Petr Cech was already a legend and a veritable superhero before dropping all pretense and donning his carbon-fiber mask for this weekend's Euro '12 Qualifying Playoffs. Is it any surprise then that he shut out a dangerous Montenegro side (sporting the talents of Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic) over 180 minutes? Probably not.
Also, PC1 marketing opportunity. Where my closers at? I'm thinking tops, bottoms, water bottles, gloves, and, of course, face masks.
The Czech Republic have now qualified for every single European Championship in their brief history as an independent nation (with alternating good/bad performances). While the current squad is just a shade of the '96 and '04 sides, Cech gives them an amazing edge in goal and a fighting chance against any opponent.
The Republic of Ireland (yey, Damien Duff!), Croatia (Guus Hiddink, sadsies...), and Portugal (woo, Raul Meireles!) also punched their tickets to next summer's tournament. In the end, it was rather easy/impressive for all of them. And here I thought the playoffs were supposed to be exciting!
And speaking of "exciting"...I must commend England for parking the double-decker red Routemaster against Spain. In fact, they did it so well, they almost made it fashionable. Too bad the honor of the 2000th English international goal went to some hapless Swedish defender, rather than Frank Lampard.
In total, 12 Chelsea players were involved in senior internationals. Salomon Kalou, Florent Malouda, and Fernando Torres made substitute appearances, while Juan Mata and Branislav Ivanovic got to start for their respective nations. Chelsea players captained both England matches (Lampard v. Spain, John Terry v. Sweden), with Ashley Cole winning his 93rd cap and Daniel Sturridge his 1st. Well deserved, all around, I think we can agree. Last but not least, David Luiz played 180 minutes in Brazilian colors in their carbon-copy 2-0 wins over Gabon and Egypt - so much for keeping the Sideshow fresh and ready to go for Chelsea...