So Euro 2016 moved to the knockout stages and I’m starting a petition for us to return to the group phase. Yesterday’s three matches were as dull as dishwater.
Switzerland’s neutrality in times of war is well-known and their football team has taken the policy of not attacking anyone to heart. If Mesut Özil was nicking a living, God alone knows what Seferovic is doing. Apparently, he has scored 7 international goals which is hard to believe. He is Ray Hankin reincarnate.
The talking point turned out to be Granit Xhaka’s penalty miss. Don’t worry about it; you’re an Arsenal player and exiting European tournaments in the last sixteen is going to become a very familiar feeling.
Not that Poland were much better. It turns out Milik was a boyhood Arsenal fan but we’ll have to pass on him; we’ve already got Yaya Sanogo and I have to be honest, you could make a strong case for the French youngster’s finishing being better.
Wales and Northern Ireland didn’t improve the afternoon’s fare. A match sorely lacking in technique was settled by an unfortunate own goal. I doubt that Gareth McAuley will mind the attention focussing on the genius of Gareth Bale, a man who strikes so much fear into opponents that they divert the ball into their own net, or help it on its way with a deflection.
Had McAuley flicked the ball away from goal, it would have been an astonishing piece of defending; he was in something of a no-win situation with Robson-Kanu breathing down his neck. You have to feel for the centre back under those circumstances.
That said, I should imagine UEFA are hoping the British exit Europe quickly with that level of performance.
In the final match, Portugal and Croatia ‘cancelled each other out’ and mustered two shots on target in 12o minutes. Not as awful a match as the earlier games but not much better either. Ronaldo’s shadow hung like a pall over Quaresma’s goal celebrations, with the Chosen One holding his own better-attended party whilst the goalscorer lept around like a loon with the substitutes.
So we move on to this afternoon’s matches and hope that it’s better. France versus Ireland in ‘Handball 2: The Rebound’ at Stade de Lyon. I’m sure Arsène will be attending that one on his way to meeting Alexandre Lacazette’s representatives. West Ham made a €31m bid for the striker on Friday and Atletico Madrid are said to be interested as well.
Of the names so far, it’s the one which sits most comfortably with our pursuit of a striker. However, Lacazette is one the summer’s hardy perennials; we’ve been linked with him for several seasons now and rather like Sebastian Frey or 0r Saloman Kalou, nothing happens. Thankfully so in Kalou’s case. That really would be Arsène sticking the middle finger up at his critics if Kalou was presented as the solution to our woes.
The Germans take on Slovakia looking to avoid a repeat of their defeat to the same opposition in a pre-tournament friendly, followed by Hungary and Belgium this evening.
Euro 2016 needs three good games today to inject some impetus ahead of this week’s quarter-finals. And an Ireland win, as well. Not because I dislike the French, they’ve been one of the tournament’s bright spots, it’s just that I fancy England’s chances more against the Green Republic than the Blue.
Assuming they beat Iceland, of course.
— Reykjavík Grapevine (@rvkgrapevine) June 23, 2016
On the other side of the pond, the Copa América Centenario has passed with little fanfare on these shores. A combination of Euro 2016, the EU Referendum and not having a terrestrial television deal has sealed its YouTube fate. Alexis Sanchez is continuing his Juventus audition in a repeat of last year’s final so good luck to him.
Elsewhere, Cesc Fabregas has his finger on the pulse when he says Brexit was a bad thing and not good for English football whilst Christian Eriksen’s agent has said to the Italian media that any Work Permit problems will see his client walk away from Tottenham. Which is no word of a lie; if he doesn’t get one, he won’t be playing in England. You shouldn’t pay any attention to the fact that it’s the Italian media making these claims and Roma want him. No…
There will be repercussions from Friday’s vote but it’s all speculation at the moment and honestly, the ability of English football to be unable to see beyond the end of the money at its fingertips is legendary. The woes of well-remunerated footballers are genuinely way down the list of concerns from the mind-boggling madness of last week.
Not much else to do today but enjoy the football. So do it!