Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 1924 Paris Olympics, 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, 1930 World Cup, 1972 European Championship, 1974 World Cup, 1997 Copa America, 1998 World Cup, 1999 Copa America, 2002 World Cup, 2004 Copa America, 2012 European Championship, Brazil, Cesare Prandelli, Cesc Fabrigas, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, David Silva, ESPN, Fernando Torres, France, Germany, Gianluigi Buffon, Italy, Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, Kiev, Pele, Spain, Thiago Motta, Uruguay, Vicente de Bosque, West Germany, World Cup, Xavi
Defending World Cup champion Spain became the first country to win a second consecutive European Championship, humbling a shorthanded Italy, 4-0, in the 2012 final in Kiev.
The triumph made Spain, which won its first Euro crown in 1964, the second three-time winner of Europe’s biggest prize after West Germany/Germany (1972, 1980, 1996).
David Silva got the rout underway in the 14th minute when he headed in Cesc Fabrigas’ short cross. Jordi Alba latched onto a pass by Xavi to beat Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon four minutes before halftime to put the match out of reach.
Substitute Fernando Torres, who also scored against Germany in Spain’s 1-0 victory in the 2008 final, scored in the 84th minute, and Juan Mata, set up by Torres, applied the finishing touch at 88 minutes. Italy lost Thiago Motta to injury in the 62nd minute after coach Cesare Prandelli had used his three substitutions–the last of them Motta in the 57th–and appeared nearly helpless on the Torres and Mata goals. [July 1]
Comment: Spain’s dominating performance put a much-needed shine on a tournament that for the most part was downright dull. But those quick to brand this team as the best of all time need to take a deep breath.
Is Spain the best? Those who disagree might start with the West German team that won the 1972 European Championship and the ’74 World Cup. That team also lost the ’76 Euro final to Czechoslovakia on penalty kicks before winning its second Euro four years later. Others would point to Brazil’s Pele-led 1970 World Cup champs. And so on.
So are the Spaniards the best ever over an extended period? Various media reports branded coach Vicente del Bosque’s ball-possession magicians as the first to win three consecutive major titles. ESPN, which televised Euro 2012, was among them. But the first was Uruguay, winners of the 1924 Olympics in Paris and the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam–back when Olympic soccer was the sport’s de facto world championship. The Uruguayans so dazzled the Continent on those occasions that they fueled the drive to create the World Cup in 1930, which that year was hosted and won by Uruguay. De facto or no, that was three world titles in a row over a half-dozen years.
Too long ago, when soccer wasn’t quite the global game it is today? Then for hardware in the modern era, go with another South American team, Brazil, just a decade ago. Except for an interruption by Colombia at the 2001 Copa America, the Brazilians, three years removed from their win at USA ’94, won the next two South American championships, in 1997 and ’99, finished second at the 1998 World Cup to host France, then won their fifth world championship at Korea/Japan 2002, followed by another Copa in 2004.
But then, when it comes to soccer and other matters, we live in a Eurocentric world.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Seattle Sounders, Julie Foudy, Haiti, North American Soccer League, Pele, New York Cosmos, Fox Soccer Channel, ABC, Eric Wynalda, New York, Henry Kissinger, Naples, National Soccer Hall of Fame, Tulsa Roughnecks, Serie A, Giorgio Chinaglia, Lazio, 1974 World Cup, Ferruccio Valcareggi, Cosmos, American Caesar, Mick Jagger, Steve Ross, Warner Communications, San Diego, Soccer Bowl '82, 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan, Waldo
Giorgio Chinaglia, the fiery Italian who scored the goals that powered the New York Cosmos to four North American Soccer League titles during the league’s glory days, died at his Naples, FL, home of complications from a heart attack. He was 69.
After leading Lazio to its first Serie A title and playing for Italy in the 1974 World Cup–where he infamously flipped off coach Ferruccio Valcareggi while being substituted during the opener against Haiti–Chinaglia was signed in 1976 by the Cosmos, who sought a sure-fire goalscorer to pair with Pele.
While the Cosmos got about $20 million’s worth of publicity from the $5 million signing of Pele the previous year, Chinaglia proved to be a bargain when it came to production on the field. He scored 193 goals in 213 regular-season games before he retired after the league’s second-to-last season in 1983. That was an NASL record, as were his 49 playoff goals. Seven of those came in an outrageous 8-1 humiliation of the Tulsa Roughnecks in 1980 as he set post-season records for goals in a playoff game and goals in a single post-season, 19. He also holds the records for most goals in a season, 34 in 30 games, in 1978, and total points, 79, set that same year, thanks to his 11 assists.
Elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2000, Chinaglia later found himself an exile in his adopted country after a group he was involved with was accused by Italian authorities of price-fixing in the attempted purchase of his former club, Lazio. [April 1]
Comment: There are soccer fans here who remember Chinaglia as the American Caesar. With his outsized ego, Chinaglia was made for New York, the swingin’ ’70s and the Cosmos, who could number among their followers Mick Jagger and Henry Kissinger. He marked his arrival by saying of Pele, who showed up in 1976 late and out of shape, “He’s just another player I’ll have to carry until he gets fit.” He also had the good sense to become close with Warner Communications supremo Steve Ross, the Cosmos’ part-owner and biggest fan. More important, Chinaglia backed up his bluster by becoming the NASL’s greatest scoring machine. A classic poacher, some of his goals were pretty, some not so. His final notable goal was typical: In San Diego, he bundled the ball into the goal with his thigh during a goalmouth scramble to give New York a 1-0 victory over the (original) Seattle Sounders in a forgettable Soccer Bowl ’82.
What soccer fans of all ages here will remember is the Giorgio Chinaglia whom ABC teamed with former U.S. star Eric Wynalda as in-studio commentators during its coverage of the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. Many of those games aired in America during the wee hours, but the Giorgio-Waldo Show proved much more potent than black coffee in keeping viewers awake with their running game of thrust and parry. Doing most of the thrusting was Wynalda, who played gleeful, smart-alecky high school student to the completely humorless but unflappable social studies teacher Chinaglia, and the result was classic TV. The two parted ways as Chinaglia went on to host a satellite radio show while Wynalda, paired with Julie Foudy for the ’06 World Cup, became a bit more buttoned down in recent years as studio host for Fox Soccer Channel. There hasn’t been an on-air duo like Waldo-Chinaglia, and we soccer viewers are the poorer for it.