthy of a free kick. Had there been a free kick, the reasoning goes, then Spain wouldn’t have kept the ball and David Villa wouldn’t have scored.
A quick tangent. I have written plenty of times about the amount of flopping, faked injuries, and general nonsense that I see in soccer games. I must give credit though. Last night, Sweden manned up. I saw very few flops, very few rolling around in agony only to pop right back up a few seconds later. I did see the goalie take a knee/thigh to his head and pop back up. Spain on the other hand, was less impressive. And I write that only because there was a Spaniard, I believe Carlos Marchena, who chapped my ass. And no one likes a chapped ass. The aforementioned Rosenberg was knocked down by our man Carlos a couple of times. Whether they were worthy of a free kick I’ll leave to the soccer aficionados, but Rosenberg went down. He didn’t roll. He didn’t act like a little bitch. But he didn’t pop right back up like nothing happened either. And Carlos decided that he had had enough and began motioning for Rosenberg to get up. Numerous times. In an aggressive manner. Not very befitting of Spaniard really. Considering his team had been trying to draw fouls all game by taking dives. But I digress.
This non-call is one of those few instances in sports where a decision, in this case to not blow the whistle, has a direct impact on the game. But considering the fact that Spain was clearly the better team, that Sweden got away with some non-calls, and that the second half was completely dominated by the Spaniards, Sweden shouldn’t have won. Or even tied really. When it comes down to it, the (much) better team won. Sweden needs to accept their fate.
Which is a very important game against Russia. Because a loss means they are going home. A win means they are going on. And actually a tie does too if I’m not mistaken. We’ll see what happens.
Welcome to Sweden, where even and American like me can write Euro ’08 commentary.