A tad late posting the blog but the reason for my tardiness is understandable, I’m on vacation and I was busy celebrating. Celebrating a tie may not be fashionable in North America but at a tournament of this magnitude, facing stiff competition, we gladly took our point. It was a wonderful experience being in the Municipal Stadium last night. It’s a shame that the stadium wasn’t full. This was due in large part the lack of support from the Italians. Supporters of the Azzurri were badly outnumbered, and their cheers were drowned out by those wearing the checkerboard jersey. It’s been reported here that the Italian Soccer Federation returned some seven thousand tickets which were allotted to them for the tournament. I suspect that Italy, like many of their nutty nieghbours, had some kind of social program which subsidized Euro Tickets and travel costs. Angela Merkel now says that’s verboten. I say that in jest but given the entitlements that most Europeans deem to be their god given right, a social program such as this wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
The game itself supplied plenty of drama. We were fortunate to come out of the first half down only a goal. The conversation among us was rather muted during halftime. Then out of nowhere the Croatians exhibited their skill sets in the second half which had taken them this far. I was so relieved because I could stop holding my breath and I could start enjoying the game. There was no doubt the Croatian’s were going to score in the second half. The only question left to be answered was if they could score two goals and celebrate a victory. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
The third and final game for the Croatians in the qualifying group is a huge task, the Spaniards. There are so many variables to be able to advance to the next round, ties and loses by all the teams in the group, that it makes the brain hurt. One possibility is if the Irish could defeat or tie the Italians, but given their performance to date at this tournament it’s clear we’re going to have to do this ourselves. Frankly, that’s the way it should be.
The cool thing about this adventure is the interesting people we have met along the way. Last night there was a group of us chatting, having a cigar and the odd beverage, on the hotel balcony. There was a gent of Croatian heritage from Australia in the group. He and his family, wife, three kids and his sister and brother in-law, are in Poland for Euro 2012 qualifying round. Then they’re off for another eight weeks to travel around Europe. Clearly these people know how to live. Also among the group on the patio was a television crew who were broadcasting the games back to Germany. Here’s the thing, they hate soccer. This is just another gig for them, and all they wanted to do is talk about Canada, and the visits they’ve made to the great white north. I had to laugh when the guy from Berlin said he loved Winnipeg, and he meant it. Then there was the two guys from Switzerland, who spoke French but are of Italian heritage. They were in Poland to support their team, which I believe was the Italians. Given the different languages they spoke I wasn’t really sure who they were supporting. They didn’t say much in Italian, but when they did I got homesick. It reminded me of the sounds of Woodbridge, Ontario. A cultured and unique group of individuals or if you prefer, the UN of beer guzzlers.
Until next time