Apr 08

Europop 2008: Group A – Czech Republic 3 Portugal 3

FT22 comments • 604 views

The second batch of Group A matches opens with the Czech Republic taking on Portugal. The Czechs need a win to keep their Europop hopes alive – if Portugal win, their passage to the quarter finals is all but assured. Hear the tracks, vote in the poll, and click below the cut for managerial comment, analysis, previews and match reports. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Portugal track is playing too fast in the inline player – you should download it to get the proper effect! We’re working on getting a different version.

How to vote: Just pick the track you liked best! This poll will close next Thursday.

Czech Republic v Portugal - which track do you prefer?

  • Portugal: The Weatherman 58%
  • Czech Republic: Iva Fruhlingova 42%

Total Voters: 48

Poll closes: 17 Apr 2008 @ 10:00

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CZECH REPUBLIC: Iva Fruhlingova – “Strip Twist”

The manager says: ““It looks like I’ve been vouchsafed the honour of managing the Czech team for the remainder of Europop 2008, and while we’re off to a bad start, I’m confident that we’ll snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A jaunty fellow by nature, I expected the signing up of new players to be a cakewalk, but a couple of hours’ worth of browsing top 40 charts filled with endless stretches of MOR rock and vapid ballads quickly unearthed the awful truth: Czech music stinks. Luckily, I found my Hot Shot Hamish in Paris-based expat Iva Frühlingová, a model-turned-singer who, after two gal-with-guitar albums, saw the light and jazzed things up on last year’s “Strip Twist”, the title track of which is found here. Straight up yé-yé in the old school Bardot/Hardy vein, it’s kind of derivative, but trust me, it beats the hell out of most everything else the Czech charts can muster.”

Our analyst says: While Czech through and through, this squad largely ply their trade in the French leagues, and I suspect the French national manager will be looking with envious eyes on a team which play the game in a very Gallic style: a lot of easy passing, flair and a striker with a real eye for goal. The team may be looking elimination in the eye but they’ll surely go down fighting.

PORTUGAL: The Weatherman – “About Harmony”

The manager says: “This is just so lovely; three or four totally different records and
what’s holding them together is sunshine.”

Our analyst says: Some of the delicate touches and beautifully weighted passes that won Portugal’s first game are in evidence here – and if anything this side have even more creativity. If they can keep it together and show some end product they may break Czech hearts, but has this defense got the stamina and concentration required to protect a lead?

COMING NEXT: The other Group A match sees hosts Switzerland take on a Turkey side who many felt were unlucky to lose their opening game. They need a win here and are making confident noises: the Swiss meanwhile will look to prove their thumping win in the opener was no fluke.

MATCH REPORT: Sweden 0 Greece 2 – A shocker for the much-fancied Swedes, who face being branded big-tournament chokers after this chaotic display against a Greek side who were well-drilled but should not have presented much of an obstacle. Their aggressive midfield general gave away the free kick that led to Greece’s opening goal, and then was dismissed after his timewasting antics led to a second yellow. Sweden found a little fight but their fate was sealed when a speculative punt was deflected in off a waiting Greek backside. Big questions now being asked of the new Swedish manager, who needs a more disciplined performance – and 3 points – against Spain.


  1. 1
    Tom on 10 Apr 2008 #

    This is close – both tracks strong, in styles I don’t usually go for. The Czech one is immediately likeable and catchy, kind of generic as the gaffer says, but I think its enthusiasm is catchy. The Portugal one really reminds me of the Boo Radleys circa Giant Steps! I think it’s got a strong enough tune not to need all the Beatley radio noises, but they help distract me from the indifferent faffy singer.

    I think I’m going for the Czechs, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to get the win they need – we will see though!

  2. 2
    Steve Mannion on 10 Apr 2008 #

    Has this Portugal track just been sped up un-naturally? The effect is quite enjoyable tho – and I think it tips the favour in their direction as the Frenchness of the Czech song is pleasant tho rather cheeky (maybe I’m being harsh here, especially as I’ve implied to my own Austrian players that speaking English will pay off for them).

  3. 3
    Tom on 10 Apr 2008 #

    I don’t think the Czechs singing in French is at all cheeky! Or no more so than Oskar singing in English!

  4. 4
    Tom on 10 Apr 2008 #

    Portugal does sound faster on the inline player than on the MP3 – only about 5-10% faster, but actually it makes it more dynamic!

  5. 5
    Alan on 10 Apr 2008 #

    the portugal one will be playing too fast – it’s a 32kHz sampled file, when flash can only play mp3s at 44.1kHz (and other multiples/sub-multiples)

    so yes it’s about 10% too fast if you play it in-line. sorry about that. for files like that we can only disable the in-line player, but that seems like too much of a disadvantage.

    tom, you may need to make this stipulation on the supply of mp3s :-/

  6. 6
    Tom on 10 Apr 2008 #

    I will try and hunt out a 44 khz sampled version then.

  7. 7
    thomasthomas on 10 Apr 2008 #

    With the wind behind them, Portugal’s somewhat direct approach was given a vital energy boost. It looked like the Czech tactic of adopting a foreign formation was going to backfire, as they trailed narrowly after 45 minutes.

    In the second half Portugal certainly looked tired. Without that extra speed they couldn’t stand up to the Czechs, who stuck to their guns and played a fluid little game.

    A resounding victory for the Czech Republic in the end, but surely it’s not enough to save their tournament?

  8. 8
    Lex on 10 Apr 2008 #

    Oh I have no time to post any proper match analysis but I really like both of these, good work all round. Going with CZE, just.

  9. 9
    koganbot on 10 Apr 2008 #

    Not got an early favorite here. “Strip Twist” starts with a nicely functional bit of surf guitar, then strangely goes liltingly smooth and too gentle in a blah verse, then life returns for the chorus, the smoothness and the twist complementing each other nicely, even if Iva is no Joey Dee.

    “About Harmony” is gentle and sad, then gentle and playful, then the guy goes off-tune irritatingly – and he never had too much going for his singing anyway – but the song form is far more interesting than “Strip Twists” straight-up genre exercise. In fact, following the various forms around gives this interest.

    [Btw, during my one tiny exploration of the Czech charts, at the instigation of Mr. Umlauts a couple of years ago, I found them teeming with Prog Rock, resembling today’s Portuguese team more than its Czech team.]

  10. 10
    Kat but logged out innit on 10 Apr 2008 #

    The Czechs are bouncy, the Portuguese murky. An easy decision here.

    Of course the Turkish management maintains that any tactical voting is completely against their HIGH MORAL VALUES. They’ve been reading Jane Eyre, you know. There’s a mad woman in the attic setting fire to stuff!

  11. 11
    Matt DC on 11 Apr 2008 #

    Oh wow, this is the game of the tournament up to now. I’d been predicting a jump in quality in the second lot of group games as teams begin to size one another up and shake off complacency, and both of these are excellent. Deft touches, surprises, flair and a great story behind the game.

    So we all know by now that the Portuguese manager took over a Czech team in disarray during the Pop World Cup and led them to glory. Portuguese fans had been hoping he’d do the same to them, only to find out their team were doing just fine anyway thank you. Meanwhile Czech fans were in despair after their comedy indie tactics backfired spectacularly and left them managerless after one game. Surely there was no Special One waiting in the wings to save them this time?

    Actually, there might be. It’s how you perform against the top managers that really counts, and we may well be witnessing the baton of Special One passing from one to another here. The Portuguese track would have beaten most others in the tournament for me, touching and summery at the same time – a British team could never pull this off, they’d drench it in mimsiness or give it a clumsy jaunty backbone, but the Portuguese players get exactly the right weighting on every ball.

    However the Czechs are playing the game of their life, outdoing the French team at their own game and producing the pop song of the tournament in the process. It’s a competitive game at all times but the Czech class wins out.

  12. 12
    Alan on 11 Apr 2008 #

    flash’s mp3 playing constraints, for future ref


    “multiple of 11.025 kHz”

  13. 13
    Pete on 11 Apr 2008 #

    Both good, both low-key (and as we have seen low-key has already worked for Portugal). The Boo Radleys ref I tghink is that wah-wah guitar solo which shouldn’t work but does. A confident Swiss manager is getting increasingly worried about this group, and thus may be better off trying to finish off the Czech’s so the final game may not mean so much. Glad i didn’t play THIS Czech team int he first game however.

    This may take a few listens to decide.

  14. 14
    CarsmileSteve on 14 Apr 2008 #

    hmmmmm, tricky one this, bit TMFD from the czechs to my mind, the little auto-tuney bits in the chorus seem nice at first, but become a bit grating after a while.

    portugal is Proper Indie, no denying it, getting bits of b&s as well as the boos (and a bit of syd maybe too?) and given that these are two of my, like, favourite bands ever should be straight forward, but the czechs do have a charm.

    good silky skills from both teams, first match i’d definitely call a draw, but as that’s not an option, i think the portuguese sneak it following that autotune own goal…

  15. 15
    Tom on 14 Apr 2008 #

    It seems like there’s been an influx of voters with Portugese IP addresses! Will the Portugese away support prove to be a “12th man”? (And if you’re coming here from Portugal, stick around for some of our other matches and vote in those too!)

  16. 16
    Alan on 15 Apr 2008 #

    hi dere forumsons.com

  17. 17
    Tom on 16 Apr 2008 #

    You have less than a day to vote in this.

  18. 18
    Matt DC on 16 Apr 2008 #

    48 votes? Blimey.

  19. 19
    Tom on 16 Apr 2008 #

    Could well be a six or seven goal thriller.

  20. 20
    Matt DC on 17 Apr 2008 #

    God, the Czechs really battled for a draw there, in the face of one hell of a Portuguese onslaught. Game of the tournament!

  21. 21
    Tom on 17 Apr 2008 #

    The Czechs cling on for a point and aren’t mathematically out of it, but I think overcoming that vote difference will be too big an ask. Portugal should be home and dry, thanks largely to their very vocal support!

    There won’t be a Europop match today as I forgot to upload the tracks last night – sorry: GER v CRO tomorrow. There will be a BIG POLL later today on FT to ‘make up for it’ though.

  22. 22
    Doctor Mod on 22 Apr 2008 #

    Glad the Czech side pulled off a tie. I really like the retro-pseudo-French thing. But then again, I cherish my recording of Pet Clark’s “Ya-Ya Twist” (en Français).

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