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”

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?”

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 E Final Round Preview

Games of the Day
Italy vs. Republic of Ireland, Lille, 20:00
Sweden vs. Belgium, Nice 20:00

Standings
Italy – 6pts
Belgium – 3pts
Sweden – 1pt
Republic of Ireland – 1pt

As the Italians stride through into the next round, Belgium finally turned up to the party after a 3-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland.

Both games would appear to be something of a dead rubber in Group E, with Italy and Belgium both favourites to pick up a further 3pts come this evening and whilst Italy potentially have the harder task against Martin O’Neil and Roy Keane’s Republic of Ireland side, it’s hard to imagine much change in the standings.

It seems very strange to say that Italy are a surprise package but given that this current Italian squad was widely regarded as the worse this century, their performance against Belgium was so well thought out and executed it seemed that the Italians could waltz their way to the pointy end of a major tournament once more. Fast forward 4 days and such claims seemed premature as Conte’s side laboured to a 1-0 victory against a massively under-whelming Swedish side. Continue reading “Group E Final Round Preview”

Republic must dare to capitalise on uncertainty in Brussels

Game of the Day: Belgium vs. Republic of Ireland, Bordeaux, 14:00

Following Italy’s last gasp winner against Sweden, this generation of Irish players may never have a better chance of progressing to the knockout rounds of a major tournament. Martin O’Neill will hope that Belgium are as discombobulated in Bordeaux on Saturday afternoon as they were when wilting against the compact yet deadly Italians in game one. Continue reading “Republic must dare to capitalise on uncertainty in Brussels”