ZURICH, Switzerland -- From top to bottom, here is an A to Z of the best and worst of the European Championship through two weeks of action.
Amazing -- Anything
Freed -- Spain, of all its psychological blocks (June 22, Italy, penalties, etc.). Now
Irritating -- Some of the refereeing performances in the group stage, though overall, not a bad showing from the former men in black.
Jolly -- The 100,000 strong Dutch fans who turned Basel, Switzerland, into a giant orange stain, presumably visible from outer space. (Thanks for waking me up at 8 a.m.)
Kindred -- As in spirits.
Late-blooming -- Arshavin who, at 27, looks like one of the best players in the tournament. Where has he been for the last decade?
Missing in action --
Negligible -- Austria's impact on the tournament. Still, with a team ranked No. 100-plus in the world, what did you expect?
Punk'd -- The Netherlands, which, far from reinventing the wheel, was exposed as a counterattacking team with plenty going forward and very little at the back. Leopards shouldn't change their spots.
Quality -- What Greece lacked. Not its fault and
Raging -- Polish public opinion following the late penalty awarded to Austria. Folks, it might have been a marginal call, but your goal in that game should have been disallowed. Occasionally, these things even themselves out.
Stupid -- Everyone who make summary decisions based on one -- or even two -- games. We've seen Germany written off (still in it) and France written off (gone, but could have beaten the Netherlands 3-1). We've seen Russia and Turkey given no chance after their opening games. And we've seen the Netherlands and Portugal lionized as two of the greatest teams in history (they're watching the rest of the tournament on TV). When will we learn?
Tall -- Sorry, just needed to find a way to mention
Ugly -- France's draw with Romania, the least entertaining game in what was overall an excellent competition.
Varied -- Like the tactical schemes we saw at the Euros: sweeper systems (Greece), two up, three-at-the-back, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 ... plenty to talk about. Who said the game was becoming homogenous?
Wacky -- The tournament's format. Thanks to the Netherlands' sense of fair play and to some improbable upsets, the worst was avoided. But UEFA should have a re-think.
Xerophitic -- Which means adapted to a very dry climate. The opposite of what Basel was like when Switzerland and Turkey played there.
Yummy -- The prospect of a Germany vs. Spain final ... though seeing Russia or Turkey there would be just as fun.
Zealous -- The Russian players who, in the words of