Monday, 27 June 2016

Is Monty Python making a new film ?

No one expects the Italian inquisition! and The Cod War take four! could easily be titles of sketches from the cult comedy show. In fact, they are oblique references to the final two games on offer in the last sixteen, kicking off with Italy v Spain and then followed by England v Iceland.

Italy and Spain are two countries that have a lot in common. They are both very Catholic and all that goes with that. 
They both have a rather murky colonial past, Spain in South America and Italy more recently in Africa, which caused the deaths of many of the indigenous populations of the countries they controlled (often in the name of God)
They both during the twentieth century were run by fascist dictators, Franco and Mussolini respectively with the church turning a blind eye to their excesses. 
They both recently won the World cup in 2006 and 2010 respectively, and are considered to be among the more successful football nations with a combined nine World and European titles between them.
More interesting is that they both had a period where the population lived under the fear of the inquisition. Now most people have heard of the Spanish inquisition due to the clip below, but there was an Italian and a French one as well.

No One Expects.....

But what was the inquisition? It was a method used by various popes to combat the spread of any views the Catholic church didn't like. 
Its victims ranged from in Spain, Jews, or in Italy, Protestants, or even scientists such as Galileo when he dared promote the view of Copernicus that the Earth revolved around the sun which was considered heresy at the time. Refusal to recant or convert would lead to punishments which were usually brutal and often fatal, such as the rack as in the sketch or the more popular burning at the stake.
Apart from perhaps being mildly informative, what has all this got to do with the football on offer today? 
Well, we shall discover who is going to be found out by the problems they will be posed today. Will it be the famed Italian defence who will use the weapons of "fear"  and "ruthless efficiency" to stifle the potent Spanish attack ? Will it be the Spanish red cardinals who will try to use "surprise" and the rack to stretch the said Italian defence? 
The last time they played each other in the Euros, Spain beat Italy 4-0 without a real number nine, a formation which was heresy to some. Enjoy the highlights below

Euro 2012 Final

England then take on Iceland in what could be termed as round four of the Cod War. (truth be told Iceland won the first three, so not a good precedent for the English) 
The cod wars were a series of confrontations between the two countries over fishing rights in the North Atlantic. There were at least two fatalities on the English side and one on the Icelandic side but Iceland ended up with a two hundred mile exclusion zone where only they were allowed to fish.
Unlike some of the conflicts we look back on in this blog, there is no bad feeling left over, unless perhaps you are from somewhere like Grimsby.
The English stooped to low methods to try and recruit children into the navy to save their cod as can be seen in the next clip.

Navy recruiting video ?

Would you trust that man with your children in the light of operation Yew Tree ?

Anyway back to the matter in hand. Iceland have exceeded all expectations in reaching this far. As has already be written previously, this island with its tiny population has never reached such dazzling heights in an international sports competition. 
The most disturbance Iceland ever caused was when the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano erupted in 2010 forcing teams such as Barcelona and Lyon to travel by coach and Liverpool by train and coach instead of air to reach their destinations.

Iceland are not being taken lightly by England, in the winter in England there is a phenomena known as Black Ice, where a car or person skids on ice not easily seen and ends up having a nasty accident.
It was often used as an excuse why we were late for school in the winter.
It probably would be fair to write that most of Europe would love England to slip up here. On the other hand, the English know that a victory  would set them up for a quarter final clash with Les Bleus (the Frogs).
England have not performed to their potential yet, but are still there, will another under par performance be enough ?
All will be revealed tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Your breadth of knowledge is very impressive Wiggi. Must be all those books you read. Just a slight add on regarding the Italian inquisition. They also tried and prosecuted Jews under this inquistion. Nothing as brutal and single minded as the the Spanish Inquisition. But there were a fair few trials against jews . Kathy wrote a book all about it...