Doing the Continental

This is one of those times when I'd like to write on 20 different topics, but in the interest of brevity (well, we'll see about that, won't we?) let's call this "running a bunch of stuff up the flagpole"

While many people are lamenting the fact that England didn't make the Euro 2008 field, THE MIRROR SAYS THE TOURNAMENT IS MUCH BETTER WITHOUT THEM and they make a convincing case.

Euro 2008 has showcased some of the best soccer seen on the continent in a generation, full of skill and breathtaking finishes and unbelievable drama, and without England sucking the air out of it, it's been an event that will be remembered for a long, long time.

Idiot Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Demirel HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR TWO GAMES AND TURKEY HAS BEEN FINED for "improper conduct" during and after the Czech Republic match.

Now I'd be the first one to say that shoving that big turd Jan Koller would be very satisfying, but having to finish the match with a field player wearing the gloves could have cost them everything.

And apparently Volkan made matters worse by refusing to leave the bench area, a situation which was compounded when some Turkey fans tried to rush the field after the game and generally behave badly.

Who knows how they all would have acted if they had actually lost?

Demiril's absence, along with those of defensive midfielder Mehmet Aurelio (suspended for the quarter-final after picking up a second yellow card against the Czechs) captain Emre Belozoglu (hamstring) and central defender Emre Gungor, who was carried off in the second half of Sunday's match (calf strain) will leave a not-that-deep-to-begin-with Turkey side scrambling for players.

Greece will be hoping to salvage some pride today when they TAKE ON AN ALREADY-QUALIFIED SPAIN which will undoubtedly be resting most of their front line players.

The defending champions allowed themselves to believe they had a legitimate shot again this time, but how often can you hope for lightning to strike?

If you saw the torrential downpour dring the Switzerland-Turkey match, then you know the kind of beating the pitch in Basel took.

Incredibly, after the Switzerland-Portugal match on Sunday, the entire field was torn out and, after trucking in 26 loads of sod from Holland, has been completely re-laid and will serve as the venue for Thursday's Portugal-Germany game.

Anyone want to bet it'll be a lot nicer than the HDC after a Backstreet Boys concert?

For those inclined to throw money away the oddsmakers have moved Italy from a 20-1 longshot to an 11/2 bet, making them fourth favorite, behind the Dutch (7/2) Spain (9/2) and Portugal (5-1).

The Golden Boot competition currently has Spain's amazing David Villa leading with four goals, Germany's Lukas Podolksi is second with three.

Villa is also currently the leading contender for Player of the Tournament.

I'm not blowing my own horn (well maybe a little) over picking Italy to come out on top yesterday, but if you're looking for a team on the come, THEY COULD BE THE ONE

Italy seems to almost always do it this way; they barely seem interested early, gain momentum, really start to power up in the stretch run and finish spectacularly. It's a pattern that Italian women know very well, I'm told.