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if you’re looking for me you can find me at disconsolate.com

a win would’ve done it.

with romania on 2 points and us on 1, we needed holland to beat romania for us to have any chance of going through. they did just that and so all we would’ve needed was to win to go through to the quarter finals of euro 2008.

we lost.

and how.

how else in a tournament where it seems that we simply were not meant to progress? cruelly. and sadly.

we started well, but after 7 minutes our best player and our talisman, franck ribery, pulled up with what looked like an achilles tendon injury. he was off. and what was worse, he was off for the rest of the tournament – however long or short it would be for france.

a little over ten minutes later one of our defenders conceded a penalty (which was converted) and got sent off. to add salt to the wound, the player who conceded the penalty was unused to the centre-back position (the player he’d replaced had bowed out because of intense criticism of his performance in the holland game). replacing our most experienced player was extreme and replacing him with a full-back turned out to be folly we would pay dearly for.

one man down, a goal down, without our talisman, needing to win, against italy our big foe – it was a horror scenario. it was a dark and sick joke then that we played well after those setbacks. it was like watching a 3 legged, limping animal bravely hop through a maze which you knew it wouldn’t find its way out of.

but i couldn’t be objective. there was a chance. and i hoped against hope that we could turn it around.

they battled manfully, but at half-time the score was still 1 – 0. at the start of the second half france continued where they left off – pushing and pushing and causing italy lots of problems. italy were struggling to get a grip on the game and you felt that they really needed another goal to close france out. if, against the odds, france scored then they would almost surely go on to score the second that would see them through. but what with how the game had gone up to that point (how france’s tournament had gone) that outcome just didn’t seem likely.

it needed one more punch to the gut to finally knock france out, and it came on the hour mark. italy had a free-kick, took a shot at goal and the ball deflected off one of our players, completely wrong-footing our goalkeeper, and struck the back of the net. 2 – 0.

true to the script france continued to battle on after that but, with the knowledge that they now needed 3 goals, as the minutes passed and that first of three goals didn’t come you could see the belief slowly sap out of our players. not that they stopped trying – but it was clear that they were beaten. and, if you ask me, there’s only so much that a team can take. i still willed them on but a part of me just wished for it to be over for their sakes.

and when the whistle there was an odd kind of relief – with me and the players. where normally you would see sadness, dismay, disbelief or anger, at that moment relief was the dominant emotion on their faces.

it was nice to see how the italian and french players hugged afterwards, and exchanged congratulations and commiserations. ours has been an extremely bitter rivalry but to see genuine sportsmanship at the end there lifted my heart.

france are out of euro 2008. i’m sorry boys.

next time… next time.

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  1. June 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Ah man, I’m sorry! The life of a sports fan can indeed be a tough one, huh?

  2. June 18, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    😦 Sorry JP….it’s always such a bummer to see your team fall out of it at the end…I’ve seen it way too much!

  3. June 18, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Argh 😦 I’m so sorry

  4. jean pierre
    June 19, 2008 at 7:18 am

    ah, thanks guys…

  5. Jeff S.
    June 20, 2008 at 5:04 am

    I too was bummed watching the game. I wasn’t as familiar with the players of course as you are so when Ribery was injured early on I didn’t realize the huge impact it made as you noted above but when France went a man down I KNEW that was bug trouble against the Italians. I coulnd’t believe the defender did what he did inside the box. It was so frustrating to watch as they replayed it over and over again. I was still hopeful though until Italy got the second goal. It was was like ARGH! I can’t beleive that fluke goal just happened. It seemed like the Fates were lined up against them. I’m so sorry JP. So when is the World Cup. I can’t wait. I’m going to watch some more of the matches. Who do you reommend I cheer on now?

  6. jean pierre
    June 21, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    yeah, that foul inside the box was a crucial mistake in the context of the game

    and i agree… it did seem like the fates were against us.

    the world cup is in 2010, so thats something to look forward to. although, historically european teams have never done well when the world cup is outside of europe…

    i was going to recommend watching croatia, ’cause i’d like to see them do well. they’re such a small country (especially football-wise) and they’ve come such a long way. unfortunately they lost last night.

    so i don’t know… for entertainment holland and spain definitely seem to be the teams to watch.

  7. Jeff S.
    June 21, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I watched the whole Netherlands / Russia match today. I really enojyed it. I felt Russia out played the Dutch and deserved to win it. It will be interestin to see if they can get by Germany though. I’m looking forward to the Italy/Spain match up as well.

    Nice talking football with you. I have a ton to learn. I was never intertested in it until a few years back when my kids started playing. I really have enjoyed watching them play over the years. I will admit I’m still fuzzy on some of the rules and I’m way behind the curve on understanding all the strategies but I finally understand while some many countries love this game. I’m going to try to be a lot more up to speed on things by World Cup 2010. I’ll be rooting for the US and France. You can count on it.

  8. jean pierre
    June 24, 2008 at 9:15 am

    the russia/holland game was very good, wasn’t it? russia were very good indeed. and you’re right, they definitely outplayed the dutch.

    i also think a lot of people over-estimated the dutch. in both games against france and italy they scored very early on and all their subsequent goals were counter-attacks and came because france and italy were pushing more men forward.

    i had serious doubts of their ability to break a defence down that wasn’t chasing the game, and those doubts proved well founded in the end.

    the italy/spain game was a bit more dissapointing. but thats sadly the way with italy. they have such a negative style that games containing them are rarely entertaining nowadays. in the 80s and early 90s yes, but since then they have been very negative.

    its brilliant talking football with you – especially since you’re as enthusiastic as i am!

  9. June 24, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Again, I am sorry. While not a particular fan of this sport I am certainly a fan of sport in general and I understand the agony of defeat. I’ll certainly be hoping for the best for your team in the future and look forward to days when your football posts are filled with the glories of victory!

  10. Jeff S.
    June 25, 2008 at 3:57 am

    I thought the italy/spain game was disappointing as well. What made it even more disappointing is that I had set up my DVR to record it so when the game went to overtime I missed the ending. I saw later that Spain had won but I didn’t see how. I’m assuming it was pentaly kicks? I thought Spain outplayed Italy in that match and the referee I felt was calling the game in Italy’s favor. I’m not as interested in the Germany/Turkey match up since it sounds like Turkey is going to be missing a lot of players so I’m assuming Germany will win so I’m going to skip watching that one. Plus Carl and I are going to the movies to see the Incredible Hulk tommarrow night. I am looking forward to the Russia/Spain match up. I defienty going to watch that one. Whoever wins it should be a good oppenent against the Germans. I’m half-German so I guess I should be rooting for them to win it all.( My Mom was full German as were her parents although I believe their parents were the ones to come over to America. They all lived in a tight German community over here so they married into full German familys for three generations who never ever lived or visited Germany. I hope that makes sense. ) 🙂 It’s great talking football with you as well. I’ll post a comment in again after watching the Russia/Spain game. Also I hope you and Charlotte are adjusting to the new home well and I hope the cats are as well ( Pokey and I’m sorry I forget don’t you have a second cat as well? ).

  11. jean pierre
    June 27, 2008 at 8:19 am

    aw, thanks carl.

    jeff, oh no! what a pity. if i’d known i’d have said to record for another 45 minutes or so. at least every second game italy plays in the knock-out phases of a competition go to extra time (and often penalties).

    the germany-turkey game turned out to be quite entertaining in the end. its a pity the russians couldn’t match their earlier form…

    ah – you’re half-german. do you have any affinity for them? although, don’t you go replacing our french fries!

    yep, us and charlotte are finally settling. i keep aiming to start blogging about the house (and just blogging more regularly in general)… it looks as if finally things are getting less hectic…

    pooky is very well and columbus is having a ball of a time. she’s living outside and has turned into a genocidal maniac, killing all the mice and shrews… 😦

  12. Jeff S.
    June 27, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    That’s funny about Columbus. When I was growing up we lived in the country for awhile and our cats always brought us mice as well. The cats were just so proud it seemed to show off there kills.

    As for Germany. To be honest I really have no affinity for them or the country. With multiple generations all being born in the US I didn’t grow up with any actual living German relatives or German traditions. It’s always been were from the USA, That’s our country. I hope that makes sense. So I always just root for the USA. It’s fun getting to know you and some others through Carl’s blog and that’s how I’ve now deceided to root for the French as well through getting to know you through the blogoshpere.

    I geuss I should have watched the Germany/Turkey game instead of the Russia/Spain match. I did watch the Russia/Spain match though last night. Too bad it rained so much but it didn’t seen to effect the play. The first half of the game each team seemed to play so tentatively it was nice to see some action in the second half.

    As for the Germany/Spain final. I think I’m going to root for the Spainish team. They seem to underdog and they haven’t won a lot of big international titles so I think it would be a nice story for there country. I have liked there style of play as well so that’s my pick. Plus we Americans love the underdog/cinderalla story kind teams so that gives me another reason to root for them.

    I look forward to more blog posts from you as your life becomes a little less hectic. I hope you and Charlotte have a great weekend and give Pooky and Columbus a pat on the head from me. 🙂

    On another note. My wife Keri, my son Zachary, and I went and saw the Prince Caspain movie yesterday. It was special effects wise amazing but story wise just ok. A little too violent and preachy for me. I just don’t think CS Lewis would like these interpretations of his novels in my opinion. The kids aren’t great actors either but their were nice performances from Peter Dinklage and Warwick Davis as dwarves I really enjoyed.

  13. jean pierre
    June 30, 2008 at 11:44 am

    you’re right about how proud cats are about killing animals. every now and then columbus, to our horror, brings a blodied and maimed mouse to the doorstep. its so sweet though, because she has the proudest look on her face.

    i think its very sweet, especially considering how independent and aloof cats mostly are.

    the germany thing makes sense. i’m guessing its a thing thats not uncommon in america, with it being such a big country and such a lure for immigration over the centuries.

    i also supported spain and for similar reasons. also, out of competitiveness, i don’t want germany to win it again ’cause then they’ve won it 4 times, where france has won it twice.

    and speaking of more posts, i’m busy writing one as we speak! and i hope to be posting a little more regularly too from now on.

    hmmm… prince caspian. we’ve had a good old chat about narnia, haven’t we? what you’re saying about “prince caspian” is worrying…

    i’m still tempted to see it, if only because of the fantasy elements. is the story any better? as in, is it told better than it was in the first one? ’cause that was just a shambles!

  14. Jeff S.
    July 1, 2008 at 12:20 am

    As for Prince Caspian the special are amazing but the story I don’t think is told any better than in the first movie. Of course I haven’t read the books in almost 20 years so my memory is fuzzy but the story just doesn’t ” feel ” right in the movies. The focus is too much on battleing. Of course that’s just my opinion. Visually if for no other reasons the film is worth seeing plus Peter Dinklage gives a great performance. I’m sure I’m misspelling his last name but he is the small actor from Trainspotting, Elf, and Death at a Funeral. Carl and I really enjoy his performances.

    Now for Football talk. 🙂 Did you watch the Euro final? I did and I loved the match. I was totally rooting for Spain and I thought they really outplayed Germany almost the whole game. I couldn’t believe the scored ended up 1-0 though. I was sure with all the shooting especially from Spain we would have seen some more goals but even so I thought it was still a very exciting match. I have to get more people in my country to watch this sport because it’s amazing when played at the highest level. I can’t wait for World Cup 2010 and I see it’s even being played in South Africa. Do you think you will be able to attend? It would be so cool if you could go see France there. I think that would be an amazing experience for you.

    Take care and I look forward to your posts.

  15. Fiona
    July 1, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Oh, JP I felt for you, I really did. Is there anywhere lonelier than sport at certain times? I watched this in the pub and was one of only two people rooting for Les Bleus. Oh well, next time perhaps?

  16. jean pierre
    July 3, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    JEFF:

    thats pretty much what i feared about “prince caspian”…

    i have no idea who this peter drinklage bloke is, though. but i look forward to seeing what he’s like!

    the final was good, wasn’t it? especially in relation to many other finals that i’ve seen. they’re often so cagey, but spain played positive once again and made the game beautiful to watch.

    you weren’t the only one who couldn’t believe it was 1-0…! 😀 all the press here were saying that it was the most one sided 1-0 victory ever!

    and you’re right, football at the highest level is such a joy to watch. the qualifiers are generally fairly good too, but they don’t compare to these big competitions when all the teams really step it up!

    that 2010 is in south africa is very exciting…! i’d love to go, but it’ll be expensive to fly there. it’s comparable in price to a trans-atlantic flight – generally more, i think.

    but i’d love to see it there ’cause i grew up there. it’d be super weird to see france, though! very weird. i’ve never been able to fully reconcile my south african frenchness…

    FIONA:

    ah, thanks fiona…

    yeah, next time!

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