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Euro 2008 blog

29 June 2008 11:38 PM

 

Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 

… and they all lived happily ever after.

Thrillingly enjoyable as this entire tournament has been, one worry nagged away as the days, hours, minutes dwindled before the final kick-off.

All memories could be spoiled, or at least slightly tainted… should Spain somehow contrive, yet again, not to triumph.

Torres2

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Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
Viennese whirl...

‘Today Austria is the centre of the world’, proclaims one of Vienna’s front-page headlines – and it feels easy to forgive any whiff of Habsburg nostalgia.

For this weekend – as for much of the summer- the baroque city streets have pulsated to a sound even more jaunty and raucous than the Radetzky March.

Even the 23 bells of the central St Stephen’s Cathedral have struggled to drown out the din of the crowds growing below.

‘Super Deutschland, ay-oh-ay’ and odes to Lukas Podolski surge in and out of that proud old Iberian battle-cry … ‘Y Viva Espana’.

Some have come as matadors or flamenco dancers, others as Bismarck, Breitner or Bavarian wenches in low-cut dirndls – any excuse for a few to drag up.

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26 June 2008 11:29 PM

 

Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
Not much longer left to run...

And so, it’s almost time to singalonga Sound Of Music, and bid these Euros: ‘So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night…’.

So what better time to round up a few of my favourite things, and a few more besides?

Ah well, I’m going to, anyway…

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Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
Reigning Spain put Russians to flight...

A total of 200 private jets landed in Vienna from Russia today.

So many cash-happy oligarchs, wives/girlfriends and assorted hangers-on were keen to catch tonight’s semi-final, a special lane was needed at the Austrian capital's international airport.

Vladimir Putin was putting in place plans to touch down for Sunday's final.

Unfortunately for the invading Russian army, man of the moment Andrei Arshavin failed to show up.

Instead, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta finally did – as, in the fearsome rain, Spain richly, deservedly reigned over the Russians.

Shame for the Spanish fans forced to leave their seats empty, though - many diverted to Prague as Vienna airport struggled with both the rain and the Russians.

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Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
'And he'd managed to get hold of a Dukla Prague away kit...'

Thanks to shelves stuffed with daily journals devoted to sport, the mainland doesn't seem to be missing dear departed Shoot! so far.

For a kick-off, British magazines marking players sensibly out of ten seems out of kilter with Mitteleuropa’s approach.

Instead here, performances get rated out of six – though for some papers, a six means a Sneijder or Iniesta of a display, for others it’s the mark of a Magnin or an Abidal.

But there may yet be a respectful resting-place for Shoot!, as it trots down the tunnel to join 90 Minutes and Roy Of The Rovers in retirement.

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Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
Walking round the room singing 'Stormy weather'...

We’re through the looking-glass here, people…

That is, we would be, were it not shattered into a million smithereens by last night’s apocalptyic-appearing, Euro-spoiling storms in Vienna.

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25 June 2008 3:07 PM

 

Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
The price of Hanappi-ness...

Not every venue has been so successfully, er, smokin’ – the Hanappi-Stadion on the outskirts of Vienna has been offering big-screen viewing for all Euro 2008 games.

But before yesterday, only 14,300 fans had made use of the venue that’s costing Vienna £2.85million – and 13,200 of those were for Austria-Germany.

That works out at £200,000 per occupied seat - perhaps the worst value for money since the Italian FA handed Roberto Donadoni a pen to sign his bumper new contract, getting it out of the way before the big kick-off.


 

Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
Blow football...

Euro 2008 has been a good tournament for smokers.

Joachim Löw managed a few sneaky drags while exiled to the stands for Germany’s quarter-final.

Slaven Bilic continued to enhance his image, despite Croatia falling to the most inevitable shoot-out defeat since England’s last.

And, of course, that Gauloise-puffing Uefa president Michel Platini can congratulate himself on an attractive tournament well-run.

(While perhaps musing: ‘Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Sepp Blatter.’)

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Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
The right place for Löw...?

Joachim Löw must be glad to be back in his dug-out tonight.

First he struggled to find someone willing to give up their seat, when sent to the stands in the Austria game – then forced to serve a one-match ban in what looked like greenhouse conditions.

And before the Russia-Netherlands match kicked off, he could be seen wandering worriedly back and forth through the media seats for about 15 minutes.

000low

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Posted by Aidan Radnedge

 
Africa calling...

The World Cup – ah, who needs it?

After all, this invigorating European Championship follows just five months hard on the heels from an African Cup of Nations that was also a pleasure to watch.

But even before Sunday’s winners wake up on Monday morning – or afternoon – with heads ringing like St Stephen’s Cathedral’s 23 bells, the World Cup clock will be just as loudly ticking.

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