There’s a huge streak of bitterness running through this, but I’m surprised no-one has really analysed the winning goal by Greece in the Euro 2004 final.

Take a look at these pictures:

There’s several things to note. Firstly (and this can never be stressed enough) Portugal, for all their possesion, for all their tippy-tappyness, are bobbins at set pieces. They never ventured up for their own corners, and couldn’t defend this. The rudimentary art of getting in front of an attacker seemed beyond them. For a team to have won a major tournament and be rubbish at setpieces would have sent a poor message (especially to the KIDS watching at home).

More pertinent to my bitterness though is the one from behind. WHAT THE HELL IS RICARDO DOING? He’s no-where near the ball. He’s not even being barged out of the way. He’s in completely the wrong place. But he’s not misread the flight of the balland realised his miatske. Oh no. The reaction to that is to take a step forward, then back, then remain flat footed, as you’ve lost the opportunity to spring at the ball as you’re on your heels.

No. The boy Ricardo (one of the many keepers rejected by Alex Ferguson, we should note) carries on diving for a ball he knows he is nowhere near. How rubbish is that? But maybe it was a little more than rank incompetence.

Say you’re Ricardo – you see Charisteas in the vicinity of two of your defenders. It’s not unreasonable to expect them to take care of it. That leaves you with one more man – Vryzas. But even then, he’s diving nowhere near Vryzas. He’s diving behind him. We’ve seen that before, haven’t we?

So, after a promising set-up, the entire point of this fancy joined-ip analysis is simply this: Ricardo just dives willy-nilly, and in team full of people who can’t defend set piece, takes not being good at this to a new level of rubbishness. He should be called Dracula such is his fear of crosses (DO YOU SEE?)*.

Just as Dracula survives on vampire-slayer dangle (farting about instead of just sticking him with a stake ASAP, which is a tactic learnt from Blofeld), Ricardo survives through the hope that by ending up unceremoniuously on a heap, a referee will take pity on him, thinking that no international goalkeeper could be so bad that he leaps with no idea of how to actually leap with any effect. And, following that, the referee therefore thinks that he must have been fouled. England wuz robbed, and finally, justice was belatedly done when this dirty tactic backfired and the gorgeous Greeks did for him.

* Look at his name! It’s an anagram of Dracori, which is a bit like Dracula!