Monday, 11 June 2012

Euro 2012: Split loyalties ahead of France vs England

So far Euro 2012 has been pretty great: goals, red-cards, and an opening ceremony which was mercifully short, even if it did feature a dubious dubstepper in the form of DJ Karmatronic.

Yesterday PSG's Thiago Motta played a starring role as Italy held Spain to a 1-1 draw. Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu was on the bench, as he probably will be throughout the tournament, while tonight our other two representatives could take to the field, with Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez part of the France squad which will face England.

England vs France is a very difficult match for me; At the last three tournaments I've supported both teams and their paths have never crossed. Now they're crossing at the earliest possible opportunity, and it's about time I picked a side.

The presence of Menez and Matuidi, two of my favourite PSG players, immediately tips the balance in favour of the French. At recent championships les Rouge-et-Bleu haven't really been represented, save for 2006 when Vikesh Dhorasoo was theoretically part of the squad, though so limited was his contribution that he ended up releasing a film about the tournament entitled The Life of a Football Substitute.

Compare and contrast this with the England squad, which contains a number of dislikeable individuals (Cole, Terry, Rooney, Gerrard etc) whose footballing demise would usually cause me great pleasure. Had Harry Redknapp taken up the managerial reigns I think I would have abandoned them completely, but as it is we have Roy Hodgson, a cultured, dignified, man who you can't help but root for a little bit.

In pure footballing terms there's no contest: France will be fast and fluid in attack, England stodgy and rigid. Watching Ireland, albeit under Italian stewardship, get completely outclassed by Croatia last night, brought to mind a quote from the excellent Pete Davies book about Italia 90, All Played Out. In it Davies complains about the two representatives of the British Isles "stinking the place out" with their terrible, out-of-date, football. Twenty two years later little has changed: we still stink.

Finally there are the England fans. Now I don't have a problem with those who support England throughout qualifying etc etc., but tournaments bring out the worst in people. I'll never forget watching England vs France Euro 2004 in a reasonably upmarket London pub with my then girlfriend, now wife, who is French. When Zidane slotted in the winning penalty, she and a few other France supporters jumped up to celebrate, and got the contents of several pint glasses tipped over their heads. Now I've never watched an England game in France, but I'm fairly sure that wouldn't be acceptable behaviour were the shoe on the other foot.

So yeah, all the signs are point to me backing Les Bleus, but having been an England supporter for 20 years it's a bit like having eczema - irritating, but as much as you'd like to scratch it off it won't go away. I'll guess I'll find out where my loyalties lie when the match kicks off...


Anonymous said...

pint glasses tipped over a women's head is well out of order ! I can't imagine that happening in Paris to women,
although I've seen PSG (non hat & scarfers) throwing beer at an old man just for walking past Parks bar corner of Blvd Murat & rue Molitor.
Which pub in London, did you slap em for upsetting the misses ?

Mr Gooding Your English your loyalties should lie with England ! Gooding is an old-English name had it been O'Sullivan, Ryhs or McCabe I'd understand, turn it in LOL

Anonymous said...

Gerrard is extremely likable !

Was great to see Ménez come on & score against Ukraine.

Nasri is an arse !

Anonymous said...

new look website looks great !

Matthew Gooding said...

Haha, as it turned out I sort of rooted for both again, and France were worse than England! We were in the Admiral Hardy in Greenwich, one of my favourite London pubs, though slightly soured by that incident. The other disappointing thing about it was that when I turned round to confront the thrower they'd disappeared into the crowd and no-one was gonna grass them up. Ho hum.

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