The whistles were raining down in Innsbruck, the Greeks were giving underdogs a bad name, and Adrian Healey and Robbie Mustoe were talking about the NBA Finals. I'd say Greece set the sport back a hundred years, but I'll bet back in 1908 Corinthians or whoever would have simply tut-tutted and walked off the field if you had tried to play like Greece did.
And then Zlatan Ibrahimovic saved the sport. Dire, hateful anti-football was vanquished, and artistry wins the day. Just as Wesley Sneider slew the dragon of catenaccio the day before.
Which is fine, if your big country happens to be blessed with talent. What are small nations supposed to do? Not enter tournaments? Not bother neutral fans with their presence? Do they not have their own fans, who love their country? Should they just surrender?
Of course not. So the only way an underdog can compete is with iron discipline. Hold out against attacks, exploit weakness and overconfidence. Because this is not a tournament between playthings of capitalists wearing advertisements, but a clash of nations. Just because a nation is small, doesn't mean that -
Italy population: 59,448,163
Netherlands population: 16,408,557
...okay, but we're talking about Greece. See?
Greece population: 11,216,70
Brave, plucky little Greece, birthplace of Socrates and democracy, whose national team evokes the Spartan spirit of Thermopylae and -
Sweden population: 9,196,227
Fine. Screw you.
And screw Adrian Healey for saying "It's a real Greek tragedy!" We ran Jack Edwards clean out of the sport for saying "The purple mountains majesty are in the round of sixteen!" or whatever it was, you know. God help us if Sweden ever loses. "It's a real Swedish meatball out there! The furniture is falling apart now!"
So. Spain looks a bit good.