Monday, June 26, 2006

"Great atmosphere here tonight," says the commentator.
The crowd is mainly Swiss, and they are all but neutral. Switzerland's dream is booming. Some lucky Swiss must have made a nice profit, betting Switzerland to win their group. Now the odds on Swiss breaking through to the quarterfinals have swung the other way. It is too late to put a bet down.
Ukraine odds to play in the second round must have made many Ukrainians some extra money too. Both teams shocked the world cup, both nations ride the dream.
The referee blows his whistle, the fight for the quarterfinal has begun. The teams are cautious and the game develops slowly. Switzerland calmly builds up their attack, while Ukraine tries to profit from fast break-outs. Neither nation comes close to scoring, so I make some coffee.
Never leave a soccer game, I watch the Swiss attack on the repeat. A Swiss striker fires the ball to the top left of the goal. The Ukrainian keeper hangs horizontal in the air when he saves the shot.
"Testing the keeper early," says the commentator.
Twenty minutes into the game, Ukraine has his fans on their feet. A striker runs to a high cross into the Swiss box. He dives through the Swiss defense to put his head on the ball. The ball bounces of the woodwork.
"He bravely threw himself into the mix," says the commentator.
Two minutes later Ukraine can answer with a free kick, from twenty-five meters.
"What a fantastic strike, talk about a David Beckham kick," says the commentator, while the ball deflect of the crossbar.

Ukraine starts puncturing the Swiss defense, and they take command of the game. Nevertheless, it remains nil-nil at halftime.
In the start of the second half, Ukraine picks up their game plan. They dazzle the Swiss defense and examine the skills of the Swiss goalkeeper. Switzerland holds off Ukraine and crawls back into the match. Two equal forces push forward and the game moves to the midfield. It is only a matter of time before one of the sides gives way.
"I never seen more turnovers in any world cup match," says the commentator.
In turn, the teams break the deadlock and create game deciding opportunities. Nevertheless, both defenses hold and the match goes into overtime, two times fifteen minutes.
"Not a lot of chances here," says the commentator, while Switzerland shoots a ball wide. "The lack of creativity continues."
The commentator stands still at the fact that the referee is not handing out many bookings. "Fifa must have had a talk, after the Netherlands-Portugal yesterday."
I cannot comment, my Dutch mind is still suppressing the events of the previous day.
Meanwhile, Switzerland and Ukraine go to the second part of overtime, still scoreless. They raise the heartbeat of the fans in turn. Both nations can score a goal, or concede a goal. Nonetheless, nobody scores and the match moves to penalties.
Each nation will take five penalties. Best of five goes to the quarterfinal. Worst of five goes home, cold.

Ukraine starts the drama, when the Swiss keeper saves the first kick.
The keeper of Ukraine returns the favor and saves the first Swiss kick.
Ukraine can take a breath. Their next striker shoots the ball into the left of the goal, the Swiss keeper choose the left.
When it rains it pours, the second shot of the Swiss hits of the crossbar.
Ukraine repeats their previous shot, and the Swiss keeper his previous dive.
The Swiss crumble under the pressure, their third shot is an easy pick up for the Ukrainian keeper.
Ukraine now has a chance to take the win, send Switzerland home, and take the dream to the Ukraine.
Therefore, they do.