England 1 – Iceland 2

June 27, 2016

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“England suffered their worst humiliation since they were knocked out of the 1950 World Cup by USA in Brazil as Iceland shocked them in the last 16 of Euro 2016. Manager Roy Hodgson resigned after the abject embarrassment of losing to a nation ranked 34th in the world – and with a population of just 330,000 – despite taking the lead through Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty. Iceland equalised within a minute as England failed to deal with a trademark long throw and Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled home from close range. England’s shameful performance was summed up by Iceland’s 18th-minute winner when goalkeeper Joe Hart was badly at fault – just as in the win over Wales – as he let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot through his hand.” BBC (Video)

Iceland’s toppling of England at Euro 2016 is a triumph for the little guys
“Takk fyrir Island. Thank you Iceland. Thank you for Gudmundur Benediktsson’s epic falsetto commentary, for bringing one-tenth of the population to France to take part in this odyssey, for making Cristiano Ronaldo uppity and reminding the rest of us of the essential valour of the little guy’s right to his aspirations, for competing so fearlessly to defeat England, for blowing our minds. Thank you for your co-manager’s other job in dentistry, your class and determination in searching for a first win at a major finals, your exemplary coaching system, your comradeship within the team, your inspired hothousing of young talent in a weather-beaten place. Thank you for showing us imaginative ways of doing things can bring extraordinary achievements.” Guardian

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Italy dominant, special in ousting reigning Euro champion Spain

June 27, 2016

“From Italy, this was magnificent, a display of intelligence and swagger to eclipse anything seen at this tournament so far. The 2-0 victory over two-time reigning European champion Spain in the Euro 2016 round of 16 was revenge for the final four years ago, for this was a victory every bit as comprehensive as Spain’s 4-0 win in Kyiv. For Spain, meanwhile, there was confirmation that the World Cup was not a one off. The magic has gone. This is a good side, but no longer a great one.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Soccer With Vikings

June 27, 2016

“Gretar is shaking out a handful of fish oil and applying it to his hamstrings and quadriceps, smearing the putrid substance in circles over his pale white skin to warm up his muscles. We are in a locker room about fifty miles south of the Arctic Circle preparing for a soccer match in Iceland’s second division. The coach goes over the starting line-up and gives the team’s eleven starters and six substitutes a guttural pep-talk—incomprehensible to me, an American who speaks no Icelandic—that builds to a chorus of affirmations. I join the affirmations. Then I reach for Gretar’s bottle.” Roads and Kingdoms


Toxic psyche clouds Argentina as team hits mental breaking point

June 27, 2016

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“Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any country in the world—one can’t go out in Buenos Aires without meeting bunches of them—and not a single one of them can fix the toxic psyche of its national team. The latest example came on Sunday, when Lionel Messi and an Argentina team that had lorded over the Copa América Centenario failed to seal the deal again and came away losers in another final. The third straight major final in as many years, to be exact, this time to Chile on penalty kicks after a 0–0 tie. And whether or not Messi follows through on his stunning words that he’s probably retiring from the national team at 29, his drastic response is only a manifestation of a larger psychosis surrounding this team.” SI
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Second straight Copa America win solidifies Chile as one of world’s elite
“Claudio Bravo dropped to his knees in the corner of MetLife Stadium, raising his arms toward the sky as his teammates swarmed the field behind him, then shifted quickly in his direction. The team arrived to greet the goalkeeper in that corner, jumping and hugging and yelling in a joyous mass, all while stadium workers began to erect the the stage upon which they would celebrate. In the mass of hardware and fencing, the workers inadvertently pinned Chile’s team in its own corner.” SI
Lionel Messi and Argentina Miss Again as Chile Wins Copa América
Lionel Messi had the collar of his shirt pulled up to his nose. With his eyes peeking out just over the fabric, he watched a nightmare unfold. Argentina and Chile had played 120 minutes of ruthless, scoreless soccer on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Penalty kicks would be needed to decide the winner of the 45th Copa América. Up stepped Messi, widely regarded as the best player in the world, to take the first shot for Argentina, and he missed, sending the ball sailing over the crossbar and into the crowd. Moments later, he watched as Francisco Silva of Chile buried a shot inside the left post to give his team a 4-2 shootout win. All of the Argentine players hung their heads near the center circle as the Chileans erupted in celebration. But Messi took a slow, solitary walk across the grass and took a seat on the far end of his team’s bench.” NY Times


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Hungary 0-4 Belgium | Superior transitions take Belgium to the last 8

June 27, 2016

“Belgium and Hungary came into this game with different expectations. On one hand, Belgium tried to prove their doubters wrong by looking to comfortably beat Hungary and meet Wales in the next round. With Wilmots’ coaching credentials being questioned by journalists and fans, much of the pressure was on the golden generation of Belgium to perform when it mattered after improved performances against Ireland and Sweden.” Outside of the Boot


Germany’s Low pushing right buttons with Gomez, Draxler, Kimmich

June 27, 2016

“After all the doubts facing Germany, if a 3-0 rout of Slovakia in the Euro 2016 round of 16 didn’t answer them all–Slovakia was too insipid for that–it at least offered a comprehensive victory and a statement that the Germany that won the World Cup is beginning to re-emerge. Germany started fast, got an early lead and, after that, it was simply a matter of how many goals it would score. As a contest, the game was over as soon as Jerome Boateng volleyed in after eight minutes. Mario Gomez added a second just before halftime and Julian Draxler hooked in a third. It was so easy there was even the opportunity for Lukas Podolski to be brought on for a sentimental 20 minutes at the end.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Croatia 0-1 Portugal (AET) | Dark horses crash out of the tournament

June 27, 2016

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“Croatia, everyone’s favourite to win or at least reach the finals of Euro 2016, crashed out of the tournament after losing to Portugal. Ricardo Quaresma netted in the rebound of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot in the 117th minute, which was the first shot on target in the entire game – which only speaks how boring and dull the fixture was. Tactically there were a few developments that were quite intriguing. Here’s my tactical analysis of Croatia 0 – Portugal 1.” Outside of the Boot