Every single football fan, whether you come from Northern Ireland or not, will have gone mental to the chant of the tourney at some point in the last month, but the irony is that Will Grigg, the most talked/sung about player in the Euros, did even play a minute on the pitch! Nevertheless, he was certainly keeping the bench warm – he was on fire!
9. Crazy Fans!
The fans always come up with wacky ideas, and this tournament was the same! Here are the picks of the costumes…
8. Ronaldo Moth
Poor old Cristiano Ronaldo, he was so badly hurt in the final that he didn’t notice the moth perched just under his right eye…
And some brilliant jokers did this…
7. Morata Tackles the Linesman
In any best moments countdown, you have to have a player annihilating an official…
6. Iceland Go Viking-Style
After one of their triumphs in the tournament, the Iceland players and fans rediscovered their viking heritage…
5. Winking Mascot
This little guy grabbed hold of his chance to shine when the cameras pointed at him whilst he was a mascot…
4. Ronaldo Throws a Tantrum
When Hungary went 3-2 up against Portugal, their star man, who had scored an exquisite flick to make it 2-2, went into a bit of a rage…
3. Joe Ledley’s Smooth Moves
When he wins another game as Wales in the Euros, who can blame Joe Ledley for losing himself a little?
2. Simone Zaza Messes Up Big Time
His run-up in the shootout against Germany took a few million years, and when he finally reached the ball…
Last night, Portugal stunned world football as they beat France 1-0 to win Euro 2016, after Éder scored a long-range winner in the second half of extra time.
France were clear favourites to overwhelm Portugal, who had had a relatively unspectacular tournament before the final. Griezmann, Pogba, Payet, Matuidi, Giroud, Lloris, Koscielny and co. were going to take on, well, Ronaldo. Or so we thought.
The sense that the game was France’s was expounded as Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off with a bad knee injury, and he left the field crying on a stretcher. He wasn’t the only one with no hope left – most of the Portuguese were doubting their chances even more now. But the players proved everyone wrong. They defended stubbornly, they were well-drilled and organised. France had their fair share of chances, but they failed to put them away – Lucas Digne scuffed a shot onto the post in the last minute of normal time – and in frustrating France for the first 90 minutes Portugal showed that they are a team, not ‘Ronaldo and the other 10’.
In extra time, Portugal were more daring, hitting the bar from a free kick, and just as it seemed that the game was headed for penalties, Éder, who had not scored in 14 games for Swansea – not even had a shot on target – drove a low shot past Lloris to send Portugal into raptures.
That 109th minute goal was enough to win the game for Portugal, and Cristiano Ronaldo was so emotional as he lifted the trophy that even I, one of his biggest sceptics, had to feel happy for him. He finally achieved something that Lionel Messi hasn’t – win something on the international stage – and that has written his name in the football history books.
Hello? Is it safe? Can I come out of hiding? You sure? Ever since England were humiliated by Iceland, I haven’t been into the outside world and haven’t been on my blog, but now it’s final day so I might as well round up what has been going on since the defeat whilst I’ve been mourning the loss of my sanity.
The first quarter final match saw Poland face Portugal, and after a fiery, quick-paced first half which saw Renato Sanches cancel out Robert Lewandowski’s early goal, the game was dull up until a penalty shootout, which Portugal eventually won 5-3.
Wales shocked the world of football by walloping Belgium 3-1, with a beautiful Robson-Kanu Cruyff turn which sent every football pundit into raptures and provoked a couple of Premier League teams to show an interest in snapping up the free agent striker. Marc Wilmots was heavily criticised for his lack of ability to get the best out of an extremely gifted squad, who are clearly far better on FIFA 16 than they are in Euro 16.
Germany and Italy, maybe two of the best teams in the competition, met prematurely in the third quarter final, and a tight game went to penalties, which went on forever before Manuel Neuer’s save finally sent the Germans through 6-5. Simone Zaza will always be remembered for his run up that was almost as long as his penalty was high!
In the last quarter final, that team lost 5-2 in a thriller to the hosts France, in the highest-scoring game of the tournament.
Heroic Wales faced off a Portugal side who had not previously won a single game in 90 minutes at the tournament, but they proved a class above Wales and Ronaldo did enough to send the triumphant Welsh packing. 2-0.
Germany, after seeing off a superb Italy side, played an even better France side, and if anyone was going to beat the world champions, it would be the hosts. In the end, Antoine Griezmann scored another two goals to send Germany home, but the final 2-0 scoreline did not reflect the equal match-up.
And so, Portugal and France would face off in the final of Euro 2016…
Iceland humiliated England last night, knocking them out of Euro 2016 following a 2-1 win. As a result, Roy Hodgson immediately announced his resignation from his post as England manager, and the enquiries into what went wrong have begun.
It all seemed to start so well. England avoided Portugal in the Round of 16, and would play minnows Iceland, 23 places below them in the world rankings. The England camp seemed focussed, confident and concentrated, and the world’s media firmly backed England to overwhelm an inferior Icelandic side. And last night, Daniel Sturridge’s curled ball through to Raheem Sterling set the City winger off, and he reached the ball before the keeper, getting hacked down by the Iceland goalie and winning a penalty. Rooney comfortably dispatched the spot-kick, and England had that early goal that everyone was talking about. Surely it was game over – surely England would crush Iceland.
34 seconds after kick off, a superb long throw from Aron Gunnarsson was flicked on, and Kyle Walker was nowhere as Ragnar Sigurdsson poked home past Joe Hart.
And 12 minutes later, Sigthorsson got on the end of a slick move to send a bobbling shot goalwards, and again Joe Hart, like he did against Wales, could only palm it into the net. It was 2-1 to Iceland, the ‘small’ team. But England had 70 minutes to get at least one goal. They prompted and probed but their movement was slow, they seemed lazy, tired and out of ideas at times. They didn’t get a goal, they were useless from set-pieces, they were dodgy at the back, and they lost – maybe the most humiliating defeat in England’s history.
Wayward shooting – 11 off target, 4 on, just one goal.
So what went wrong? I have said from the start that Hodgson is not quite ‘with the times’ so to speak, and is not a modern day manager. Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kyle Walker, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Rose, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne – they all play for Tottenham, Leicester or Liverpool. 10 of the 23-man squad play for those teams – all with quick-moving, high-pressing, high-energy styles of play, but Hodgson’s philosophy is slow, low-tempo passing is old-fashioned and doesn’t work with his squad.
Maybe the selections were wrong. Raheem Sterling was picked a lot, as was Jack Wilshire, and they have had poor seasons. Or maybe the squad was discontent – disenchanted by Roy Hodgson’s methods. Perhaps the pressure of the occasion was too much for them. But one thing is for sure – the ability in the squad, and the form that they’ve been in all year long, shows that they have underachieved and the blame has to be pinned on Hodgson for not getting the best out of his players. He had to resign in the end.
And so what next? Following the biggest humiliation in recent England history, there is rebuilding to do, and a new boss – one with a modern philosophy, like Eddie Howe or Alan Pardew – must be brought in sooner rather than later. But we must face the facts – we have a team of young players with great potential, and unless something in the FA’s ideology and long-term plan is changed, on what we’ve seen so far, we won’t be able to extract the potential of this golden generation.
But the underlying message is clear.
For the country that invented football, this is unprecedentedly poor.
The first night for a long time with no footy, so let’s reflect on an intriguing and unpredictable Group Stage…
Group A: A Dmitri Payet-inspired France topped the group, relying on late goals to beat Romania and Albania and drawing 0-0 with Switzerland. The Swiss were also unbeaten, getting a win over Albania and drawing with Romania. Albania didn’t make it into the top four third placed teams, although they recorded a historic win over Romania in their first international tournament, and Romania were disappointing, crashing out with just a point from three games.
Group B: England were faced with three tricky defences to overcome, and only managed to get the better of one, beating Wales 2-1, however they were held by Russia and Slovakia so only came second. Wales won their two other games and were very impressive, being one of the only teams to win by a big margin so far. They deservedly topped the group. A plucky Slovakia side scraped through in third, but Russia were very poor, their ageing defence struggling against the pacy attacks of their opponents.
Group C: Germany and Poland were both excellent, and both unbeaten, each winning against Ukraine and Northern Ireland and drawing with each other. The World Champions had perhaps higher expectations than 7 points and some unconvincing performances, but they will be satisfied by their exploits so far. As will Poland, who have been a surprise package so far, and if it wasn’t for some wayward Arkadeus Milik finishing they could’ve done even better. Northern Ireland recorded a historic 2-0 win over Ukraine that was ultimately enough to take them through to the Round of 16 in third, but Ukraine were very disappointing, not picking up a single point or goal and looking hopeless throughout.
Group D: Croatia’s 2-1 win over Spain proved enough to take them through as group winners, and they are much fancied to go far as the dark horse, which is great stuff because I got them in my class sweepstake and I’ve heard rumours there is a box of chocolates for the winner! However, Joey got Spain and they aren’t to be underestimated – they beat Turkey comfortably and after their first two games (before the De Gea howler) they looked the best side in the competition – and they are on the ‘easy’ side of the draw. Turkey disappointed, and despite their win over the Czech Republic they will still be heading home as one of the worst 3rd placed sides. The Czechs were poor, only picking up a solitary point following a late, perhaps undeserved, equaliser against Croatia.
Group E: This group was very tight, with Italy and Belgium both on 6 points (Italy ahead on goal difference). The heavily-criticised Italians looked like a great team in their first two games, and defeated Belgium. The Belgians were much-fancied, and after a disappointing start against Italy in which they didn’t turn up, they responded and finally put in decent performances against Sweden and Ireland. Ireland also progressed in third thanks to a late winner over table toppers Italy, but Sweden (Zlatan FC) were poor as they finished bottom.
Group F: If the last group was tight, this was even tighter, with Hungary and Iceland on 5 points at the top of the pile. Hungary, in first, had an unbelievable tournament, and as the favourites to finish bottom, their performances were fantastic. In the most exciting game of the group stages, they drew 3-3 with Portugal, who had a poor tournament, drawing every game and only just making it through to the next round. The fact that Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t played very well until the Hungary game just goes to show how much they rely on him. Iceland have been the story of the tournament, coming second after some incredible results… for a country with just 300,000 population – the same amount as Coventry! However, AlabAustria were rubbish, only picking up one point and finishing last.
So, now a look ahead to the round of 16…
On one side of the draw:
Switzerland v Poland
Croatia v Portugal
Wales v Northern Ireland
Hungary v Belgium
The winner of match 1 plays that of match 2, and likewise with 3 and 4. Then, the winners of those two matches play in a semi-final and the winner of that progresses to the next round.
On the other side:
Germany v Slovakia
Italy v Spain
France v Ireland
England v Iceland
And the same rules apply… So my predictions for the quarter final matches:
Poland v Croatia
Wales v Belgium
Germany v Spain
France v England
Then the semis…
Croatia v Belgium
Germany v France
And the final:
Belgium v France, which France will win!
So it looks like England have a very hard side of the draw, whereas the likes of Wales, Northern Ireland, Croatia and Belgium have quite easy matches up until the final!
Russia 0-3 Wales – Ramsey opens scoring for Wales, Neil Taylor gets a second, Bale pokes home number 3, to send Wales through
21.53 – England deeply frustrated by an organised Slovakian defence, but whilst everyone will be very irritated, I’m optimistic. A good performance again means we have dominated every game so far, and although we haven’t been that great in goalscoring terms, we certainly have the players to get some goals. The next game shouldn’t be too hard and from what we have seen from the last three games, we definitely have the potential to go far. No team in the competition has been ‘incredible’ so far, they have all lacked something at times, and on group performance, England are up there with the elite. The next month could well be an exciting, successful one for all us England fans… Goodnight!
Full Time: 0-0
90 + 5′ Nathaniel Clyne’s cross is easily collected, and England have one last attack? No.
Wales have beaten Russia 3-0 and gone through to the Round of 16.
90 + 3′ England constantly being blocked, charged down or forced wide. Dele Alli fires too high, and Slovakia will take their time with this goal kick.
90 + 3′ No.
90 + 1′ 5 minutes additional time. In the 92nd minute, Sturridge scored against Wales. Can we score in it again?
90′ Martin Skrtel looks in pain, as he clears a ball on the stretch. The clock is ticking away…
88′ Another big moment! Henderson yet again surges forward and pings in a delicious ball for Kane, who can only nod it wide. If it stays like this, England will play whoever comes second in Group F – any one of Portugal, Iceland, Austria or Hungary.
86′ How many corners have England have? A nice run from Henderson gives Rooney another opportunity to cross, but it is wasted again. A Ryan Bertrand diagonal ball is just not friendly enough to control for Harry Kane. England running out of time…
85′ Robert Mak, of Slovakia, looks as if he has pulled his hamstring, and the England fans are frustrated as the physios take their time…
83′ The ball is permanently in the Slovakia half. Rooney scuffs a shot wide. If we don’t win this then I will be soooooo annoyed…
82′ England queue up to hit shots at the Slovakia goal, the final one is blocked and it goes out for a corner which is again wasted. Talk about parking the bus, Slovakia are parking the cruise ship…
80′ 19 attempts, 56% possession, four strikers, no goals.
79′ England win yet another corner, which I can confirm Harry Kane will not be taking. Again Skrtel is there, and again it comes to nothing. You get the feeling this may well be another game that has a late goal, like lots of others this tourney. Can England finally get a goal? 10 minutes to go…
76′ Again it is aimed at Gary Cahill, but he hasn’t made decent contact all game and this time it is easy for the Slovakia keeper. England fall into a diamond formation, Rooney in behind Vardy and Kane, which didn’t work against Portugal in a friendly but has to work now…
75′ Sturridge, Vardy and Rooney combine! The latter’s shot is blocked and it;s out for a corner, which Skrtel can only head out for a corner. Here comes Harry Kane for the tiring Daniel Sturridge. England corner.
74′ Dier produces a terrific pass to set through Sturridge, and any contact would’ve put England ahead, but he kicks the air and it somehow remains 0-0.
73′ It can’t be coincidental that England always seem to dominate but never score! Could it be time to change manager?
72′ Harry Kane is getting ready…
70′ England keep applying pressure, but can’t find a goal. They promise much, show all the signs of a dominant, tournament-winning team, but can’t score a goal!!! Marcus Washford time?
69′ Gareth Bale pokes home to make it 3-0 to Wales. They have won, so England really need a win to finish above their neighbours. Bale is top scorer so far, with one in each group game…
68′ Anyone fancy an Eric Dier free-kick?
67′ Slovakia substitution – one unknown player on for another. How aren’t England beating this lot?!
65′ I just worry that without Lallana there is less width, and Dele Alli, Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy all seem to be drifting infield too much – gone are the threatening forward runs down the flanks…
63′ Joey has some interesting things to say;
“This match sums up England completely – we can’t finish! We should be 2-0 or 3-0 up by now, and if we draw it will only make the competition harder.”
61′ What an impact! A super pass from Sturridge sets away Henderson who clips it back and Alli is only denied by a heroic goal-line clearance from Martin Skrtel! He was nearly the instant hero…
60′ We’ve got Alli, Dele Alli, I just don’t think you understand. Interesting sub, as Alli comes on for the excellent Lallana. Half an hour remains, and it’s still 0-0.
55′ End to end stuff as Slovakia break again, but the shot is low, soft and straight at Joe Hart. On comes Wayne Rooney for England, in place of Jack Wilshire. Can he make the difference? He has been very impressive in his new creative role so far this tournament… And now a defensive change maybe for Slovakia, with a striker coming off for a left-back?!
54′ A beautiful ball from Daniel Sturridge sets Clyne free and in on goal, but is shot is tipped over the bar. Big chance! and from the resulting corner Gary Cahill can’t get proper contact on the header. Somehow still 0-0!!!
53′ A cross is flighted into the empty England box, and Chris Smalling tries to chest it down to Hart, but Robert Mak is there and only just misses the ball. A lucky escape…
52′ Ryan Bertrand gives away a silly free-kick in a good position, and Martin Skrtel looks imposing… but Hart is there and plans it away.
50′ It looks like Slovakia will go through as one of the top third placed teams if this game remains a draw, as four points should be enough. England won’t want to settle for second though…
48′ Joshua, like all of us, thinks we’ve been great so far but has no idea how it is not at least 1-0 England… England start in the same vein as before, testing the opposition.
46′ And so the second half begins to a rapturous rendition of the national anthem… again!
He’s having a party…
21.01 – And here come the England players… Come on lads!!!
20.59 – Freddie is very upset that England still haven’t scored – he even put in a crying emoji in his comment!!!!!
20.56 – The verdict from a super goalscorer… Alan Shearer says England have played well, but lack the quality final ball and need to finish off their opportunities…
20.54 – A great match overview from Max:
“A good game so far! England have played well and have dominated possession!”
No goals though…
20.52 – Rio Ferdinand, and surely most other people, think it’s only a matter of time until England do get a goal. Certainly there is another entertaining half to come and hopefully some goals!
20.48 – Jeddy:
“It’s been a good game so far, Slovakia getting a bit better but England have had some real chances. It’s quite an open game, either team could score. It’s my bedtime now, but Louis will keep you updated with all the big moments. Goodnight!”
45 + 1′ One added minute, and Slovakia will be delighted that they have made it through the first 45 minutes relatively unscathed… England totally dominant but again no goals to show for it…
44′ Again another crisp strike, this time from Jordan Henderson, and this time it is blocked by a defender…
42′ Jamie Vardy is threatening the Slovakia defence and is hauled, rugby-style, to the ground for a free-kick in a good position… but again Henderson’s set-piece can’t find a red shirt. England have had 66% possession so far, and all the shots this game has offered…
40′ For the first time this game, Slovakia try to force the issue, prompting and probing, but they can’t penetrate the tightly packed England penalty area. Roy’s boys have set up very well but will be disappointed to go in at the break at 0-0, unless they can get a goal…
39′ Sturridge smartly takes down an Eric Dier pass, but some good recovering from the Slovakian defence means it is only a corner – which is wasted again.
33′ Clyne with a lovely run again, and rolls it back to Lallana, who’s fierce shot is pushed away from the goal. Then England win a corner. The Three Lions look very dangerous, but that corner was overhit and will not pose any threat to Slovakia’s backline.
29′ Henderson sets Clyne off again, who hooks back a cross and Wilshire can’t quite make it. And then again, they combine and Clyne’s second cross is tipped away from the Slovakia goalie… Clyne has been fantastic so far, as good as Kyle Walker has been in the last two games.
28′ The corner is easily cleared.
28′ Liverpool duo Henderson and Clyne combine to win a corner. The news from the Wales game is a clear incentive for England to win – come on boys, we gotta beat Wales!
24′ Gary Cahill gets a foot on a low cross ahead of the lurking Hamsik, and on the counter Vardy is hacked down for a yellow card. Free kick – but the cross is too big and is collected easily by the Slovakia keeper.
23′ “Kuronicus III” claims Slovakia need to try and control more possession, but in response, England aren’t threatening too much in possession so Slovakia will be perfectly happy.
21′ Wales get a second goal! 2-0 to them! Neil Taylor gets through on goal, and gets a second bite at the cherry and smashes the ball into a gaping goal after his first shot is palmed away by Akinfeev. Wales solidify their position on top of Group B!
20′ A worrying sign for England, who only have three out-and-out centre backs in France, as Cahill goes off with a knock – he should be OK to carry on, though.
17′ Classic Jamie Vardy move, Henderson hits a long ball over the top of the stumbling Martin Skrtel for Vardy, who’s shot is smartly stopped by the Slovakia ‘keeper. First big chance.
16′ Lallana makes a great run and sits it up to Henderson, who turns and shoots and wins a corner after the block. It is a loopy ball in from Bertrand that comes to nothing.
13′ Great passing and movement from England results in a snapshot from Adam Lallana that dribbles wide of the Slovakian goal. England playing some good stuff…
12′ Goal for Wales! Aaron Ramsey links it over Akinfeev in the Russia goal, and as it stands Wales are going through on top of Group B.
10′ Jeddy’s thoughts so far:
“England have started very brightly. Slovakia will have to try and get some more chances away or they’ll never score.”
8′ Henderson’s deflected cross bounces off the heads of Lallana and Vardy, and Daniel Sturridge can’t quite reach it to force it forward. England have had the better start.
7′ Slovakia’s number 22, don’t know his name, smashes a wayward shot over Joe Hart’s goal, to the disappointment of his fellow countrymen. The England contingent in the stands erupt into another chorus of God Save The Queen.
5′ Superb run by Clyne, gets the better of his man and whips in a pacy ball, which ricochets of Jamie Vardy’s knee and bounces over. England’s, and Vardy’s, first sight of goal so far.
Come on England!!!
3′ A settled start from England, in the red strip, going from right to left. Still no clear-cut chances, though.
19.57 – A hearty rendition of God save the Queen! Let’s listen to the Slovakian anthem… Oooh, I like, it has a sense of Harry Potter magic in it… and some Hunger Games tension. And there is big Skrtel, the scariest guy in footy, singing his heart out! What a sight!
19.55 – The players are out of the tunnel, Jamie Vardy looking very pumped up ahead of the big game. His selection is popular, with Max saying;
“Finally! Vardy is starting! Good move!”
19.48 – Remember, Slovakia will qualify with a win, and will finish second with a draw if Russia beat Wales.
However, Slovakia would definitely be eliminated in fourth place if they lose and Russia win.
19.42 – Tonight’s live blog has been met with some interesting reactions! Adam says;
“Very excited for this blog, relying on it for updates.”
And Joey says;
“Looking forward to what genius/rubbish Louis comes up with tonight.”
Oi! Kurun observes;
“Should be an interesting match.”
What an expert…
19.33 – Roy seems to disagree with Jeddy, and he thinks that the starting team is not a gamble. He talks of the experience of the likes of Henderson and Wilshire and that he believes fully in the team chosen.
I’m not going to cover the Wales game, as I can’t really be bothered and also it will be too hard (!!) but I will let you know when any goals go in.
19.30 – Jeddy has more to say;
“Rooney has been playing well recently but I did think the England team could do with a change, to freshen things up. However, I’m not sure this team is the best possible England team and perhaps Slovakia could silence the England fans tonight.”
19.26 – So, we’re all settled and my friends are pretending that they are looking at my blog to try and get me to shut up. So, below is a vote on what you think the score will be…
19.20 – Big news: Crouchy is in the ITV studio!!!!!
19.10 – So what will happen after this game? If England win then they will certainly top the group, and then they will play a third-placed team from either Group A, C or D – Albania, then maybe Northern Ireland, or Turkey, or Czech Republic. If they draw, then Wales have to win to come top. if they don’t win, then England still come top. If England come second, they will play second place in group F. If England lose, and Wales win, then England may drop to third. Then, if they do come in the top 4 third-placed teams, they will play Germany or Spain most probably.
The most important thing is that if England get a point, they will get into the next round.
19.06 – Martin Skrtel and Marek Hamsik are the two biggest names on the Slovakia team sheet, and the two biggest threats potentially, but remember Slovakia showed fantastic team spirit and fight against Russia and are not to be underestimated. my prediction? 2-0 England. Sturridge goal, and late joe Hart bicycle kick.
19.03 – This tournament has been the competition of late goals – 13 after the 87th minute! Will there be any more drama tonight?
18.57 – The England team is in! Hart, Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Bertrand, Wilshire, Dier, Henderson, Lallana, Sturridge, Vardy
So, as expected, the super subs Sturridge and Vardy start and will try and nail down a place if England get through. 6 changes, including Rooney on the bench, mean it is a new look team from the one that beat Wales.
18.25 – As always, my expert analyser, my little brother Jeddy, is on hand during the big match build-up, and here are his words of wisdom ahead of tonight’s match:
“Slovakia are a good team, always up for the game. They’ll probably challenge England tonight, however, an in-form England side is very hard to beat and if England can do what they did against Wales, they’ll probably be too much for Slovakia. I think the score will be 3-1 England.”
Woy’s Wigowous Twaining in Fwance
17.18 – Hello, and welcome to live coverage from my sofa in London. I will be reporting, analysing (and watching) England as they face off with Slovakia in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (best Euro stadium name 2016). At the same time, Gareth Wales and some Russian hooligans will also do battle, with every team still in with a chance of making it through Group B and into the next round. I will be here every so often to give you some clever facts or dumb puns up until the 8 o’clock kick-off when I will be settling down with a bar of chocolate, my laptop, and ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’ blaring out of the speakers as Clive Tyldesley will guide me through all the finer details, and I will be relaying the general picture of the match to all my trusty followers on here.