joi, 1 iulie 2021

Euro 2021 - The story of Harry Kane

England - Germany 2-0
Sweden - Ukraine 1-1 (1-2 aet)

Never in a million years would I have thought England will beat Germany. Sure, my English friends will be quick to point out, it has happened in 1966, and that's only 55 years ago. No disrespect to Sir Geoff Hurst, but there was no VAR back then. I would thus reply back that when they complain about Maradona's 'hand of God', it might be a good idea to start from Geoff Hurst's goal that never was. Water under the bridge now.

And it is true that this English team is actually pretty good, while the Germany team, while decent, can't hold a candle to great German teams of the past. Also true that Low seems to have lost his way a little bit, but a display like the 4-2 against Portugal should have seen them brush the English aside.

The game itself was rather boring, with sterile German domination in the first half, and we had to wait until 15 minutes from time for the breakthrough to happen. I hear there were loud noises across the green and pleasant land. Just as well, it's actually heart-warming when the English do come together, and the national team scoring provides such an occasion. What doesn't sit well with me is Sterling scoring, taking his tally up to 3. He's not that good of a player. Harry Kane's goal,no qualms with that; difficult execution, but one that Harry Kane has done in the past and seems to have mastered.

So, yeah, football has evolved so much that the Germans do not always win nowadays. 

Sweden - Ukraine was expected to be a boring game and of course it wasn't. I also expected Sweden to win and of course they didn't. All in all, you can see a difference in tempo and skill between this game and one where the big boys play, say France - Switzerland. Regardless, the first half was pretty animated, with Ukraine scoring a goal that the keeper should've totally denied, and Forsberg pulling level 2 minutes from time.

Second half, not so much. Whether for fear of losing or simply from lack of fitness necessary to sustain the tempo, it started looking pretty quickly like it's gonna go to extra time. I thought Sweden is gonna pull it off until about 80th minute or so. But one thing I noticed with the Swedes: they don't really shoot. Pretty damn hard to score when you don't shoot. Ukrainians seemed slightly inferior in skill, but they made it up by extra tenacity and a determination not to lose.

Extra time turned into something of a Muay Thai match. Absolutely horrendous foul from Danielson on Besyedin and, regardless of intent, that's a red card all day long. And it's at that moment I moved my preferences firmly in the Ukrainian camp. I really hope Besyedin's gonna recover quickly, and fortunately, by the look of it, the bones in his leg are not broken. But career-ending injury brushed past the kid. The remaining 20 minutes were marred by really bad fouls on both sides, and a really fragmented game which, again, spelt 'let's go to penalties'. I usually feel playing to run the clock down to get to penalties is cheating the game somewhat, and I was really glad to see on this particular occasion it's been punished. You don't get to see this every day, and it's a painful way to lose, but Sweden brought it upon themselves: a gosl in the injury time of extra time. Well done, Dovbyk, just make sure to keep your lucky bra on for next time as well.

Next time means England in the quarter-finals, and it's a difficult proposition, but by no means impossible.

Speaking of,  let's see how many I get this time. They're all hard to call, by the way.

Switzerland - Spain. The Swiss did wonder to take out France, but Spain has squeezed through so far and I get the feeling tehy'll do it again. Spain

Belgium - Italy. Sorry Lukaku! Italy is like a bulldozer, best thing to do is get out of their way.

Czech Republic - Denmark. I want Schick to get the Golden Boot, and I think he can do it. This game might just be the occasion.

Ukraine - England, I said above, trickier than it looks, though I still go for England. Apparently they're doing semifinals now.

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