I realize that I’ve moaned quite a bit about this Euro 2008; how it’s boring, how Arsenal players just get hurt, how much I can’t stand Platini and Blatter and their insane proposals, and how at it’s worst this competition is nothing more than an exercise in nationalism. But how could an Arsenal supporter see last night’s match and be anything but moved?
The first half started as a droll affair, Spain dominated possession but never really threatened, meanwhile Russiarshevin looked very, very ordinary. Things had brightened a bit — literally — with the introduction of Cesc for the injured David Villa. Cesc was easy to pick out of the crowd because, since he came off the bench, his top was dry and thus his jersey was easily twice as bright as everyone else’s muted, wet, tops. Spain brightened “footballistically” as well with the introduction of the Arsenal youngster: with Xavi, Iniesta, and Fabregas roaming the midfield it seemed like they made every pass and won every challenge. In fact, I think I remember Arshevin touching the ball maybe once in the whole first half.
Still they didn’t score.
The second half picked up where the first half left off; more Spanish possession, more Russian frustration, still no goals. And then Cesc took over. Sure, the first goal came from Xavi’s shot that Iniesta put in, but it was Fabregas who won the ball and put it in to Xavi. Then on the 73rd minute Cesc had the commentators babbling about how he couldn’t possibly have meant to do that when he chipped the Russian defense and Güiza chested it down and wrong footed the Russian keeper. Arsenal fans know that Cesc did that on purpose: we’re used to seeing the 21 year old maestro set up his teammates like that.
After the second goal the result was academic but Cesc added another assist to his tally when he crossed in for Silva on the 83rd minute. It was the perfect cap to the perfect game for Cesc and has all the pundits scrambling to name him in Spain’s starting XI against Germany on Sunday.
It doesn’t seem to matter if he starts or not. His class will show through.
Another player that I’ve been very impressed with is Spain’s Marcos Senna. Playing at the holding midfield spot he’s been very solid both defensively and in distribution. Too bad he’s almost 32 years old, or maybe Arsenal would pick him up.
Arshevin, on the other hand, looked very ordinary under the watchful eye of a steady Spanish defense. Still, Barcelona is supposedly interested in the 27 year old. I don’t know, maybe Barcelona are going to take another look at Hleb.
Anyway, it was a great day for Cesc and I will be rooting for him to both win and come through uninjured. A trophy here would be a great start to Arsenal’s season.