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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ The beautiful game is back ]

The beautiful game is back

EUROPEAN Championships do not usually provide great entertainment. Coming at the end of a long and gruelling season for most of the continent’s top players and with most teams playing a similar, cautious style of football, the tournament rarely reaches the heights of excitement served up by the World Cup finals. The presence of Brazil always livens up a tournament, but the African teams, which still value individual skill, have also been contributing to making the World Cup the top football competition.

While this status is unlikely to be challenged, Euro 2008 is proving a highly entertaining and enjoyable tournament. We have watched some thrilling, exciting matches in the group stage, which is not renowned for serving up classics, as most coaches are still opting for caution in search of the best team formation. This caution, with the exception of a couple of opening group matches, has not been seen in Austria and Switzerland, as we have been treated to unexpectedly open, attacking football, not usually associated with the European Championships.

The group stage is not over yet but we can already list half a dozen excellent matches that would have reaffirmed fans’ faith in the beautiful game, which had received many knocks in recent years – Greece’s triumph in 2004, although heroic given the team’s underdog status, was a victory for negativity and caution. But in the last 10 days, fans have seen the lightning fast Dutch tear apart two of the tournament favourites, France and Italy; Spain and Russia provide a master-class in open football; Croatia running rings around the bookmakers’ favourites Germany; and Monday night’s thrilling comeback by the Turks.

Not bad for a tournament that has always been considered the World Cup’s poor cousin. The main reason for the exciting football has been the low standard of defending. Italy won the last World Cup having conceded just two goals and in Euro 2008 the side has let in four in four in two matches. France had become a top football power thanks to its parsimonious defence, but let in four goals on Saturday. Germany, Spain, Portugal and even Holland have looked vulnerable at the back, something that would not have pleased their respective coaches.

But the spectators are not complaining about the dodgy defending which has made Euro 2008 a striker’s tournament. It suffices to say that the man voted top player of the 2006 World Cup was a defender – Italy’s suberb centre back Fabio Cannavaro. While nobody can underestimate the importance of disciplined and organised defending for the success of any team, it is forwards and goal-scorers who provide the thrills and excitement all spectators crave. And no fan of the beautiful game can complain about the spectacle being provided by Euro 2008 so far, even if it has been made possible by rather shoddy defending.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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