Sunday, 26 June 2016

It's a Knock out day two, Will the Irish Joker strike?.

Sad to say, but what a load of rubbish. The first three knock out games played on Saturday produced some of the poorest, most boring football ever seen in an international tournament. 
Is this proof that expanding the tournament to twenty four teams from sixteen has diluted the quality as many suggested would happen? 
Probably, but it may just be that the fear of losing, paralyses the teams into a numb form of inertia.
In the Portugal against Croatia game, which on paper was supposed to be the most exciting of the three games, there was not a shot on target in one hundred and sixteen minutes of inaction. 
I am struggling to find a sporting analogy which could help explain how low a level of ineptitude this was.
Perhaps for our American cousins this might suffice. It would be like a game of American football,where every single pass by the Quarterback was incomplete. Every running play either ended up in negative yardage or fumbling the ball and every field goal attempt was wide. For those who already think football is boring, this definitely provided ammunition to their point of view. 
The only highlight yesterday was this goal by the Albanian Swiss player Xherdan Shaqiri.

Overhead Kick

Today, hopefully something more appetizing will be served up. We start with France v The Republic of Ireland. This is a game with a bit enmity, due to an incident which took place in the last significant battle of the two, which we shall come to in a moment. 
This is surprising given that historically, the French have always between sympathetic to their Catholic Brethren in Ireland especially in their struggle against the Protestant English. In fact, at the battle of the Boyne in 1690, a seminal moment in Irish history, up to six thousand French troops fought on the Catholic side of King James II against the protestant forces of good King Billy (aka William III or the Prince of Orange)
By the way, they lost and in the North of Ireland, loyalist Orange Men still commemorate this event with provocative parades through Catholic areas. 
But back to the football and the incident I was referring to, which took place in a play off to decide who would qualify to play in the 2010 world cup finals.
Thierry Henry, undoubtedly one of the all time French greats, a very popular player in Britain during his time at Arsenal and now a respected pundit for Sky sports, blatantly used his hand to control the ball in a move which led to a French goal. 


This still rankles with the Irish, who felt that with it being so obvious on the television replays, the game should have been replayed or France kicked out for cheating. Don't worry though, Roy Keane the deputy Irish manager and one of the most mild mannered players the game ever knew, has said revenge won't be a factor. He also believes the cow jumped over the moon.  
Home advantage for the French should help to see them through.

Next up, Germany against Slovakia. In a recent warm up game for this tournament, the Slovaks stunned the Nationalmannschaft by winning 1-3 in Germany. 

Historically the German gradual occupation,  in 1938-39 of Czechoslovakia  was one of the main precursors of the second world war and German reprisals against both Czech and Slovak regions, especially after the assassination of Obergruppenfuhrer Heydrich in 1942 were some of the most brutal seen in a period noted for its inhumanity. So there is no love lost here.

The Nationalmannschaft has not climbed out of first gear yet, but as ever has moved on relentlessly, hopefully for the viewers sake, the sparks that were seen during the game against Northern Ireland will ignite and we will be rewarded with plenty of goal mouth action. Germany to win.

The last game tonight features one of the surprise packages of the tournament so far Hungary, facing Belgium, one of the pre tournament favourites due to their being ranked number two in the world. One has to feel that Belgians will have too much for the Hungarians, but that is what has been said before each game that Hungary played in and they are still there. 
This time however, Hungary will return to the banks of the Danube with their heads held high in recognition of  their achievements at the Euros and Belgium will move onto play Wales in the Quarterfinals.
This leaves us with two matches to preview tomorrow, the clash of the giants in Italy against Spain, and England against Iceland, a more tense game than many may think.
Toodle Pip until tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Agree Wiggi, NI vs Wales was Championship level at best. France vs ROI much better.