Euro madness: A classic tourney
My wife thinks I've lost it. And she might have a point.
Turkey and the Czech Republic are two countries whose sports fortunes probably shouldn't cause me to whoop like a madman, fall to the floor and roll around in front of the TV barking "holy ---!" over and over again.
But there I was the other day, scaring the bejesus out of my bride as the Turks scored three times in the last 15 minutes to eliminate the Czechs in a 3-2 instant classic at the 2008 European Championship. So heart-stopping was the finish that it reduced 6-foot-7 Czech forward
But don't worry: Koller's OK, and I'm OK, too. In fact, with every Euro game being televised live on U.S. cable TV for the first time, I'm in heaven.
And here's the great thing about the Euro: It's not too late.
Not too late -- if you're a World Cup-only soccer-watcher or an open-minded U.S. sports fan -- to catch what has been (so far) the best major soccer tournament since the 1986 World Cup.
Not too late to sneak off early from work, grab a pint at your local sports bar and watch the heavyweights of world soccer act like those studious coeds who take off their glasses, lose their inhibitions and turn into bombshells.
Four years after Greece won the European championship with painful, defensive-minded soccer, an epidemic of attacking
You want fantastic finishes? I give you Spain, which got a sick last-second game-winner from emerging superstar
You want drama? So rarified is the air at Euro '08 that France and Italy will meet Tuesday in a monumental Group C finale (ESPN, 2:45 p.m. ET) in which at least one of them is guaranteed to be eliminated.
That's one of several enticing storylines in a tournament that hasn't even reached the knockout rounds yet. So let me bring you up to speed on the latest talking points:
In the Euro 2000 final, Italy was seconds away from celebrating a 1-0 victory when France threw the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, equalizing through
Will we see more fireworks Tuesday? Most likely. Few things are more fun to watch than powerhouse teams that are desperate. France absolutely has to win to have a chance at qualifying for the knockout rounds, and while Italy could qualify with a tie it will almost certainly need a victory. (Then again, if Romania beats the Netherlands in a match being played at the exact same time, then both France and Italy will be out.)
As for Greece, the defending champs tried sticking to their mind-numbing
But if you prefer a little foreplay in your build-up, nothing could match Croatia's first strike against Germany, in which the Croats strung together 15 passes involving
No wonder a lot of soccer junkies look at the World Cup as a watered-down European championship. It's not too late to hop on board. (And if you want to catch up even more, check out SI.com's