Qualification matches for European Championships used to be a rare delicacy in the United States. Often times it would be impossible to watch or listen to the games. The next best thing was reading the scores on the Internet and trying to imagine how the game must have played out in your head by reading the match report. Or paying scandalous fees for pay-per-view or handing over a cover charge to watch it in a pub.
But no more. Thanks to ESPN3.com and it’s long list of 2012 European Championship qualifiers it’s showing, and Fox Soccer Channel for showing England against Bulgaria, we’re again spoiled for choice. I wasn’t able to watch Montenegro versus Wales, one of the few European games not shown in the U.S., but based on the analysis I read and heard, maybe it’s best that I didn’t have to witness it.
For me, I had the rare treat of listening to the commentary of the England against Bulgaria match on BBC Radio Five 5. Luckily the broadcast wasn’t blocked, as it usually is, so I had a chance to hear the commentary team of Mike Ingham, Alan Green, Mark Lawrenson and Lee Dixon. It’s such a breath of fresh air to listen to a game on the radio. As I’m writing this, I’m watching the England game taped earlier on Fox. And while I love Martin Tyler’s commentary, it has lost its sheen a little because we get to hear him so often in the States.
As far as England’s performance, it’s hard to make your own judgements when it’s filtered by what you hear on the radio. It’s not as if you can disagree with a radio commentator’s analysis. All you know is what you hear. Unless of course, you’re watching the game on television at the same time (or later, as I am).
What is definite is that Joe Hart put in another brave performance for England. This is a goalkeeper that we’ve been raving about for a considerable amount of time on this site. Even when you listen to what he has to say during a press interview, you can tell that he has a good head on his shoulders and is already saying all the right things.
According to the radio commentary, the two men of the match based on their performances for England were Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney. The latter was crucial in setting up all four goals. And just as Dimitar Berbatov gets criticized for being the provider rather than the goalscorer, the same happens to Rooney time and time again. After all, it’s a sport focusing on teams, not individuals.