Monday, June 9, 2008

Here come the jeers and the Oranje beers

EURO 2008: France 0:0 Romania, Zurich

Oranje bus.
It was inevitable after such a promising start to the tournament. France and Romania ground out a bore-draw in Zurich.

While the 2000 winners France enjoyed the lion's share, or should that be the cockerel's share of the ball, they had no end product and Romania's defence did their job with some ease.

This means both teams will be fired up when they play tonight's competitors in their second game.

Italy v Holland was the stand-out game of the first round as soon as it was announced so let us hope it lives up to its hype.

Bern today looked like it was hosting the World Cup with a sea of mostly Dutch fans flooding the historic city centre. The procession of orange across the bridge from the old town towards the stadium looked like the Pied Piper of Hamelin was in town.

The Dutch exodus from Interlaken this morning was also a sight for anyone's eyes, clearly orchestrated, but as ever with the orange hordes, without a hint of trouble. If only every nation could have such a sense of reverie when it comes to football. And how strange that alcohol is often cited as a catalyst for trouble when the Dutch fans down gallons of it and still smile.

The poor azzurri. The world champions share a border with Switzerland but their supporters are woefully outnumbered by Holland's. While Italy are traditionally not known for their away following, they did have a good turnout in Germany in 2006.

Incidentally, the UEFA allocation to Italy was 6,000 tickets. Expect there to be at least four times that many orange shirts in the Wankdorf tonight.

With both the world champions and the Dutch missing key players the game looks tough to call but the bookies are favoring Italy.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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