Politics, for me, is exciting. It's like a continuously folding story that no one knows how it well end, and more importantly, it's a true story, that affects our everyday lives. Every once in a while, however, something comes along, and seems to be just as entertaining, if not even more, than politics. This year, it's Euro 2004.
I doubt anyone will say this year's competition has not been so far exciting. For me, it's been exciting in a different way. It seems that the main thrills and excitement in this tournament comes from the different tactics and strategies each team and manager uses. If you're really into football, then that's great, since you get to see how the different managerial minds think. However, purely on footballing and action excitement, it seems that the tournament is not as stellar as the others.
True, there have been some absolutely amazing matches, such as the Holland- Czech repuclic game, but these were in the minority. Most of the games were dominated by defence oriented, heavily-involved tactics. It seems to remind me of Italia 90, where everyone decided to use a more cautious, strategic approach. The tournament has definitely become more defense oriented. England are playing as if they are Italy (obviously due to Sven Goran), and it has reached a point where even Italy are being touted as an attacking force.
If you're really really into football, and follow it absolutely regularly, then these different tactics are great. However, if you're a casual fan who only follows big events, such as the world cup, European championship, or champions league's final stages, then it might not be the most exciting (except in certain games). Obviously, this may change today and in the latter stages, where all the teams decide you know what, we've got great attackers, so lets go all out against them.
Any stars? Well the talk of the town here in England is Wayne Rooney. He has obviously done an amazing job, and kudos to him for being only 18/19 and being able to do so well. However, I do think people have gone off the top. It's suddenly as if he is the world established superstar. Everyone is being compared to him. "Can Baros do as Wayne Rooney did?" "Can Henry live up to the level of Rooney?" "Rooney is 10 times better than Michael Owen!" Whoooah..Settle down guys, he scored a header that he should've scored, and then got a helping hand in his second goal, and this was against Switzerland. I mean, the guy is amazing and really good, but he still has a long way to go to prove himself. He might be able to do it this tournament, who knows, but as of yet, I'm still not going to classify him in the same league as Maradonna, Baggio, or Ronaldo.
The one player who still does continue to shine, although he's bald and over thirty, is unequivocally Zidane. Guys, enjoy watching him while you can, because he is undoubtedly the best footballer these two decades will produce. The guy is just amazing. He has done everything, and still is hungry for more. He has one the Champions league, the domestic leagues (in two different countries!), the European championship, and the world cup. By winning this I don't mean that he was just on the team that one and received a medal. I mean that he was an integral part of the team, and one of the main reasons that they did win all of those. In other words, that Zizou was necessary for the many teams that played for them to achieve what they did. The guy really does seem to be the full all-round players. It's really hard to find a fault in him. He is surprisingly large-built, as he stands six foot one tall and can rough up the opponents. His passing and vision is legendary, and he can dribble a ball like no tomorrow. Added to this, he has amazing tricks and moves up his sleeves, but the important thing is that he uses them only when they are useful, and not to just show off (did anyone see that flick against slovakia? It looked amazing and arrogant, but if you look at it again, it was the best way for him to flick the ball for a header.) Most importantly however, and this is where there are many other great players who falter, he is a palyer who can rise up to the big occasion both on club and national level. There are many amazing players who do well either on club level (e,.g. Totti so far) or on national level (anyone remember toto skilatchi?), but not on both. Zidane joins that set of elite players who even if they retire today, would've proved everything on any scale necessary. It's funny how here in England they were touting Zidane and Beckham's clash as clash of the titans, and who of the world's best two players will prevail. I'm sorry guys, Beckham is a great player, but Zidane is just in a completely different league. Beckham is yet to prove much on the national level on a big scale (I know the freekick against greece was amazing, but put it in context, it was a goddamn qualifier, and agaist greece, not a world cup final, and against brazil.) Between baldie and pretty boy, less hair is always better.
On a different note, the Amazing Zidane does leave us, as Arabs, with some serious questions to ask. Obviously the talent is there, as one of the best players of all time has Arabic origins. However, it puts serious questions on our nations' strategy and commitment to sport as a whole. Why is it that it took for a player of Arabic origin, who does not live in an Arabic country any longer, to be trained in a European country and play there for all of his professional life in order for him to be such an amazing player. Why can't Arabic countries and sports academies produce such great players themselves? Having talent is one thing, but without the necessary and proper facilities and training to develop them, they are rendered useless. Maybe it's still not too late for us to develop our own great players, and then maybe we'll have dozens of Zidane around.