Monday, 20 June 2016

Group B final round, the Dragon takes on the Bear and St George face Slovakia

Before, we look at tonight's games, there are two things to clean up. Firstly, if you took my advice and ignored the football on offer last night, the results went as I predicted, France and Switzerland played out a no score draw, and Albania pulled off a heroic first victory over the very poor Romania.
Secondly, in my England Special post from Friday, (check it out if you haven't yet) I asked which mistake by England's goalkeepers did you, the readers, think was worse. The general consensus was the error by David Seaman, although there was a minority view that Rob Green's was worse. Thanks to all those who commented both on the blog and to me directly.
Today sees the Welsh Dragon, take on the Russian Bear, in a heavyweight clash. The boxing analogy is a good one as imagine a fight between two journeymen boxers, to decide who will become the challenger and that pretty much sums up this match.
Neither team is very good, the Welsh are Gareth Bale and ten others. Two of the three goals the Welsh have scored have come from Bale free kicks, which the goalkeeper should have saved on each occasion. 
We have shown the one against England in the Friday post, here is the one against Slovakia.

Bale v Slovakia (Arabic commentary)

The goalkeeper steps the wrong way for no reason and is then wrong footed, very poor.

As to the Russians, well it is hard to even name one player who ignites the imagination. The Russians were lucky to qualify, they fired their manager halfway through the qualifying rounds and the new manager effect did its thing and they made it to France.
The Russians have only stood out in one area and that is for the off the field behaviour of their fans, with one Russian minister claiming they had brought pride to the Rodina (motherland).

However, and this is a theme we are going to hear a lot of in the next three days, since third place teams can go through, a win for Russia would probably be enough to see them qualify. Wales really only need a draw, but that is a very dangerous strategy to follow, so while it may not be pretty or of the highest quality, a good game is in prospect. 

In the parallel game, St George flying on cloud nine after their come from behind last minute win against the Welsh Dragon will be facing Slovakia, who lost to Wales and beat Russia. 
The only thing riding on this game for St George is where they finish, they are already almost certain to qualify. Given this, the rumour coming out of the English camp is that the affable manager Roy "grandad" Hodgson is going to make six changes to the starting line up so as to assess his options.

A win for England means they will be able to stay in their base at Chantilly, a place famous for its lace making as referred to by the late Big Bopper in his 1959 song Chantilly Lace, in the hope that it will inspire them to weave their intricate patterns all around their opponents.

A draw for Slovakia, may also be enough depending on what happens in the parallel game, so it is a very tight group.
For me the stand out thing about Slovakia, are the faces their star player Hamsik makes when he is happy. It is like he is auditioning for a role in a remake of Planet of the Apes. 
What do you think ?
We have the standard bellow, the beat the chest and bellow and the scratch under the arm special.

Anyway should be a good night of football.

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