Saturday, March 31, 2007

RTP, Portugal-Serbia, and Euro 2008

I didn't appreciate Radio Television Portugal (RTP) until the first time I watched Cristiano Ronaldo weave through defenders like Francois Tolour through the security lasers in Ocean's Twelve.

Since then, the channel has become one of my favorite destinations after NESN, ESPN and Comedy Central. Although my understanding of the Portuguese langauage is limited, despite my Portuguese roots, I manage to sit in front of a TV screen for 2 hours, hardly understanding what is being said, due to the fact that the channel feeds live Portuguese Liga (or BWIN Liga if you are the commercially inclined-type) and Portuguese National Team matches.

I was lucky enough to catch the final 20 minutes of the Portugal-Belgium Euro qualifying group game last Saturday. Lucky, because although I didn't catch the entire match, I was able to find out about the next match (vs. Serbia) thereafter and plan accordingly...

So, now that I've wasted three paragraphs of divulging in needless background details, I TiVo'd the Portugal-Serbia match while at work, and took it in upon my release from the shackles of my cube.

First impressions: the Portuguese are a sharp, offensive minded team which is surely aided by the presence of the world's best player in Ronaldo, and a Brazilian manager, Luis Felipe Scolari. That being said, the side was very much on attack mode despite the misleading 1-1 draw. Tiago's long bloop of a goal in the 5th minute gave Portugal and early 1-0 lead. With Bosko Jankovic's 37th minute header from a corner, Portugal looked like it had answers in many golden opportunities. Ronaldo & Co. had their chances, but just could not get the go-ahead goal past the remarkable Vladimir Stojkovic, the Serbian keeper who did well to frustrate the maroon and green.

If there was one positive that could be drawn from this match (no pun intended), it was that Portugal remained tied in the 2nd slot of Group A (along with Finland) for Euro 2008 with 11 points, five behind group leader Poland. The top two countries advance past of group stage.


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