From A to Z: Euro 2008 so far
ZURICH, Switzerland -- From top to bottom, here is an A to Z of the best and worst of the European Championship through two weeks of action.
Amazing -- Anything Fatih Terim's Turkey does in the final minutes of a game.
Battered -- Zlatan Ibrahimovic's knee ... it might not have made a difference, but we can only wonder what a fit Ibra could have achieved.
Confused -- Raymond Domenech, who made the most curious personnel decisions before the tournament, committed tactical suicide during the tournament and, after being knocked out, announced he would propose to his girlfriend. There's a time and a place for everything, Raymond.
Devastating -- Michael Ballack, who turned in a monster performance against Portugal, showing just why he earns in excess of $12 million a year.
Exceptional -- Luka Modric, who, for my money, is right up there with Andrei Arshavin as the players of the tournament. Who said all the talent is in the big three leagues?
Freed -- Spain, of all its psychological blocks (June 22, Italy, penalties, etc.). Now Luis Aragonés' troops really believe they can do anything.
Gone -- Roberto Donadoni. A likeable, decent man who was penalized by injuries and suspensions. But that doesn't change the fact that he made crucial personal mistakes against the Netherlands and probably got the game plan wrong against Spain.
Huge -- Slaven Bilic, in every way. Probably the most impressive manager in the tournament. (Terim is up there too, but the difference is that what Terim does is mysterious; what Bilic does becomes obvious after he does it).
Irritating -- Some of the refereeing performances in the group stage, though overall, not a bad showing from the former men in black.
Jolly -- The 100,000 strong Dutch fans who turned Basel, Switzerland, into a giant orange stain, presumably visible from outer space. (Thanks for waking me up at 8 a.m.)
Kindred -- As in spirits. Köbi Kuhn and Karel Brückner, two legends in their own way, two gentlemen, two guys we'll miss.
Late-blooming -- Arshavin who, at 27, looks like one of the best players in the tournament. Where has he been for the last decade?
Missing in action -- Mario Gómez and Thierry Henry, young and old, both anonymous.
Negligible -- Austria's impact on the tournament. Still, with a team ranked No. 100-plus in the world, what did you expect?
Outstanding -- Iker Casillas, whose performances have been decidedly Buffon-esque. He's ready to take the baton, just as soon as Gigi decides he wants to give it up.
Punk'd -- The Netherlands, which, far from reinventing the wheel, was exposed as a counterattacking team with plenty going forward and very little at the back. Leopards shouldn't change their spots.
Quality -- What Greece lacked. Not its fault and Otto Rehhagel's crew battled gamely, but miracles don't happen in rapid succession. (Not unless Terim is on the bench).
Raging -- Polish public opinion following the late penalty awarded to Austria. Folks, it might have been a marginal call, but your goal in that game should have been disallowed. Occasionally, these things even themselves out.
Stupid -- Everyone who make summary decisions based on one -- or even two -- games. We've seen Germany written off (still in it) and France written off (gone, but could have beaten the Netherlands 3-1). We've seen Russia and Turkey given no chance after their opening games. And we've seen the Netherlands and Portugal lionized as two of the greatest teams in history (they're watching the rest of the tournament on TV). When will we learn?
Tall -- Sorry, just needed to find a way to mention Jan Koller, a class act we probably won't see again.
Ugly -- France's draw with Romania, the least entertaining game in what was overall an excellent competition.
Varied -- Like the tactical schemes we saw at the Euros: sweeper systems (Greece), two up, three-at-the-back, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 ... plenty to talk about. Who said the game was becoming homogenous?
Wacky -- The tournament's format. Thanks to the Netherlands' sense of fair play and to some improbable upsets, the worst was avoided. But UEFA should have a re-think.
Xerophitic -- Which means adapted to a very dry climate. The opposite of what Basel was like when Switzerland and Turkey played there.
Yummy -- The prospect of a Germany vs. Spain final ... though seeing Russia or Turkey there would be just as fun.
Zealous -- The Russian players who, in the words of Guus Hiddink, are the most coachable in the tournament. "They do everything I say, they do it with enthusiasm and with diligence. From that perspective, they are the best I have ever worked with."
SI.com's Gabriele Marcotti will report twice a week from the 2008 European Championship.