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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Euro 2012”

Spain is unquestionably the best

Spain beat Italy on Sunday, 4-0, in the Euro 2012 final and lay claim to being one of the greatest international teams in history.

The win was the squad’s third consecutive international title, with championships in Euro 2008 and 2012 sandwiching a World Cup title in 2008 (the first time a European team has pulled that off), leaving little doubt that Spain is currently the best team in the world.

“We had a great level of play this evening and we were faithful to our style throughout,” Andrés Iniesta told The Guardian. “Of course, it would have been different had Italy not been playing with 10 by the end, because that made things easier for us. But we have to enjoy this victory. Everybody has their own point of view and we are not here saying our game is the most beautiful of them all. But this achievement is unique. It’s magical. Something that cannot be repeated. We still haven’t really realised how great this is. Spanish football is living great years. We are very complete as a football side and we have to be proud of that.”

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Spain to reign against Portugal

Today’s match between Spain and Portugal in the first semifinal of Euro 2012 should be one heck of a match.

Spain is looking to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments, while Portugal is hoping to ride the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo to the finals.

After scoring only one goal in his last three international competitions, Ronaldo has found the net five times so far in this tournament, with game winners in the last two matches.

“He’s a demanding player to face, mentally and physically,” Spain’s Alvaro Arbeloa told The Guardian. “When you play against the best, people who are playing spectacularly well, it’s always tough. You know you have to be at your very best. I like to measure myself against the best players of the world and it’s a great challenge. Of course you can’t stop him for 90 minutes, but it’s a nice battle.”

If there is one team that should know how to slow Ronaldo – and which buttons to push to knock him off his game – it would have to be Spain, whose roster is filled with players from Ronaldo’s club team, Real Madrid, as well as Real’s biggest La Liga rival in Barcelona.

Plus Spain has yet to play its best game in the tournament, which they have been criticized for.

“Football is great because not everyone likes the same thing,” Andrés Iniesta told The Guardian. “Variety is nice; it’s good to have a diversity of opinions. We have a way of playing that has brought us success and for us there is no other way. Those opinions [attacking Spain] are perfectly respectable but it is true that when there is [only] one team that always wants to attack and has a rival that only wants to close off, drop deep, and avoid danger, of course the football is not as attractive as when both teams want to win and open up to attack each other.

“Let’s not forget that we changed Spanish football two years ago. And let’s not forget how we did it.”

As for Ronaldo, he says it’s all good.

“I am not feeling the pressure of playing Spain or any other team because it is part of my life,” he told The Daily Mail. “I will always have responsibility but pressure? Not much.”

We’ve been along for the ride with Spain since the start of the last World Cup and we see no need to hop off now.

KSU, MKG, ESPN and CR7

It’s not the way we wanted to see it end, but the Kent State baseball team still had one heck of a run.

The Golden Flashes were eliminated from the College World Series on Thursday, losing to two-time defending champion South Carolina, 4-1. Gamecocks pitcher Michael Roth allowed only two hits and didn’t allow a base runner after the second inning.

Kent State pitchers Tyler Skulina, Casey Wilson and Brian Clark were almost as good, shutting down South Carolina’s offense after the third inning but it wasn’t enough.

“We have a lot of guys returning next year, and with all of this experience under their belts, it will help them out a lot,” Skulina told The Associated Press. “We have a really good class coming in next year for our freshmen. So that’s going to motivate them to want to beat us out for spots and be able to play, so that’s just going to make our team better.”

The Golden Flashes finish the year at 47-20. Along the way they won the Mid-American Conference championship for the fourth consecutive year, swept through their regional and beat Oregon in the Super Regional to become the first MAC team to reach the College World Series since Eastern Michigan in 1976.

Once in Omaha, Kent state lost the opening game against Arkansas, but rallied to eliminate the top-seeded Florida Gators before falling to South Carolina.

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England, France book last Euro 2012 spots

England and France are through to the quarterfinals of Euro 2012, having booked their tickets on Tuesday in the final round of group play.

France moves on to face Spain on Saturday despite seeing their 23-game unbeaten streak go up in smoke against Sweden.

“You have to be optimistic to think that we can beat Spain, but it’s hard right now to imagine that we can. We have to do better on Saturday,” manager Laurent Blanc told ESPN. “We wanted to finish top of the group but couldn’t manage it, so we have to deal with that.”

Meanwhile, England advances thanks to a goal from Wayne Rooney, seeing his first action of the tournament after serving a two-game suspension. Rooney headed in a cross from Steven Gerrard for the games only goal.

Of course, everyone will be talking about Marko Devic’s non-goal for Ukraine. Devic popped a shot over England goal keeper Joe Hart’s and as the ball was falling into the goal – clearly over the line – defender John Terry kicked the ball out.

It was certainly a goal but Devic was most likely offside, which the refs also missed, so these things even out.

England will take on Italy on Sunday.

With group play over, the quarter finals are set. On Thursday, the Czech Republic take on Portugal. Then, on Friday, Germany takes on Greece.

And we nailed seven of the eight teams to advance, missing only on the Netherlands.

(Photo by Reuters)

Searching for answers in Browns Town

We come here today seeking answers to a seemingly simple question:

Why?

As in, why are some Browns fans so dysfunctional?

As in, why does it matter what Jim Brown thinks about the team?

As the Browns were wrapping up the last Organized Team Activity before training camp, team president Mike Holmgren gave a relatively benign press conference last week. Overall, Holmgren didn’t say much, but he did leave fans with two takeaways: one, he would try to be more accessible with the media as long they as didn’t cause shenanigans and, two, the Browns will actually wear their Brown jerseys next season.

Easy enough, thanks, and we’ll see everyone at the end of July. And then someone had to bring up the franchise’s strained relationship with Jim Brown.

“How the Browns view Jim Brown hasn’t changed and will never change,” Holmgren said. “I would love to see Jim Brown walk in right now or come to the Legends thing, be a part of this. … Because Jim’s role changed here, I could see where he got a little upset with me, perhaps. I would like Jim Brown to come and be a part of this and feel comfortable doing that and I would welcome him with open arms.”

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Holland find no Dutch treat at Euro 2012

Wow.

The Netherlands are out of Euro 2012 following Sunday’s loss to Portugal. We knew someone among the power trio of Germany, Holland and Portugal would not make it out of the Group of Death, but we didn’t think it would be Holland, the fourth-best team in the world according to the FIFA rankings.

And we definitely didn’t think they would exit without picking up a single point in group play.

“We have failed with the entire squad,” Arjen Robben told The Daily Mail. “It is time to look in the mirror with all the players. We must all do that. Individually we should look in the mirror and as a team. We have been knocked out in a major tournament with three defeats and that is the stone hard truth. It was a disastrous campaign.”

They were done in by two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, who finally decided to show up for the tournament. Ronaldo tied the game in the 28th minute and put the winner home in the 74th minute.

Portugal advances to the knockout stage to face the Czech Republic on Thursday. Both teams advanced by bouncing back after losing their opening games in group play.

Germany also advanced out of Group B, winning all three of its matches, and will face Greece on Friday.

(Photo by Reuters)

The Big Show, England and other random stuff

Browns team president Mike Holmgren spoke to the media on the eve of the Browns final team event before the start of training camp and surprisingly had a few things to day.

First, he’s going to try and get out in front of the press a bit more this year. As much as he tried to let general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur handle things, he’s decided to throw the Cleveland media a bone once in a while.

“Now, exactly how that is going to manifest itself, I couldn’t really give you the blueprint for that yet,” Holmgren said during the press conference. “But, I’ve talked to both Pat (Shurmur) and Tom (Heckert) about this idea and they have to know and your coach has to know that the president is on your side.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a change, but we all have to understand this, this is really important, that Pay Shurmur is the coach of this football team, he will make football decisions. Tom Heckert and Pat and I talk about every football decision, but the head coach has to have that responsibility otherwise it doesn’t work very well, in my opinion. That’s how it’s going to be set up.”

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When there’s nothing to write about …

write about the Cleveland Browns!

As the team closes out the final week of Organized Team Activities, the focus has turned to who will be the No. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks on the roster this fall.

It’s been clear since draft night that, barring an injury, Brandon Weeden is going to be the starter. Which leads to speculation over which lesser of two evils – Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace – will be holding the clipboard come game day.

As a decision doesn’t have to be made today, coach Pat Shurmur isn’t really worried about it.

“I don’t see the urgency right there, but in terms of the backup situation, I can see a scenario where all three of the players you’re talking about will be here,” Shurmur said earlier this week. “I think that’s fair.

“I favor that, keeping three. I like that model. I know we’re nearing half of the teams in the league that keep two, but I like having three.”

Wallace, a noted team player, isn’t really on board with the three quarterback scenario.

“No not really (I don’t want to be third),” Wallace told The Plain Dealer. “That’s something for no reason you go down to the third guy and we all know the third guy doesn’t dress on Sundays and if that comes down to that decision, obviously neither (he or McCoy) wants to be that third guy.”

While Shurmur may not be in a hurry to name his depth chart at the position, one of his comments may have offered a clue.

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Apparently, we underestimated the Ukraine

Much like Cosmo Kramer, we underestimated the strength of the Ukraine, which defeated Sweden on Monday behind two goals from 35-year-old Andriy Shevchenko.

Ukraine is ranked No. 52 in the world by FIFA and is only in the Euro 2012 tournament because they are a co-host. But obviously no one told the players that.

“We showed today our character, our good football,” Shevchenko told ESPN. “We have very good chances to qualify.”

The goals were the 47th and 48th of Shevchenko’s international career.

This is why they play the games, people.

Tribe starters find themselves in St. Louis

What a weekend for the Cleveland Indians starting rotation.

In helping the Indians take two-out-of-three against the Cardinals, the Tribe moved to a half-game behind the White Sox and, more importantly, may have rediscovered how to pitch.

Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez all went seven innings in their starts, with Tomlin having the “worst” performance of the trio as he gave up two runs; Masterson and Jimenez each limited St. Louis to one run in their starts. The trio also only walked one batter during the series.

When you consider that the Cardinals are the highest-scoring team in the National League, and the second highest in all of baseball, that’s a solid weekend of work.

Sunday’s game was the first time Jimenez did not walk a batter all season and, in his last two starts, he has walked just one batter. That’s pretty impressive for a pitcher that has walked 43 on the season (third highest in the American League) and hit this road trip with an ERA of 9.00 in road starts.

“Jimenez was terrific,’’ manager Manny Acta told The Beacon Journal. “He was dominating. He threw 16-of-25 first-pitch strikes, and having no walks made a huge difference. He had a good split and slider. I’m happy to see him go back to back.’’

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