marți, 29 iunie 2021

Euro 2021 - Net neutrality

Croatia - Spain 3-3 (3-5 aet)
France - Switzerland 3-3 (4-5 penalties)

Wow, what a day! The internet was buzzing last night, the memes are already out, the stories and legends have been set out into the world, so there's very little my ramblings can add. But ramble I shall, regardless.

Spain. Spain... is dangerous. If you remember, I fancied Croatia. I thought Spain started the game really poorly. Attacking, but without real threat. Then came the own goal, something out of the bloopers reel. A nod to Banel Nicolita's own goal at the Bernabeu, maybe? Ok, 1-1 at half-time, but it still looked like Croatia's game to me.

Now, I haven't seen the second half, so I don't know how it panned out. It does sound crazy, with Spain getting a two-goal lead and Croatia scoring twice in the last 5 minutes. Extra time, however, was entirely Spain. Morata clicked just at the right time, then Oyarzabal closed it three minutes later. 5-3 Spain, 15 minutes to go, and this time Croatia never really looked like getting back into it.

This worries me slightly about Spain. They were incredibly poor in the first two games, but then, with their back to the wall, scored 5 against Slovakia. And again yesterday, after a poor start and going 0-1 down, ended up scoring 5. And they're gonna play Switzerland for a place in the semifinals. Which is a place I would not have seen them after the first round of group games.

Yeah, but they had the neutrals supporting them
With Croatia eliminated, it fell on the only other Balkan team left in the competition to challenge the odds. I'm joking, obviously. I know Switzerland is not in the Balkans. Although... Xhaka, Shaqiri, Seferovic, Gavranovic, Mehmedi... one can be forgiven for thinking so. Speaking of these names... try and keep them in mind, there's a chance we might be hearing them a lot more often after taking the World Champions out of the competition. How? That's a bit more difficult to explain. 1-0 at halftime, but I still wasn't worried for France. Maybe, if they would've scored the penalty and gone 2-0 up things might've looked shaky. But when Rodriguez threw the penalty into Lloris' arms I was like 'Ok, Switzerland, you've had your chance, you're done for now.' From then on, it took another two minutes for Benzema to pull level, and another two to put France in the lead. Then Poggy hit a bomb, the kind of which he's famous for, yet he never hits for United. Never mind that, 3-1, world champions in cruising mode. Which, in hindsight, maybe they shouldn't have. 

In many ways, the game was mirroring the earlier one, with the Swiss this time scoring twice, including in the last minute of the 90s. So, both games 3-3, both of them with goals in the final minute, and in the end both world cup finalists eliminated. 

Now, I don't know if the Swiss really believed they can pull this whole eliminating France thing off, but they certainly looked like they did during penalties. Everyone was hitting them with swagger and confidence, and memories of the Europa League final were coming back to me in cold sweat form. 4-4. Come on Mehmedi, pride of the Swiss... Mehmedi scores, Mbappe to take us to the next round. 'Oh, wouldn't it be nice to shave some 50 million off that market value of yours, Kylian?' And, what do you know? Not necessarily sure anyone can buy him for 130 million or whatever now, but missed the penalty he did.

I am sorry for the poor kid. He is a magnificent player, and a joy to watch. At the age of 22, he is still maturing, he will probably become even better and more terrifying for opposing defenses. I am hoping this miss will not mark his career in the same way the WC 1994 final penalty miss did for Roberto Baggio. But for a few months at least, talk of the town will be how Switzerland eliminated the world champions, and in the Champions League starting this fall, opposition players will look at Mbappe thinking this is the guy who missed the penalty that got his country eliminated. Until he starts ripping them apart, at least.

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