A Euro for the Embassies

© T. Joly
Embassy staff and citizens from countries qualified for the Euro 2008 met in Paris recently for a seven a side tournament. Played in a very good spirit in front of a large crowd the competition ended with the victory of France over Germany.

[ Results  ]

Group A
Portugal – Turkey : 1 – 5
Switzerland – Turkey : 2 – 7
Switzerland – Portugal : 5 – 2

Group B
Austria – Croatia : 1 – 6
Germany – Poland : 3 – 0
Croatia – Germany : 0 – 0
Austria – Poland : 2 – 1
Poland – Croatia : 0 – 6
Austria – Germany : 2 – 5

Group C
Netherlands – Italy : 0 – 8
Netherlands – France : 1 – 6
France – Italy : 3 – 0

Group D
Spain – Russia : 3 – 1
Greece – Spain : 0 – 6
Greece – Russia : 0 – 8

Turkey – Germany : 2 – 3
France – Russia : 1 – 0
Spain – Italy : 2 – 0
Croatia – Switzerland : 1 – 1 , 3 – 2 on penalty kicks

Germany – Croatia : 2 – 0
France – Spain : 1 – 0

France – Germany : 1 – 0
A cloudy sky, but no rain. Temperatures in the region of 18°C. On this Saturday 7th of June the weather in Paris was perfect for playing football. So it was in the best of conditions that the latest addition to AMISCA’s (The Embassies’ Cultural and Sporting Association) sporting calendar kicked off.

© T.Joly
 Like in the Euro
A seven a side tournament organised on the occasion of the Euro 2008 and gathering the 16 countries qualified for the official competition hosted by Switzerland and Austria. However, due to late cancellations from the Czech Republic, Sweden and Romania, only 13 teams lined up at 9 AM. Squads were made of staff from the Embassies and expats working in Paris or in the surroundings. Divided into groups of three or four, exactly like the ones in the Euro, they met in 20 minute games overseen by two referees. All had the same objective: to secure one of the two first positions in order to reach the quarterfinals. For this some teams could count on the encouragement of their fans. Poles and Germans were the most numerous, far ahead of the Russians and Greeks who nevertheless also made their voices heard around the pitches.

© T.Joly
 Favourites emerge
The standard of play was excellent and these first games gave some players the opportunity to show their talent. This was the case for the Dutch number 10 who scored the most beautiful goal of the day, against France, and the Austrian number 5, a dynamic and skilful midfielder. At the same time several teams clearly emerged as favourites. Croatia and Spain, who both had very technical players. Turkey, with their attacking game. Germany, thanks to a good mix of young and experienced players. And France who had a young team used to playing together. Unsurprisingly, these teams all went through to the quarterfinals as well as Italy, Russia and Switzerland. A great performance from the Helvetians who were also the only side having two women in their team. As for the countries that ended third or fourth, it was not over as they qualified for a consolation competition.

© T.Joly
 Convivial lunch
But before starting the knockout games, everybody first met for a lunch made up of specialities provided by each country. The opportunity for many participants to experience dishes they had never tasted before. Once again, Germany distinguished herself with a barbecue and a beer fountain that were very popular as were the Portuguese, Austrian and Greek dishes. A brief moment of relaxation, rest and conviviality before the competition resumed with the quarterfinals, four close-fought and high quality games.
Germany eliminated Turkey after a spectacular game that saw both teams choosing to attack. For their part, France had a lot of trouble beating a Russian team that was tactically well organized in defense and who only gave up on a corner kick. In the Southern Europe duel, Italy dominated most of the time but without clear chances to score and Spain won thanks to two deadly counter attacks. Lastly, there was almost an upset from Switzerland who clung on against Croatia and were only beaten on penalty kicks.

© T.Joly
 A real cup game
As a consequence of these results, in the semifinals Germany faced Croatia again following a draw in the group stages. But this time, having a more complete team with numerous substitutes, the Mannschaft won without many difficulties. The second game was much more tense and contested. In spite of being well organized and having scored early, France was hustled by Spain who had several opportunities to get a goal. A real cup game and in the last minutes even the Spanish goalie was in attack to try to snatch a tie.
Meanwhile the consolation tournament was still going on in a more relaxed spirit where pleasure was more important than results. So the games were open, very enjoyable to watch, and with many goals. During the semifinals and the final won by Turkey over Poland there were never fewer than four goals scored !!!

© T.Joly
 French victory
Finally, at 17.00 came the most eagerly awaited moment, the final that took place in the presence of the Ambassadors from Poland and Austria as well as of a large public. With, on the agenda, a classic of European football : France – Germany. This was also a confrontation between two styles of play. On one side the French were younger, more technical and used to playing together. On the other hand the Germans had a solid and experienced squad. This made for a very tight game. Overall it was France who dominated and had many opportunities to score. But the game was decided on the roll of a dice: a shot deflected by the sweeper that surprised the goalie. And the Germans came very close to equalizing from a corner kick and a first post header. So it was the French who lifted the cup presented to them by the Austrian ambassador. A scenario quite different from that of the official competition.

June 22, 2008
Thierry Joly 

[ Consolation ]

Turkey – Austria : 4 – 2
Poland – Greece : 3 – 2

Turkey – Poland : 4 - 0