EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS – Fri/Sat-Quarter Finals as Favorites Fall
Wow – the last few days of Quarterfinal action in the Euro’s has been scintillating. First it was Italy needing extra time to finish off Austria 2-0, then Belgium sent home the defending champs Portugal and Renaldo in ET. Then #2 ranked and defending World Cup Champs France were shocked by Switzerland in Penalty kicks as France talisman Mbbape’s shot was saved by the Swiss Keeper. Then England quieted the ghosts of past vs Germany in a tight 2-0 win at home at Wembely as 45K delirious English fans went crazy. Then finally not to be outdone the Ukraine upset Sweden in ET as 2-1 as Sweden went down to 10 men – to advance to the quarters vs England. All in all 8 spectacular games with many going to Extra Time- WOW! And Some Spectacular saves along with a GK nightmare.
Now it leaves us with some intriguing matchups as Belgium vs Italy Fri at 3 pm – matches two of the favorites awaiting the winner of Spain and Switzerland. It could be called the Euro’s of Redemption as Italy, Spain and England have advanced further than they have in forever. Can Spain keep up the scoring vs the counterattack of the Swiss? Will sentimental favorites Denmark continue its magical run without their best player Christian Erikson watching from home? Will Belgium’s Golden Generation get them past Europe’s best defense in Italy? Will England win one on the road in Rome to return home for the semi’s at Wimbley? Hopefully it will continue to delight. I of course missed the same 2 of the Elite 8 that everyone else did I am sure as France and Sweden surprisingly fell. This time I see Belgium continuing their run to face the Swiss, while England and Denmark prevail in the other bracket. Who do you like?
Indy 11 vs Birmingham, 7 pm TV 8, ESPN+
COPA on Fox
Ok am I the only one not paying attention to the COPA after spending 5 hours all afternoon watching the EUROs? I mean Fox is doing a fine job covering the games – but the drama just hasn’t really been there. That should all change this week ast the quaraterfinals get underway with some solid match-ups including Brazil and Chile, Friday at 8 pm and Uraguay vs Colombia Saturday afternoon.
BRACKET – QUARTERFINALS
BRACKET – SEMIFINALS
Monday, July 5
25 – Brazil or Chile vs. Peru or Paraguay (Rio de Janeiro; 7 p.m. ET,)
Tuesday, July 6
26 – Argentina or Ecuador vs. Uruguay or Colombia (Brasilia; 7 p.m. ET)
US Ladies Face Mexico Thurs Night 8 pm FS1, Mon 7/5 5 pm ESPN
Huge news that the Olympics is going to allow 22 players on the roster now instead of the 18 originally planned. The addition allows the 4 alternates who were on the travel squad to actually play now which is fantastic and allows youngster Caterina Macario to be in the mix. I still would have liked another youngster on the forward or backline – heck Margerie Purse would have filled both rolls and given us a little more diversity. I wonder why we don’t have ANY Hispanic players on the ladiers side? Anyway will be interesting to see if Heath or Ertz play tonight or Mon vs Mexico – games the US should win obviously – no matter who they roll out there. Interesting Story on Mara Gomez Argentine Player Also Mia Hamm’s Rookie card just sold for 34K Lots of Stories on the Ladies in The Ole Ballcoach.
DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)
Alternates – On full roster now – Catarina Macario M (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Lynn Williams (F), Casey Krueger (D), Jane Campbell (G) 5 Subs per game will be allowed like the men.
Thursday, July 1 USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)
Monday, July 5 USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)
Indy 11 host Birmingham July 3 — $3 concessions Sat 7 pm ESPN+, TV 8
Huge tie for Indy on the road last week at Louisville as the 11 secured a solid 3-3 tie! Of course they return home this Saturday to celebrate America July 3rd with Celebrations golare and $3 Concessions on everything from hot dogs to popcorn to sodas and even beers I think!! Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available Here– Friends of Indy 11.
Good luck to Former Carmel FC player Rosie Martin as she competes at the ENCL National Championships with her U14 Fire team this weekend !!
Carmel High School Girls – 2021 Middle School Camp – 6/7/8th Graders July 19-22 Murray Stadium 2:30 to 4:30 pm 2021 CHS Girl Team Camp July 19-22 and Tourney July 23/24.
GAMES ON TV
EUROS + COPA America 2021
(Euro’s all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+, Copa on Fox, FS1, FS2
Thursday, July 1
USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)
Austin vs Portland Timbers 9:30 pm (FS1)
Friday, July 2
Saturday, July 3
Euro Czech Rep vs Denmark (Baku) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univision)
Euro Ukraine vs England (Rome) – 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)
Columbus Crew vs New England 5 pm (ESPN)
Racing Louisville vs Portland Thorns NWSL 7:30 pm (Paramount +)
COPA QF Uraguay vs Colombia 6 pm (FS1)
Indy 11 vs Birmingham, 7:30 pm ESPN+, TV 8
COPA QF Argentina (Messi) vs Ecuador 9 pm (FS1)
Mexico vs Nigeria 11 pm ?
Monday, July 5
USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)
COPA Semi Brazil/Chile vs 7pm (FS1)
Tuesday, July 6
Semifinal I (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)
Wednesday, July 7
Semifinal II (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)
Friday, July 9
COPA Semi-Final 8 pm (FS1)
Saturday, July 10 GOLD CUP STARTS
Gold Cup – Mexico vs ?? 10 pm (FS1)
COPA Final 8 pm (FS1)
Sunday, July 11
Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)
Gold Cup Canada vs Martinique 6:30 pm (FS1)
Gold Cup USA vs ??? 8:30 pm (FS1)
Monday, July 12
Gold Cup Jamaica vs Surinam 6:30 pm (FS1)
Gold Cup Costa Rica vs ???? 8:30 pm (FS1)
Thursday, July 15
Gold Cup Canada vs ??? 6:30 pm (FS1)
Gold Cup USA vs Martinique 8:30 pm (FS1)
Sunday, July 18
Gold Cup USA vs Canada 5 pm (FS1)
Gold Cup Mexico vs SLV 10 pm (FS1)
England begin to heal their inferiority complex by beating Germany
Euros’ wild 24 hours continued with Harry Kane’s special Wembley goal for England
‘No, it wasn’t a dream’ – How the papers reacted to England’s win over Germany at Euro 2020
England defeat ‘hugely disappointing’ for Loew as Germany bow out
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is spiky, courageous, demanding – and now winning the nation’s hearts
France blows 3-1 lead, stunned by Switzerland in Euro 2020 on penalty kicks
Kylian Mbappe the fall-guy as France lose penalty shootout to Switzerland and exit Euro 2020
3 things we learned from France v. Switzerland
France’s shocking Euro loss to Switzerland falls on manager Deschamps ulien Laurens
Switzerland’s upset of France caps wild day at the Euros: How social media reacted
Belgium prove vs. Ronaldo’s Portugal that they’re more than just goals 2dRob Dawson
Analysis: Soccer-Belgium show grit and discipline to beat Portugal at own game
Portugal talents stall to leave questions over style, approach
Tantrum tactics, cynical fouls and Ronaldo’s awful free-kicks: How Portugal crashed out of Euro 2020
Ukraine defeats 10-man Sweden deep in extra time stoppage
3 things we learned from Croatia v. Spain
Spain prevail in extra-time epic with Croatia to reach Euro 2020 last eight
Dutch coach Frank de Boer quits after Euro 2020 exit
Czechs upset 10-man Netherlands to reach Euro 2020 quarter-finals
3 things we learned from Netherlands v. Czech Republic
Chiesa takes the spotlight as Italy suffer to keep Euro 2020 dream alive
Analysis: Soccer-Super subs to the rescue as Italy draw strength from the collective
USA vs Mexico Ladies Thurs Night 8 pm FS1
DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)
FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
ALTERNATES: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
What To Watch For
How much will Tobin Heath play? Julie Ertz is not expected to appear tomorrow as she recovers from injury, but we will likely see the first of Tobin Heath in a USWNT jersey in 2021. Heath, who also has been recovering from an ankle injury sustained at Manchester United, looks to be ready to get some minutes as she dials up her fitness for the Olympics. Will we see her for an extended period of time, or will any appearance from her be just a cameo?
How aggressive will the high press be? Storms are forecast for Thursday, so the high press could be tricky should the weather indeed be wet. Still, Andonovski will want to see how his high press will work against a team that is aggressive on the ball and who wants to quickly possess the ball and move it downfield. With 18 players in the Olympics, he’ll look to see how often he can turn up the intensity and when he has to dial it back.
Keep focus. Eyes on the prize. The USWNT needs to work on the things they know they will need to improve if they are going to win the gold medal, and that should be their focus. Keep up the intensity and the stellar play that has carried them this far, but continue to hone in on the details and don’t lose sight of the goal: winning gold in Tokyo.
The wet weather will keep the fireworks on the field at bay, and it will be a slow affair. However, the USWNT break through with a couple of goals to beat Mexico by a familiar scoreline: 2-0.
Winning gold, not developing young players, is the USWNT’s objective at Tokyo Olympics
This may seem surprising or disconcerting, but in the past two years, the average age of the United States Women’s National team has advanced two years.If you need a moment to get over the shock, it’s understandable.After the USWNT reached for the stars Wednesday to announce the roster for the upcoming Olympic Games – “Ted Lasso” leads Jason Sudekis and Brandon Hunt on Twitter, decorated striker Alex Morgan joining Robin Roberts on ABC’s Good Morning America – there was plenty of criticism regarding the dearth of young players and the advancing age of those who made the team.Forward Carli Lloyd (below) will be 39 at the Olympics. Defender Becky Sauerbrunn will be 36. There are more players over 30 than not. However, every player included save one was part of the 2019 World Cup championship squad.y “No huge surprises in the USWNT squad which, I think, is quietly disappointing. The likes of Midge Purce, Catarina Macario, Casey Short etc. are all names more than worthy of a spot in the 18-player squad,” wrote Olympic journalist Courtney Hill, “but, as is the theme with (national teams), age and experience prevails once again.”“Could we please get younger players experience? The whole front line is over 32,” was the comment from Twitter account maizenblu52.Here’s the thing: The task at the Olympic Games is not to gain experience. It’s to win. Vlatko Andonovski’s objective in assembling his first major tournament roster as USWNT head coach was to select the 18 players best suited to winning the games necessary to claim the gold medal. One can debate whether he achieved this with the players chosen, although those lining up on the side opposite the coach should be aware that squads fielded for his first 20 games won 19 and drew once. He’s undefeated in actual competition, so he’s probably winning any argument with you.
“I was very happy with a lot of those players that didn’t make it. I was very thankful for everything they did, for the effort they put in, and in some ways they helped this team grow and develop and prepare for the tournament,” Andonovski told Sporting News. “We still believe those players are good players; just in evaluating them and analyzing them and comparing them with some of the other players we have on the roster, we believe the ones that made it are slightly ahead and give us the best chance to win the tournament.
“But with that being said, we keep an eye on all of the players that didn’t make it, especially the young ones, to have them back as soon as the Olympics are over and start preparing them for the World Cup and beyond that.”With Olympic rosters accommodating only 18 players, there is not a lot of room for experimentation, for the luxury of including a young player who is unlikely to appear but would benefit from the experience of being in camp.The fair question is how particular veterans might hold up to such a compacted schedule: three games in six days at the group stage, a total of six over 17 days for those teams that reach the gold medal match. Among the healthy players, that is particularly a concern involving Megan Rapinoe (above), who’ll be 36 when the Tokyo Games start. Even at the 2019 World Cup, she did not demonstrate great speed covering the left flank and often could be seen abandoning still-promising movements if there was some possibility they could fail, allowing her to conserve energy. It’s a pattern repeated through several appearances in this calendar year. However, at the World Cup, Rapinoe scored six times and earned the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. And in 2021, she has scored seven goals in nine appearances, including three from open play during the SheBelieves Cup.What coach would leave home that player?(Yes, the obvious answer is Jurgen Klinsmann. It was a test).“I don’t look at players by age, because there’s so many other things we look at,” Andonovski said. “The most important thing is whether they perform or not, whether they’re going to be able to help us win the Olympics or not.“We do look at data, and every data we get from a physical perspective, they’re hitting all the numbers that they need in order to fulfill the tests that we believe are going to be given to them. On top of that, you can look at the statistical data, you’ll see that Megan Rapinoe has scored the most goals in 2021, and Carli Lloyd has the most assists.”The greatest risk Andonovski has taken with his roster is with Julie Ertz and, more to the point, forward Tobin Heath.
Although Andonovski said Heath is closer to regaining full health than Ertz and could play in pre-Olympic friendlies against Mexico on July 1 and July 5, Ertz was an easy choice because of the absence of an experienced replacement at the defensive midfield position. They’ll wait as long as necessary for her, even if she can’t open the tournament.Heath has played only nine times in 15 months because of pandemic cancellations, her decision to opt out of the NWSL Challenge Cup in June 2020 and knee and ankle injuries that ended her season at Manchester United and kept her from any recent national team involvement. But the substitute rules are such the USWNT could withdraw her, for legitimate injury reasons, even after the Olympics began and bring in a replacement such as 28-year-old Lynn Williams or 21-year-old Catarina Macario (below).ettys
“Catarina is an exceptional player … a player with exceptional potential,” Andonovski said. “She’s not quite ready, I think, right now, at this moment. I wouldn’t say she’s not ready, but other players were more ready than her to be at the Olympics. We believe she has the potential to be on this team for a long time.”To this point, it hasn’t made much difference to Mallory Pugh’s career to have been included on the 2016 Olympics roster at age 18, except, possibly, to frame her past five years as a disappointment. She was a part of the 2019 World Cup roster and scored six goals in 19 total appearances that year, but Pugh has earned only one cap since.At 19, when a deep reserve for Bundesliga titan Bayern Munich, Julian Green was included on the 2014 USMNT squad at the World Cup in Brazil – some viewed his as the spot that should have belonged to Landon Donovan – and Green even scored an extra-time goal against Belgium. But he has spent most of his club career since playing in Germany’s second division and hasn’t earned a cap since 2018.Playing a young player on a major-tournament roster can have its benefits, but it is not a magical device for conjuring future superstardom. No sport is conquered so easily. Were the USWNT to be forced to field a less-prepared player because youth was valued over, well, value, that could cost a game that costs a gold medal. The U.S. women have won 67 percent of all golds ever awarded in women’s soccer. Andonovski knew the standard he was expected to maintain when he accepted the job.
WHO’s Gonna Win the Euro’s
Below, our writers select the team they believe will be lifting the trophy on July 11.
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https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-6-0/html/r-sf-flx.html Sam Wallace – Italy
The tournament just seems made for Italy. Euro 2020 has doused the talent of so many individual greats, with injury or fatigue or poor form, and venerated the team. Italy are greater than the sum of their parts, and some of those parts are players who come from the likes of Atalanta, of Sassuolo, and with whom Mancini has persisted throughout their 30-game unbeaten run. They really seem to know what they are as a side and have faith in that. They are on a scorching run which they only need to extend by three games.
Jason Burt – England
There is nothing to fear and they have as much chance as Belgium, Italy or anyone else. Their half of the draw has opened up and – hopefully – there is a realisation now that Gareth Southgate has mapped out this campaign and is not going to be affected by outside noise. England will draw even more belief from beating Germany.
- England vs Germany player ratings: Raheem Sterling delivers again, Harry Kane struggles despite goal
Oliver Brown – Italy
If England can conquer one 55-year hex by knocking out Germany, they can banish another by reaching the final. But I am yet to be convinced they have enough options in attack to trouble Italy. To watch the poise with which Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina took their late goals against Austria was to be reminded that Roberto Mancini’s players remain the outstanding team of this tournament.
Jeremy Wilson – England
It is not blind optimism or myopic patriotism that now makes England the tournament favourites. It is the logic of the best draw, their performances, the depth of their squad and home advantage. Knockout football can always still be defined by one freak incident – and Belgium would represent especially formidable opponents – but a wonderful opportunity awaits.
James Ducker – Italy
Italy to pip England in the final. Roberto Mancini’s side are in the toughest half of the draw and were given a scare by Austria but they are on an incredible unbeaten run and, collectively, look the best of a bunch of quarter-finalists who all have their flaws or problems; in Belgium’s case the likely absence of two of their stars, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.
Thom Gibbs – Italy
England winning a final feels a bridge too far, a wrong to be avenged in Qatar next December? Italy look the strongest team in the draw’s other half, in a tournament where collective might keeps besting stellar groups of individuals.
Chris Bascombe – Belgium
They are the number one international side so logic dictates they should win it from here. Roberto Martinez’s team also have an excellent record against England, who they will meet in the Wembley final…
Matt Law – England
Yes, I might have woken up slightly heady after the victory over Germany at Wembley. And, yes, I know Gareth Southgate has warned this is a dangerous moment as the nation expects England to stroll their way into the final. But we’ve never had a better chance and it’s time to trust Southgate and his players. It’s coming home!
Luke Edwards – Belgium
I want to say England with all my heart and they could do it. They really could. But Belgium, on paper, are the best team left in the competition and beat England twice in 2018 with relative ease. But Hazard and De Bruyne will miss their quarter-final…
Euro 2020 talking points: England-Belgium final? Highlights of an epic round of 16? What’s with all the own goals?
What were your round-of-16 highlights?
Gab Marcotti: The sheer drama of most of the games: Croatia‘s comeback against Spain, Switzerland‘s comeback against France, Ukraine‘s winner against Sweden, the scares that both Belgium and Italy got. And there was a ton of breathtaking skill as well, though I think I liked Paul Pogba‘s goal (and celebration) best. Overshadowed in all this is one of the best storylines of the tournament in my opinion, Denmark‘s run to the quarterfinals. And while the England vs. Germany game was a bit of a dud, sometimes football is all about the outcome and that’s OK, too.
Mark Ogden: The day that gave us Spain vs. Croatia and France vs. Switzerland will go down as one of the most memorable and exhilarating at any tournament. But my highlight was being at Wembley for England’s 2-0 victory against Germany to witness, and hear, the explosion of joy and relief that greeted Harry Kane‘s goal — England’s second — which confirmed the win. England hadn’t beaten Germany in a knockout game at a tournament since 1966, and it has weighed heavily on previous teams. But this victory was a cathartic one, and it seemed as though 55 years of pent-up frustration was released at the final whistle.
James Olley: Being at Wembley to witness England beat Germany in a tournament knockout match for the first time in 55 years. The stadium may only have been half-full, but it has never been louder for an international fixture. There was a real sense that anything could be possible, in part created by results elsewhere in what is surely one of the most entertaining knockout rounds there has ever been. Spain’s victory over Croatia will take some beating as the game of the tournament, but Switzerland’s comeback against France was more dramatic given they were 3-1 down with nine minutes left.
Julien Laurens: In terms of pure drama, and even if it broke my heart, France vs. Switzerland was just exceptional. It will forever be a classic in Euros history. There was everything: the upset, the penalties, Karim Benzema‘s control for his equaliser, the Swiss comeback, Didier Deschamps’ tactical shambles, the belief. Another highlight was Raheem Sterling feeling at home at Wembley again and kicking the Germans out of London. Spain vs. Croatia was mad, too, another classic. Credit to Alvaro Morata and Luis Enrique for never giving up and believing in themselves and their team — it paid off.
Rob Dawson: Spain vs. Croatia and France vs. Switzerland were both thrilling games. If you’re a neutral, you can’t beat a late fightback from nowhere. In terms of individual moments, it’s hard to look past England’s win over Germany. In his postmatch interview, Gareth Southgate spoke about seeing his old teammate David Seaman smiling on the big screen at Wembley and that he hoped he had managed to ease some of memories from Euro ’96, when he missed in the shootout against Germany in the semifinal and England went out. You could tell something had lifted from his shoulders, and it was mirrored all over the country.
Tom Hamilton: We’ve been overindulged with this round of matches. Each was fascinating and exhilarating in its own way, with Spain’s 5-3 win over Croatia an astonishing seesaw of a game, and then later matched by Switzerland’s penalty shootout win over France. Pogba’s goal was fantastic, as was Thorgan Hazard‘s winner for Belgium against Portugal. Also, spare a thought for Benzema’s Dennis Bergkamp-esque first goal against the Swiss, while will fall into the haze of France’s exit. And it’s been impossible not to get caught up with Denmark’s journey through these Euros with Kasper Dolberg their latest hero. But after everything he’s weathered in this tournament, you had to smile when Morata scored against Switzerland. He’s been near the headlines the whole way through this championship — for better for worse — and he deserved his goal.
Do you need to revise the final match-up you predicted before the last 16?
Olley: Er, just a little. France were my clear pre-tournament favourites, even in the tough half of the draw, and Switzerland looked the perfect springboard into the latter stages. To make it worse, I thought Netherlands would push on after three Group C wins. Italy against Belgium is too close to call, but Austria caused the Italians problems and Belgium’s greater firepower can win the day. England have it in their hands to reach the final from the other half.
Laurens: I do need to revise my final match-up because I predicted a France vs. Germany final and they have both been eliminated! One side of the draw is easy to call now: England will go to the final because no one in that bracket can stop them. The other side of the draw is tougher to predict. I will go this time for a place in the final for Belgium. They have learnt a lot from the 2018 World Cup and their semifinal defeat against France. Now this group of players are ready for their first final and for a first trophy in a big tournament.
Dawson: My prediction was France vs. England, but that was before France bottled it against Switzerland after being 3-1 up with 10 minutes to go. England should make it out of a bracket containing Ukraine, Denmark and Czech Republic. Even though Belgium have got the toughest quarterfinal against Italy, they have the players to get to Wembley on July 11, too.
Hamilton: Well my shout of France reaching the final and winning the whole thing now looks a little foolish, so let’s go for an Italy-England match-up on July 11 at Wembley. I tipped Denmark to go far in the tournament from the outset and they could yet surprise us all and win the championship, while Belgium are ticking along nicely, but I fear injuries could derail their bid. Italy are brilliantly coached by Roberto Mancini, and with England riding the crest of the wave after their win over Germany, that could be a very tasty match-up in the final.
Marcotti: I had Belgium vs. Germany, so obviously I need to revise Germany since they lost. Logic suggests England at this point, but I still want to believe in the Danish fairy tale, so I’ll go with them. I’m less confident about Belgium following Kevin De Bruyne‘s injury, but feel I should stick with them.
Ogden: I predicted a France vs. England final prior to the round of 16, but wouldn’t have been surprised if England had succumbed to Germany. France losing to Switzerland was never in the equation, though, and the world champions’ defeat has blown Euro 2020 wide open. With Les Bleus out, I am going for Belgium to reach the final instead — but it all depends on the fitness of De Bruyne and Eden Hazard for their quarterfinal against Italy.
Which coaches have impressed you, and who has struggled?
Dawson: Luis Enrique showed how strong a character he is by sticking with Alvaro Morata when the easy decision would have been to bow to outside pressure and pick someone else. It paid off, and not only because Morata scored Spain’s fourth goal in their 5-3 win over Croatia. His all-round performance was fantastic, especially the way he held the ball up and brought others into the game. Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty for France against Switzerland, but Deschamps should take most of the blame for the result. There was no need to change his system, and it put France on the back foot from the first whistle.
Hamilton: Denmark’s Kasper Hjulmand has been my star of the tournament. He’s managed to navigate everything that’s been thrown at his side, and still they play wonderful football and have a real shot at winning this tournament. Luis Enrique has stayed true to his coaching philosophy and that’s finally paid off, while England’s Southgate and Italy’s Mancini have both made bold choices which have paid off. But for those who have struggled, look no further than the managers already back home, in France’s Deschamps and Germany’s Joachim Low. Both teams have been far poorer than the sum of their parts.Marcotti: Mancini, tactically, has been hugely impressive in the way he reinvented Italy and this group of players. Luis Enrique, too, is very good, though his personnel choices leave me scratching my head sometimes. And I have to give a shout out to Hjulmand, just from a man-management perspective, given what Denmark have been through. On the flipside, Frank de Boer lived down to expectations I guess. I knew Low was going to struggle, I didn’t expect it to be to this degree. As for Deschamps, I’ve long been a critic, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but switching to a back three was such an extreme choice (and an extremely bad one), I can’t let it go without mention.
Ogden: Vladimir Petkovic has been in charge of Switzerland since 2014, but he rarely earns headlines or receives plaudits. Perhaps Deschamps and France underestimated him ahead of their meeting in Bucharest because Petkovic inspired the Swiss to a famous victory with a tactical game plan and smart use of substitutions. Switzerland are well organised, but they also have flair, and that is down to Petkovic’s astute coaching. As for strugglers, Low looked like a man out of ideas during Germany’s brief stay at the tournament. He has overseen a period of success during his 15-year reign, but he should have left after their group-stage exit at the last World Cup.
Olley: Southgate deserves credit for tackling this tournament with a clear plan. It has caused consternation among some England fans, chiefly because it isn’t what anyone expected: A squad brimming with attacking potential has prioritised safety-first football and defensive stability. It isn’t pretty — and there remains a suspicion the balance could tip too far the other way — but it is highly effective. Contrast that with Germany’s Low, who had talented players at his disposal but never moulded them into an effective unit during the tournament, albeit still finding a way to put four goals past Portugal. Equally, Deschamps’ decision to change system and personnel against Switzerland clearly contributed to France’s surprising exit given how much they improved when going back to a more trusted 4-4-2 shape in the second half, only to then fail to tighten things up to close the game out.
Laurens: Let’s start with the disappointments. France’ failure is on Deschamps. He picked the wrong tactics and the wrong players against Switzerland. Fernando Santos’ choices for Portugal were as bad against Belgium, while De Boer failed as soon as the level of Netherlands’ opponents rose, and it was still only Czech Republic. But well done to Luis Enrique for always believing and not changing anything for Spain, to Mancini and Hjulmand for giving Italy and Denmark a real identity and to Roberto Martinez and Southgate for having dealt well so far with extreme pressure.
We have seen nine own goals; any theories as to why?
Ogden: When you consider the individual own goals, it can be nothing more than a bizarre coincidence that so many have been scored. There is no direct comparison, for instance, between Martin Dubravka‘s own goal for Slovakia against Spain and Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon‘s failure to connect with Pedri‘s back-pass against Croatia. A lack of familiarity with the tournament ball may be a small factor, but a ball is a ball — it’s round and it moves, so blaming the ball would be looking for excuses.
Marcotti: I think it’s just sample size and randomness. Two of the goalkeeper own goals were freak mistakes. I don’t think there’s much to read into it other than domestic leagues seem to be a bit happier awarding goals even with big deflections, possibly because it suits both the attacker and the defender. UEFA seem a bit more rational in that regard.
Olley: A cynic might argue it is the consequence of a dilution in quality arising from an increase to 24 participants given the second-highest number of own goals (three) occurred at Euro 2016, when the format changed for the first time. But the elite nations have been heavily involved. And the two Portugal ‘scored’ came from overloads in wide areas and defenders left with little alternative. The same is true, to a lesser extent, of Germany’s Mats Hummels against France. That can happen anywhere — Dubravka is unlikely to make the same mistake he did against Spain for the rest of his career. Ditto Simon’s error for Spain against Croatia.
Laurens: Is there a rational explanation? Not really; more bad luck and bad plays. There were moments of pure madness, from Dubravka smashing the ball into his own net or Simon thinking about his pass before even controlling the ball. And moments of pure mediocrity like when Hummels and Juraj Kucka couldn’t get their feet right. Merih Demiral, Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro are all really good players but they were victims of great crosses. Wojciech Szczesny and Lukas Hradecky were unlucky with the ball bouncing off the woodwork onto them.
Dawson: It’s an anomaly. You can’t account for mistakes like Dubravka’s or Simon’s. Play the same tournament another nine times and you wouldn’t get the same number of own goals. It’s just one of those things that can happen in football.
Hamilton: A large swathe of players in this tournament will no doubt be suffering from mental fatigue after this never-ending season, and so this may have impacted some of the decision making at key moments. A couple of own goals — Demiral’s and Hummels in their respective openers — can be accounted for by poor positioning. Some have just been plain unlucky: Szczesny could have done nothing about his own goal against Slovakia when the ball rebounded off his post to hit him and go in. Then you had Croatia’s farcical opener against Spain, as Pedri’s back-pass slipped past Simon. There doesn’t seem to be any uniting factor between the nine, other than football’s staples of misfortune: bad luck and pressure.