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It’s a fix!
In their first five games Liverpool are away to Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs and home to the winners of the Premier and Championship.
Klopp’s new signings better hit the ground running or Thomas Tuchel will be boss by Christmas.
…First three Liverpool away games are the Arse, Spurs and Chelsea. Baptism of fire! Guess we will find out where we are pretty quickly.
I also just read the words ‘Leicester will start their title defence at Hull’. Are we still pretending this really happened?
H (Kante making Pogba look average gives me cheer)
…Can see the Premier League don’t want us to win the league this year, making us play Chelsea/United/Spurs/Liverpool away before the end of October. Ridiculous.
How was that? Now that we’re a big-time club, I’m trying to get into the habit of constantly accusing bias. Seriously though, Arsenal first home game of the season will be interesting, particularly if Vardy/Kante/Mahrez are playing in red.
Toby (Champions) Mitchell
Confirming a continuing trend and showing himself to be the complete twunt that he is, Mr ‘I am so great’ Ronaldo criticises Iceland for being “small mentality” and “parking the bus in the goal”.
Iceland, a country with a population of just 330,00, in their first ever competition decide that such a strategy against a vastly more experienced team is warranted. Hmmm…I wonder why?
While he’s at it maybe Ronaldo can state the same about Italy? No?
Al, Arsenal, Sydney
…As a footballer, Ronaldo is of course a phenomenon, an unbelievable talent and that deserves enormous respect. Jeesh, I was one of many fans who, admittedly felt strange, but applauded him as he was subbed in Real Madrid’s CL win at Anfield.
But as a person? What a despicable arrogant egocentric numpty. Disrespectful comments on a small nation’s great achievement, and not shaking hands? What was he expecting in such a David v Goliath scenario? What. A. Cry-baby. Toys out of the pram. Again.
Mike Woolrich, LFC (watch out Austria, someone is going to feel his wrath)
…After observing the beautiful piece of theatre which was Portugal/Iceland, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw Ronaldo’s disparaging comments about how Iceland “had a small mentality” and “won’t do anything in the competition”.
Lets put this into context – here we have one of the most successful players of all time, the joint best footballer in the world, a man who has set taken the very concept of scoring goals to a whole new, astronomical level, if there is a record, this man has broken out. The highest paid sportsman on the face of the Earth. And he feels the need to p*** on the parade of the greatest moment in Iceland’s sporting history? Iceland, who have never qualified for a competition before? Iceland, who have a population smaller than my hometown of Bristol? Iceland who defied all odds by even reaching the competition and then played with a valiant spirit against the Portugese? Iceland whose assistant manager also works as a dentist?
And yet the best footballer and highest paid sportsman in the world feels the need to dig the knife in and give it a twist in their moment of glory? It’s unbelievable. Almost laughable how tragic it is.
I actually watched the Ronaldo documentary with my Mum the other day. Before it started I filled her head with stories about how Ronaldo is exceptional but vain, phenomenal but narcissistic, spectacular but arrogant. In the film, however, he did not come across this way. He appeared as a loving father, a calm and hard working man, obsessively dedicated to his craft. I felt momentarily guilty for my preconceptions of him, I sat and realised I had been a victim of media propaganda, I even had some level of compassion for how it must feel getting lambasted and having your personality assassinated by people who don’t even know you. As the final credits rolled, I liked him so much more.
Three days later and normality has resumed. Cheers, Cristiano. I thought you were alright for a minute there!
Sincerely hope Iceland go further than Portugal in this competition.
…As a United fan I had a place in my heart for Ronaldo but watching him last night and reading his comments about Iceland this morning I’ve come to the conclusion he’s a whiny mealy mouthed little bitch, my red blinkers have truly fallen and great player though he is what a complete sh*t house of a person he has become, kicking the floor and expecting a free kick, countless free-kicks straight into the wall that were never his fault two glaring sitters missed yet never takes responsibility for missing them it’s never his fault you see, it was a bad bounce, the cross was to high the defender farted, never his fault. Christiano I’m so very disappointed.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
…Thank you for reminding me last night why it is I’ve always found you a thoroughly distasteful and selfish individual. Your behaviour and comments during and after the Iceland game do you and your country great discredit and show the level of self awareness of a plate of oily bacalau.
Yes, I understand you were frustrated to be held to a draw by a country smaller than many European towns, and whose players you’d probably never heard of. But why the hell should’t they play to their own strengths and celebrate the greatest result in their country’s history? I sure was, and with each flailing of your arms and ironic applause of a match official my desire for Iceland to hold on to a draw grew.
There’s some wonderful irony in your comments. I assume you’re aware of the work of one Jose Mourinho, your countryman, who’s made a highly successful career out of ‘defend, defend, defend and playing on the counter-attack.’ He was your club manager for a number of seasons after all. He might be everyone’s cup of tea, but he sure as hell can’t be accused of a ‘small mentality’ for his tactics.
And did you not see the Italy – Belgium match? The defensive minded Italians were a very organised unit who exploited the space left by the skilful and attack-minded Belgians effectively, and they celebrated each goal like Iceland celebrated the result. Mind, I suppose they’re not going to do anything in the competition either with that mentality. And Greece didn’t do jack in 2004…
And I know what you mean about one team not trying and the other trying to play the game. I’ll again refer you to Mourinho, along with Pepe, and a host of Portuguese club sides in European competition (who in my time of watching matches are usually the best (worst?) exponents of gamesmanship – time-wasting, feigning injury etc…). Oh yes, and how could I forget you, you utter winker.
So yeah, I understand you were frustrated by the result. But suck it up big man – sh*t happens. And let’s face it, had you taken the chances that came your way, as might befit someone considered to be the best player in the world, none of this would even matter.
Jonny (I’d love it, love it if Austria and Hungary beat ‘em) Dance
PS – is his shiny haircut simply to illustrate the old adage about turds and polish?
Thank you Iceland
I just want to say a massive thank you to Iceland’s defence last night!
Before the game I put 10 euros on a bet that I never thought would happen but it was 12/1 so why not.
The bet in question was Under 2.5 goals, Over 12 corners and Under four cards.
When Iceland equalised in the 50th minute I thought that was it but fair play to them for hanging on.
That was a long 40+ minutes!!
The fact that the 13th and final corner of the game occurred on the 89th minute made it all the sweeter!
I’m liking this low-scoring Euros!
Peter (Feeling extremely lucky today)
A few thoughts on Tuesday’s football
* Austria v Hungary was fun, wasn’t it? Austria dominated the first half, and looked like they would walk it when David Alaba hit the post in the first minute – largely because Gabor Kiraly looked a bit rusty diving for it.
* What a moment for Adam Szalai. He hadn’t scored for 18 months and spent the first half tripping over the ball, but found a moment of composure when it mattered most.
Zoltan Stieber’s goal was a fantastic finish too.
* One for fans of history: Austria v Hungary was a proper throwback game, so much that it’s a shame France weren’t drawn in a group with Prussia.
* I was wondering why Clive Tyldesley didn’t get this game, and then I heard Joe Speight refer to “the Austrian right-winger”. That’s why Clive had the day off.
Speight is not a commentator I’m massively familiar with, and Iain Dowie was decent as a co-commentator, a lot calmer than his usual, stuck on a gantry unable to hear himself think over the crowd, Soccer Saturday gig. Dowie’s comments on Szalai, and what it’s like to be a striker out of form and short on confidence, were exactly the sort of insight we want from an ex-pro, and a world away from the medals on the table fare of tournaments past.
* That said, I did disagree with Dowie on the red card, which he felt was harsh. Alexander Dragovic slid in heavily, missed the ball and one of his studs raked down his opponent’s shin. Yellow cards are frequently given for this sort of challenge, and the fact he’d already had his name taken gives him even less to complain about.
* While Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale grab the headlines for being far greater than their teammates, the less-heralded Alaba finds himself in a similar position. He was Austria’s best player, involving himself frequently at both ends of the field. He’s definitely a player I’d like to see more of, and as I’m too tight to pay for BT Sport, he needs a move to the Premier League.
* Ronaldo’s complaints about Iceland were that they had the temerity to defend against him, rather than wave him through like most La Liga teams seem to do. That said, much like Belgium the night before, he didn’t seem to fancy taking on any of those defenders himself, preferring instead to run laterally in front of them.
* Nani seemed only to be on the pitch to troll Ronaldo.
* Much like Stieber, Birkir Bjarnason’s goal was reward for a job well done I’d love to be proved wrong, but looking at how tired those Icelanders were at the end of the game, I’ve a sinking feeling Bjarnason’s equaliser will be the highest point of their tournament, with two underwhelming performances to come. Hope not, though.
* We’ve now seen everyone play at least once. For all that the expanded tournament may seem diluted, for the moment at least no one looks like cannon fodder, or simply there to make up the numbers.
* Sidelines – am I imagining things or are the benches in this tournament all on the fixed camera side, and aren’t they on the opposite side in the Premier League? Is it linked to which side of the road you drive on?
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
– I was privileged enough to be at Wales-Slovakia in Bordeaux. An incredible atmosphere and stadium, perfect result for the Welsh, and a great day out all told. Wales’ best players were Ben Davies and James Chester, and they definitely upped the ante when Hal Robson-Kanu and Joe Ledley came on – will they have recovered enough from injury to start against England? Coleman will certainly be hoping so, I reckon. Bale looked, like a lot of the Spanish team, a bit ponderous after a late end to the season and some high intensity finals; still, a great moment when he scored and celebrated with the bench.
– England were so impressive in that first 45 minutes and deserved to be one or two up. They didn’t take their chances and ended up getting sucker punched in the last minute. That’s football it sometimes happens. We can negatively over analyse it, but at the end of the day if the biggest complaint is over who is taking corners then one’s problems aren’t that great.
– Russia seem intent on taking on the USA under Trump as the worlds bad guys. Not only has there been organised rioting (which a minority of England’s fans did play their part in) but during the week: one of their leading tennis players has been banned for drug abuse; athletes across the globe have written to the IOC and WADA saying they’ve lost confidence in those organisations as they haven’t done enough to stop Russia doping; and a gay couple were arrested for showing support to the victims of the Orlando massacre… Not a great week for Russia, though on the pitch they got a point with a cobbled together team – will their luck continue against the weaker teams of Slovakia and England.
– Overall, Group B is nicely poised going into the big game on Thursday. However, due to the format this year, the 2nd placed team is likely to face the 2nd place team in group H; would we see teams deliberately finish 2nd to have a go at the Hungarians?
– Belgium Italy had people rightly stating the importance of a good manager. I completely agree that Conte is a much better manager than Wilmots, and that having a good manager is critical for a successful tournament or season. However, in the context of a single game, not a lot can be taken from it other than to fit the current narrative arc. If Lukaku had put away that sitter in the second half then the game becomes a lot different. In the long run a good manager makes a difference in their ability to notice trends in the team and implement changes to stop or improve, but from a single game it’s equally about single moments of play.
– Payet and Modric – woof!
– Yesterday’s football was highly enjoyable. From the shock of the Austrian hipsters to Ronaldo blaming the small (population less than Wakefield) mentality of Iceland. Austria just couldn’t seem to get their game plan going. With most of the crosses aimed to Janko missing the target. They then had Hungary being very clinical. Portugal, like England, have themselves to blame for not taking their chances, and whilst it was great to see Ronaldo sulk, as the BBC pundits mentioned after the game it’s going to click in one of the next two games.
Can’t wait for the second round!
Matt, EFC, London
First round winners and losers
Dimitri Payet – went from eyebrow-raising interloper to national hero. As outstanding as his goal was, it was only the icing on the cake of an excellent performance. The cherry on top? His goal could be very meaningful for France’s tournament as Group A’s winners face a third-place team in the last 16 then a runner up in the quarter finals. A draw against Romania would have put Switzerland in the driving seat.
Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann – France’s top two players would have been in the spotlight for pretty terrible performances had Olivier Giroud, N’Golo Kante and Payet not spared their blushes. Pogba was especially disappointing, playing as if under intense personal pressure to be spectacular from the first minute, and being outshone so completely in the process. As it is, they’ve had a free pass.
Iceland – yes, Portugal looked disjointed but still battered them at times, but in the end Gylfi Sigurdsson could have got the winner. It seems fitting that, in a round where the lesser-fancied teams have given such a good account of themselves, and team spirit has tended to trump individual talent, the minnowiest of them all got such a remarkable result against Ronaldo et al.
Wales – Their win was thanks in no small part to the competition’s worst act of goalkeeping, but they’ve seized the initiative in Group B, with upcoming games against a baggage-laden England team and, if you’ll pardon my French, a sh*t Russia. Although…
Russia – benefited from a wasteful opponent to squeak the most ill-deserved of draws, then once the preamble was done with, the main event went off with a bang. With a fascist Ultra leader in the Russian delegation to the tournament and the Sports Minister cheering fans on as they charged the England end in Marseille, you have to wonder how official these acts of violence are.
Hungary – the Italian team was meant to be the worst in generations – I’m sure Winty was delighted to see Giaccherini score – and they faced one of the most talented sides in the competition, but surely, in terms of surpassed expectations, Hungary’s consummate defeat of a well-respected Austria is the performance of the first round? With three points in the bag, a place in the second round looks highly likely already.
Croatia – it was claimed France have the tournament’s best midfield, I’d suggest it is actually Spain’s, but Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic are absolute filth for Croatia. They slipped into gear after a scrappy opening period, and the whole side looks like it will take some beating.
ITV – or should I say Slaven Bilic, who has been utterly magnificent?
Michel Platini – at home, counting his money, while the ineptitude of UEFA’s scheduling is laid bare.
England – embarrassing fans, sickening result founded on unforgivable wastefulness, assaulted fans, and the threat of ignominious disqualification hanging over them. At least things have been peaceful so far in Lille, eh?
Patrice Evra – doubts over the French defence were meant to centre on Raphael Varane’s absence. As it is, the centre-backs were fine. The same can’t be said for the left back. As with Pogba and Griezmann, he’s had a let off, but while you expect the other two to hit form, doubts cling more heavily to the 35-year-old.
Marc Wilmots – What’s the opposite of polishing a turd? He’s doing it exceptionally well.
Round 3 – having acknowledged that the smaller teams have been a credit thus far, it seems mean spirited to say this, but what difference will the upsets and dropped points be when the odds are stacked so heavily towards qualification? Yes, the prospect of Belgium, England or Austria qualifying in third could lead to some unexpectedly tight games a round early, but we’ll miss the drama of teams crashing out at the group stage, and the final round of group matches could descend into safety-first drudgery.
Fantasy Footballists – combined goals for Ronaldo, Muller, Griezmann, Lukaku, De Bruyne, Morata, Kane, Ibrahimovich and Lewandowski: 0. Gareth Bale’s kept up his end of the bargain but the hipsters with Arkadiusz Milik will be unbearable.
Calling Bullsh*t on Football365
I quite enjoyed the recent ‘Top Ten Euro Kneejerks‘ and felt myself nodding ascension at most of what I read. However I had to take issue with knee jerk 3) about there being no great coaches. I don’t disagree that there’s an absence of decent managers, it’s more that I don’t believe that there ever have been that many. I mean, in what world has international football ever been the province of truly great club managers?
1990 was the first World Cup I can remember. It was won by West Germany who were managed by Franz Beckenbauer who had never managed in club football. Denmark’s shock win at Euro 92 came courtesy of Richard Moller Nielsen, whose previous gigs included managing the Danish Futsal team. USA 94 was won by Brazil under the stewardship of Mario Zagallo who could include short stints at an array of Brazilian sides, and time at luminaries such as Saudi Arabia, on his CV.
Euro 96 was the year that the sodding Germans won after breaking our hearts, with Berti Vogts – a man who had limited experience with the U21s – guiding ze Germans to victory. France 98 witnessed the home nation capture the biggest prize, helmed by Aime Jacquet whose biggest job had probably been at Lyon in the 80s. Euro 2000 was again won by the French who were guided by former winner of the Military World Cup – Roger Lemerre, and Big Phil Scolari pulled in the 2002 World Cup (prior to unsuccessfully managing Chelsea) after a nomadic career managing everywhere from Al Ahli in Dubai to J-League also rans. Of the remaining managers to win the Euros or World Cup – Otto Rehegal, Marcello Lippi, Luis Aragones, Vicente Del Bosque and Joachim Low, only Rehegal stands out as having had a club career that could be called an unqualified success, although Lippi and Del Bosque could both make decent arguments.
So in answer to the question ‘where have all the great tacticians of international football gone?’, I would say that there hadn’t been many there in the first place.
Rich (Vardy in the 60th please) Malballs