Monday, June 30, 2008

Knyazha Celebrations


I wasn't actually at this game, but it's unusual in that it's a good photo taken by Phil, so I decided to include it, especially as we'll probably be hearing a lot more from this club in the future

Mamady and Me


Here's a picture of me with hard tackling defender Mamady Sangare. He was a hero, who always gave a 100 per cent for CSKA, he now plays for Desna Chernihiv. We met him at the game between Obolon and Desna. Funnily enough he wasn't playing because he was suspended. I think commited is the euphemism usually used to describe such players

Photos from Chapaevka



As you might remember my camera ran out of batteries when we went to CSKA's game against Chapaevka against Sevastapol, Phil has now sent me some, so here they are. The first one was taken just before half time and I was distracted by some action on the pitch. The second is on the way home after a few too many beers

CSKA Out?

Well the biggest news over the weekend apart from Spain beating Germany to win the Euros ( a result I can feel smug about as I predicted Spain to beat Germany in the final before the tournament started) is that CSKA might have fgone out of business.

A lot of people predicted that if they went down, which they did, they would pack in, but I really hoped this wasn't going to be the case. However, Misha the cloakroom attendant at the British Council knows his stuff. He reckons CSKA have called it a day and as he usually seems right, although I have got no hard evidence I am inclined to believe him, a sad day indeed.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

End of Season Round Up

Well, there isn't any football for a whole 3 weeks in Ukraine and an epic season has come to an end. I am undecided about how to spend the first day of the season with Chernomorets hosting Arsenal in Odessa and Dynamo playing at home to Illichevets. Funnily enough the two promoted teams are playing the top two teams, as usually happens every year despite the fixtures being drawn in lots and Shakhtar will play FK Lviv. The end of the first half of the season will be completed with Shakhtar V Dynamo, as always happens.

On to last season which was an epic and for me started with FC Seoul thrashing Suwon 4-1 at The World Cup Stadium and finished with Obolon beating Dnister Ovidiopol 3-0. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights, concentrating on those games played in Ukraine
.
Best Games
3 games really stood out this season the first one would have to be Dynamo Kyiv 7 Karpaty Lviv 3 (19/08/07. This was my first game back in Ukraine, and after a goal drought in Korea it came as a welcome surprise to see a goal fest. A video of the highlights can be seen at http://www.halfvalue.com/playVideo.jsp?kw=karpaty&id=NBfBnrK7heQ The second great game was Obolon 4 CSKA 3 (4/11/07) , which was another game full of goals and had a nail biting finish. the third and final game, which you can watch videos of on this site wasDynamo Kyiv 2 Vorskla Poltava 1 (11/05/08).

Worst Games
Despite playing some great football in the second half of the season, it has to be stated that Arsenal were not too easy on the eye in the first half, with Arsenal 0 Kryvbas 0 (27/10/07) being particularly bad. Another match I really didn't enjoy was Dynamo 2 Shakhtar 1 (11/11/07) . This should have been a game to relish and the result was the one I had hoped for, however the fact that it was played in a howling snowstorm, just made it farcical, as the wind was too high and there was too much snow on the pitch

Trips
Obviously, the trip to Kharkiv forMetalist 3 Vorskla 0 (1/3/08) started this website off, so that is one to remember, another great trip was that hardcore one to Borodyanka for Obolon-2 1 Dynamo -3 2 (19/6/08)

Best Players
Evgen Seleznev really turned round things at Arsenal and scored a fair few goals before shooting back off to Donetsk and shakhtar at the end of the season, Jose also got stuck in for Arsenal and his madness livened up a fair few dull performances. Over at Dynamo Ismael Bangoura was on fire and when he was out the team really suffered, Tiberiu Ghioane has looked like a much improved player of late and Artem Kravets is definitely one for the future

Booze
chernihivske Premium has been my poison of choice at stadiums of late, but the Slavutych in the bar across the road from Chapaevka was perhaps the most impressive pint I have had in Ukraine. Despite Chernihivske becoming my favourite beer it really is best avoided in plastic bottles. As far as bars go Sunduk near Mayadan is close enough to Dynamo to make it a place for pre and post match beers, whereas the kiosks near Republikansky make it a good place for a street cheekster. I am not a big one for watching football in bars, but Bochka on Bohdan Khmelnetskiy has helped fill the void left by the demise of Planetna Sport and Bundes on Lysenko has plenty of football on and is where we witnessed the Birmingham Derby.

Websites
Obviously http://www.pfl.com.ua/ provides most of the necessarry information and http://www.ffu.org.ua/ is also useful of club websites the one I like the most is http://www.vorskla.com.ua/

So there you have it, I just can't wait for the new season to start, although there is a the little matter of the Euros to be sorted out tomorrow night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Season Ends





Yesterday saw the final game of the season and Obolon went out with a bang. They managed to win 3-0 and a good time was had by all. It was probably one of the better performances by the club in the second part of the season. Unfortunately, despite being on a sunny Saturday the crowd was pretty low. This isn't much of a shock though, as after drawing to CSKA earlier in the week they had already missed out on promotion with Illichevest being joined by Lviv in the Premier League. So, as usual Obolon finished 3rd but it was nice to see them go out with a bang even if the opposition was Dnister Ovidiopol, who don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, especially after travelling the distance they did by bus.
1. Obolon swing in a corner that led to a goal only for it to be disallowed for a foul on the keeper
2. Obolon score a penalty to make the score 3-0
3. the lads
4. the kids

Friday, June 20, 2008

Leaving Borodyanka



1. What self respecting town doesn't have a statue of Lenin?
2. the tractor in the ring road as you enter the town, it's a bad picture, as I took it from the bus window. It is also the symbol of the town as it is famous for making farm machinery

More from Borodyanka





1. Kids' football pitch with advertising for Euro2012
2. Pavillion at the ground- What self respecting stadium doesn't have astand for the visiting club officials to sit in, apart from the camera man there was only big nose there on this occassion
3. The pitch next to the main stadium where Obolon won promotion
4. The other stand next to the pavillion

Match Action in Borodyanka



1. Obolon celebrate scoring
2. Obolon go on the attack
3. Dynamo score a penalty

This Is Hardcore




Borodyanka, Thursday evening a game so meaningless that the PFL allowed Obolon 2 and dynamo 3 to move the game to a day before the other teams played. The last couple of rounds are usually played on the same date at the same time, but not this one, that is just how meaningless it was. Apart from the fact that neither of the clubs can get promoted under any circumstances, as they are obviously feeder clubs to the bigger Kyiv clubs, the result of the game was completly meaningless, as neither club could change position in the table regardless of scores elsewhere.


Borodyanka is situated about 80 KM from Kyiv and has the feel of a village, although I suspect that it has quite a large population. It is most famous for producing tractors at the Borex plant. It has had several clubs, the most successful of was Sistema Borex, who had close ties to CSKA. They ultimately went bankrupt and several clubs that have followed in their footsteps have also gone under. This is a shame, as they have a nice little stadium, although it hasn't been completed and despite a fantastic pitch there are weeds growing in the stands. It is now home to Obolon 2 and the place obviously has a special feel to it for Obolon, as the first team's first ever promotion took place at this ground, albeit on another pitch, when Obolon drew with Sistema Boreks to clinch promotion from the second to the first division.


Near the ground is a bar, with no handpull,m but a rather tasteless decor of dead animals and a barman who tries to befriend you, but you should be aware he's a good example of care in the community, but pretty inoffensive and well meaning.


As for the match, it was surprisingly entertaining in the first half, especially as Obolon2 have a striker called Budenyy, who has scored a goal a game this season and who netted again early on in this game. To be honest he could have had a hatrick in the first 30 minutes, but it wasn't to be, and Dynamo equalised form a penalty just before half time. they might be the 3rd team, but they are just as spawny as the first team!


The Second half was a more brutal affair and Obolon lost shape completly with the star striker spending most of the game in the role of centre half. dynamo eventually ran out 2-1 winners and I blame big nose who rolled up just before half time in his mercedes. Funnily enough he didn't offer us a lift back to Kyiv, so we had to get a mini bus home, which cost a massive 90p.


I don't know what the official attendance was, but it was 25, which includes ball boys, Obolon reserves and their bus driver.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Greasing the Wheels of Capitalism

No live football this weekend, as the 1st and 2nd division comes to an end in a week with games on Monday and Saturday. Then it is all over until the new improved (maybe) Ukrainian Premier League starts again in mid-july. I must say I am pretty pissed off at the moment. Monday is a holiday here, but muggings has to work and therefore i will miss the crucial Derby between CSKA and Obolon and a so called friendly between Dynamo and Arsenal. What's the point in public holidays if they just go ignored, or the other scenario being making up for them on a Saturday (usually an even worse prospect). I wouldn't mind but the holidays in this job are the crappiest I have had in a long time anyway and the conditions aren't exactly great. Rant over.
I'm also workking nest Saturday, but should be able to get to the Obolon game on time and all being well will get to the rather pointless game between Obolon 2 and Dynamo 3 on Thursday.

In Ukraine many of the big clubs, and some of the smaller ones have a 2 team and in the case of Dynamo a 3 team, that compete in the lower divisions without prospect of promotion. In this case Dynamo 3 and Obolon 2 play in division 2a. The game is being played earler than the standard Friday, probably because it is so meaningless. These teams, for premier league teams at least are not a reserve team, as reserve teams play in tandem with the first team's fixtures, usually a day earlier. In general the 2 teams games are more interesting as they are playing against real competition, whereas reserve or dubleri games are usually fairly dull.

Ukrainian Television continued with its usual crazy scheduling of football programmes with Citi Channel broadcasting a documentary on CSKA during the Russia v Greece game yesterday, fortunately I got to see a good portion of it during half time. The programme it was part of is always on at that time, so obviously if you have planned something then nothing can get in its way. Just ask Paul Mc.Cartney who had to perform during a gale force storm yesterday. On the Euro front I was impressed (obviously) by Holland's 4-1 victory over France, but I fopunf Spain and Russias' wins over Sweden and Greece a bit dull.

Bring on Obolon 2!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why I'm Enjoying the Euros

Or maybe that should be why am I enjoying the Euros?
To be honest, I can't remember enjoying a competition as much as this since the 1994 World Cup, which ironically England didn't qualify for either. That time I'd just finished university, so I could watch all the matches. Since then I haven't been in England when a major tournament has been on, although I saw most of the Euro 2000 games in England too. There are a number of reasons I think that I am enjoying this tournament for:

1. The kick off times: On most nights I miss the first game, although I saw both yesterday, thankfully. It means that I don't overdose on the matches, and at the same time the rest of the family tend to go to bed during the second game, so they don't overdose on it either. The last 3 major tournaments have been a major headache regarding kick off times. The last World Cup in Germany, I was in korea and when the World Cup was in Korea and Japan I was in Ukraine. Even during the last Euros I was in Azerbaijan, which was 4 hours ahead of Portugal.

2. No England - this is actually a good thing, as you can watch the games and enjoy them for what they are without them embarassing you or you embarassing yourself.

3. Not knowing any ex-pats. I don't have to put up with any morons who suddenly become all interested in football when there's a big tournament on, this is also one of the good things about England not being there. There is nothing worse than someone who knows nothing about football trying to talk about it and falling into lazy national sterotypes about the Germans, the Italians et al, as it is actually easier than watching the game and learning anything about it.

4. The kids are getting into it, due to my work times and their bedtime, the Germany v Croatia game last night was the first one they saw and I was amazed about how much they got into it, although the Trix and Flix video at half-time helped with this process.

5. The football has actually been quite good, I've missed the Portugal games and the Spain win over Russia, but I have to say I have enjoyed most of the games I have seen since the dull start on Saturday. Things started getting really interesting last night with Croatia's win against Germany and Austria's last gasp draw against Poland.

6. Plenty of controversy: Ruud Van Horseface's ridiculously off-side goal against Italy and that penalty for Austria last night (soft penalty in the last minute that kept one of the hosts in the tournament, hmmm)

So, to put it in a nutshell this is developing into a great tournament, unless you are Polish of course. I think if I was Polish my head would have exploded by now. I mean, losing to Germany by 2 goals scored by one of your own countrymen and then getting a penalty decision against you in the last minute, poor sods. Anyway, good luck to them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lobanovsky Tournament


Valeri Lobanovsky was probably one of the most famous coaches that the world has known. He started his career off as a left winger for Dynamo Kyiv and also played for Chernomorets Odessa, and Shakhtar Donetsk. As a player he was known as a maverick, who could not be told what to do. it therefore seems ironic that as a coach he pioneered a system where the players had to fit into the system or get out, and he was known as a strict authoritarian, who would not tolerate players breaking the system.


He started his coaching career at Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, where he had four unremarkable seasons before returning to Dynamo. At Dynamo he built one of the most feared teams in Europe, and a team that would dominate the Soviet and later the Ukrainian League. He also coached the USSR team, who did so well in the Olympics in the 1980's, who were tipped to do well at Mexico 1986 and who reached the final of the European Championships in 1988. Not surprisingly the backbone of these teams was made up of Dynamo Kyiv players, it has also been suggested that he would have played only Ukrainians, as they already knew his system, but was afraid of the fall out from Moscow if he failed. He is therefore one of the greatest heros in Ukrainian history, and not just its footballing history. Sure, he did have his bad side, and one that is characteristic of Ukraine, Dynamo were once kicked out of Europe for trying to bribe a referee, and his alcohol problem was probably even worse than Brian Clough's. However, his Dynamo team are the only ukrainian team ever to win a European trophy, and he should be remembered for his triumphs.


He died on 14 May 2002, shortly after a 0-0 draw with Tavria, a game at which I was present. Since then Dynamo stadium has been renamed after him and a bronze statue has been erected outside. On the 1st anniversary of his death a tournament in his name was started. In 2003 the teams were CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Dynamo and Shakhtar. The final was eventually won by Dynamo, but it was a fiercly contested affair with both teams going all out for the win. Platini was also in attendance. The games took place at Dynamo and the national stadium. That

year there were promises of Western Teams including Atletico Madrid taking place in the tournament the following year. At the time that didn't seem likely, as the tournament was in May obviously, and this was the end or near the end of the season for most Western teams. Sure enough the following season was also a few teams from the ex-Soviet Union.


I left Ukraine in 2003, shortly after that tournament and only returned last year. By then the tournament was being held in August and featured the Under 21 sides of Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Israel and Macedonia and was held at Bannikov and Dynamo. This year the tournament, according to the FFU site is going to be a one off game in Dnipropetrovsk with the under 21 sides of Ukraine and Bulgaria playing . If this is in fact the case then it seems sad that the tournament seems to be fizzling out. It's probably time for them to give up the tournament and remember the man in other ways or get some sponsors to inject some cash and enthusiasm back into the games.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obolon Stand



It looks pretty impressive, but then it should the stadium has been 6 years in the making with Obolon playing their games in a variety of other stadiums before finally getting the job done. To be fair to them there was a hostile takeover bid of the brewery by Sarmat, which led to construction being stopped for a period of time. That said, as you can see from the outside it doesn't look very welcoming, at the moment the chosen few who are allowed to sit here enter from the side and are allowed in at the stadium manager's discretion. hopefully they will get promotion and will be forced to open it up for the purpose for which it was built

Obolon Overdose




Obolon played Dnipro Cherkasy on Sunday needing a win to stay in the chase for promotion to the Vishe, soon to be renamed and rebranded as the Premier League. The game was exciting enough, with Cherkasy trying their best to spoil the party in much the same way Vorskla attempted to when they played Dynamo at the end of the Vishe Liha's season. In fact the first 20 minutes were all Dnipro, so much so that Obolon made a couple of early substitutions in an attempt to put some bite back in their attack. The result was a fairly balanced game for the most part with both team's forwards squandering chance after chance. It was difficult to imagine why Cherkasy were just above the relegation places and on 75 minutes they went ahead with a brilliantly well taken goal drilled in from the right wing. Finally Obolon woke from their slumber and 4 minutes later they drew level with another well taken goal. This prompted a last 10 minutes of wave after wave of attack and dive after dive in the area. However, Dnipro stayed cool (sort of) and the ref remained icy cool, despite several penalty appeals and pressure being put upon him from squad members standing behind the goal. They didn't get the goal they craved in the end and the game finished 1-1. Luckily for them they were let off the hook as it transpired that FK Lviv had lost 1-0, leaving Obolon trailing them by 2 points.


The experience wasn't so enjoyable this time, although the football was of a high level. There were several incidents that left us leaving short changed. I don't want to sound like a moaning ex-pat or a fan of a certain non-league club that I can't mention for the risk of receiving abusive E-Mails ( I wasn't even aware that people read this crap), but really the Obolon officials need a bit of a kick up the pants. Firstly there was their point blank refusal to give us programmes, despite the fact that they had a big bag full and were handing them out to even the police on duty and alcoholics who had just wandered into the ground, for some reason we were deemed not worthy. The worst thing was just the blatant lying that they had none, as they handed some out with the other hand. The big nose stadium official and his pomposity has annoyed me in the past, especially as he seems to provoke the fans of opposition teams with his deployment and instructions to the police. The Cherkasy fans were peaceful, but this was definitely the case in the games against Desna and CSKA. Then there is the big stand, what is the point of it? It is now complete, has a safety certificate, but everyone is crammed in the near side while a few major shareholders of the brewery and their hangers -on occupy the main stand. At this game roughly 1200 on the small near side and 10 in the main stand. Again this matter was worse when the crowd is bigger, but was bad enough today. Mind you, maybe this is understandable when you see the state of the crowd, quite a number seemed to have been on a 3 day bender and didn't seem to know who they were never mind that they were in the stadium. You have to wonder what is going on when people leave a game 10 minutes early when it is 1-1 and the home team desperately need a goal. Then there are the toilets, which are portacabins that usually overflow, so you have to wade through piss to get out of the stadium. I don't know why I have suddenly noticed this, maybe it's because the Stadium Manager winds me up so much, maybe it's because I hadn't even had a pint or maybe it's because Obolon are usually a side attraction to the top league teams rather than the main attraction as they have been for the last few weeks, or maybe just because Tatarchuk is usually there to smooth over the edges. Anyway, despite Phil's protestations about going to Dynamo 2 next time, we'll probably be back for the last home game of the season.


After the game we met up with the Arsenal lads in Bochka for the Germany v Poland game and a good time was had by all, although my sleep deprivation during the Euros has already began. I watched Holland thump Italy last night despite getting home after 1 am on Sunday in a taxi with 4 other people, that was even more crammed than Obolon's second stand.
Notes on photos:
Top- The teams lin up at the start of the game.
Middle- Cherkasy celebrate going 1-0 up
Bottom- Yet another last ditch attempt to find a winner by Obolon

Boat Trip


Well there was no football on Saturday, so we went on a boat trip down the Dnipro. I got a lot of decent pictures, but here's a random one of the floodlights at Dynamo.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Floodlights

The floodlights were as powerful as a 50 watt bulb in their heyday. I wonder if they still work. It's a pity, but despite it never being the best equipped stadium in the vishe Liha, it would be nice to see them return one day. This probably won't happen, as the stadium has been left to rot and CSKA were relegated to the basement earlier this week despite getting a very credible draw against top placed club Illichevests
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What's the score?

Here's the old scoreboard. It worked well for about a year and then the lightbulbs went and finally it got to the stage that one of the kids would climb up it and put the score up on cardboard. When it was working well the fire engine that used to be parked in the corner beeped its horn to signal the operator to change the scores.
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Danger


The sign reads Danger Condemned Stand, I don't remember it being particularly safe when the Army Legion were standing in it
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Sector 2


Sector 2. Where we used to sit every week
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Fan Sector

Behind the goal was where the Ultras used to stand. The pitch is being watered as it can still be hired for games and the Arsenal Dubleri play here
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VIPs Only


It might not look like it, but this was the executive box at CSKA. Even when they still played here there was no glass in it, which more or less made it redundant. It did come in handy though if Surkis was in attendance as you were guaranteed that he could hear what you were calling him.
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The Worst Shoot Out Ever


In the background is the old commentary box. The goal post shown was the same goal that CSKA lost a penalty shoot out to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in a cup Semi Final. It was minus 11 and the game finished 0-0 after extra time and then CSKA lost on penalties. It was a shame as CSKA had reached the final the previous year only to lose to Shakhtar
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Entrance to CSKA


It looks pretty much the same as it did in the day from outside, but inside it's a different story
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A Trip Down Memory Lane

I don't usually find myself in the part of town where CSKA stadium is, but yesterday I was there so I decided to pay a visit to my old stommping ground. The photos can be seen above.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Club Focus - Dnipro cherkasy


Obolon's opponents on Sunday are Dnipro Cherkasy, and it is a must win for both teams. Dnipro are 1 place above the drop zone and Obolon are losing ground in the promotion race with FK Lviv going 3 points clear in second place after Obolon lost on Tuesday.


One strange thing of note about Dnipro is that I was able to find information about them in English, whereas usually I have to rely on my rudimentarty translation skills. Anyway, here's the lowdown.


The club were formed in 1955 on the 10th anniverssary of the second World War finishing. they turned professional in 1958 and have remained so since apart from a disruption in the 2002-2003 season when they temporarily lost their status. Most of their history has been spent in the lower reaches of the Soviet and Ukrainian Leagues and they were promoted to the first division in 2006. If they aren't careful, and they do have a difficult run-in they might find themselves back in the second division.


Their original name was Burevitsnya, which means Thunderbird. Judging by their performances in the early years it can be assumed that they were named after the puppets or teenage boozer's favourite rather than the actual bird. However, they changed their name to the less inspiring Kholostnyky in 1957- the name means collective farmers. Finally in 1967 they became Dnipro, with a few breaks, from 1974-6 they were known as Granite and simply cherkasy from 1997-2005 before returning to the name Dnipro.


They also have a second team who seem to be doing quite well in the Regional League.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kill Your Television


Things are hotting up in the lower divisions with just 4 games left in the first and second division. CSKA take on Illichevets today, but I'll be at work. The next game I'll be able to go to is Obolon v Dnipro Cherkasy on Sunday.


There was no live football this weekend, so I was out in the sticks, which isn't my favourite place to be, to be honest. We came back to Kyiv on sunday morning and I was tempted by the Beach Football in Hydro Park, but the inclement weather put me off. One of the strange things is that Ukraine are quite adept at beach football. I say strange, as obviously Ukraine isn't exactly known for its sun, sea and samba. The Crimea might be famous in the former USSR, but even there all the beaches are pebbles.


In the evening I watched Ukraine v Sweden on TV. Mikhailechenko put out a young team and there was no Shevchenko, Tymoschuk or Voronin, but quite a few of the youngsters got a go. I was particularly glad to see Arsenal favourite Evgen Seleznev ( I know I can't settle on a correct spelling for him in English) get a start. Unfortunately after heading the scoring charts at Arsenal all season it looks like he's been called back to shakhtar, where he'll probably be warming the bench with a hell of a lot of Ukrainian talent. Anyway, the winner was scored by Nazarenko, a spectacular goal infact 7 minutes before the end.


Talking of football on TV, and in general I don't like to because I don't like armchair fandom. There has been a debate amongst the top teams lately about how to make televised football more appealing to fans, well Nash Futbol on the First Channel doesn't seem to have a clue. You might think out of season and no rights to the national team they might pull the plug on it for a week at least. Some of it was interesting, there was more information on Knyazha's work for charidee, and some beach football, but the main part was taken up by a report on all the Ukrainian professional players who had been killed in traffic accidents, depressing watching indeed. There was also a bit on the Euros, which kick off on Saturday.


My favourites for the competition are Germany, they seem to have the strongest team and almost have home advantage. I also think Spain will do better than usual, as they have finally got rid of the eternal troublemaker Raul and have players who can mix it up a bit. At every major tournament though I start off by watching every game and then OD by the time the important games come around. I think I'll try pacing myself this time.
The photo shows Evgen Seleznev taking on Olaf Mellberg in the tie between Ukraine and Sweden. Two players I have a lot of time for