Do not always believe in first impressions
Posted on June 14, 2012 9:27 pm
As usual, I write from a train. Now is in one of the next-generation Hyundai ones that the Korean firm had it installed just before the Euro and that, in theory, would mean a step forward in communications between Ukrainian cities. I say in theory because, although the train looks spectacular, in practice has the same amount of problems of their old Tsarist colleagues.
For starters, the railways are not modern enough, so the faster the train can go is 160 kilometers per hour, which for Ukraine is great, but by European standards is still very slow. Then, if it rains, it becomes dangerous, so it must come down at about half the speed, which can turn a 7-hour trip between Kiev and Lviv, which in itself is long, into a nightmare 10 or 11. In theory, you have Internet access, air conditioning and electricity.
But in practice, the network is down and the electrical system and air-con only work when they feel like it. And to finish it off, trains tend to leave at 6 am, which, added to the late-match schedule of this Ukrainian Euro, has kept me from sleeping in a bed for the last five nights.
So what looks like a brand new train, actually works as irregularly as many things here. It is a good example of why there we shouldn’t always believe in first impressions. But a more important example of the same phrase is not be swayed by appearances in a major tournament. Always, at the end of the first round of matches, critics and fans forecast their candidates, pencil new favorites or suggest unexpected stars to follow … and usually fail.
If they were right, then Argentina would always be world champions, Italy would never win a major trophy and the best player in history would have been Daniel Amokachi (if you do not know who he is, google him. He was fantastic in his first appearance in a World Cup with Nigeria). However, as we know, Albiceleste always play great in their first match and end up failing miserably, the Azzurri are often a disaster in the group stages and reach the final and Amokachi, despite shortly playing in the Premier League a while, returned quickly into the darkness.
I must plead guilty of the same sin in the Euro. After the first few games, I was sure that Russia would go really far, that Germany were not as good as everybody painted them and that would lose against Holland, and that, after their good draw against Spain, Italy would do better than what I initially thought.
Of course, nothing is written yet, but in their second game against Poland, the Russians were far from the bulldozer that had destroyed the Czech Republic. The Germans, on the other hand, were dominant against a very poor Dutch team that can’t blame bad luck of their defeat. Italy, meanwhile, returned to the mediocrity that their squad indicated in their second match against Croatia, which is now in an excellent position to qualify. And Spain, that everybody criticized after their first match, will be praised to death after demolishing Ireland.
Sometimes we let our eyes deceive our brains, and in a football tournament that’s usually a fatal error. To win a Euro, a team must survive six games, seven to win a World Cup, and is ridiculous to think that after the first one and we know who will be the best player, the next champion … or the most modern train.