Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Euro 2012: Poland averts a Greek tragedy

Poland averts a Greek tragedy
by rick olivares pic borrowed from Getty Images/UEFA

The opening match of Euro 2012 was all about missed chances.

Poland should have had been up by two goals had defender Damien Perquis scored as he rushed inside the box with the defenders scattered like tenpins and Greek goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias like a deer in front of a Mack truck.

When Dimitris Salpingidis came on as a 45th minute substitute for Sotiris Ninis in a tactical substitution after keeper Sokratis Papasthathopolous was sent off, he equalized, scored again but had the goal waived off because a teammate was offside, and forced a penalty and the sending off of starting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny only for captain Giorgios Karagounis to flub his penalty kick that would have given Greece an incredible 2-1 win (or a 2-2 draw had Perquis been like Hawkeye). But this is a tragedy in itself for Greece has missed its last three penalty shots.

Yes, it was thrilling all right and the Polish fans never wavered in cheering their team on even if they were for the most part of the match looking outclassed by the Greeks. They came alive once more when PSV Eindhoven’s Przemysław Tytoń saved the penalty and proved to be outstanding in holding back the Greeks and keeping the final result to a 1-1 draw.

Poland dominated possession? Yeah, right. Maybe only for the first 18 minutes. They had a few good crosses that was about it. The Poles started off with a 4-2-3-1 formation and their defense held forcing the Greeks to abandon their 4-3-3 for a 4-5-1 with everybody in their defensive half.

It sure didn’t help that central forward Georgios Samaras kept giving the ball away with his poor first touch and horrid decision-making (samaras did redeem himself but only late in the match). With Greece unable to take good attempts the Poles advanced. The traditional tough Greek defense forced Franciszek Smuda’s men to find their way through a porous right side. And when Jakub Blaszczykowski sent a cross from the deep right of the Greek side, just as it was in the Philippines-Indonesia game, Greek keeper Kostas Chalkias had no chance when Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski (who looks to going to Manchester United next season) headed the ball in for the first goal.

Yet after Lewandowski’s goal, the outnumbered Greeks defended like their ancestors did on the plains of Marathon when they turned back Persian King Darius’ hordes. And they had the better build up of their attack and counter attack that had the Poles on their heels. They simply had a tough time trying to defend Salpingidis (imagine if Samaras played a whole lot better).

There was added drama to the match when Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo sent of Papasthathopolous for what were weak calls. I am shocked that UEFA allowed this idiot to officiate the European Championships considered how this guy hands out cards like it is going out of style. While officiating 29 La Liga match last season, he showed 178 yellow cards and 16 red cards. That’s an average of six yellow cards a game. He has earned the eternal enmity of Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho. And now the Special One’s countryman in Fernando Santos who was named coach of the decade in Greece. Carballo is amusing whatsoever.

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