It was a weekend of shocks in the Euro 2004 play-offs and our firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox is a hive of activity ahead of Wednesday night's return legs.
On Saturday Scotland beat Holland 1-0 as the Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy debate rumbled on, Wales held Russia 0-0 despite a horror a tackle on Ryan Giggs, Latvia beat Turkey 1-0 and an alleged tunnel bust up ensued, Spain needed a late goal to pip Norway 2-1 and Slovenia grabbed a 1-1 draw in Croatia. [+]
First of all, Dick Advocaat is not a coach who should be in charge of Holland, you need a very strong character and a positive person to lead a squad of stars. Advocaat has always been know as a person with his own little favorites. Even Ruud Gullitt would be better for these play-offs.
On the question of van Nistlerooy as a striker, he is brilliant, does the job for United, but he is the pin-up boy at United, as they have nobody like him there, but he tries to convince the Dutch and the world that Holland cannot do without him.
The Dutch have lots of great strikers and they will beat Scotland in Amsterdam with or without Van.
Jack van der Wal
I wish someone at Soccernet (which in other respects is a truly excellent site) would mention the real tragedy in the Kluivert/Van Nistelrooy/Advocaat triangle: that Roy Makaay is the one who really deserves to be playing.
His form over the past couple of years has clearly been better than that of Kluivert, and has been at least close to, if not as good as, that of Van Nistelrooy.
I wish someone would mention that perhaps it should be Makaay and Van Nistelrooy starting against Scotland, with Kluivert on the bench.
Joe Berendzen, USA
The Scotland vs Holand match was very highly entertaining and the Scots deserved their victory, having taken their chance well. No problem with the result but it was the commentators who irked me.
Where was their impartiality as sports journalist. Throughout the match they kept harping on the wealth of difference of the two sides and practically ran out or superlatives describing the Scottish lads.
I hope the same commentators will be on duty at Amsterdam on Wednesday. Let's see whether they change their tune and hear their excuses. I expect the Dutch to give the young Scots a footballing lesson. 3-1 to the Dutch on aggregate.
It's obvious that van Nistlerooy is one of the greatest strikers in the game of football. As for Patrick Kluivert, I know that the man is a world class player, with one of the most venomous strikes I have ever seen in a footballer.
But it is this rift in the Holland side that caused them to lose to Scotland, not a certain 'chemistry'. The chemistry would be there if Ruud and Kluivert focused on training as hard as humanly possible and then on the 19th November, the proof will be in the pudding.
Holland is a football powerhouse, but the ego's need to be deflated on both sides of this controversy.
Kluivert will never be the match winner for the Dutch. The most lethal and effective strikers for Holland are van Nistelrooy and Makaay. To prefer Kluivert is just sentimental.
Ruud and Roy are performing at top levels currently, and are proving to be effective, and could best be supported by van Hooijdonk who is also a deadly finisher.
Kluivert is out of form. With Kluivert the Dutch are orchestrating their own elimination. That's a fact.
Well well, it looks like the Russians have played their hand beautifully. From the word go they were trying to get Welsh winger Ryan Giggs sent off. No doubt an elbow to an opponent's face does not comply with the principles of fair play, but what about the unsporting behaviour displayed by trying to get him to see red?
Ryan already showed great restraint throughout the majority of the game, especially after enduring that horrific tackle - he's only human.
Everybody saw the tackle Giggs received that (if it went according to plan would have broken his leg ) went unpunished. The thing that worries me is that players nowadays look at other means other than football to win games.
Diving, winding up opponents. Such un-football like methods should be stamped out immediately. Giggs was constantly being wound up by the Russians. Events like this make you appreciate footballers who work hard to win and do not resort to methods like this.
I believe Paul Dickov should be used as an example for great working attitude. He always receives a standing ovation when he leaves the pitch. Now that's football.
Ashwin Tiwari, Singapore
FIFA is absolutely ridiculous. All these years they have been promoting fair play and look now: first the tunnel incident at the interval of the England and Turkey match and now the Giggs incident. Those who initiated the dirty tactics get off the hook and the sufferer gets punished, what kind of logic is that.
FIFA should recognize that these things would not happen if the game was played between two civilized teams. FIFA has given enough time for them to progress, if they want to remain in the stone age, I believe they do not have the right to participate in the modern game.
Andrew Leung, Hong Kong
The Russians were a disgrace on Saturday and will no way win any awards for fair play! Their defender fouled Giggs, which was a red card offence, Giggs reacted but I do not believe made much contact, there was a delay and the Russian fell on the floor like a sack of potatoes!
It was obvious he was trying to get Giggs sent off!
Basically, Giggs has no case to answer and I hope Wales stuff them on Wednesday night. Russia does not deserve to be in Portugal with this attitude!
Iwan ap Dafydd
Chuck the Russians out of the tournament. Their fans also threw firecrackers and bottles onto the pitch. Can you imagine what would happen if England fans did that - their team would be banned.
We should not wish to apply double standards. I suppose this is from the FA copy book. We don't have to question the motives of the Russians as their claim will be confirmed or disproved by the video evidence.
I think the player himself or his team (ManU) was a beneficiary on many occasions. If it is proven that he used his elbow with the wrong intent then of course it can not be condoned.
What goes around comes around. I am sorry for Wales as a country but it is the rule and Giggs at this level should never have acted so stupidly as he did.
If Wales qualify for the Euro Championship finals, and lets hope they do because I certainly won't be wanting to see Russia there, it would be a tragedy if Ryan Giggs would be suspended for the opening games.
There are not many footballers who the the world needs to see on the world stage more than Giggs. I can't think of anyone who deserves it more given his tireless work ethic on the pitch, not the usual trait of the gifted player.
Sentimentality aside it should be a matter of common sense that prevails. Giggs disciplinary record is close to exemplary, a feat in itself for a midfield player plying his trade in the most physical league in the world.So the fact that the Russians got him to react says more about their conduct than Ryan's.
Worst of all though is that having failed to get him sent off on the night they have the audacity to complain about his behaviour, talk about giving but not taking, especially considering Giggs took a lot more than he gave.
What I do not understand is why UEFA/FIFA would consider using video evidence to discipline players after a match has been played, as is the case here with Giggs, while in the same breadth would refuse to use video replays during a match to challenge contentious decisions by game officials.
In the interest of fair play, is it not more crucial that legitimate goals that have been disallowed through error in judgement by referees and assistant referees be overruled during a match? Conversely, for illegitimate goals that have been allowed.
It is very painful to see deserving teams being knocked out of crucial competitions because FIFA/UEFA have repeatedly refused to do this.
Stephen Teo, Singapore
I would just like to congratulate Latvia on a great result and yet again it seems that Turkey take defeat badly and cause another tunnel bust-up.
UEFA decided against charges when there was a similar problem between Turkey and England in Istanbul. I wonder if they will feel they have to act this time?
Turkey need to quickly restore some discipline or they will not be going to Euro 2004 and there achievements at the World Cup will quickly be forgotten.
Eric Adams, England
What the hell is wrong with UEFA? The Turkish players in a tunnel fight again? Is there not a sane person on the UEFA board that can see that the problem is not England or Latvia or the USA team in the confederations cup but in fact the Turkish FA, players and disrespect for the game itself.
If this was the English, German or Dutch teams we would be banned instantly time to call a halt to all this nonsense.
The Spanish league is arguably the best in the world and in recent times Spanish teams have dominated in the Champions League. They country has a wealth of talent to choose form so why do their national team always fail to deliver?
Is it simply that their players are over hyped and simply can't compete when it comes to international football?
A lucky 2-1 win over Norway in Spain is not a great result (especially for a team that should have avoided the play-offs) as Norway have a valuable away goal.
I fancy Norway to get a 1-1 draw in Oslo and so it will be adios to the underachievers from Spain.