A second admission, I don't know much about Austrian or Hungarian football, I only knew of one player who played for Austria and one for Hungary.
Gera from Hungary (ex WBA) and Fuchs from Leicester (pronounced Lester for those from countries were phonetic spelling is de rigueur). Only three of the Hungarian squad play in one of the so called big 5 European leagues, even Iceland have more players in those leagues than that.
I doubt many if any readers will remember or even know that in the 1950's Hungary were among the best teams in the world with Ferenc Puskas leading the way. They were heavy favourites, but lost 3-2 to W Germany in the World Cup final of 1954 (they were probably still scared of German reprisals if they won, the war was still an open wound then).
One of their most famous performances came against England in 1953 at Wembley, I really recommend you watch the clip below, the world was a very different place but football genius always stands out.
England V Hungary 1953 Wembley Stadium
A lot of jokes have been made around the Austro Hungarian thing, but there is no doubt that while they are laughing in Budapest, those that live on the Austrian banks of the Danube are feeling pretty Blue this morning. In reality Austria occupied Hungary and there is no love lost between the two nations.
Supposedly Austria were or are dark horses for this tournament, that may or may not be true. But one thing is for sure, one of the main tourist attractions in Vienna are the famous Lipizzaner horses from the Spanish riding school and they are whitish grey. (I don't need any smart asses telling me they are in fact black with grey hair)
The other two teams in this group are Portugal and Iceland. This is the first time Iceland, an island with a population of 300,000 give or take has ever qualified for a major tournament, and nobody gave them much of a chance of doing anything.
The statistic being bandied about is that 8% of the Icelandic population was to be found in France last night.
They were of course up against Portugal, they of Christiano Ronaldo fame or CR7 as he is also known, the rather petulant poster boy of world footballer, known for his bendy free kicks, salmon like leaping ability on headers and pouty pose as he stands, hands on hips, waiting to take one of his trademark above mentioned free kicks.
Portugal have a history of flattering to deceive and last night was no exception although, the clip below may help to explain why. The video contains a message to Ronaldo from the character known as the Mountain in the show Game of Thrones. Let me know what you think in the comments section.
Mountain threatens Ronaldo
This group was completely open before the tournament started as Portugal are mentally weak and it is now even more open. A lot of neutrals would love for Portugal to be knocked out and I include myself among them.
Four to Watch
|Gunnarsson the Viking|
|Arnautovic Bad boy|