Antonio Conte: Exploring Italy’s tactics at Euro 2016

July 23, 2016

“They may have been eliminated from the tournament in the quarter-finals, but in football you don’t just remember the winners. You remember the team that inspires the viewer the most. The Italy of Conte is a team that impressed a lot, not just me but the entire world of football. With as few opportunities to have sessions together as national teams have, it is quite usual to see national teams have an unclean collective positional structure/systems defensively and attacking wise, to rely a lot more on individual qualities. What Conte managed to build for this tournament, was a fantastic collective team, which in my opinion was the best this Euro 2016.” Outside of the Boot (Video)


The Question: was Euro 2016 the death of possession football?

July 19, 2016

zzz
“So, it’s over then, the worst of the 15 European Championships to date, a tournament so bereft of quality that Wales’s mildly diverting win over an inept Belgium was raised to the status of minor classic. Of 51 games, perhaps one, France’s victory over Germany, will be remembered by neutrals – and it, in truth, was utterly unrepresentative of the rest of the tournament. Many have questioned whether Portugal were worthy winners but in a sense they are the most worthy of winners: no champion ever, perhaps, has been so representative of the ethos of a tournament.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: France 0-1 Portugal (AET) | Substitutions the key for Portugal

July 19, 2016

“The Euro 2016 final saw the home nation favourites France take on Portugal. France, who played in a 4-2-3-1 for almost the entirety of the match, dominated the match but were unable to put away their chances. Portugal stuck with the 4-4-2 diamond that had got them to the final and put on yet another disciplined display, made even more impressive following Ronaldo’s early exit from the match. Combined with the goalkeeping heroics of Rui Patricio, excellent substitutions, and France’s profligacy in front of goal, Portugal was able to record their first ever major tournament victory. This tactical analysis will look at how the teams set up to play, Portugal’s tactical change, and key substitutions that affected the outcome of the match.” Outside of the Boot


After unorthodox path, Griezmann has France on cusp of Euro 2016 title

July 8, 2016

c4e3.image
“‘They didn’t create any chances,’ Germany manager Joachim Low moaned following the Euro 2016 semifinals. And yet somehow France scored two goals in the 2-0 victory, both from its newest hero with the unique backstory, Antoine Griezmann. One, admittedly, was a penalty awarded after a handball following a set piece, but the other was a classic piece of poaching. There was something very old-fashioned all around about that second strike–a cross, a goalkeeper stretching with a striker bearing down, the loose ball prodded in. It felt anachronistic, which perhaps goes some way to explaining Germany’s greatest problem in this tournament–and also why Griezmann has had such an impact.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016, ISIS, and France

July 8, 2016

“On March 29th, 2016, France played Russia in the first football match to take place in the Stade de France since the terrorist attacks on November 13th. Before the game, the media coverage centered as much on the increased security presence as on the game itself. Commentators wondered: would fans feel safe returning to the stadium? Would the stadium be full? Would the atmosphere be lively or sober? The players were attuned to the extraordinary circumstances as well: speaking about returning to the site of the attacks, French striker Olivier Giroud said that ‘we are human beings before being sportsmen…It will obviously affect us to go there.’” Soccer Politics


Sister of French Soccer Star Antoine Griezmann Recalls Terror of Paris Attacks

July 8, 2016

“Maud Griezmann walked into the concert hall and looked around. It was a little before 9 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Bataclan in Paris, and she admired the grand stage. She looked at the growing crowd. She watched, for a few moments, as a man at the souvenir stand sorted T-shirts and posters and CDs for the band Eagles of Death Metal, which was just about to begin its set. Then Ms. Griezmann looked quickly at her phone. Her brother Antoine Griezmann is a star forward for France’s national soccer team, and he was playing that night at the Stade de France, just outside the city limits. It was an exhibition match against Germany. The game and the concert were scheduled to start around the same time. Ms. Griezmann put her phone away. She wanted to listen to the music.” NY Times


France overcomes Germany at last in impassioned Euro 2016 semifinal

July 8, 2016

“Euro 2016 at last had its great game, not quite an all-time classic perhaps, not Seville ’82 certainly, but a minor epic of passion and controversy played out on a balmy evening in front of a febrile crowd in the most striking of French stadiums. It ended with France having beaten Germany in a competitive game for the first time since 1958, two Antoine Griezmann goals taking the host through to Sunday’s final against Portugal after a 2-0 victory over the reigning World Cup champions.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: France 5-2 Iceland | France overpower incoherent Iceland

July 8, 2016

“The sharks meet the minnows, David meets Goliath, underdog meets the host nation. Of the quarter finals, this was certainly the matchup with a greater disparity. France, a football powerhouse, facing Iceland, in their first major tournament. Although many thought that Iceland had an outside chance to keep their fairy tale alive, France crushed those dreams. It was a dominant performance from the French from start to finish.” Outside of the Boot


Wales exceeded expectations at Euro 2016 – but must now deal with them

July 8, 2016

bale-ashley-coleman
“Commiserations to Wales, whose exhilarating Euro 2016 journey came to an end at the semi-final stage in Lyon, but congratulations to all concerned for lighting up the tournament – particularly from a British point of view – and showing what is possible when a team functions as a team and takes a strong mentality and deep reserves of self-belief out on to the pitch. This is not intended as veiled criticism of England, though some may read it that way, for the Welsh and the English narratives have been inextricably entwined in France. They were drawn in the same group, and though England won the head-to-head battle – just – they lost the war by finishing second to a team with two victories.” Guardian


Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup final headbutt recalled, 10 years later

July 8, 2016

“Berlin’s Olympiastadion was hot and humid on July 9, 2006. There had been storms all week. Zinedine Zidane had converted a penalty early in the World Cup final. Marco Materazzi had headed an equalizer. Italy had hit the bar. France had been denied another penalty. The game went into extra time and seemed to be heading for penalties. Then, with 10 minutes to go, a France attack was thwarted. As the ball was cleared, I saw out of the corner of my eye, a blue-shirted figure collapse. Something clearly had happened. The game stopped.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Wales 1-0 Northern Ireland | Northern Ireland’s high press and Wales’ reliance on crosses

July 8, 2016

“The work begun by John Toshack was pushed forward by the late Gary Speed, and now Chris Coleman seems to be putting the final touches on a talented group of players. Wales have looked a calm and confident team so far, with two very good results for them against Slovakia and Russia sandwiched between a blip against England. Coleman said he felt that this blip would certainly not end the ‘journey’ Wales were on, and when one observes the togetherness of the players on the field, it would take a difficult result to send them home. Northern Ireland managed to concede a single goal to Wales and were looking to improve on a solid defensive but toothless offensive showing against the world champions Germany. This 1-0 defeat was enough to put them through to the last 16, but there were question marks over how they would fare against a hungry, young Welsh side.” Outside of the Boot


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Germany 1–1 Italy (6-5 Pens) | Germany and Italy play almost similar systems

July 8, 2016

Germany-Italy_FORMATION-1
“Joachim Low, in order to tackle Antonio Conte’s almost unbeatable 3-5-2 formation, decided to change his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation to 3-5-2. Germany took the lead through Mesut Ozil and Italy equalized through Leonardo Bonucci’s penalty. In the penalty shootout after the extra-time, 7 kicks failed to end up in the back of the net. Finally, it was Germany that managed to sneak through to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 just like Jonas Hector’s shot slipped under Gianluigi Buffon in the ultimate and decisive kick of the match. Here’s my tactical analysis of the game.” Outside of the Boot


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: Germany 3-0 Slovakia | Germans outplay Slovakia

July 8, 2016

Germany’s dominant display against a resilient Northern Ireland team suggested that the signs were indeed present that they would be able to mount a challenge for the European championship. While this victory by a single goal was enough and certainly efficient by German standards, they will need more goals as they face sterner tests. It is promising that there is a strong core and continuity from their World Cup success, that will provide invaluable experience to help them progress in the tournament.” Outside of the Boot


Portugal rides its defending, Ronaldo’s heroics to Euro 2016 final

July 8, 2016

“With a goal and an assist, suddenly everything is right in the world of Cristiano Ronaldo. This may be the least entertaining of the seven Portugal sides to reach the semifinals of a major tournament, but it is only the second to reach a final, after a comfortable 2-0 win over Wales, and if Ronaldo’s role is simply to provide a cutting edge ahead of the hard-tackling midfield that is the true strength of the side, neither he nor they will mind. It’s a remarkable sleight of tactical hand that Fernando Santos has pulled to create a situation in which one of the greatest players of all time is a sort of bolt-on to the main body of the side, but Ronaldo is not the reason Portugal is in the final of Euro 2016. He played excellently against Hungary, but if Portugal had continued to defend as it did in that 3-3 draw, it would not have got this far.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Wales 3 -1 Belgium

July 1, 2016

wales
“Wales reached the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time after a stirring fightback to defeat Belgium in the European Championship quarter-final in Lille. Radja Nainggolan put Belgium ahead with a thunderous 25-yard strike but Wales captain Ashley Williams headed in from a corner to equalise in a breathless first half littered with chances at both ends. Welsh celebrations reached stratospheric levels when Hal Robson-Kanu, a striker without a club, gave them the lead with a divine turn and finish.” BBC (Video)


Euro 2016 Tactical Analysis: England 1 – Iceland 2 | Tactically disciplined Iceland kicks England out of Europe.

July 1, 2016

“When England scored its first goal, the Icelandic players must have told ‘theta reddast’ to each other. It’s a common saying in Iceland and means everything is going to be fine. In the end it was all good for the small island nation. Iceland knocked England out of Euro 2016 and forced Roy Hodgson to retire after coming back from behind and taking the lead very early in the first half. Iceland put on a well-disciplined tactical display and with a hardworking and collective approach it managed to stifle England through some good space compression in the midfield.” Outside of the Boot


England absorbs more shame, failure with Euro 2016 ouster to Iceland

July 1, 2016

“For two years Roy Hodgson has been saying that England would be at its best when it faced a side that attacked it, when it could use its ace in forward areas to play on the counterattack. We’ll never find out if that was true. No side has attacked England since Switzerland did in the second half of the Euro 2016 qualifier in Basel in September 2014, when England, playing with uncharacteristic poise, won 2-0. Perhaps this side could have challenged Germany or France (although the defending against Iceland suggests not), but we’ll never know, because it failed in what seemed the most basic of tasks, beating a nation with a population of 330,000.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

England Loses
“England has now left Europe twice in four days, with the second departure allowing this writer some small sentiment of retributive justice for the stupidity of the first. After the unmitigated and unfolding disaster of Brexit, the English national football team was defeated 2-1 by Iceland yesterday in the European Football Championship. Iceland! That’s right. With a population of around 330,000, with a fair scattering of part-time players and a coach who also works as a dentist and a goalkeeper who is also a filmmaker, Iceland defeated England, the country who first formulated the game of association football in the nineteenth century and has the richest league in the world and most of the game’s best-paid players.” NYBook


Team England, the FA and the Great EPPP Gamble

July 1, 2016

a6af3c6caf_o
“As far as can be observed from social media, there were two responses to England being beaten by Iceland in Euro 2016. The first was blind fury, rage at overpaid footballers and incompetent coaches. The second, the more favourable one, was uncontrollable laughter prompted by the singular failure of technique, passing, shooting, crossing and, in some remarkable instances, controlling a ball. Both are equally valid but option two had the added frisson of the hilarity gleaned from seeing our Wayne tripping over footballs, the ground and his feet, on several occasions.” In Bed With Maradona


Brutally tough path suiting Italy’s strengths at Euro 2016

July 1, 2016

“This was, they said, the weakest Italy squad in half a century. The draw has been so unkind that, after facing Belgium in the group stage, Italy’s putative route to the final means taking on the world champion Germany after the defending European champion Spain with the host France–or the host-slayer Iceland–waiting in the semi. For other sides that might have been too daunting a prospect, but Italy seems almost energized by it. Antonio Conte’s side has produced highly astute tactical performances to beat Belgium and Spain. It wouldn’t even be true to say they were counterattacking displays, although that clearly is a strength of his side, because Italy matched Spain for possession in the first half of their last-16 clash. But it is a team that is at its best using an opponent’s strength against itself.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


England 1 – Iceland 2

June 27, 2016

icelandreportmain_1-large_trans++qVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwX_4GnT16ze56fkLp5uJJ0I
“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


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


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


Euro 2016 group stage grades

June 23, 2016

article-3656059-359654C400000578-931_964x417
“The group stages of Euro 2016 have provided goals and controversies, outrageous skill and dreadful mistakes. With no team able to win every game, but only one side losing all three matches, the tournament has proved more competitive than anyone could have expected. After 36 matches, the action is only just hotting up, but having played three times each, we now have a decent idea about what shape the teams are in.” Daily Mail


Cristiano Ronaldo’s roller-coaster Euro group stage ends with heroics

June 23, 2016

“When Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebrations having headed the ball into the net against Austria in the second group game were cut short by a linesman, those at the Parc des Princes laughed. The sound of several thousand people laughing is a strange one and that that was the response suggests two things: firstly that Ronaldo, with his preening and his demand that he or at least his immaculate abs are always at the center of attention provokes a remarkable level of Schadenfreude for one so gifted. And secondly, that his misfortune in that game had reached the level of the absurd.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


The Rise of Ivan Perišić at Euro 2016

June 23, 2016

“It is the 45th minute of the Group D match between Croatia vs Spain, and Spain are 1:0 up. Most expect that Spain will carry the 1:0 lead to halftime, but then Ivan Perišić wins the ball on the left side and storms toward his box. His perfect cross then finds Nikola Kalinić, who is able to execute the ball perfectly with his back heel to make it 1:1 going into halftime. Up to this point Spain had been the better team, but a talented Croatia side was able to launch several pinpoint attacks that threatened the Spanish back four, which, at the time, seemed complacent.” futbolgrad


Unhinged Melody: Euro Soccer Fans Enliven Stadiums With Song

June 19, 2016

fans-undie
“In a sporting sense, the European soccer championship is a gathering of tremendous talent, artful craftsmen and bubbling drama, a delicious recipe that produces one of the most remarkable events on the calendar. The extraordinary nature of the soccer, however, is surpassed only by the extraordinary nature of its soundtrack. For in a musical sense, the European Championship is a gathering of bizarrely discordant overtures, cheesy riffs, synthesizers and, quite often, rhymes that schoolchildren would struggle to comprehend. And yet it is somehow irresistible.” NY Times (Video)


What Makes a Great Soccer Rivalry?

June 19, 2016

“On June 14, the Austrian and Hungarian national teams met for the 138th time, making it the second-most-contested rivalry in soccer. For me, and possibly only me and a few other history teachers, Austria vs. Hungary was a matchup of great historical import, not because of any understanding on my part of any of these 137 previous games, but because, come on, there used to be an Austria-Hungary, or, if you prefer, an Austro-Hungarian Empire. There had to be some bad blood between the two nations that used to be one big empire and might still be if it weren’t for nationalism and World War I. I’m a history teacher by trade, so what could possibly be better than this?” Slate (Video)


Italy’s defensive message gives Sweden deep burn at Euro 2016

June 19, 2016

zlatan-italy-sweden-euro
“That, perhaps, will calm some of the more excitable reactions to Italy’s victory over Belgium. After the high of that Euro 2016 opening performance came victory in a drab 1-0 win over Sweden, a side whose only two efforts on target in the entire tournament have come from Ireland defender Ciaran Clark. All those gloomy assessments of this Italy side as the worst it has ever sent to a major tournament seemed a lot more accurate than they had on Monday night.” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Switzerland quell Paul Pogba storm to earn France draw and last-16 spot

June 19, 2016

“France finished top of Group A, not quite at a gallop but convincingly enough after an initially boisterous, ultimately slow-burn draw with Switzerland in Lille. The Swiss are also through and showed some real muscle and craft after Paul Pogba had looked like making this game all his own in an early burst of all-round midfield power-play. Didier Deschamps will welcome another clean sheet for his new-build defence. By the end, though, with the real business of this two-part Euros now booked in, the suspicion remains there is still some clicking into place needed for that talented chop-and-change midfield.” Guardian


Tactical Analysis: Germany 0-0 Poland | Polish defence nullify German attack

June 19, 2016

“In one of the most anticipated group games of Euro 2016, Germany faced Poland in what would surely decide who finished top of Group C. The Poles have one of their strongest teams of all time, while Germany continue to impress following their 2014 World Cup win. At the Stade de France, two teams with many tactical possibilities battled for superiority.” Outside of the Boot


Euro 2016: How Teams Can Advance to the Next Round

June 16, 2016

UPEURO-CUP-master768
“The group stage of Euro 2016 is well underway: From Wednesday until Saturday, all 24 teams will complete their second of three games of group play. And the minute those games are over, many serious fans will start to do math – in their heads, on cocktail napkins or even on spreadsheets – to determine what their teams must do to ensure a place in the knockout stage of the competition. It can be complicated, particularly in this expanded 24-team tournament, where four third-place teams will advance, but we’re here to help you sort through it all. This page provides a big-picture overview in real time, and as soon as teams have completed their first two games – as the teams in Group A and Group B have – we’ll publish a detailed page just for those teams, showing you all the ways they can make the Round of 16.” NY Times


Germany struggles to find attacking, defensive balance vs. Poland

June 16, 2016

“The good news, perhaps, for a Germany team whose defense was suspect throughout qualifying, is that it kept its second straight clean sheet of the tournament. The bad news is that it did so in the first half by an approach that lacked much in the way of attacking threat and in the second by riding its luck and through the excellence of Jerome Boateng in a 0-0 draw with Poland. Poland probably had the better of the game, certainly had enough chances in that second half to win, but will probably be content enough with a draw that all but guarantees it a place in the last 16 of Euro 2016.” SI – Jonathan Wilsona


Michael O’Neill’s gambles pay off with Northern Ireland win against Ukraine

June 16, 2016

“All roads lead to Lyon for Northern Ireland. Michael O’Neill’s squad set themselves up in Saint-Jean-d’Ardières, in Beaujolais, some 40 minutes’ drive to the north of the city. Many of the team’s supporters have based themselves in town, using the same logic of this being the perfect midpoint between Nice, the venue of the opener with Poland, and Paris, where they face Germany on Tuesday. Now, after a vital win against Ukraine in the city of the Gauls, they could well all be back here to face France in the last 16 on Sunday week.” Guardian


Euro 2016: Russia given suspended disqualification

June 15, 2016

russiavenglandviolence_getty
“The Russians have also been fined 150,000 euros (£119,000) following violent scenes at the game against England in Marseille on Saturday. The suspended disqualification and fine relate only to incidents that happened inside the stadium. There were reports of minor disturbances between rival fans in Lille on Tuesday evening. Russia play Group B rivals Slovakia in the city on Wednesday, while England fans are congregating there before Thursday’s match against Wales in the nearby town of Lens.” BBC (Video)

Is Russia exporting a new breed of football hooligan?
“Violence has been part of Russian football for many years. Clashes inside stadiums and organised fights away from them are common. But this weekend’s mass disturbances in Marseille have thrust Russian hooliganism into the international spotlight. The Russian Football Union expressed regret over the fighting and Russia’s sports minister described those involved as a disgrace. But other senior officials have praised the hooligans openly as ‘real men’. Meanwhile the fans themselves seem largely unrepentant, even proud.” BBC (Video)


Ronaldo endures inauspcious Euro 2016 start as Portugal draws Iceland

June 15, 2016

“Cristiano Ronaldo is by far the best player in this Portugal side. He is also probably the reason why it so consistently under-performs. For 45 minutes, everything was going well for the Portuguese. They had played extremely well in the first half of their Euro 2016 opener and gone ahead through Nani. Iceland looked like the minnow it is. And then Portugal disintegrated. Iceland celebrated a 1-1 draw–secured through Birkir Bjarnason’s 51st-minute volley–with understandable uproariousness, but this was a take of Portugal’s collapse.” SI – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Belgium 0-2 Italy | Belgium struggle against Italy’s position-oriented marking

June 15, 2016

“Belgium and Italy played against each other in what was the best match of the round on paper. Despite the lack of star names in the squad, Italy are very much a big name and on the night faced one of the best international teams in the world who initially failed to impress. Even though the second half saw an awakening from the Red Devils, their performance wasn’t suited to the caliber and style of play of the players at hand.” Outside of the Boot


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

June 12, 2016

payet
“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


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)


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


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

June 12, 2016

e5f5d3d46a93edf65a3eddf650f033921b1186
“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


In France, a Political Football

June 4, 2016

b
A protester faces police with a torch and a bouquet of flowers in Lyon, 26
“The French Socialist government is facing increasing unrest over its proposed labor reforms, which may disrupt the Euro 2016 soccer championship. In late March, the Nuit debout movement resurrected Occupy-style assembly tactics in response to the proposed reforms. In May the government attempted to use Article 49.3 to bypass parliament and force through the legislation. Now French rail workers are on strike and potential strikes by other unions loom, possibly threatening the Euro 2016 soccer championship. Strikes by power plant operators are causing blackouts. At one point, the only paper appearing in France was the left-wing L’Humanité due to action by the printers. Behind the strikes is France’s leading militant union, the CGT. In other news, the Louvre is closing due to recent flooding.” Metafilter


The Boys in Green vs. McGregor

December 17, 2015

“Last Saturday was a busy day for Irish sports fans. Aside from the usual Premier League games to keep an eye on, the draw for the group stages of Euro 2016 cast a long shadow over the day. If it felt as though we were waiting a long time for that draw to start in the early evening, it was a longer wait still for those brave (or foolhardy?) souls who stayed the course a further 12 hours to watch one of the most talked about Irish sporting events of the year – Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo in UFC 194.” backpagefootball


Gambles pay off as Hungary get to France and Storck proves his worth

November 18, 2015

hungary-009
“At the final whistle, after Hungary had won 2-1 to reach their first major tournament since 1986, their players gathered in front of the goal they had been attacking the second half, behind which the most vociferous of the home support was gathered. The ground, momentarily fell silent, then players and fans joined in singing the national anthem. Two lines, perhaps, had particular significance: ‘Long torn by ill fate, Bring upon it a time of relief.’” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Football Weekly: Hungary qualify for Euro 2016 as England’s friendly with France goes ahead

November 18, 2015

“The podders reflect on the Euro 2016 playoffs and the rest of the international friendlies. Plus, Raúl retires, Paul Lambert heads to Blackburn Rovers and Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink remains in high demand. On today’s Football Weekly, AC Jimbo is joined by Jacob Steinberg, Michael Cox and John Ashdown to look back on the Euro 2016 qualifiers, with a bit of help from Jonathan Wilson, who was in Bosnia to see (or not) Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Dzecko and co in the fog, and then in Budapest to witness Hungary qualifying for their first major tournament in 30 years, and is now en route to Slovenia. Because that’s the sort of thing he does.” Guardian – Michael Cox, Jonathan Wilson, etc. (Video)


Dele Alli scores stunner as England beat France at Wembley

November 18, 2015

“Dele Alli enjoyed a stunning full debut as England beat France 2-0 on a night of tears, compassion and defiance at Wembley. The 19-year-old Tottenham midfielder found the top corner with a stunning 24-yard strike and played a key role in Wayne Rooney’s second-half volley. England’s ninth straight Wembley victory was an impressive one that came against a star-studded France side. But the real winner here at Wembley was football. Just four days after 129 people died in the Paris terror attacks, the France team and their English counterparts, as well as the home and away fans inside this famous stadium, stood shoulder to shoulder to send a defiant message to the terrorists who wreaked havoc in the French capital.” ESPN


France attacks: Sporting fixtures postponed after attacks

November 16, 2015

gettyimages-497042672-5646fa436383d
“Several sporting fixtures in France have been postponed after a series of attacks across Paris in which 129 people were killed. Three suicide bombers died in blasts outside the Stade de France while France played Germany on Friday. With fans unable to leave, many poured on to the pitch, while both national teams spent the night in the stadium. All European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches set to be played in France this weekend are off. However, the French Football Federation (FFF) said Tuesday’s international friendly against England at Wembley would go ahead following three days of national mourning.” BBC (Video)

As Paris Attacks Unfolded, Players and Fans at Soccer Stadium Remained Unaware
“Shortly after 9:45 p.m. Friday, at halftime of an exhibition soccer match between France and Germany, the players on both teams went to their locker rooms to rest while the coaches, who normally would have been reviewing their strategies, instead received shocking news. Everyone had heard the two explosions outside the stadium during the first half of the game, and Didier Deschamps, who leads the French team, and Joachim Löw, Germany’s manager, were told by French officials that there was a developing crisis, with violence reported near the stadium as well as around the city. President François Hollande, who had been at the match, had already been rushed from the stadium, they were told, but the second half would proceed.” NY Times

Wembley to welcome France for England friendly in spirit of defiance
“So, the show goes on then. As news of the atrocities in Paris on Friday night filtered through to Alicante during the second half of England’s friendly against Spain – a tumorous, spreading sense of horror with each fresh round of details – football became an instant irrelevance. At the time it seemed certain that Tuesday’s game against France, at Wembley, would be cancelled. In part because of the obvious pressing security concerns, but above all because of the sheer rawness of the occasion, the sense of unnecessary intrusion on a period of pain and grief.” Guardian


Euro 2016 play-offs: How the ties stand – and who is through

November 16, 2015

“The 2016 European Championship play-offs are over halfway through, with Hungary becoming the 21st team to qualify for France. The Republic of Ireland and Sweden are among the six teams competing for the final three spots. How do the ties stand?” BBC


Euro 2016: Are Spain over their World Cup hangover?

November 16, 2015

“Despite a solid record in qualifying of nine wins from 10 games, European champions Spain are facing several dilemmas as they prepare for the defence of their title in France next summer. Veteran coach Vicente del Bosque faces selection problems in several areas, and there is also a more general concern over La Roja’s playing style as they continue to address the lingering hangover from last summer’s World Cup finals campaign, where they made a shock group-stage exit. Going into Friday’s friendly with England, these are the main issues.” BBC


Euro 2016: Qualifiers for the tournament in France

October 14, 2015

dcca011eac737955750c5f2f4e56b627_XL
“The group stage of qualification for Euro 2016 is over and the make-up of next summer’s tournament is taking shape. There will be 24 teams competing in the finals. France were assured of a place as hosts, and a further 19 countries have qualified automatically – 18 by finishing either first or second in their group and one more as the highest third-placed finisher. There will also be four play-off ties to determine the final four teams competing in France – and we now know who will be competing in those ties.” BBC


Albania v Serbia – Fans’ dreams sacrificed to political goals

October 14, 2015

“Tonight sees the biggest game in Albanian football history take place at the Elbasan Arena. The Balkan nation have the opportunity to qualify for a major international tournament for the first time in their history. All that is required is a win in their penultimate match and for Denmark to simultaneously fail to win in Portugal and they’ll be home and hosed. In a qualification process littered with extraordinary performances by smaller nations – Iceland, Wales and Northern Ireland all spring to mind – Albania’s campaign still holds up as one of the most impressive. At the time of the draw last February, Albania were ranked as the 40th best team in Europe and allocated in seeding pot 5, alongside such footballing greats as Moldova, Azerbaijan and neighbours Macedonia.” backpagefootball


Euro 2016 countdown begins for Wales and Chris Coleman

October 14, 2015

“If qualifying for Euro 2016 in front of 750 hardy Welsh fans in torrential Bosnian rain was an intimate ordination ceremony for a select few, Wales’ campaign finale at home to Andorra was the moment the doors were thrown open for the ultimate party. This was a celebration 57 years in the making, the chance for 33,000 success-deprived supporters to welcome home their heroes at a cacophonous Cardiff City Stadium.” BBC


Euro 2016 – Are the minnows really getting better?

October 14, 2015

Iceland-fans-Euro-2016
“After each round of international matches, particularly with one where a major upset occurs, one often hears the phrase, ‘there are no minnows anymore.’ But is this really true? Can any team really beat any other? Does Andorra stand a chance in a match against Germany, or could Guam beat Argentina? Most likely this is no but it does raise the question – are these so-called footballing minnows really improving or is it simply good teams getting beaten on bad days?” backpagefootball