Tag Archives: Netherlands

Euro 2012 Semifinal Previews: Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy, oh my!

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Fernando Torres (pictured above) lead Spain to huge victory over a Portugal team led by the great Cristiano Ronaldo?

By Nick Craddock

Andrea Pirlo and company ripped the collective heart out of the English people on Sunday in the most dramatic of the quarterfinal wins, advancing via penalty kicks. As such, the Euro 2012 semifinals, slated for today and tomorrow, are now set and continental Europe’s collective fervor and excitement will surely drown the sound of the few remaining whimpers from English fans.

The semifinalists are four nations with strong football pedigrees, which should not only result in more evenly contested matchups, but also a higher quality of play thought to be absent at times in this tournament from teams more than capable of performing at higher levels. (*cough* England *cough* France *cough* Netherlands *cough*).

Here is what you should look for going ahead:

Spain v. Portugal

The first semifinal is the battle of the Iberian Peninsula and these two teams showcase a bevy of highly technical and gifted players.

Cristiano Ronaldo, usually a player who has drifted in and out of form for the national side has been dynamite for Portugal at this tournament, particularly in the last two games, where he alone outshot the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals, netting himself the winning goal in the process, after bagging a brace against the Dutch in the final group game prior to that. In contrast, Spain has relied on offense by committee at this tournament with five different players hitting the back of the net. More impressive is that Spain’s offense didn’t slow down after opting for the atypical 4-6-0 formation in its 2-0 quarterfinal win over France.

Whether Spain will again field a starting XI without a listed striker will likely not be revealed until game time, but Spain’s most gifted natural scorer, Fernando Torres, is one of the few players on the planet, if playing at the level he was accustomed to during his prime (which was not so long ago), capable of matching, or at a minimum, challenging the brilliance Ronaldo could provide for his team.

That being said, Ronaldo might be the best individual talent on the field, but Spain has proven time and time again over the last four years that it is the most talented team.

Players to Watch: As noted above, Ronaldo controls the fate of Portugal more than any other player on his team. As he goes, so do the Portuguese. Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech was able to weather the flurry of Ronaldo’s attacks for a little more than an hour to keep the Czech Republic alive against Portugal in the quarterfinals, so it will be incumbent upon Iker Casillas, the Spanish captain and goalkeeper, to prove his worth when actually facing more than two shots, like in Spain’s last game, and to allow his team to work its magic in front of him.

Prediction: Spain wins 2-1 (ET). Expect the team to trump the individual yet again, as Spain should move on for a chance at an unprecedented third consecutive major championship. Continue reading


Weekly Nickel 6-11-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Rafael Nadal (pictured above) make history today and break Bjorn Borg’s record with a 7th French Open Championship?

By Josh Kramer

Thank you, may I have another?  So I’ll Have another was unable to compete in the Belmont Saturday.  As usual, the race did not disappoint nor did the entire week in sports.  The playoffs are all about the finals now as there are only two teams remaining in both the NBA and NHL playoffs.  Plus the French Open is not quite done yet.  Last week was great, but this one will be good in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Rain, rain, go away.  Or keep the French Open going another day.  Maria Sharapova became the tenth woman to complete the career Grand Slam on Saturday.  Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all looking to further stamp their imprint on history as the fourth set of the Men’s final continues this morning.  I would highly recommend waking up and checking this out now on NBC. Continue reading


Today's hero for Spain, Andres Iniesta. The man deserves an Oscar.

Was today’s World Cup Final really a finale?  It was a finale in that it was the final game of the tourney, but it did not have the feel of an exciting final game.  I cannot ever remember watching a more boring championship sporting spectacle in all my years.  And the sad thing is this game was close and was just a few minutes away from penalty kicks.  Now I will definitely admit that I have a biased opinion.  I would rather watch a lot of other sporting events over soccer any day of the week.  But still this was the World Cup.  And this was the finals.  

I definitely would much rather have watched the Reds take on the Phillies in a second.  But I suffered through this lackluster game with the rest of the world.  And then just when you thought it would get exciting with penalty kicks.  Spain’s, Andres Iniesta, the man who spent more time on the ground than with the actual ball, put one into the back of the net.  Andres put on quite a performance that was reminiscent of Vlade Divac in the late 90s.  But either way, he was the hero.  He secured Spain its first World Cup Title. 

This was just not a fun game to watch whether you love soccer or not.  You can tell yourself that you thought it was exciting.  But unless you are from Spain or the Netherlands, you could not have possibly felt like you got your money’s worth watching this one.  This game had 13 yellow cards.  It had a red card.  It had a first half where neither team seemed to be even looking to score.  The second half at least provided a few scoring opportunities which was nice. 

Lastly, I feel like both of these teams were very good.  But I am not sure if they were the two best teams in the field.  They technically are because they made the final game, but I feel that Germany, Argentina, or Brazil all would have put on a much more entertaining show for the world see.  That is just me. 

But congrats to both Spain and the Netherlands on having a phenomenal tournament.  Spain should enjoy their victory to the fullest these next few weeks.  They deserve it. 

I also do feel that Andres Iniesta should secure the Oscar Award for “best actor” after today’s performance. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze. 


“World Cup Final Prediction”

I foresee the Netherlands flying high today, capturing their first World Cup Title.

In sporting news other than the Lebron James saga, there is a soccer tournament going on.  And today, the final game takes place at 2:30 Eastern time.  2 European squads are matched up.  Neither squad has ever brought home a World Cup Title for their respective countries, though both have a very rich soccer tradition.  They also are both very familiar with each other.  And I will be entirely honest with you..

I could really care less about this game.

If it wasn’t an event to get together with friends and family to watch, then I would be just as content sitting and watching the Reds take on the Phillies to conclude their 4 game set today.  This series has been a doozy.  Three straight nights of extra inning baseball!  And though my beloved Reds have lost all 3 games, the series has had quite a playoff feel to it.  The Reds could have probably headed into the All Star Break with a decent lead over the rival Cardinals.  Sadly, they will go into the break up by 1 or 2 games with the Cards nipping on their heels.  It would be big to end the year’s longest road trip at 6 and 5 rather than 5 and 6.  So today’s game holds a lot of meaning for the Reds.  But I digress.  Back to the soccer.

The Netherlands and Spain have each played outstanding tournaments.  Minus the opening game surprise for Spain, both of these teams have been winning with authority.  Both teams are currently riding at least a 5 game winning streak.  Now I am not going to go into an analysis of the actual play.  Because let’s be real, these teams both play your typical European skilled style of soccer.

And to keep this short and sweet, I got the Dutch winning.  There will be a party tonight in the Red Light District beyond your wildest dreams.  And it is well deserved.  Spain is extremely young and talented.  They will be my early favorite to take home the 2014 World Cup though.  David Villa will be back and ready to go in 4 years.  No team has ever lost their opening game of the tournament and gone on to win the World Cup (Spain lost their opener).  And it will not happen this year either.

This year belongs to the Dutch.

It will be an “Orange” filled afternoon.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.


“LBJ is King, but Life Goes On”

Carlos Boozer should be yelling for joy after signing a big time contract with the Chicago Bulls yesterday.

Either way, Boozer is now on a team that will be a playoff team, and he just took in a boat load of money.  And wouldn’t it be ironic if Lebron was reunited with his former Cavs teammate Boozer in Chicago?  Maybe LBJ missed playing with the scrappy Boozer.  Many thought that Carlos was a great college player who never would have the skill set to compete at the next level.  Boy were the experts wrong.

This guy has averaged a double/double the past 4 years and is a career 17 and 10 guy.  That does not appear to be a guy who is unable to compete.  For Chicago, especially if they come up empty-handed on the King, they really salvaged their offseason with this pickup.  They may not be a title contender yet, but the have improved.

Staying in the NBA, the League announced the salary cap to be at 58 million for next season, which is about 2 million more than expected.  So teams will have a little more money than they originally bargained for to spend.  Could this be a sign that the recession is ending (just kidding)?  Also in the NBA, Kevin Durant, last year’s League scoring champ, who has remained very quite during this entire free agency frenzy, signed a 5 year contract extension with the Thunder for around 86 million.  Durant and the Thunder appear to be on the brink of becoming a contender.  Get this team a center or a very tough power forward, and they will compete for the West.  Maybe they should have went after Mr. Boozer perhaps?  Though this may have not fully solved their problem of lacking a solid center, it would have been a makeshift start.

In other sporting news, the World Cup had its second semifinal match yesterday.  Very weird how Lebron James and “The Decision” have completely overshadowed this event.  And in similar fashion to the Eurocup final of 2 years ago, Spain once again defeated the mighty Germans 1 to 0.  After Germany had massacred the “it” team of the tournament (Argentina), many had jumped on the German bandwagon (myself included).  Well I and many others were wrong again.  The Germans appeared half asleep the entire game and were outplayed by the very young and talented Spanish squad.

Now Spain will get to participate in their first World Cup Final against the Dutch.  Neither of these storied soccer countries have ever won a World Cup title.  So on Sunday, we will have a new champion.  Now I know many are disappointed not to see Brazil, Argentina, or Germany in the finals, but these are both great teams that have earned their spots.  Many are not excited for this Final but I think that is nonsense.  These are 2 very strong teams that will put up an entertaining final.  So do not forget to tune in on Sunday at 2:30.

Lastly, voting for the final spot on the NL and AL All Star squads ends tonight with the announcement being made at 6:00.  Now I know this is only a precursor to the real announcement show at 9:00, where Lebron will reveal to the world where he will be playing basketball next season.

Do not get to glued to your television set.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.


“American Pride”

The biggest names in competitive food eating, Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi battle it out in last year's "Nathan's International July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest."

So today there have been many grand scale events.  Serena Williams captured her 4th Wimbledon Championship in a dominating fashion.  Germany absolutely massacred the “it” team of this year’s World Cup, Argentina, 4 to 0.  Which is the equivalent of losing an MLB baseball game by 10 runs.  It just doesn’t happen, especially this far into the tournament.  The other soccer game today was also very exciting.  In the end, Spain scored a late goal to advance for a semifinal date with Germany.  So the Final Four of the World Cup features Uruguay, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain.  Even if the Euro is struggling, the level of soccer sure isn’t.  Lastly, Wimbledon holds their final dual tomorrow between Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych (a very surprising finalist).

But let’s get real.  There is one big time sporting event going on this weekend that trumps them all.  An event that you have to love if you are an American.  An event that represents patriotism to the highest degree.  An event that may make you want to throw up after.  Yes I am talking about the “Nathan’s International July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest.”  One of the greatest events that we have to offer in the States on our country’s most special day.  A tradition that is entering it’s 95th year.  The fattest country in the world has a gluttonous display in the form of a food eating contest on the anniversary of our founding.  Who would want it any other way?

But this event has developed into so much more than just a simple food eating contest.  It has developed into a “us” vs “them” type of event.  One where we put all of our faith into the Michael Jordan of competitive food eating, Joey Chestnut.  The 26 year old  Chestnut holds the hope of a country in his mouth and his stomach every year on July 4th.  Chestnut over the past few years has developed a big time rivalry with a 6 time champion of this contest, Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi (a 32 year old who may be over the hill).  This is the food industry’s form of a Kobe vs Lebron rivalry.  Who is better?

Well Chestnut has developed into the greater champion over the past few years winning the crown three consecutive times.  But previously, Kobayashi had dominated the game winning 6 titles.  This year is up for grabs again though.  America needs a hero to stand behind in these tough economic times.  We need a Joey Chestnut to keep the belt in America on this most grand of occasions.  Screw the fireworks. 

America needs to win the “Nathan’s International July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest” first.  Without a victory in this event, most Americans will have a depressing holiday and not enjoy the day to the fullest.  Times are tough.  Therefore, a higher stress has been put in sport.  Joey Chestnut and his mouth/stomach combo hold the key to providing people all over the United States a happy 4th of July.

Talk about pressure..

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.


“Down Goes Frazier”

The World Cup provided some big time surprises today.  Unfortunately for Africa, they have no participants left with 6 teams remaining in the prestigious event.  Ghana put up a valiant effort, but a missed penalty kick by their star player and a poor showing in the shootout proved to be their demise.  It appeared that nerves got the best of a very strong Ghana squad.

And in the other game, the team that everyone thought was invincible.  The team that spent over half of its matches toying with opponents.  The team that was 35-0-2 in games where they led heading into halftime was beaten.  The Netherlands knocked out the mighty Brazilians.  And who is to say that this team cannot take home the Cup?

The Netherlands are playing a Uruguay team in the semifinals, whom nobody expected to make noise in this tourney.  They will be heavily favored and look ready to make their first finals appearance since 1978.  There will be quite a celebration tonight in the Red Light District and I can only imagine the party if this team wins their next 2 matches.  July 11th will be a day forever remembered in Dutch history if they can continue this improbable run.

It was really just shocking to see the mighty Brazilians lose.  Kaka, who is Brazil’s form of Derek Jeter, was unable to deliver on this day.  The Brazilians had never lost a match with both Kaka and Robinho in the lineup (they were 30-0-4 before today).  I will admit I enjoyed watching the Brazilians play.  They are the Yankees of soccer.  Many people from around the world either love or hate these guys.  But everyone has an opinion.

But I will also say this.  They are one of the most cocky group of guys I have ever seen.  These dudes were really good, and believe me, they knew it.  Who doesn’t like to watch basketball players put on fancy moves and no look passes?  Well Brazil plays a  fancy brand of soccer that people enjoy to watch.  And you know what, this may have proved to be what killed them in the end.  No Brazilian player completed 40 passes in the entire tournament.  And the team struggled with passing accuracy.  How about we get back to the fundamentals? 

 The Brazilians had made a mockery of most of their opponents up to this point.  Well it appeared things were going to be that way today when Robinho scored in the 10th minute.  This was the mighty Brazilians.  A team that was ranked number one in the world and had cruised into the quarterfinals. 

Not sure what was said in the locker room at halftime to the Dutch players, but it had to have been a Knute Rockne like speech.  Because these guys came out ready to play.  They scored 8 minutes into the 2nd half and then scored again at the 68 minute mark.  The Netherlands probably felt like the 1980 US Hockey team trying to hold the lead over the mighty Russians after Eruzione scored at the 10 minute marker.

This was no miracle on ice.  This was no Muhammad Ali knockout of Joe Frazier.

But it was a big time victory in Dutch history that will not soon be forgotten.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.