Thursday, June 28, 2012

Euro 2012 - Nineteenth Day

Alas, my prediction became true!

Italy will play Spain for the Euro 2012 title.

Today, in Warsaw, Italy taught the German Panzers a lesson and beat them, fully deservedly, 2-1. Germany has never beaten Italy in an official competition and they did not break this 'record' today.

Balotelli and Pirlo were amazing and although Germany started up very strong it was Italy who scored 2 goals before the half, via Balotelli.

Germany could never recover from the mental anguish of being 2 goals down but they did score one goal from a PK awarded in the last minute of the game.

Italy showed their class and I am thrilled to see the final with Spain.

Italia! Italia! Italia!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Euro 2012 - Eighteenth Day

Today, in Donetsk, Spain and Portugal played an amazing game that ended 0-0, even after extra time.

Spain was fresh and played more aggressive but Portugal managed to have an all field game that could have sunk the Spanish Armada. This was the best game of this championship so far, no doubt. Tactical and physical, skills and chances, drama and spectacle, all in one.

Portugal entered the game determined and with a clear game plan. They would not let the Spaniards play their 'tiki-taka' and would challenge every single pass attempted by Spain. The game became razor sharp and, at times, it looked like either team could have scored and settled the game.

Portugal players became very tired by the end of the regular time and the extra time was a bit too much for them. Spanish players looked like they could have played a brand new game immediately after the end of this game. Amazing.

In extra time Spain could have scored at least 3 times and the Portuguese were hoping that they would be getting a chance at PKs. Portugal did get the PKs chance but could not concentrate all the way till the end.

For Portugal it was not to be and after penalty kicks Spain qualified (4-2) to play the final of Euro 2012.
They will play the winner of the Italy - Germany game to be played tomorrow in Poland.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Euro 2012- Seventeenth Day

In Kiev, right now, Italy plays England for the last spot of the semifinals.The winner of this game will play Germany next Thu.

At the half the game has ended 0-0 but it could have ended differently had the opportunities been taken advantage of by either team, although Italy appeared to have an edge but with few sharp teeth.

Nonetheless, I believe Italy is slightly better than England and a final score of 1-0 for Italy would be fair. By far, Italy and England are not among the top teams of the tournament.

If this is not the ugliest game of the Euro 2012 tournament then it is most certainly the second ugliest game.

The game goes into extra time, but it does not deserve to be extended as its ugliness is unsettling given the caliber of the teams involved. England has had no chance in the second half. None. Zilch. Zero.

We are in extra time and the game drags on like a disease. Very unpleasing. 0-0 still.

We will have penalty shoot-outs and that is a complete gamble. Will win who wins...

Ita scores: 1-0
Eng scores: 1-1

Ita misses:1-1
Eng scores: 1-2

Ita scores: 2-2
Eng misses: 2-2

Ita scores: 3-2
Eng misses: 3-2

Ita scores: 4-2

Italy-England: 4-2, after pks. Italy was the better team, no doubt. Justice was done. Game over.
Italy plays Germany next.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Euro 2012 - Sixteenth Day

Right now Spain plays France against France (in Donetsk).

Spain took the lead in the 19th minute and never let go.

France has tried very hard to score and get back in the game but Spain purely crowded them out. They do not allow empty spaces to be filled in by the opposing team's players.

Spanish players storm into any empty zones and the game goes side to side and it gets almost impossible to move the ball up the field.

Then the Spanish counterattack and hold the ball in a very frustrating and not very pleasing way. The game sort of lingers in the midfield and it loses all its 'sparks and shine'. The Spaniards win by frustration forfeit (as it were), as the opposing team gets the ball very sporadically and if they do and do not make the best out of every opportunity then they are going to lose. It is as simple as that.

There is little doubt that Spain has managed to shake the tactical foundations of the game of soccer and I have yet to see a team able to counteract the 'tiki-taka' Spain has pioneered, although it would seem to me that a valid answer to 'tiki-taka' would be overwhelming speed in order to stop the Spaniards from triangulation all over the field.

Spain scored again in the last minute of the game -from the penalty spot- and the game ended 2-0.

Spain will play Portugal for the first semifinal of the championships to be played next Wed in Donetsk.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Euro 2012 - Fiftteenth Day

Germany was very emphatic today and beat Greece 4-2 in Gdansk.

Germany scored first and the lead stayed 1-0 at the half. Germany played crisp and dominated copiously the entire first half and they deserved at least 2 more goals before the half ended. Immediately after the second half began Greece scored on a counter-attack and appeared to be back into the game. Germany was very elegant and scored 3 more goals before long and Greece scored another goal from a penalty kick caused by a handball.

Greece was very aggressive and 'doggy' and were counting on the counter-attack but stood no chance in the front of the German Panzers.

Germany is the second team of the semi-finals and will wait for the winner of Italy-England on Mon to play in Warsaw.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Fed: Policy, Credibility, Collusion, and Absolution Deficiencies

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve System chairman announced that he is 'open to more QE' to drive/keep long term interest rates down. Long term interest rates have been really low for the past 4 years or so and the economy has not improved too much.

The current Fed's policies suffer from four major deficiencies: policy, credibility, collusion, and absolution. All these deficiencies are deliberate and are aimed at preserving the Fed's current role of the fourth power of the government.


Interest rates are one of the most important signaling mechanism of any financially open economy. When the economy is expected to grow the interest rates tend to be high and when the economy is in recession the interest rates tend to be relatively low.


When the Fed, in a totally deliberate manner, wants and promotes low interest rates then it is basically saying that it expects low economic growth for a very long time. Bernanke is a liar when he is saying that low interest rates will spur growth since the current economic conditions are almost identical to the ones we have experiencing since 2008.

What the current economic crisis shows -unequivocally- is that it has strong psychological undertones related to the complete lack of trust in the banking and financial systems. No matter how low the interest rates are people will not engage in financial transactions with institutions they do not trust. The Fed's credibility is close to the long term interest rates.


The current interest rate policy followed by the Fed favors only financial and banking institutions. Why should we believe that the Fed is trying to help the economy when the Fed seems to be primarily interested in protecting the financial system and not protecting rational economic choices?

If we take rational decisions and save money the Fed is telling us that we are fools. We should be spending the money and we should do this as quickly as possibly, 'to spur economic growth'. Our interests, as savers, conflict with the Fed's chairman interests.

The Fed should increase interest rates to promote economic optimism and prove that it values rational economic choices. Due to its massive borrowing needs, the government is another massive beneficiary of the Fed's drive to lower long term interest rates but nobody seems to care about savers.


Almost everybody in the current leadership economic circles is willing to sacrifice rational economic behaviors in favor of the 'spend more than you have' doctrines. One of the proofs lie in the fact that the US Treasury owes most of its debt to the Fed. How will the Fed pay its debt to the US Treasury if not by printing money?

Policy, credibility, collusion, and absolution deficiencies undermine the strength of the US economy and support the very existence of an institution -the Fed- that should be brought under much more public control than it is now.

I am amazed that people get worked up and angry by the individual mandate of the new health care law but do not flinch an eye at the sight of the Fed destroying the fragile beauty and strength of the banal interest rate.

What can we do to protect ourselves from the Fed's rapacious appetite to economically destroy all those of us who are savers?

Euro 2012 - Fourteenth Day

On the fourteenth day -in Warsaw- we have the first game of the quarter finals. Yesterday was a rest day and maybe UEFA does not really like to have any games on the 13th day of the tournament. Who knows?

Portugal plays Czech Republic as I am updating this article. I think Portugal will win the game by 1-0 and will be the first team to qualify to the semifinals. Czech Republic plays a 'wait and see' game and appear to be looking to want to end the game in a tie and go on to play extra time while Portugal tries to score in any which way they can.

Ronaldo, for Portugal, just scored in the 79th minute of the second half and this is how the game will end.

The game just ended and Portugal will wait until Saturday to see who the winner of the game between France and Spain will be.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Euro 2012 - Eleventh and Twelfth Days

Yesterday, in Poland (Gdansk) Spain beat a very determined Croatia 1-0 and although Spain should have scored more than one goal Croatia played very hard and had some good opportunities on counter-attacks.

In Poznan Italy beat Ireland 2-0 and this was totally expected. Italy are improving each game they play and Ireland remained the weakest team of the tournament.

Both Croatia and Ireland go home.

Spain wins group C and Italy are the runner up.

Today, in group D in Ukraine (Donetsk), England beat Ukraine 1-0 totally unfairly. Ukraine should have beaten England easily but they had no teeth. Ukraine dominated copiously and should have scored at least 2 goals before the half time whistle.

Sweden beat France 2-0 in Kiev and France showed that they are an iffy team. They can be very good but they can also be very bad. In the end, France ended up the runner up of group D, albeit barely, but that does not matter at this stage. Sweden lost 2 games and France lost only 1.

Next, in the last 2 games of the quarter finals, ITA will play ENG and FRA will play ESP. These will be awesome games.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Euro 2012 - Tenth Day

In Ukraine (Kharkiv), in group B, Portugal beat the Netherlands 2-1 and the Dutch are packing and going home with zero points.

Portugal showed that they can beat any team if they play fully and concentrate on the game

In Lviv, as expected, Germany beat Denmark 2-1 and they finish unbeaten in the group.

So GER will play GRE and CZE will play POR in the first 2 games of the quarters.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Euro 2012 - Ninth Day

Today in Poland, in Wroclaw, The Czech Republic beat Poland 1-0 in a game that showed that experience counts more than wishful thinking.

Unexpectedly, the Czech Republic finish first in Group A and will wait until tomorrow to find out who the runner-up of Group B is, as they will play them for a spot in the semifinal.

In Warsaw, Greece beat Russia 1-0 with a scrappy and lucky goal at the very end of the first half.

Greece qualified -from the second spot of the group- into the 1/8s of the tournament. They will wait until tomorrow to find out the winner of Group B whom they will play for a spot in the semifinal.

This is no doubt an incredible turn of events, considering that Russia thrashed Czech Republic 4-1 in the first game... And yet Russia will go back home and the Czech Republic finish first in the group.

Poland was in a tight spot to begin with as they have no team to speak of, so they needed plenty of luck to make it through to the 1/8s of the tournament. And they had no luck whatsoever, considering the lucidity of the other teams in group A.

I feel sorry for Poland and Russia, but these last 2 games show -once again- that pragmatism is more important than desire.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Euro 2012 - Eighth Day

In Ukraine today.

First, in Donetsk France beat Ukraine 2-0 with two second half goals that were marvelous. The game was delayed 1 hour due to rain and France was more composed, determined, and played more like ... Spain.

Ukraine was uninspired and was unable to counteract a France that played like they were champions already.

In Kiev, England beat Sweden 3-2. What a game! England took the lead 1-0. Then Sweden came back 1-1. Then Sweden took the lead 2-1 and England came back 2-2. Then England scored last for a victory in a very entertaining and vibrant game. Awesome!

England did not play great and Sweden played hard but could not finish up the game when it was 2-2. England scored with massive luck and won the game. Some games are like that, I guess. No matter how hard a team plays they still end up losing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Euro 2012 - Seventh Day

Today, in Poland, Italy played Croatia in Poznan and the game ended 1-1.

The game was a bit disappointing as Italy could have won the game and they practically made just one defensive error and Croatia promptly equalized in the second half.

The second game between Spain and Ireland was not too difficult to predict. Spain scored 4 goals and Ireland is eliminated from this competition. Spain scored the first 1 in the first half and 3 in the second half.

This game took place in Gdansk. Spain-Ireland 4-0.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Euro 2012 - Sixth Day

Back to Ukraine today.

In Lviv, Portugal played Denmark today in a very disputed game.

Ronaldo, the Portuguese super-star, was totally and utterly useless. Even without his contributions, Portugal beat Denmark 3-2. Portugal took the lead early in the first half by scoring 2 goals, but Denmark came back within reach just before half time. So, at the half it was 2-1 for Portugal.

During the second half Portugal tried to maintain the score but could not and Denmark equalized in the middle of the second half. Luckily for Portugal they managed to score the winning goal just minutes before the final whistle.

In the other game of Group B, Germany beat The Netherlands 2-1 after a very tactical game. Germany took the lead in the first half by scoring beautiful 2 goals and never let go. This game was played in Kharkiv and the Netherlands appeared tired and played without any directionality.

Germany was composed for most of the game and showed true potential to win the entire competition.

So far, Russia is the other team that showed true potential to go all the way and win the competition.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Euro 2012 - Fifth Day

The group A EURO 2012 games of today were played in Poland.

First, Greece played The Czech Republic in Wroclaw. The Czech Republic started very fast and scored 2 goals right away and the score remained that way till half time. Then Greece came back vengeful in the second half and scored a 'mercy' goal due to a massive mistake made by the Czech goalkeeper.

The final score of 2-1 for the Czech Republic appears fair. Greece must win their last game if they want to play in the elimination round. Even if they win, it is not certain that Greece will get through. The Czech Republic needs at least a tie in their last game against the co-hosts, Poland, to get through.

The second game of group A was played in Warsaw. Russia scored the first goal after a series of nice/fast passing and the game was 1-0 at half time.

At the start of the second half Poland game back roaring and scored a beautiful goal after a monumental error made by Arshavin at the other end.

Final score of the game: 1-1. This result keeps both teams' chances alive to qualify for the elimination stage. Russia seemed more deserving to win this game than Poland, no doubt.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Euro 2012 - Fourth Day

Today the games were played back in Ukraine.

France tied England in Donetsk, 1-1 while Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in Kiev.

In the Donetsk game France played anemic and England defended almost 90% of the time. England scored from a set piece and France scored a beautiful goal to equalize before the half.

The Kiev game was entertaining and fast with the Swedes taking over the lead in the second half and Ukraine staging an incredible comeback, even though it ended 0-0 at the half.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Euro 2012 - Third Day

Today the EURO 2012 takes us back to Poland for the first 2 games of group C.

First, Spain plays Italy in Gdansk and then Ireland plays Croatia in Poznan.

Spain should beat Italy based on past several years performances, theoretically, but I think Italy will beat Spain. After all, Spain are the reigning world and European champions.

Italia! Italia! Italia!

The Gdansk stadium is brand new and it looks amazing.

As usual, Spain started with their tiki-taka (zonal short passing) while Italy is defending like they bet their lives on this game.  (Which they may have, given what I read about il calcio italiano.)
Italy is playing very well and as I believe they will score first. as they are the more insolent of the 2 teams.

0-0 at the half, but Italy has had better chances to score than Spain. At least 3. Cassano plays incredibly well in the offense and Chiellini plays like a rock in the back.

Italy started very well the second half.

Di Natale just scored for Italy in the 61st minute. Italy-Spain 1-0.
Fabregas just equalized for Spain in the 64th minute. Italy-Spain 1-1.

The game just ended Italy-Spain 1-1.

This was a great game as Italians showed potential to win the whole tournament. Spain played very well and dominated almost every zone of the field but they did not create many goal scoring opportunities. Italians are amazingly opportunistic and play very hard with the backing of a very strong internal championship.

The next game between Ireland and Croatia was played in Poznan and Croatia beat Ireland 3-1. Dry and clear, no debate about this game.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Euro 2012 - Second Day

Today the two EURO 2012 games of Group B are being played in Ukraine.

The Netherlands plays Denmark Kharkiv, a city that I would have never thought -just a few years ago- would be host to a Euro Championship game. The weather looks perfect for soccer.

In the 24th minute of the game Denmark scored the first goal of the match with a shot through the legs of the keeper from an angle (jersey number 9, Michael Krohn-Dehli). Laser shot and sweet! It quieted a bit the Dutch fans...

The fans are exemplary and the stadium looks very cheerful on this sunny day.

I see that the game referees are wearing all black outfits which is rather unusual since black has become very unusual for the refs during the last several years. 

The start of the second half appears to be all Dutch, but Denmark seems able to absorb the pressure quite well. Maybe Denmark will score again...Denmark won the EC in 1992 and The Netherlands in 1988. Amazing.

Game is over and Denmark beat The Netherlands 1-0 (some would say that this was not expected but I thought otherwise).

Next game of Group B, between Germany and Portugal, takes place in Lviv, Ukraine. The stadium is very quaint and looks very personable. I am reading that the city is awesome. Maybe visiting it one day would be advisable.

The game just started and it is much more open of a game than the Denmark-Netherlands one. Portugal may be able to beat Germany if they are patient and play clinical. Every touch of the ball counts. Germany appears over confident.

0-0 at the half with Portugal having had the best opportunity to open up the score in the first half.

Germany just scored through Mario Gomez (jersey #23) in the 73rd minute with an awesome header across the Portuguese goal keeper. So, Germany-Portugal 1-0. Portugal appears very composed and may be able to level up. Unfortunately, Portugal's chances were all missed and the game just ended.

Final score: Germany-Portugal 1-0.

Awesome day of soccer in Ukraine.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Euro 2012 Is On!

Finally, after seemingly so many long years, I am elated to be able to watch the Euro 2012 tournament. Every game of the Euro 2012 tournament is being broadcasted live by ESPN, and I believe this is the first time it ever happened in  the US. Thank you, ESPN!

Today, Greece tied Poland (1-1) and Russia beat the Czech Republic to a pulp (4-1) (Both these games were part of group A). These two opening games were not expected to be as entertaining as they were. Typically, the first few games at most major tournaments are 'tactical' and almost boring, but not this time around.

Poland dominated the first half against Greece -and they took the lead almost midway- but Greece reacted like a 'wild weed' with instincts of immortality and managed to stage an almost amazing comeback. Greece appeared to be like a cat that  was pushed off the roof of a tall building and somehow managed to hang onto the edge of the roof, clawing on the gutters. At the start of the second half Greece just revived itself and scored the equalizer 6 minutes in. Later on, Greece even missed a PK and they could have won the game as Poland appeared to no be able to absorb the Greek pressure.

As far as the second game, it was a pure cracker. Russia behaved like a sleepy bear that allowed Czech Republic to play with toys for a while but when they stood up they immediately scored 2 goals. Czech Republic did try to react during the second half and they scored 1 but the Russian bear scored 2 more, just for fun. Amazing game!

Many 'reporters' from famous press agencies claimed that the tournament will have 'problems' related to fans' attitude towards race, poor infrastructure, price gouging, and other such non-sense issues. I think this will be a very successful tournament as both Poland and Ukraine have embraced the tournament and will show their best faces.

In addition, race related issues are pure educational; infrastructure related shortcomings are purely temporary, and price gouging is common practice in every place a major sport tournament or event takes place. See this non-sense reporting here, for instance, but many other such types of reporting abound, primarily by AFP and Reuters.

If you do no believe that this will be very successful tournament then do not watch any of it. I -for one- will watch every second of the tournament.