Monday, June 30, 2008

Euro 2008 review

So it ended last night when Iker Cassilas lifted the European Cup in Vienna. Spain took home the cup after beating Germany 1-0 by a Fernando Torres goal. It ended 3 weeks of football and now it all goes back to normal life...

Anyway, a quick review of the Euro from me:

Biggest disappointment: Mario Gomez. I had him as the topscorer, he was hailed as Germany's next Gerd Muller, but didn't score a goal at all. Now he's become "Mario Who?"
Best flop: Luca Toni. Topscorer in Germany, all he did was shoot the ball anywhere but on goal.
Best timing: Raymond Domenech proposing to his girlfriend on live TV minutes after the French were kicked out of Euro 2008.
Best planning: The French team booking and paying for exclusive use of their hotel (the Mirador Kempinski) all the way until the 25th of June. They left on the 18th.
Comedy goalkeepers: Jens Lehmann, Rustu Recber, Volkan Demirel, Nikopolidis, Ricardo, Peter Cech.
Biggest surprise: Austria playing decent, better than anybody expected.
No surprise: The French going home so soon.
Is Cristiano Ronaldo a big-game bottler? Yes.
Biggest increase in value: Andrei Arshavin
Should've been in The Killers: Christopher Metzelder
I cry for my country: Alex Frei
Best driver: The French coach driver
Song you hear everywhere: Songs sung to the tune of Seven Nation's Army bassline.
Crazy fans: 10,000 Portuguese fans picking up the team from Geneva airport and then following the bus all the way to Fribourg.
Not missed: Raul, England
Missed: Fabio Cannavaro
Most fashionable person: Jogi Low
Best personal experience: Watching Holland vs Italy in Bern (in the FanZone)
Best goal: Philip Lahm's winner against the Turks.
Never say die: Turkey
Can't win in finals: Michael Ballack
Best Brazilian: Marcos Senna
Best supporters: the Dutch
Should have been in a rock band: Slaven Bilic. Wait, actually he is.
They were champions last time around? Greece. They confirmed it was a fluke.
Best team: the Dutch
Best game: Germany vs Turkey
Euro XI: van der Sar; Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Chielini, Zhirkov; Senna; Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Sneijder; Arshavin, Villa

Can't wait for the 2010 World Cup!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jakarta & Singapore

From the 11th until the 20th of June I was in Jakarta and Singapore. In Jakarta for my cousin's wedding, in Singapore to relax (as it is impossible to relax in Jakarta).

The wedding was great. It's the second time when a couple got married after I've introduced them to each other (although both times without any intentions of hooking them up). It was a bit tiring, especially since the wedding was on Saturday at 8am, right after the football match between Holland and France (which we all had to see live). So most of us didn't had a good night's sleep.

Anyway, it has been more than 2 years since I've been to Jakarta and that city does change quickly. New malls, here and there. Even more traffic (I seriously thought it was impossible but hey, Indonesians are known to make things possible). Still as hot, still as inefficient. Good partying.

While in Singapore, it happened to be during the sale period (honestly, this was unplanned). Got All-Stars for dirt-cheap but didn't buy much though. Just spend time wandering from one mall to another, watching Narnia, going on a cable-car ride, and eating curry.

Good holidays...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Euro2008 so far

After my last post, this one is really hard to write. Because last Friday, Holland lost 1-3 to Russia. I have boasted that the Dutch will win it this time, but they were humbled by the Russians. Guus Hiddink, the Dutch Russian coach, knew exactly where the Dutch weaknesses were and he made his team pound on it over and over again. Even with Edwin van der Sar in goal, the Dutch just couldn't hold and in extra-time they caved in.

It was a great match and the Russians deserved the victory. Shame really.

Anyway, here are more of my insights on the Euro2008 so far:
  • France was a pathetic team coached by a pathetic man. Abidal in center back?? Replacing an attacker when in need of goals?? Glad they went out with a bang.
  • The Romanians needed a win against the Dutch but played as if they didn't need any goals. Weird.
  • Greece winning in 2004 was a fluke. It was proven in 2008.
  • Turkey are winning German style, but the Germans still do it better (see their 3-2 win against Portugal).
  • Austria played better than anybody thought (either that or the Germans and the Croats suck ass during the group stage).
  • Non-Portuguese people in Switzerland can now sleep well.
  • UEFA is overcharging on the beer inside the Fan Zones.
  • Guus Hiddink is a master tactician. Holland 1998, South Korea 2002, Australia 2006, now Russia. After Euro, Hiddink will leave Russia and be replaced by Dick Advocaat who will make a mess off the legacy that Hiddink has left.
Three more games left. That's it, three more games and it's over.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Last night I went to Bern to experience the Holland vs Italy match. Like most of the people who don't have connections in UEFA or don't have platinum Amex cards, I didn't get a ticket for the match. So I thought of just going to Bern and watching the game there in the Fan Zone with other Dutch supporters.

Me and a mate left Geneva at 17.45 and got to Bern at 19.26. As we walked out of the station it was already a sea of orange. There were Dutch supporters everywhere. We found the big Fan Zone and made ourselves comfortable among 20,000 other Dutch supporters. At 20.45 the game started. It was a great experience. The whole crowd were singing and singing. Everytime Luca Toni was in picture the whole crowd started to sing "Lu-ca Toni is ho-mo" to the tune of Seven Nation Army's bassline.

Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the first goal (was he offside? was he not? don't care, it was allowed). Wesley Sneijder made a beautiful second after a quick counter attack and Gio added the third. The Dutch played wonderfully well, magnificent, while the Italians were lugging around not sure what to do anymore.

It was surely a match to remember and it was quite a party afterwards in Bern. Unbelievable atmosphere. I'm glad I had a chance to go and hopefully the Dutch will make it far this time.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro2008 Day 1 and 2

So the Euro2008 has started and 4 games have been played so far: Switzerland vs Czech Republic (0-1); Portugal vs Turkey (2-0); Austria vs Croatia (0-1); and Germany vs Poland (0-2).

So far, here are my observations:
  • The first two goals of the tournament were miskicks. The Czech guy and Pepe both mishitting the ball but it still went in.
  • Austria didn't play as bad as everyone expected. Either that or Croatia was thinking they bagged it easily (as everyone and their dogs think they would). It made for a great game.
  • Portugal and Germany are contenders.
  • Germany finally won a game in the Euros since 1996.
  • A Polish guy scored two goals for Germany against Poland.
  • Alex Frei is useless, he's a bad version of Pippo Inzaghi. Now that he is injured it might actually be a blessing for the Swiss. Now all Kuhn needs to do is take Streller off the pitch as well.
  • The Czechs are old. They won't go far.
  • Holland will still win it.
Oh, btw, Stereophonics and Manics at Caribana were great. Big fun even though it was a bit muddy.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Euro 2008 preview

In three more days Euro2008 will start. It will be played right here in my backyard (Switzerland) and the neighboring Austria. And I am excited about it. Probably as excited as the 10,000 Portuguese fans who welcomed the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and his bag of hair gel at the Geneva airport last Sunday. Well, minus the car and the honking.

So here's a bit preview (might be a bit subjective though):

First game: won't be one to remember
First person to be send off: A Turkish guy after bumping into Ronaldo, and Ronaldo then falling over as if hit by a 100-kilo brick.
Most likely fight: When Switzerland meets Turkey, both on the pitch and off it.
Worst team: Austria, they're so bad the nation is embarassed by them
Flop of the tournament: Either France or Italy
First coach to get the sack: The Austrian guy probably, but it won't be his fault
Hooligans: Portugal vs Turkey
Top scorer: Mario Gomez from Germany (he'll score 4 against Austria and then 1 more in another game)
Winner: Netherlands (of course)

I'll put on update with the atmosphere from here...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Kylie and Blue Man Group

Last weekend was a concert-full weekend. Kylie Minogue on Friday and Blue Man Group on Saturday.

The Geneva Arena isn't a very big concert venue. I reckon it holds about 5,000 people altogether, maybe a bit more, with half of it seated places. We got tickets for the standing area (sitting at a concert? no fuckin way!) and wandered into Arena about half an hour before the concert started. I was quite surprised at how big and intruding the stage was. It took more than 2/3 of the standing area in the Arena, which didn't leave much space to be standing around. But we settled on a place a bit in the back.

Kylie came out at 20.30 and the whole show was fantastic. Emphasis on the word "show" as it's more of a show than a concert. Not just Kylie changed clothes every other song, also the backdrop and floor of the stage changes did. Backed by a band of 9 (drums, keys, guitar, bass, two backing vocals, three horns) and about 8 or 10 dancers, the show was just pure and plain energy. It was tack as well as it was catering Kylie's inner fanbase - the gay audience.

Some songs were re-arranged, some were sung like they are, everybody could still sing and dance to her songs. She sang most from her latest album, but some good oldies as well.

As it was her birthday a couple of days before, I got to sing Happy Birthday to Kylie (along with everyone else in Arena). Hey, not everyone get to sing Happy Birthday to Kylie directly...

Anyway, she finished the concert with I Should Be So Lucky and I was feeling very lucky to have seen that concert. A great show.

The day after it was Blue Man Group. This wasn't a concert, in reality it was more of a theatrical show. I have one of their albums and saw them appear on Jay Leno once on telly but I didn't have an idea what they would do. It was actually like a musical, but with a big theme surrounding the music that was played.

These guys were great, playing instruments invented by the original Blue Man Group. Also very interactive with the audience. They played some great songs and some great covers (I Feel Love, Baba O'Riley).

I don't think they can beat Kylie (well, how can 3 blue men beat Kylie in any shape or form?) but it was very entertaining.

The first shows of this summer are behind me. Up next, Caribana!