DAY EIGHT REVIEW
France 2-0 Ukraine
A win for the co-hosts would have put them into the quarter-finals, but they got no where near as a classy France side won 2-0, after the match was suspended for an hour due to a downpour of biblical proportions.
Goals from PSG’s Jeremy Menez and Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye put the French top of Group D and all-but in the quarter-finals.
It was France’s first victory at a tournament since the 2006 World Cup and the first time they have ever won a game at the Euros without either Michel Platini or Zinedine Zidane in the side. Maybe their National Anthem should be interrupted by thunder and lightning more often.
In this form, France could be pushing for a place in the final.
England 3-2 Sweden
There is a saying that a ‘perfect’ game of football, i.e. nobody makes a mistake, would end 0-0. This was anything but perfect but, boy, was it entertaining.
It’s hard to think of two poorer teams at this year’s tournament such were the amount of mistakes on show but England prevailed by the odd goal in five, thanks to Theo Walcott’s pace and Danny Welbeck’s improvisation skills.
But massive question marks remain over the team. England were meant to be organised and disciplined, but there was nothing organised about the defending for Olof Mellberg’s two goals.
Glen Johnson was at fault for both, but with the only other right backs in the squad being Phil Jones and Martin Kelly, he can’t be replaced. If only there was an English right-back who played for the Premier League champions they could have picked instead. Possibly with the initials M.R.
England now have to draw with Ukraine to progress to the next stage. A certain Wayne Rooney will be back from suspension, so Roy Hodgson has to choose between one of Andy Carroll and Welbeck to partner him.
Ukraine’s defence was prised open by pace and movement by France, so Welbeck should be the more likely.
Hodgson should also drop James Milner or Ashley Young (or both) to ensure Walcott starts.
DAY NINE PREVIEW
We have gone past the half way mark of the tournament and from now on all games kick-off at 7.45pm. So you’ll have to choose which one you want to watch tonight, Russia versus Greece or Poland against Czech Republic.
All four sides can still qualify for the quarter-finals. In fact only two of the 16 sides in the competition have nothing but pride to play for in their final games, Republic of Ireland and Sweden. Every game has something riding on it, which will make the next four days very exciting.
But also very confusing. Uefa prefer to separate teams on the same points by their head-to-head record instead of goal difference, so we have the situation this week where Croatia and Spain can draw 2-2 and both will definitely go through to the quarter-finals, but a 1-1 will mean they are both tied with Italy (assuming they beat Ireland)
Luckily today’s games aren’t that confusing.
A win will see them top the group. A draw will definitely see them progress. They can lose and still qualify, as long as there isn’t a winner in the other game.
A win will see them progress. A draw will only be good enough if Greece don’t beat Russia, or if Greece beat Russia by five or more goals. A defeat will see them eliminated.
Nice and simple. Win and they are through. Fail to do so and they will exit their own tournament at the first hurdle.
Win and they are through, regardless of the Czech Republic/Poland result. Draw or lose and they will be out.
Bets of the Day: Poland to beat Czech Republic 2-0 10/1
Andrey Arshavin anytime goalscorer 3/1