Let’s Talk About EURO2016

I sense a need amongst the FtB followers for a space to talk about the EURO2016, as discussions about it are bleeding into other posts. So, here it is!

I am a soccer fan. Always have been, always will be. However, I am also under revision right now, so this year I will only be watching the Italy matches, at least as long as Italy is in play. When it comes to those matches, I will be discussing them also, but feel free to use this comments section to discuss any match you please.

A 46 year old curse has been broken.

I have never suffered a match as much as I suffered through that one. Ever. Up until the last second, it was neck and neck. Ah well. This is the EUROs that’s going down in history, right? Up is down, day is night, Germany finally managed to beat Italy and Iceland is kicking butt.

Now that we’re out of the running, I am actually hoping that Iceland goes all the way.

Italy – 2 Spain – 0

Now THAT was a game worth watching! Amazing. Brilliant. That was worth the 2 hours I took out of work to see it.

Both teams played well. We ran like crazy in the first half, and the batteries ran out half way through the second (as always happens with Italy) so Spain made us sweat a little bit there at the end, but then we clinched it with a second goal and it was fantastic.

Now, we’ve got Italy – Germany.

Don’t know if many of you know this, but Germany has an Italy curse. Even when they are breaking all records and playing amazingly, Italy knocks them out of the running. Germany has not won a qualifying match against Italy since 1970. So… will the curse hold on Saturday?

I’m not missing that match for the world.

Italy – 0 Ireland – 1

Despite De Rossi’s statement that Italy was going to play for the win, what really happened is that they saw this sign and just felt bad for our dear Irish friends



All kidding aside, I actually didn’t manage to catch the game last night. I sped home as fast as I could to catch the second half, spent 40 minutes trying to find someone who was streaming it online, failed, watched a little supernatural while eating pasta with nettle pesto, and went to sleep. Oops.

I heard it was pretty rough though. I am very, very worried about Italy – Spain.


Italy – 1 Sweden – 0

I’m not here to cheer or gloat. That game was terrible.

Sweden played better than I thought they would, but I am told that’s just because I was watching them play next to Italy. The first half was complete torture, as Italy suffered from a highly contagious rash of uncoordinated muppetism. It was pathetic. At one point, Candreva intercepted a ball, and he seemed so surprised by it that he was staring at the ball between his legs like it had just fallen out of his twat. It was like they were trying to adopt a rule of physics: as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every really good pass has to be immediately followed by an incredibly pathetic pass into nothingness.

At the very end of the second half, we scored. I admit, that was a very nice goal, Èder managed to outmaneuver three defenders by himself and score. It was a good enough goal that I could have forgiven them the entire muppetism of the first three-quarters of the game, if it wasn’t for how they behaved afterwards.

Shameful, unsportsmanlike tactics to run out the clock. They were so blatantly obvious they even earned our goalie a yellow card. It was disgusting.

I’ve never been so annoyed with a win in my entire life.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Some impressions.

    Italy has impressed me the most. Hadn’t seen much of them, but heard they were in transition, with low expectations. Pirlo gone, and the only players I knew were Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi and Totta. And I’d seen Pelle play a bit in the EPL. But they looked as good as I’ve seen in years, and much better than 2014. Defense as stingy as ever, and some really fast, clever build up play.

    Spain and Germany looked predictably good. France, hohum. England better than expected in an opening game, but as heartbreaking as ever. Why, Danny Rose, why didn’t you know there was a 6’5″ Russian standing behind you?

    Nasty person that I am, I’m hoping for Portugal to go out in the group stage*, or at least finish third. Iceland (Iceland!) and Hungary were a pleasant surprise, so it could happen.

    *I can’t stand Pepe or Ronaldo

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      Italy is in transition, and will be for a while. We have this tendency to play the same players for 20-odd years. It is the same tendency that Brazil has, for example, and is why (I think) that Brazil hasn’t won more World Cups. These players all age at the same time, and then you are forced to play a team full of new players, which have not been tried as much as they should have been at this point. I was worried about Buffon, whom most seem to think is well past his prime, but he did great on Monday. Italian pessimism makes me not get my hopes up at this stage, Monday’s match could have been a fluke, but let’s see! I’m excited nonetheless 🙂

      • says

        German fortunes have turned around in the past 20 years because they made the conscious decision to spend boatloads of money on developing young German players based on talent and mobility, no longer by size.

        These two items below describe this, but don’t mention another factor: all youth players in Germany are learning the national team system. No matter which club team they play for, German players are interchangeable and automatically know their jobs when called on, requiring minimal coaching. The national team coaches can pick by talent or who’s peaking. Four consecutive world cup semifinal appearances shows that it works.



        The second item’s writer says it couldn’t work elsewhere, about which he is completely wrong. Twenty five years ago, Swiss hockey put huge amounts into their youth programs and the result has been medals at the world championships and being top ten in the world for over a decade. It’s not whether it can work, it’s whether countries are willing to make such a long term commitment.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    …and France make it through to the next phase with a thoroughly undeserved 6 points from two games. If France and Switzerland play to (or for) a draw, they both go through. Albania were marvelous until the late substitution.

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    Oh England, one of these days you will give me a stroke. Squeaked a 2-1 victory in added time, and Bale still almost equalized for Wales right at the end.

    Nice to see Northern Ireland win a match, against Ukraine.

    Germany dominated the game against Poland, but Poland had the best chances, and Milik should be ashamed of two missed chances. Mind you, if you score against Germany, it just wakes the bastards up.

    Looking forward to Italy-Sweden tomorrow.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      I dunno. I only caught the second half of Germany v Poland, and I think Poland held its own quite nicely. Germany didn’t seem to be giving its all, probably because a tie suits them just fine. There were some great saves on both sides tho.
      Either way, Italy-Sweden is what I’m waiting to watch 😀 I work in an institute which is filled with Italians, but just a couple of months ago we got a new Swedish PhD student. The only Swede in here. I almost feel sorry for the guy

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    Ah well, at least Antonio Conte’s hair is interesting. He seems to have a lot more than in his playing days.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    Not for the first time, I’m thinking “who the fuck is going to beat Spain”? Also, thank Jebus for Modrić and Iniesta. There’s a reason why some people call it “the beautiful game”.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    Shameful, unsportsmanlike tactics to run out the clock.

    Sadly, that’s become normal. Like diving, feigning injury (hi, Pepe!), and giving the ‘card’ gesture to the ref. They should all be automatic yellow cards.

    So, tomorrow I can cheer for Wales and England. Tuesday, Croatia-Spain could be the match of the tournament so far, and Wednesday; come on Ireland! 😉

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    Congrats to Wales for topping group B! And great defensive work by Slovakia to stop England scoring, especially Martin Skirtel (bastard! ;-)).

    Result of the tournament so far: Croatia 2, Spain 1, so Croatia finishes on top. And Croatia playing without Modrić! With Italy having clinched their group, that means Spain and Italy meet in the round of 16.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      YUP and I’m worried about that one. It will be interesting to see who Conte is playing tonight against Ireland. He kept his (only) 2 attackers benched thus far, and we really need them on top form against Spain. I hope he doesn’t play them, at least not for the whole game, against Ireland. Let’s see…

    • dianne says

      I so want Iceland to win the EM. If only because it’s a country that’s smaller than most decently sized cities.

  8. Arun says

    Though many do not like him, I am happy that Ronaldo’s two goals is taking Portugal to second round. The first one was a gem, as good or better than today’s Messi free kick against USA in Copa America Semis

    • Rob Grigjanis says

      Arun, I agree, even though I’m not fond of Ronaldo or Portugal. They certainly deserve more than they got, and Ronaldo would have had several more goals with a bit of luck in the last couple of games. They never let their bad luck get them down. Got to admire that.

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    I’m so happy to see Ireland through, they gave it everything.

    This is one for the books: four countries from the Anglo-Celtic Isles through to the last 16. Only Scotland missing.

  10. dianne says

    Italy/Spain, I don’t have strong feelings about who wins, but if the game isn’t a good one I will be very, very disappointed. Spain is back in form after their horrible show in the last WM and Italy is…Italy. So they’d better give us a game worth watching or I’ll…I’ll…actually, I don’t have much of a threat to make, especially since the winner won’t face Germany until the finals, assuming both get that far.

    • Rob Grigjanis says


      the winner won’t face Germany until the finals, assuming both get that far.

      If Germany beat Slovakia in their next match, they will meet the winner of Italy/Spain in the very next match (quarter finals). Link.

  11. dianne says

    I also want to say that two of the 3 goals scored by Germany so far were scored by Mustafi and Gomez. Go ahead, AfD, tell me again what a disaster immigration has been for Germany! (Not that I know whether either of these particular players are immigrants, but their last names, shall we say, not classic German last names.)

    • Rob Grigjanis says

      Boateng, Khedira and Özil are among the better players in the side. They, and the two you mentioned, were born in Germany, but with at least some recent foreign ancestry.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    I heard it was pretty rough though. I am very, very worried about Italy – Spain.

    I wouldn’t be too worried. It was a nothing game for Italy, and most players from the previous game were left out, so it was a B team on the field.

  13. says

    In every tournament, someone tries to label one of the groups as the “group of death”. This time, group E.

    The actual “group of death” this time is the knockout round. Germany, Spain, England, Italy and France make up five of the eight on one side, fighting for one spot in the final. Even Slovakia could knock off one or two big names or make a run themselves.

    On the other side, a surprise team would only need one lucky break to get through to the final, plus the other side’s winner will have played three tough games and gotten one less day of rest. Unpredictable is always more interesting to watch.

  14. Sophy says

    I loved the Croatia – Spain game, although I missed Modric. I’m looking forward to the Croati -Portugal game.

  15. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    I have basically no national pride and usually cheer against the Croatian team if I do any cheering at all. BUt this time I’m really looking forward to the next game.
    Croatia-Spain was great, even though I was watching it on a faulty TV that would freeze every minute or so for a couple of seconds (only visual, the sound went on normally – that’s how I heard one of the goals withotu seeing it).

  16. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Is this just my lack of knowledge about football or is this judge letting both Croats and Portugese play it rough? Sanchez just obviusly pushed Srna right in front of a side/help/? judge and nothing.

    • Rob Grigjanis says

      Beatrice, there’s the referee, and assistant referees (once were called linesmen). The calls have been rather patchy, but it’s up to the ref to call every little thing, or let the game flow unless things get nasty.

  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    Croatia-Portugal. There’s 120 minutes I’ll never get back. Both sides were too afraid to be exposed to a counter-attack until the last four minutes, when Croatia came so close, only to be suckered on the counter.

    It reminded me of the Monty Python sketch about a soccer match between the Greek and German philosophers, with Franz Beckenbauer as a ringer for the Germans, and Confucius as referee. Both sides wandering around pondering the mysteries of the universe until Archimedes has a brilliant insight, and kicks the ball.

    France deservedly go through against Ireland, but the Irish fought admirably, and nearly scored the tying goal late on. So if England can get past Iceland (by no means a certainty), it’s the French next for us.

    • dianne says

      I’m torn on the Iceland-England game. On the one hand, Iceland going all the way would be endlessly amusing. On the other, France-England would be a beautifully symbolic game, given recent events. If the universe has any sense of humor, it would end with France winning on an English own goal.

      • Rob Grigjanis says

        If the universe has any sense of humor, it would end with France winning on an English own goal.

        If it really had a sense of humour, England would have own goals against France, Germany, and Belgium in the final! Of course, that would require them scoring at least twice in the first two, to get to the next round. That would be the hard part,

      • Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

        Iceland-England game is actually fun, and not just because of more goals but things in general happening (the last one I watched was Croatia Portugal, so “things happening” is quite a change).

        • Rob Grigjanis says

          Oh Beatrice, it was no fun at all for an England supporter*.

          *Note: supporter, not fanatic or apologist. It breaks my heart to see good players so poorly coached. That’s the English disease.

  18. Rob Grigjanis says

    Hungary 0, Belgium 4. Now that was football. Best match so far, although the score doesn’t do justice to Hungary’s play. And a stunning individual performance by Eden Hazard. Magic.

  19. Rob Grigjanis says

    Well, someone should be happy! 🙂

    Italy made Spain look ordinary. Truly masterful. Italy-Germany should be a cracker.

  20. Rob Grigjanis says

    Props to Iceland. They deserve to be in the last eight, England don’t. England’s lack of quality shouldn’t take anything away from the Icelanders’ win. They’ll give anyone a game, but a team like Italy, Germany or Belgium will probably break them down. Let’s see how France do against them!

    Now to get a bit drunk.

  21. dianne says

    Iceland :). I’d love to see Iceland win the EM, but it seems…unlikely. At least they knocked “we’re not sure we’re really European” England out of the running.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      Still, that a country of 300,000 people in which it is almost impossible to play soccer for most of the year could knock out England, that was amazing! It reminded me of that John Candy movie in which he brings the Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics.

      • blf says

        Still, that a country of 300,000 people in which it is almost impossible to play soccer for most of the year

        Most of the soccer facilities are new and indoors. And there are a lot of them (Football, fire and ice: the inside story of Iceland’s remarkable rise):

        […] Iceland has brilliant [facilities]. Football is rich. What, in the end, do you want to spend its money on? With TV money still stuffing its pockets, Iceland decided to do something else with this bonus. Something — and this is the key difference — actually useful.

        Clubs and local authorities went into partnership, building unapologetically vast indoor football pitches up and down the country. The halls are heated, open to all and staffed by qualified coaches. They are, in their own way, the key to all this.

        Finally, Iceland did something great with school football. The [Icelandic] FA has been buying land next to schools and building pitches: enclosed timber-built, artificial-turfed pitches, paid for by money that might otherwise have ended up in some familiar dead end: unnecessarily showy mega-stadiums, executive salaries, another Bugatti in the garage.

        And, as hinted-at in the above excerpt, Iceland has qualified couches (again, a lot of them, and they are paid professionals, at every level):

        Arrigo Sacchi famously suggested elite coaching should be open to people from any walk of life, from elevator operators to stockbrokers. At the end of the last century the Icelandic FA put this into practice. Bolstered by the TV money pouring into every Uefa country, Iceland set up an open, hugely popular training scheme. Currently this nation of 335,000 has around 600 qualified coaches, 400 with Uefa B licences, or one per 825 people. To put this into context, in England this number falls to one per 11,000.

        The result is a spread of expertise right down to the lowest level. “Here you need a Uefa B licence to coach from under-10 level up and half of the Uefa B licence to coach under-eights,” Dagur Sveinn Dagbjartsson of the Icelandic FA says. This isn’t simply box-ticking. The Uefa B is one step off the level needed to coach a professional team in England. Yelling dads it ain’t.

        Dagur is coordinator of the Icelandic FA’s coach education programme. […] “Even if you start training at four years old you get good quality coaching. Every coach in Iceland gets paid, we don’t have any amateurs. Every kid who plays pays an annual fee and can go and train with a professional club. My own kid started when he was three. One coach had the Uefa A licence and one the B licence.”

        This small country is approaching participation in the game in a manner which is open to all with superb facilities and expertise available to all.

        The national team has zero(?) previous expertise in a tournament, so in that sense, the progress they have been making is surprising.

      • Rob Grigjanis says

        Well, in 2012-13 they finished 2nd in their World Cup qualifying group. And in qualifying for Euro 2016, they beat Turkey, Czech Republic, and both games against the Netherlands.

  22. dianne says

    And curse? It’s no curse. Past German teams have simply felt the inexplicable need to be extra nice to Italy.

  23. Rob Grigjanis says

    Bloody Portugal, always find a way through. The kid Sanches was impressive, but his goal was more luck than accuracy. So more fucking close-ups of Ronaldo the Petulant to come.

    Today: Hoping Wales can pull off an upset against Belgium.

    Tomorrow: Hope the good Italian side shows up, and wallops those Tedeschi bastards* we have a great match.

    *Just kidding. I like this German team.

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    Oh Wales, you beauties! They took it to the Belgians, and simply outplayed them. Managed to largely shut down De Bruyne and Hazard, and thoroughly deserved the win. Only down side was the yellow card to Ramsey, which means he misses the semi against Portugal. He’s been key to their success.

    A bit premature, but a Wales-Iceland final would make history.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      I Think this is the EURO that’s making history! That doesn’t make me want Italy to win any less though. Im so nervous today!

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    Absorbing match, with little to pick between the two sides. I wanted Italy to win, mainly because I really like Buffon, but either would have been a fair outcome.

    I think Iceland has a real chance against France, but Germany might be a bridge too far. I also fancy Wales against Portugal, if they can compensate for the loss of Ramsey somehow.

  26. dianne says

    Well, can’t complain that it wasn’t an exciting game. Not as well played as it could have been, though. Both teams were letting the ball get taken from them too often. And I thought the goalies were going to have to take a kick before the thing resolved. (Darned near did: 9 shots to resolve the game?)

  27. Rob Grigjanis says

    Ah, that’s too bad. I gave up watching soon after the first France goal, because it was obvious that the Icelanders were mentally really tired*. I hadn’t seen such sloppy defending from them until then. I knew they’d fight back, but effectively the game was over. We haven’t seen the last of them, and I hope the bigger countries learn from their example rather than treat them as a one-off. They’re not.

    *Physically too, I’m sure, but they managed to hide that pretty well. Same starting eleven for five games straight, and nine of them with yellow cards.

  28. dianne says

    Wales/Portugal. I’m not watching it, but I just checked the stats in Der Spiegel and it’s 0-0, exactly equal team dominance and only ONE shot on goal from either side. Good-night. I’m only going to turn on ARD if I have insomnia.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      I’m still picking worms in the lab, so I’ll only be checking the stats from time to time. Still… Go Wales!

  29. Rob Grigjanis says

    Portugal had the better quality possession, and looked more dangerous. Renato Sanches is someone to watch; only 18 and plays like a veteran. He’ll be at Bayern next year, IIRC.

    Wales had a couple of close-in almost-chances, and some long shots from Bale. If they hadn’t lost Ramsey to the stupid double yellow card rule (two cards in the first five games, and you miss the semi), they’d have done better. Still, an amazing tournament for them.

    Don’t care who wins Germany-France tomorrow, but I hope it’s a good game.

    • dianne says

      I’m not terribly optimistic: Germany’s lost several players to injuries and double yellow cards and France is playing in France. It may be an embarrassing game.

      • Rob Grigjanis says

        France is playing in France

        Germany has the depth to cover for Gomez, Khedira and Hummels. And Brazil was playing in Brazil when Germany beat them 7-1! It might be boring, but I doubt it will be embarrassing.

    • dianne says

      At risk of annoying the host, I do not believe that Italian refs were the best choice for this game. Oh, well, that’s life and football.

  30. Rob Grigjanis says

    France should win this one. If so, I hope they refrain from using the Icelandic salute at the end. On the wrong side of the line between homage and rip-off, IMO.

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