Can Conte master another miracle in Bordeaux?

Game of the Day: Germany vs. Italy, Bordeaux, 20:00

The glamour tie of the quarter-finals. More fitting of a final than a game to reach the last four but this Euro draw has been kind to us this season and now we get to see Antonio Conte once more try to prove that tactics can overcome any player for player advantage.

I’ve written before, and I will say it once more, this is hardly an Italian Vintage that Conte has rocked up to France with this summer. With Andrea Pirlo’s omission from the squad, it is Conte’s trusted old Juventus generals in defence who embody the tactical foundation that has proved so successful at this year’s European Championships.  Continue reading “Can Conte master another miracle in Bordeaux?”

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Nice – A View from a Fan Park

Yes this is a little late, but with a lot of kilometres under the old belt going from Nice to Bordeaux, a moment has arrived to finish this off – so here it is, ‘The Sweeper Blog’s France vs Republic of Ireland Fan Park Experience Review’. And just as aside, the tan lines are still there and the after sun has been vaguely OK. I know, when you read, that is the thing you were all going to be most worried about that….

Nice Fan Park and Watching France vs. Republic of Ireland

In short, it was fantastic.

I’ve always wanted France to go far in this tournament, knowing that once the hosts go, the tournament loses a little of its va-va-voom and has crowds gathered in the mid-afternoon sun, anticipation and expectation grew also. Now that I am over on le continent, it is clear that this country expects something from Deschamps and his Euro squad and that perhaps French performances to date haven’t quite met such expectations.  Continue reading “Nice – A View from a Fan Park”

Wales Seek To Dash Belgian Dreams

Game of the Day: Belgium vs. Wales, Lille, 20:00

Wales is proof that with a little bit of team spirit and one world class player that relative success is more than achievable in an international football tournament. And in Gareth Bale, Wales have a player that accepts the spotlight whilst not forgetting to mention the operators off stage.

Welsh performances, England game aside, have been impressive, with the 3-0 demolition of Russia by far the best for Chris Coleman. Whilst the first two games seemed dominated by Bale, against Russia, it was a game won by the squad as a whole as Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Joe Ledley dominated the midfield. Neil Taylor and Chris Gunter dominated the flanks, allowed by an Ashley Williams led defensive line unhampered by a simply awful Russian side. It was attacking, incisive football. Continue reading “Wales Seek To Dash Belgian Dreams”

Quarter Final time as Poland face Portugal

Game of the Day: Poland vs. Portugal, Marseille, 20:00

All of a sudden, there is barely over 2 weeks left, just 7 games remaining (not counting third place play off), before the new larger-format Euros draw to a close. The quarter finals open with arguably the last two dark horses left in the competition, Poland and Portugal meeting in Marseille; (with everyone else classifiable as favourites or plucky outsiders). This may not be the most glamourous of the round, but could provide intrigue and quality between two evenly matched sides. Continue reading “Quarter Final time as Poland face Portugal”

Engand vs. Iceland Match Preview

Game of the Day: England vs. Iceland, Nice, 20:00

The round of 16 may have been a mixed bag so far, but there are lessons to be learned for England ahead of a potential banana skin against Iceland in Nice on Monday evening.

Teams seem to be tiring in the heat, but instead of trying to wear Iceland out over the course of the 90 minutes, Rooney et al would be best served going against the grain of the tournament to date and starting fast. If England can do something they haven’t managed so far and get an early goal, they will surely make life much easier for themselves and have a better chance of tying up the result without the need for extra time. Continue reading “Engand vs. Iceland Match Preview”

Italy vs. Spain – When Powerhouse’s Collide 

Game of the Day: Italy vs. Spain, Paris, 18:00

No one saw this coming. Spain coming second in their group.

After losing their first game in the European Championships since 2004 to Croatia, Spain now found themselves on the sticky side of the draw, and a game against an Italian side that at first impressed but now come into this game with questions against their name.

After a tentative start against the Czech Republic, Spain waltzed past Turkey with more flair than a 70s disco in the second game of the group. Spain appeared to have mojo back. Then came Ivan Perisic and Croatia. Continue reading “Italy vs. Spain – When Powerhouse’s Collide “

Can the luck of the Irish see off France in Lyon?

Game of the Week: France vs. Republic of Ireland, Lyon, 15:00

If I could be in any part of France right now, (admittedly, I will be in Nice for the England game, which isn’t all that bad) it would have to be Lyon because France vs. Republic of Ireland is just going to be a damn party.

You would have to live under an actual stone (or just not have Facebook) to not have seen the Irish fan frivolities over in France. Whilst the British media filter back stories of violence on the streets, the Irish media must be having a bloody field day as Ireland fans head out to France and genuinely look like they are having a good time. Whether it be singing to a Nun on a train, serenading French girls or singing along with the French police, everyone loves the Irish and now the shamrock party bus heads to Lyon to face the hosts. Continue reading “Can the luck of the Irish see off France in Lyon?”

It’s the Battle of Paris for the Home Nations

Game of the Day: Wales vs. Northern Ireland, Paris, 18:00

With third places teams qualifying to the knock out stages of the European Championships for the first time in this tournament, a curveball knock out tie was always going to be on the cards but I don’t think anyone saw Wales vs. Northern Ireland coming…

Wales, compared to England, made light work of Group B. The defeat to England aside, where Wales always did look to be on the back foot, the performances against Slovakia and particularly against Russia demonstrated that Wales are more than capable of dipping their toes in the deep end of Euro 2016. Continue reading “It’s the Battle of Paris for the Home Nations”

The Best of the Euros so far…

Group stage wide boys

Inverted wingers have been all the rage for a good few years now reason, but with Arjen Robben absent, Lionel Messi at Copa America and Ronaldo and Bale acting as central focal points for their respective teams, teams may need some genuine width against the mass defensive ranks that became a feature of the group stage. Continue reading “The Best of the Euros so far…”