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?”

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”

Euro 2016 Team by Team Review

As the group stage ends, the Euros start getting interesting. It’s only the friggin’ knockouts! Here is a review of all 24 teams that made it too France, so let’s see what teams make the grade…

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Group A

France – B

Favourites at the start of the tournament but don’t seem to know their best starting XI. Two late wins against Albania and Romania, with thanks to goals by Dimitri Payet, followed by a stalemate against Switzerland, means there is definite room for improvement. Didier Deschamps will be expecting Les Bleus to show their potential against Republic of Ireland in the knockout round.

Switzerland – C

With a strike force as strong as their shirt quality, the Swiss have produced two underwhelming draws and a win over Albania. Incoming Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, has looked lively and will hope for more against Poland in the last 16. Continue reading “Euro 2016 Team by Team Review”

Group C Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Ukraine vs. Poland, Marseille, 17:00
Northern Ireland vs. Germany, Paris, 17:00

Standings
Germany – 4pts
Poland – 4pts
Northern Ireland – 3pts
Ukraine – 0pts

The last set of games in this group saw the perfect juxtaposition of emotions that tournament football throws together. The euphoria of seeing Gareth McCauley thunder a header home as Northern Ireland picked up their first ever European Championship win was one sight. To then be met with one of the dourest 0-0 draws played out by Germany and Poland. I can appreciate a good 0-0 if the chances are there but Christ that took some watching.

Alas, it is another day and the glories of goal difference might change the shape of this Euro’s if both Poland and Germany win today with the price of coming second a likely tie against France in the round of 16, finishing top seems to have great importance in this group.

So who is favourite for the top slot? Whilst Germany may sit pretty at the moment, with Poland, playing a Ukraine side that bar the first 45 minutes against Germany seems to be getting worse for every half of football that passes by and Germany playing an impressive Northern Ireland side, this could be the first real surprise of the tournament. Continue reading “Group C Final Round Preview”

Will Robert Lewandowski kick on from Qualifying?

Game of the Day: Poland vs. Northern Ireland, Nice, 17:00

The only place to start with this game is with the little bit of class that will be sprinkling the whole affair. Robert Lewandowski.

Not taking anything away from either the Poland squad or Michael O’Neill’s Northern Irish side, Robert Lewandowski is a mighty fine player. 13 goals in qualifying was more than any other in getting to France but my mind personally recalls his performance for Borussia Dortmund in the semi-final of the Champions League against Real Madrid. That drag back in the penalty area was cheeky but to dispatch his shot into the top corner afterwards meant the whole movement was as audacious as it was world class.

To have a player of that capability in your side is always a bonus, a true game changer, and for Polish manager Adam Nawalka, the relationship between Arkadiusz Milik and Robert Lewandowski is a major factor in the success of Poland’s campaign. Continue reading “Will Robert Lewandowski kick on from Qualifying?”

IT’S HERE! As France kicks off the Euro’s in Paris

Game of the Day: France vs. Romania, Paris, 20.00

Here we are, about to begin of the one of the best months of the year, Euro 2016. And what better way to start The Sweeper’s ‘GAME OF THE DAY’ than with the hosts on the opening night.

France vs Romania.

The omens seem good for France who have a somewhat magical relationship between hosting and winning football tournaments. Whether it be the Michel Platini led side for France ’84 or the Didier Deschamps inspired 1998 World Cup winning side, France just seem to love to win on home soil and their hopes for Euro 2016 are no different. Continue reading “IT’S HERE! As France kicks off the Euro’s in Paris”