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

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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

Croatia-Portugal_FORMATION-1
“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


Drab match aside, Wales makes history reaching Euro 2016 quarters

June 27, 2016

“Last time Wales reached the quarterfinal of a major tournament, 58 years ago against Brazil at the World Cup in Sweden, the decisive goal was scored a quarter of an hour from full time by Terry Medwin in a playoff against Hungary. The timing here was the same, but it’s hard to imagine Gareth McAuley’s own goal against Northern Ireland being recalled by future generations with quite such fondness. Nonetheless, Wales is in the last eight after a 1-0 victory in the Euro 2016 round of 16 and there will play either Hungary of Belgium.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Power Rankings: Final 16 teams in France

June 23, 2016

France's Paul Pogba (2nd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring against Portugal during their friendly soccer match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris October 11, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) - RTR49T0J
“The dramatic end to the group stage couldn’t disguise the fact that, for the most part, this has been a slightly disappointing opening to the tournament, yielding just 1.92 goals per game and precious few games of real quality. No side won all three group games, while many of the less-fancied sides troubled their supposed betters. The suggestion is that this is a very open tournament, although there remains the possibility that one of the top sides will suddenly click into gear and surge through to success on July 10. The knockout bracket has yielded an unbalanced final 16, with powers France, Germany, Spain, Italy and England on one half, while Belgium and Portugal benefited from underperforming in the group stage by being given a more favorable rout to navigate on the road to the Stade de France.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Six things we’ve learned from the Euro 2016 group stages

June 23, 2016

“Fears that lowly ranked sides like Albania and Northern Ireland might dilute the quality of the competition have not materialised. Cynics might say the overall quality was so low that nobody noticed anyway, but the fact is that some of the more fancied teams – the likes of the Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey, Ukraine and Rumania – couldn’t make it past these minnows. The extended format has brought plenty of colour and amazing stories like Iceland’s success to the tournament, and have helped more than make up for the lack of excitement felt elsewhere. But UEFA also got very lucky. Groups E and F were clearly at an advantage, knowing just how many points were needed to advance ahead of other third-placed teams.” red bulletin