Friday, June 6, 2008

Neva Say Neva Again!


There are some real 'marquee match-ups' to be had in the group stages of Euro 2008, but, ladies and gentlemen, I would implore you for one moment to turn your eyes to the fixture list for Wednesday, June 18 2008. Try to ignore Greece v. Spain for now and take a look at Russia v. Sweden.

It should be known that I've been waiting for this match-up for a long time, ever since paying my six bucks to see a dusted off version of Sergei Eisenstein's 'Alexander Nevsky.' It is a sad fact of history that these two teams have only met each other 23 times since their first meeting in 1913, a humiliating 4-1 loss for the Russians.

Russia wasn't used to this sort of drubbing at the hands of the Swedes: just ask the army of Novgorod in the year 1240 (be patient, their Russian is probably a little more arcane from that which you'd hear in the region today). Led by saint and all-around celeb Alex Nevsky, they managed to trash some jerk-off Swedish invaders on a hot July day by the banks of the River Neva. Scratch one for Mother Russia!

Hopefully things will be put right after so long. Normally I'd have been satisfied with Sweden's 7-0 loss to the Soviet Union on September 8 1954, but the Soviet Union included Georgia and Belarus and that's not how Nevsky and his fellow Novgorodians would have wanted it.

To be honest, I'd just like to see Sweden knocked out because of my anger issues with Olof Mellberg leaving Aston Villa and I think Russia will have the best chance of finishing the job. But don't let that niggling fact put a damper on things! For excitement's sake I highly recommend cranking Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky Suite" during the match to help get in the mood. I'd lend you my copy but I think I lost it.

1 comment:

seanachie said...

"but the Soviet Union included Georgia and Belarus and that's not how Nevsky and his fellow Novgorodians would have wanted it."

True, and Georgia and Belarus (along with Ukraine) provided the core of most of the best Soviet teams; the Russians were usually just filling it out.

One could also mention the Great Northern War of 1700-1721, won by Peter the Great against the impetuous young Charles XII (surely a Nordic predecessor of Zlatan?) The defeat caused the Swedes to abandon their empire and pragmatically adopt neutrality, preferring to equip other combattants through their arms industry than to get involved themselves.

Enjoy the football!