Dimitri Payet stars for France in Euro 2016 opener vs. Romania

June 12, 2016

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“Just as Euro 2016‘s opening match was threatening to end in with an anti-climactic draw, Dimitri Payet delivered what may wind up being one of the competition’s signature moments. The West Ham United midfielder’s 89th-minute left-footed blast delivered a 2-1 win to France over Romania at the Stade de France and brought a host nation to its feet. Payet, used here on the left, was a slightly controversial selection ahead of Anthiny Martial, but he was by far France’s best player on the night, and, just when something special was required, he conjured a shot of startling quality, arrowed into the top corner from the edge of the box.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


After winning Copa group, USA has chance to prove knockout chops

June 12, 2016

“Now a new Copa América begins for the United States. The U.S. has persevered through the group stage, shaking off an opening loss to Colombia and winning twice against Costa Rica and Paraguay to reach the knockout rounds of another major tournament, even winning the group with a late helping hand from Los Ticos.” SI (Video)

U.S. Advances to Copa América Quarterfinals After Surviving an Ejection
“The United States knew the Copa América math days before it took the field against Paraguay on Saturday. A win or a tie would mean advancement to the quarterfinals. A loss would mean elimination. It was the solution to that problem that was surprising: 10 men and one goal equaled a second life. Riding a first-half goal by Clint Dempsey and overcoming the second-half ejection of defender DeAndre Yedlin, the United States held off Paraguay, 1-0, to seal its place in the quarterfinals later this week. Instead of the Americans’ facing the ignominy of a first-round exit, it was the Paraguayans heading home.” NY Times


Euro 2016: England and Russia fans clash in third day of violence

June 12, 2016

“Two England supporters have been seriously injured in Marseille after violent clashes with rival fans in the hours leading up to England’s opening Euro 2016 group match against Russia. Police had to resuscitate one 51-year-old fan after he was repeatedly kicked in the head on Saturday, apparently by several Russian fans, leaving him unconscious. Witnesses claimed he had also been attacked with a small axe leaving his head bleeding ‘like a tap’, although the allegation could not be immediately verified.” Guardian (Video)

Russia and England Fans Clash Repeatedly at European Championships
“Fights broke out Saturday before and soon after Russia earned a 1-1 draw against England with a stoppage-time goal in a Group B match at the European Championships in Marseille, France. Fans of the two teams rioted before the game in Marseille’s Old Port district and briefly outside the nearby Stade Vélodrome in a third straight day of violence in the city. The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the fighting fans.” NY Times (Video)


Argentina, sans Messi, makes Copa America statement vs. Chile

June 12, 2016

“When Argentina and Chile last met in Copa America, it was last summer to decide a champion, and host Chile came out on top. It was Argentina’s time on Monday, with the two neighboring South American nations opening Group D play in Copa America Centenario. Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega each scored and set up the other in an eight-minute span, as Argentina made an opening statement with a 2-1 win in front of a capacity crowd at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Lionel Messi sat out the match, still recovering from a back injury suffered in Argentina’s pre-Copa friendly against Honduras. He was said to be available off the bench, but with Argentina seizing control in the second half, forcing him into the match became unnecessary.” SI (Video)


Soccer Teams Raise the Curtain on the Live Show in Stadium Tunnels

June 12, 2016

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“There are cages. There are escalators. Sometimes there is claustrophobia. Usually there are children milling about, and in at least one instance, the whole setting (purposely) looks like a mine shaft. In most sports, the tunnel area leading from a stadium’s locker room to the field or court is a sacred space. The final few moments before top athletes head out to compete are, generally, a private preserve of calm introspection or frothy expectation, a sanctuary free from scrutiny where participants can engage in a final motivating message or a last, quiet confrontation with their nerves. Except in soccer.” NY Times


The Switzerland-Albania Match at Euro 2016 Told a Personal, Massive Balkan Story

June 12, 2016

“One Sunday in June 2000, I biked to The Abbey Pub on the northwest side of Chicago to watch Spain play Slovenia in the UEFA Euro Championship. Back in the day, it was much harder to find ways to watch the Euro Championship in the U.S. The Abbey, an Irish pub, was one of the few places showing the matches. I got there early—the game was to start at 8 a.m.—to have breakfast, but it was already packed with Irishmen clutching their pints, watching a live broadcast of an important game of hurling live from Dublin. Many of them were inebriated, shouting at the gigantic screen. It didn’t look good.” Slate


Uruguay desperately short of ideas in Venezuela upset

June 12, 2016

“This time there was no Luis Suarez to save the day. Two years ago, Uruguay lost their opening game in the 2014 World Cup to CONCACAF opposition, only for Luis Suarez to return from injury to inspire the team to consecutive victories which ensured the team’s qualification for the second round. Suarez wanted to try for a repeat. Having missed Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Mexico he seemed anxious to come on in the dying moments of the 1-0 loss to Venezuela. But Uruguay clearly did not want to risk his muscle injury. After coach Oscar Washington Tabarez had made his third and last substitution Suarez remonstrated and punched the dugout wall in frustration — a feeling that all of his teammates will now share.” ESPN


This Is England: What Euro 2016 Means for a Country on the Brink

June 12, 2016

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“When Leicester City won the English Premier League in May, it was considered nothing less than a miracle. Nearly every story about the Foxes noted the 5,000-to-1 odds they were given of winning the title, and the list of likelier long-shot scenarios was as full of impossibilities as it was endless. Piers Morgan taking the reins at Arsenal, Elvis turning up alive, the discovery of the Loch Ness monster—all were deemed more probable by bookies than a Leicester championship, in most cases far more so, pushing the team’s feat into the realm of the supernatural.” New Republic (Video)


Albania – The Rise of the Balkan Eagles

June 12, 2016

“21st November 2007. Albania have just lost 6-1 to Romania in Bucharest in their final qualifying match for Euro 2008. Romania won the group, and subsequently qualified for that summer’s tournament, whereas Albania, who had never attended the European Championships in their entire history, finished 18 points behind them. In that qualification sequence, Albania had 2 wins from 12 games. Such performance had become the norm for a country with little to no competitive footballing success to speak of.” Outside of the Boot


Euro 2016: Defensive questions revolve around dark horses Belgium

June 12, 2016

“The Red Devils have never been a powerhouse on the international front. Despite their close links to France and the Netherlands, they have never won footballing honours as a country at the Euros, coming close in 1980, losing the final to a Rummenigge-led West Germany and 1972, finishing 3rd, bested by the prolific Gerd Muller of West Germany again. This time round in 2016 though, expectations are no longer middling. The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ created buzz leading up to the 2014 World Cup where they enjoyed their 2nd best position in a World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals. However they fell short of expectations of free-flowing football as they topped their group with 3 wins but with minimal goals scored, and struggled to squeeze past a Tim-Howard inspired USA.” Outside of the Boot