Monday, June 15, 2009

The end of the tournament was hosted by Belgium, but it was the old format of the European Championship – only four teams, playing a total of four games. The semi-finals, the match for the third place and the final. After England – West Germany, the ½ finals were anticlimactic: the draw paired the Germans with the hosts, Belgium. USSR was to meet Hungary. There was no doubt about the outcomes: it was widely believed that any East European country was to lose to the Soviets, whether by official order, or by ‘silent understanding’. In Brussels the Russians won 1-0. Ordered or not, the Hungarians were not that good anyway. It was not a match to be remembered. Belgium bravely resisted the Germans in Antwerpen, which was also expected: as hosts, they were supposed to play with high spirit and even over-perform. But it was West Germany at the end, as predicted – Belgium lost honorably 1-2.

They won the third place in Liege, beating Hungary 2-1. Small results, speaking not that much of tough equal games, but rather of relatively clumsy teams going too far, but unable to dominate an opposition. Parity in this, not in quality. The Belgians were quite happy with their achievement, and the Hungarians had no reason to complain either – this is their last high place in international competitions.