"I'm not saying Italy are shit, but..."
The national football team of Greece’s collective theme seems to be that of a slow, squeaky fart. Not a smelly fart, mind you. There’s nothing noxious about the Greeks. But there is something vaguely entertaining, comedic even about their ability to collectively take on the mannerisms of a long fart for huge swathes of matches, ultimately rendering themselves likeable, non-threatening and surprisingly reliable. Greece. As reliable as a fart. They should stick that on the posters.
Which inevitably leads me to England, because I’m English. Both sides are in the quarter finals. So why, then, should Greece’s defensive performances be forever patronised - think “typical Greece performance”, “ugly Greek win” et al – while England’s are repackaged as something they are not? Whereas the Greeks proudly fart their “anti-football” over the competition (another phrase we do not like at Spongers HQ), English farts seem to have been put into a lavish box and produced by Cadbury’s. Limitations are at once exalted when it comes to the Greeks and overlooked when it comes to the English. But there is no disguising that, as with Greece, form follows function when it comes to the English. In a nutshell: Function = hard to beat, tight banks of four, collective over the individual. Form = mainly unpleasant on the eye.
All of which leads me to perhaps the most patronising thing I have heard all tournament and it came from the England captain Steven Gerrard. “[Italy] are similar to us and it will be a very close game. Let's not underestimate them one little bit. But, if we get that bit of luck and play well, I'm confident we can do well." Hang on a minute Steven. “Similar to us”? What, they are shite at football? Ok, I’m being a little disingenuous there, but come on. Surely to underestimate someone/thing you have to think you are better than said someone/thing? So the remarkable insinuation by Gerrard is that England are better than Italy and, therefore, shouldn’t underestimate them. It is as fanciful a sentiment as a manky old onion turning up to his first day at work in an apple crumble factory (yes, such things exist) and telling his foreman, a large Granny Smith, that he shouldn’t underestimate the amount of crumble in the crumble. Ok, it’s not like that at all really but I had to crowbar an apple/onion analogy in somewhere.
Are the Greeks really THAT boring that the subtext to a football match is the crisis in the eurozone? I’m not a racist, but I bet Angela Merkel’s shit at football. Better than Gideon Osborne though. And when MBM mentions veer between “SHIT” and “VERY SHIT” for the Greeks, the same should apply for the English, whose first half against Ukraine should be used as an advertising campaign for Dignitas. The difference is, it seems the Greeks know their place. And they went and won the bloody thing as recently as 2004. How we’d laugh if Giorgos Karagounis went into the press conference before the Germany game saying his side were not going to underestimate Germany. Gerrard’s comments should be treated with the same contempt.
Moral: Let’s embrace being farts this tournament rather than pretending to be something we are so blatantly not.