Celebrating club football and shining the light on incompetent and biased journos indulging in stereotyping and negativity.
There is a change of media base for this one as we mosey on over to BBC1 to watch the game with Jonathan Pearce and that brightest of consultant commodities, Martin Keown. In the jingle just before the teams’ exit onto the pitch, the Dutch and the Danish teams are represented by pictures of windmills and Danish swirls, respectively. Presumably these symbols have been statistically verified to be the ones that the majority of British people most immediately associate with the two countries. I suppose they could have done worse with some Gouda cheese (or worse even, tulips) and a great Dane. Something has gone terribly wrong with British media this year – is it the Murdoch scandal, the lowest expectations of the national squad ever, or the depressing reality of the jubilee? The in-studio consultant panel – a star studded affair with uncle Arry and the token Dutch star Seedorf – is also oddly dressed, as if Diddy was hired as the wardrobe consultant and is preparing to whisk them all of to the grand re-opening of Studio 54.
Netherlands – Denmark, 9 June 2012, 18h kick-off;
Hollywood factor: Nigel de Jong’s world cup kung fu kick in the final has already landed him offers to take over from Jackie Chan once the latter reaches 80, or co-star alongside Jason Streatham as a crazy side kick in Crank 4.
Old/mean man kudos: Without any doubt it has to be Mark Van Bommel, possibly Europe’s most detested leg-breaking midfielder.
French connection: The Dutch and the French don’t mix. Not in the same animated, confrontational manner as the Dutch and ze Germans, but the fact is that you will be hard pressed to find Dutch internationals in Ligue 1. Most of them come from either Ajax or PSV and when they are ready to move on to bigger and better things, tend to favor the EPL. I mean, even Khalid Boulahrouz managed to get hired by Chelsea – not one of José’s best picks. Must have been a tip from Frank Arnsesen. I have located the trace of one Rajiv van La Parra, who played for two seasons at Caen (2008-2011, the first season being in L1), but he came from Feyenoord Rotterdam – told ya! Before him, there was Boudewijn Zenden at Marseille (2007-2009), and an unremarkable last season for Patrick Kluivert at Lille in 2007-2008.
New hype kid most touted to join the English Premier League: There’s not that many in this team, apart from Willems (18) and Gregory Van der Wiel (23); the others are all over 25, including Affelay, who is fairly well tied to Barça and 26. Most already play in the EPL. Speculation will probably be rife for a Sneijder move to either City or United (Manchester), but hopefully it will all be wishful thinking. Someone may be tempted to come and fetch Maarten Stekelenburg from Rome, hoping he will be able to emulate the inspirational Dutch goalkeeper magic demonstrated by Tim Krul (for Newcastle) and Michael Vorm (for Swansea) this season. Oops, well, not after letting that one through his legs.
Hollywood factor: Simon Kjaer’s true blond locks and looks constitute significant credentials for featuring in all sorts of surfer or skater movies.
Old/mean man kudos: More old than mean, but at 33, Dennis Romedahl is definitely the senior fella in this squad. Apparently he has stated that he feels he can continue for another 8 or 9.
French connection: After frantically transferring around Europe for a number of years like a crazed US college kid on a Euro-rail back-pack holiday with a countdown, Christian Poulsen officiated in midfield for the newly promoted Evian Thonon Gaillard last season – and somehow they managed to stay up. They’re sponsored by a yogurt, you know.
New hype kid most touted to join the English Premier League: He’s Danish, but he’s at Ajax, which is probably what has got Christian Ericksen noticed by a number of observers. It wasn’t really a great evening for him – according to Seedorf at half-time, the Danes were locked in a style of play that does not help to bring out the best of his skills.
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Historic moment of the match: The completely against the run of play first Danish goal by the fabulously named Michael Krohn-Dehli, whose picture on UEFA’s Matchcentre is reminiscent of a really haggard Richie Cunningham.
Hero of the game: probably Krohn-Delhi, if the Danes manage to hold on to the score (I am publishing this on the 92nd minute of the game).