A decade or so ago the pundits used to talk about total football. I never quite knew what the hell they were talking about but the last two early morning starts have brought me to the point where I now believe I know what total football is.
Germany and Spain literally rip the lungs from their opposition. The passing game has grown up.
From the kick off this morning the Spaniards had the ball and simply did not let it go. Watching the French (and Greeks yesterday) chase the ball without getting near it was incredible.
Germany looked like they were playing Chess til half time and I imagine they have no need for a fat Rexona sponsorship such is the effortless ease with which they destroy their opponents.
Fast forward a day and we will see a similar effort from the Italians while England rely on the long ball game to try and exist on the thin scraps that they will win for themselves.
Having watched every comp since 1970 (even 82) I have now reached the point where fanatical blinkers no longer fit and I am able to look at my team with the kind of detachment and critical cynicism that no All Black fan ever got within a million miles of.
And my conclusion.
England are rubbish.
When England pass it looks like they are trying to push the ball across a ploughed field. It never lands at the feet of a runner without interrupting their flow. Most passes are off the ground and the whole team seems to just drop their shoulders when Johnny Foreigner nips in and pinches the ball.
Added to that there is the fact that not one of the squad is a character that is likable in any way.
From Rooney and the marsupial stapled to his massive head to John Terry and his inability to whisper the racist taunts like the rest of us do.
If England manage to find new lungs, fluke a couple of goals and avoid giving away cards and penalties to the Italian Dramatic Society tomorrow it will be undeserved.
It will also be very bad for England as a country because on current form the other semi finalists will give them such a beating that England will snatch the Irish rugby teams crown as the worst international sports team of the century.
And yes, even the Portugese rent boys would pass and dive England into the ground.
July 6 in history
5 hours ago