Scotland Manager – A Nation Awaits, A Nation Expects

Russia 2018 was supposed to be “This Time.” A slogan that the Scottish Football Association decided was suitable for the most recent qualifying campaign, they failed. So who knows what the PR team will come up with for Euro 2020? “Please god! This time, c’mon now it’s our turn” maybe?

Less than a week after the usual high expectation and coming up heartbreakingly short ,the SFA have decide to part company with Gordon Strachan.

There were no excuses because he didn’t have any left to give. Despite the supporting words of other fellow managers in the recent days, Strachan had used up all his lives and had to go.

The 2-2 draw in Slovenia saw the nation miss out on a World Cup playoff place by virtue of goal difference to Slovakia. Of course, the damage was not done in Ljubljana, but earlier in a campaign that had started so poorly.

His departure on the back of a phenomenal 2017 will at least see the Scots climb the world rankings to a respectable position of 29th.

Gordon-Strachan-Image

After nearly 5 years at the helm, Strachan walks away with a win % of 47.5 from his 40 matches in charge. He has a decent record against what you would consider tournament nations, no defeats to the likes of Poland, ROI, Croatia and Denmark, however – like many before him, it was the disappointments of the Georgia’s and Lithuania’s that saw him come up short.

But who can become the first Scotland manager since Craig Brown to get the team over the line?

It is THE question that will preoccupy the minds of Alan McRae, Stuart Regan and other SFA board members, the supporters and the journalists but it’s fair to suggest that with the floundering reputations of those in high profile Hampden positions on the line, it will not be a quick appointment.

Going by the bookies it is a straight decision between David Moyes and recently appointed Interim Manager Malky MacKay for the Hampden hot seat. Most Scots will be dreading either of these men being given a chance. It doesn’t have to be a Scot, especially when the current choices are so poor. Allardyce has ruled himself out, Prandelli has thrown his hat into the ring and they are dreaming if they think they’ll be able to prise Michael O’Neill away from Northern Ireland.

mackaymoyes1210a

Scotland need to heed the word from their own national anthem. Flower of Scotland urges them to “be the nation again” and this is exactly what is required. All they have to do is look at other home nations and they’ll quickly realise they are somehow being left behind.

Northern Ireland have recently given international call-ups to players from clubs such as Linfield, Dunfermline, Shrewsbury, Doncaster Rovers and Wigan. In Slovenia, Scotland had the luxury of two Champions League players sitting on the bench.

Wales have a slightly more “premier league” XI than the others, and of course the talent of Gareth Bale to call upon. However a couple of injuries / suspensions and they too are scrambling for replacements.

Strachan’s last excuse was that of “genetics.”

Well Gordon, we’re sorry point this out but the Ireland’s are hardly picking from a freakish gene pool nor have they a single player of anything approaching world class…both O’Neill’s took their teams to the Euros and both have made the play-offs for Russia.

The wait for tens of thousands of Scots to board planes destined for a major tournament continues, 20 years without appearing in World Cups or European Championships is agonising to say the least. The next man has a reasonable squad capable, he just needs to find the right results at the right times.

Gordon Strachan image sourced from; www.thesun.co.uk/sports/football
David Moyles and Malkay Mackay image sourced from; www.thestandard.co.uk

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What Happened to the Netherlands?

South Africa 2010 and a resurgent nation with a 100% qualifying record arrive on the grandest stage in football, The World Cup Final. Albeit a game remembered more for unpunished tackles than skill or quality, you had a feeling that we were about to see one of the sports’ most recognisable nations go on and become a major force once again.

Euro 2012 saw a slump of epic proportions and 3 defeats in the group stage – in their defence it was a group-of-death scenario. Losing to Germany, Portugal and Denmark is no disgrace at this level.

They re-grouped and in Brazil finished a respectable 3rd under the guidance of inbound Man Utd manager LVG. Putting 5 past the reigning champions Spain and 3 past the host nation is no easy feat and it has to be remembered they were only denied a 2nd successive World Cup Final by a couple of spot kicks. In all you would have to agree, a major tournament record that most could only dream of.

Fast-forward to current times and in early 2017 this proud footballing nation are in total disarray!

The recent 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bulgaria was described as “the worst Dutch performance in 50 years.”

The Ornaje are currently 4th in their Russia 2018 qualifying group, only looking down on Belarus and usual “whipping boys” Luxembourg.

Head coach Danny Blind has been removed from his position leaving Fred Grim to take temporary charge, has there ever been a more aptly named caretaker manager?

Blind, father of Man Utd defender Daley, had lost 7 of his 17 matches in charge. The former international’s record was a contributing factor to missing out on an inflated Euro 2016 altogether.

Soccer WCup 2018 Bulgaria Netherlands

So what has gone wrong?

Well much-maligned former Man Utd manager Van Gaal got the squad to buy into his “philosophy” and the handover to Guus Hiddink was disastrous, this forced the men in orange to start again.

Take the formation, for example. Normally, the Dutch pride themselves on playing attacking football in a 4-3-3 setup. He implemented a 5-3-2 formation with the preference to play on the counter.

Their most recently named selections were missing the mainstays of Van Persie, Huntelaar, De Jong and Ron Vlaar from recent years. Their defence in particular lacks a leader with real experience, walking yellow card Bruno Martins Indi is their current and most capped centre half.

They are no longer feared on the international stage as the improving nations across the continent catch up to what is a questionable current squad. Unknowns from the Eredivise are only just winning their 1st international recognition’s in their late 20’s, far too late.

Surely we can’t see a nation such as this miss out on a 2nd major tourney in succession?

It is over to The Royal Dutch Football Association to identify a new manager to point Robben & co to Moscow.

Danny Blind image sourced from www.indianexpress.com/sports/football

 

Scotland 2018 – This Time?

Less than 2 months after Portugal were crowned Euro 2016 champions it’s already time to start a new qualifying campaign!

Given the excitement of having 4 home nations make it to France certainly put things into perspective for the Scots who were sitting at home, enviously watching everyone else having the time of their lives across the channel.

The only bright spark in their gloomy summer was Iceland shocking a continent and sending the Auld Enemy home a lot earlier than many had predicted.

The rest of the nearest and dearest Wales, Northern Ireland and ROI are now on a new level, they have tournament experience and are nations carrying a different expectation altogether.

The SFA have come up with the slogan of “THIS TIME.” for Russia 2018 qualifying group F, so is it to be long haul flights to Moscow or further glorious failure?

Scotland-This-Time

Scotland have been drawn with Malta, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and England. Even the staunchest supporter sat in the Hampden Park stands will concede that Sam Allardyce’s men will win the group and more than likely, at a canter. We all know where England’s failings lie and it’s not at this stage, in fact they may even be glad of having what should be 2 tough games. This is more than they have had in previous years in the run up to a tournament. A table topping England would leave the Scots fighting for the play off place in the table.

As much as both nations will be looking forward to these games in the calendar this is not where Scotland’s progress will be decided. The trips to Slovenia and Slovakia hold the key… They must not be repeats of Georgia 2007 or 2015!

The SFA have completed the 1st task in ensuring ordering of the fixtures reads well. Playing Malta and Lithuania back-to-back on two occasions gives good opportunity for 6 points at key times in the group. The England games fall in the middle and regardless of the results it should not damage any optimism or derail form, this leaves the BIG finish…

Slovakia at Hampden on 5th October 2017 and Slovenia away a few days later. These are the much heralded 6 pointers, although we think 4 would do and avoiding defeat in either is more than likely going to be a must.

30 points on offer over the next 13 months and we feel a total of 20 needs to be the aim. This is allowing for defeats to England and Slovakia along what we’re sure will be a bumpy road.

Can it be done with what is available we hear you ask? Well let’s throw out a few positives to add to the hope that is always present at the beginning:-

  • Scotland have a new star in Oliver Burke, a recent £13m transfer to RB Leipzig and comparisons to Bale will do for starters
  • Matt Ritchie has been a find, the Newcastle winger has taken to international football like a duck to water, he’ll be a key man
  • Leigh Griffiths is one of the deadliest strikers in Europe, we don’t care what anyone says he should be regarded higher than he currently is
  • They are blessed at left back. Robertson and Tierney = enough said
  • The potential XI below leaves out the likes of Wallace, Maloney, McArthur, McCormack and Rhodes

One major worry for those world -famous passionate fans is at centre half. Berra, Martin, Greer and Hanley can play well but can also provide heart palpitations from Dundee to Dumfries! Perhaps a “we’ll score 1 more than you” attitude may have to be adopted.

The potential Scotland starting XI with everyone fit and suspension free looks like a decent side to us;

Scotland-Starting-11

Let’s also note that wee Gordon needs to be fair with his team selection, just because you have inks to the Old Firm shouldn’t guarantee you a starting place. ALAN HUTTON we’re talking about you!

Difficult decisions are part of his job and this time out he needs to be firmer. Don’t attempt to squeeze Naismith in, if Fletcher isn’t scoring for Sheff Wed then don’t start him or McKay is playing mid-table SPL football then leave him out of the squad.

So let the touch paper be lit in Ta’Qali on Sunday evening and see what Strachan and his troops can deliver this time around.

Qualification gives hero status’ whereas failure leaves the SFA with no option but to begin a search for a new management team.

With good selections, belief and a bit of luck on their side it could very well be all aboard for Russia.

World Cup Finals 2018? Let’s hope so, The Tartan Army deserve a European adventure.

Scotland This Time Image Sourced from SFA Twitter; https://twitter.com/ScottishFA
Scotland Starting 11 Image Sourced from LineUp11 App

England Manager – The FA have chosen

Precisely 25 days since Roy Hodgson sat in a post match press conference telling all of Europe that his time was up as manager of the England team, they have found his successor.

Just over 3 weeks since FA CEO Martin Glenn told everyone “we’re going to harness opinion and wisdom from the wider part of the game, it’s really important that we get this right. It’s really that we get England into a situation where we can build on the strength that we’ve got. I think we’ve got a lot of strength in this squad and taking it forward with the view to the World Cup in Russia. It’s important that we make the right decisions. So we will be canvassing opinions from former managers, current managers, clubs and players to make sure we get wisdom on to this area” to name their man.

It taken less than a month of “looking abroad”, “looking for the best person for the job” and “not ruling out a foreign manager.” To get as far as Sunderland…and appoint Sam Allardyce.

Mr Glenn himself has declared that he is “not a football expert” and whilst that is acceptable he is clearly attempting to rid himself of full responsibility if this goes wrong.

Sam-Allardyce-Image

Now it’s is obviously difficult to predict just how Big Sam will fare in the Wembley hot seat but it is at this stage easy to cast our opinion.

England have settled for what was available at the level they are currently operating on and off the pitch, mediocrity!

Having a look at the positives:-

  • Yes, England will be a more organised unit
  • Yes, England will be harder to beat
  • Yes, he may actually have the bravery to drop under performers not matter which club they play for
  • Yes, he may pick players that suit him and not sponsors or reputations (James Tomkins anyone?)
  • Yes, you would imagine “yes” is not a word he will utter to the top brass at the FA’s every request

Surely though…these are the basics of football management?

Is he even qualified for the job of National Manger?

  • No major trophy win
  • No trophy win since 97-98 (3rd division title)
  • A mere 33.6 PL win %
  • A total of 5 games managed against European opposition (1 win)

England’s failing have been in the cup competitions, they qualify relatively unchallenged from the seeded groups pre any major tournament. You just have to look at the 100% record pre France.

Taking a look at Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham under Allardyce’s command in the last 10 years hardly provides optimism.

Other than 2 League Cup Semi Final appearances where his sides have conceded a bucket load, he is a 3rd round exit specialist, bear in mind that most of these clubs would have entered at this stage and you have a manager who struggles to navigate through knockout football.

Club

Season League Cup FA Cup

Bolton

2006-07 3rd Round

4th Round

Newcastle United

2007-08 3rd Round

3rd Round

Blackburn Rovers

2008-09

N/A

5th Round

2009-10

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF – Conceded 7 to Villa over 2 legs

2010-11

3rd Round

N/A

West Ham

2011-12 1st Round

3rd Round

2012-13

3rd Round

3rd Round

2013-14

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF -Conceded 9 to City over 2 legs

2014-15

3rd Round

5th Round

Sunderland

2015-16

3rd Round

3rd Round

Manchester-City-Semi-Final-Image

Sam Allardyce it has to be said, is a fire fighter and perhaps that is just what the FA need to extinguish the flames created by a group of over-paid, under-performing multi-millionaires at Euro 2016.

There will be a good indication of his credentials very early on in his reign. England are arguably in their toughest qualifying group for a number of years with Slovakia, Slovenian and Auld Enemy Scotland to contend with.

However much the majority of the media dress this up as a fantastic appointment i.e. “how it’s just what England need” and with the  backing from the likes of Sir Alex and Jose etc etc. But let’s be honest…

IT’S ONLY SAM ALLARDYCE!

Sam Allardyce image sourced from; www.thetelegraph.co.uk
Manchester City Club Semi Final image sourced from www.thetelegraph.co.uk

Euro 2016 – Tournament Review

Euro-16-Header-Image

Congratulations to Portugal, European Champions 2016!

An extra time winner from former Swansea man Eder was enough to silence the home nation and had Cristiano hobbling up the stairs to get his hands on that trophy.

The final itself summed up the majority of the tournament. Slow, tactical and at times left you struggling to stay awake.

In a game desperately in need of an opening goal, the 2 best chances did fall to the hosts. Griezmann should have buried a header from a superb Coman cross and with virtually the last kick in 90mins Gignac beat Rui Patricio but saw his effort clip the post and roll away to safety.

Portugal were, as expected extremely organised and even with the body blow of losing their talisman early in the game had enough spirit to win their 1st major international trophy.

Deserved or not Ronaldo seemed overjoyed to finally have led his nation to silverware. Might just have had a little something to do with Messi’s most recent final loss with Argentina and subsequent retirement we suspect!

Portugal-Image

Now that the final is over and done with let’s have a look back and give some of our winners in various categories…

Player of the Tournament – Antoine Griezmann

The French forward was a clear winner in this category for us. His 6 goals making him the top scorer and he drove his nation into the final single headedly on occasion. He looked tired against Portugal but did not deserve a runners up medal for his efforts over the last month.

Goal of the Tournament – Xherdan Shaqiri

Some cracking contenders for best strike but Shaqiri’s overhead kick just shaded it for us. It took Switzerland into extra time and was a thing of pure beauty. Honourable mentions go to Wales’ Robson-Kanu for his turn and finish against Belgium whilst Croatia’s Modric’s dipping volley against Turkey was also special.

Match of the Tournament – Hungary 3-3 Portugal

Sadly there wasn’t a lot to choose from here but there were a couple of standout games, none more so than this 6 goal thriller. The final game in group F became so very key looking back on it now. Portugal had sneaked through despite trailing on 3 occasions and as news filtered through that Iceland had scored a late winner in the other game Portugal knew they were in the “easier” half of the draw.

Wales 3-1 Belgium and Italy 2-0 Spain also provided good entertainment.

Team of the Tournament – 4-4-2 Formation

Team-Image

Additional moments of Euro 2016

  • Iceland’s performance and Viking chant (coming to a ground near you this season)
  • Zlatan’s international retirement
  • All 4 qualified home nations progressing through the group stages
  • Will Grigg being continuously on fire despite not kicking a ball
  • The terrible penalties witnessed in Germany v Italy
  • The moths invading Stade De France
  • Ronaldo’s tears and subsequent coaching performance

Euro 2016 provided some great moments and fairytale stories but was largely a poor tournament.

52 games produced just 108 goals, on 31 occasions both teams did not score in the same match and overall the average was just 1 goal every 44mins. Is this the best European national sides have to offer?

We believe that UEFA need to reduce the teams as the extension has created a different mentality this time around.

Portugal have won EURO 2016 winning 1 game in the regulation 90mins whilst failing to defeat Austria, Iceland and Hungary in the group stage. This should not allow any side to progress through in the way that the Portuguese have.

Roll on Russia 2018 where the added competition from other parts of the globe will create added spark and hopefully a more exciting tournament. Let’s just hope that the fan behaviour in the streets of France was not a test run for next time.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Portugal image sourced from; www.thesun.co.uk
Team image sourced from; Lineup11 App


We’re delighted to announce that we have been chosen to be the dedicated Euro blogger for the cool clothing brand Xile Clothing. Based in Scotland, this edgy brand has 3 stores in (Edinburgh, Glasgow & Livingston) plus you can shop online at www.xileclothing.com.

Check out their blog (https://www.xileclothing.com/blog/)for all their latest news and trends and it would be awesome if you could support our blog posts on there too! ;-P 

Euro 2016 – Only 2 Remain

Euro-16-Header-Image

We have our finalists.

Portugal will face France for the title of European Champions, The contest will take place on Sunday in the magnificent Stade de France located just north of Paris.

The Semi Finals were always likely to be filled with tension and fear of defeat so close to the ultimate prize. All four nations however should have glided onto the pitch with belief in their ability, yet early on it appeared they were all riddled with self doubt.

Ultimately there were deserved winners in both ties.

In Lyon on Wednesday history was made…

Wales were in their 1st ever Semi Final of a major competition and faced a Portugal side looking to extend an impressive recent record in this competition (2 Semi’s and 1 Final in the last 4 Euro’s)

A dream was dashed with a bullet Cristiano header and a prod of Nani’s boot. Both goals coming in the space of just 3 minutes in the 2nd half gave the Welsh an uphill task they were never likely to complete. Ronaldo’s goal moved him joint-top of the competitions’ all time scorer chart, a position shared with the now disgraced Michel Platini who had also found the back of the net on 9 occasions.

Coleman’s men can travel back to Cardiff with their heads held high at their achievements as attentions quickly turn to towards Russia 2018. You get the feeling that Portugal’s tournament experience gave them that extra edge when it mattered on the night.

Ronaldo-Image

So who would Portugal face in Sunday’s showpiece?

A matchup which divided opinions saw the host nation run out comfortable and deserved winners. The World Champions headed home after a night where they struggled to find a killer touch, a familiar story since the start of the campaign if truth be told. I wouldn’t imagine anyone predicted Bayern’s Muller not scoring for a country always likely to contest the latter stages.

It was another night for Antoine Griezmann. The little magician who was rejected by many clubs in France as a teen due to his height is now the icon of the nation, 6 goals so far for the Atletico Madrid man.

A disputable penalty decision initially caused confusion before the referee made his decision clear at the end of a 1st half dominated by German possession. Schweinsteiger was a yard off when Evra connected with a header but it appeared more ball to hand than deliberate handball. That made no difference to Griezmann who calmly slotted the ball past Neuer for a lead at the break. Although Germany pressed for an equaliser Les Bleus always appeared comfortable and when their No 7 produced a neat, yet difficult finish for 2-0 it was game over. Substitutions were made both offensive and defensive in attempts to change the game but it was too far beyond the reach of Low’s men.

Greizman-Image

And so onto the Final of Euro 2016…

France will be overwhelming favourites, they have scored goals and unlike Portugal have actually won numerous games of football!

They will be at home, have the majority of support within the stadium and they have a team full of players on top form.

Portugal will once again be heavy reliant on the performances of Ronaldo and Nani who are capable of turning a game with a moment of magic but we just can’t see past the hosts.

Euro 2016 has provided us with so many stories and we believe it would be a fitting end to see France skipper Hugo Lloris lift the trophy at the weekend.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Ronaldo image sourced from; www.indianexpress.com
Griezmann image sourced from; www.rmcsport.bfmtv.com


We’re delighted to announce that we have been chosen to be the dedicated Euro blogger for the cool clothing brand Xile Clothing. Based in Scotland, this edgy brand has 3 stores in (Edinburgh, Glasgow & Livingston) plus you can shop online at www.xileclothing.com.

Check out their blog (https://www.xileclothing.com/blog/)for all their latest news and trends and it would be awesome if you could support our blog posts on there too! ;-P 

Euro 2016 – Quarter Final Review

Euro-16-Header-Image

We are down to the last 4!

Portugal, Wales, Germany and France will contest the Semi Finals of Euro 2016. Some have progressed impressively and others not so much, let’s have a quick recap of the quarter finals:-

Portugal were the 1st team through with a penalty shootout defeat of Poland. An early goal gave hope of an open game but as soon as Sanches equalised that hope was diminished. What felt a long time later Ricardo Quaresma fired home the decisive kick. Somehow Portugal are in the Semi’s having not won a game in 90mins…Madness!

Wales, Wales, Wales what can you say? Their 1st tournament appearance since 1958 and a final appearance is within touching distance. They had the upper hand over Belgium in the qualifying group to get here and they carried that on in Lille with a come from behind 3-1 win. A long range drive from Nainggolan was cancelled out by Ashley Williams. Then a magnificent Cruyff turn from free agent Robson-Kanu had the Belgian defence baffled, he slotted home and a Vokes header sealed a famous win. Wales squad is littered with Englishmen and this will no doubt raised questions over selection policy at the English FA.

Wales-Image

Moving to Saturday in Bordeaux and it was fair to say we anticipated a memorable encounter. We got one in the shape of some of the worst attempts from 12 yards you are ever likely to see, Zaza and Pelle hang your heads in shame. Before 6 misses from the 1st 10 kicks, we were then treated to a tactical 1-1. You got the feeling that these two superpowers had a mutual respect for each other and were happy for the tie to be decided in the way it was. Italy have gone home with huge credit from the neutrals and Chelsea fans can look forward to what Conte can bring them next season.

Finally it fell to the host nation to end a dream. France disposed of the heroic Icelanders with a 5-2 victory, goals from all of the French’s key men will also bode well for them. Iceland had shipped 4 before half time but refused to go home without leaving every bit of fight on that pitch. They battled to the end and we all applauded as the scored a 2nd late on to make the score line slightly more respectable.

Onward to the Semi Finals this week where we will see Ronaldo v Bale and World Champions v home favourites.

One final game in the Stade De France awaits for two of these nations on Sunday 10th July.

Who would bet against an Andy King double? The Leicester man has already picked up the Premier League title this season, can he now lift the Henri Delaunay trophy?

Semi-Final-Image

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Wales image sourced from; www.mirror.co.uk
Semi Final image sourced from; www.totalsportek.com


We’re delighted to announce that we have been chosen to be the dedicated Euro blogger for the cool clothing brand Xile Clothing. Based in Scotland, this edgy brand has 3 stores in (Edinburgh, Glasgow & Livingston) plus you can shop online at www.xileclothing.com.

Check out their blog (https://www.xileclothing.com/blog/)for all their latest news and trends and it would be awesome if you could support our blog posts on there too! ;-P 

Euro 2016 – The Last 16 Round Up

Euro-16-Header-Image

The knockout rounds have begun, no more teams tactically playing for 3rd place leaving themselves with a hope of staying in France for a few days longer.

It’s best we start off by saying…Thank goodness for Sunday and Monday. The 6 teams that played on Saturday provided us with a poor spectacle for the latter stages of a major international tournament.

Poland v Switzerland opened proceedings in St Etienne and produced 2 talking points. An outrageous overhead kick from Stoke’s Shaqiri and a woeful penalty in the shootout from Arsenal’s new £30Mil man Granit Xhaka. Poland progress and that’s without the prolific Lewandowski finding the net so far.

Moving to the highly anticipated “Battle of Britain.” It very much disappointed as Wales and Northern Ireland produced a cagey affair. It was settled after a Bale cross delivered into the dreaded corridor of uncertainty and was touched past his own keeper by the unfortunate McAuley, the challenge had to be made with Robson-Kanu awaiting a tap in.

To finish the day, a terrible match produced an extra time win for Ronaldo and co. Quaresma’s nod over the line was the game’s 1st on target attempt in the 117th minute and we were all relieved to be able to turn off in time for the Joshua fight! Portugal are in the quarters having yet to win a game in normal time.

Sunday needed to raise our spirits and it did just that…

As expected a spirited ROI gave hosts France a scare with a 2nd minute penalty from man-of-the-moment Robbie Brady. Then Antione Griezmann decide to silence his critics by turning up to the party, a fantastic 2nd half display saw him terrorise the Irish backline and score twice completing a 2-1 comeback win.

Fearfully for the remaining sides, Germany and Belgium destroyed their opposition to comfortably progress. 3-0 and 4-0 wins respectively and it could have been a lot more for either, do not be surprised if these two contest the final on 10th July.

Monday saw us reach the conclusion of the round and it produced the biggest shock the competition has EVER seen, Iceland 2-1 England!

An early Rooney penalty should have settled any lingering nerves for the favourites but within seconds it was 1-1 and minutes the turnaround was complete. Joe Hart should have kept out a Sigthorsson effort but just like Bale’s free kick, his left hand wasn’t strong enough.

Out-battled and out-thought seems a fair way to sum up a woeful night for the English with Hodgson resigning immediately after the defeat.

Euro-16-Iceland

In the earlier game Italy produced and stellar “Italian” performance, occasionally threatening going forward and unbeatable at the back. Just like the Belgium game it was wrapped up with a late Pelle volley for a 2-0 scoreline. A mouth-watering Quarter Final with Germany awaits for what was supposed to be their worst side for 50 years.

The Quarter Finals start on Thursday and with every team just 2 games from the showpiece final it should be an exciting watch.

Some of the usual suspects will know what to expect in terms of pressure however the appearance of Iceland, Poland and Wales provides a possible twist for sides that in effect have nothing to lose.

Have we seen the last twist of Euro 2016? Possibly not.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Iceland image sourced from; www.indianexpress.com


We’re delighted to announce that we have been chosen to be the dedicated Euro blogger for the cool clothing brand Xile Clothing. Based in Scotland, this edgy brand has 3 stores in (Edinburgh, Glasgow & Livingston) plus you can shop online at www.xileclothing.com.

Check out their blog (https://www.xileclothing.com/blog/)for all their latest news and trends and it would be awesome if you could support our blog posts on there too! ;-P 

Euro 2016 – Full 1st Round Review

Well that’s come and gone quickly! We waited in anticipation for one of the most wide open European Championships to get underway and in the blink of an eye we have had the chance to see every team in action.

Qualified

Group A Group B Group C
France Wales Germany
Switzerland England Poland
Slovakia Northern Ireland
Group D Group E Group F
Croatia Italy Hungary
Spain Belgium Iceland
Rep Ireland Portugal

So just who has impressed, disappointed or held their own in the 1st round?

Made an impression

We’ll start with the obvious in Italy and Germany, 2 of the big boys went about their jobs in a professional fashion and will be hoping for a prolonged stay.

Croatia could very well be an outsider worth keeping an eye on, a wonder strike from Luka Modric is going to take some beating for goal of the tournament. Add in a deserved victory against Spain and an “easier” run to the final and you never know.

Additional mentions for Hungary, Poland and Wales. All have impressed with the way they have attempted to play. Lewandowski and Bale are match winners for the Poles and Welsh whereas Hungary who have turned up without anything to lose, currently boast the most goals scored in the competition (6 in 3 games).

Will be disappointed

England will be kicking themselves by not negotiating Group B in the way they should have. A 2nd placed finish has left them in the much tougher half of the latter stages.

Controversially going to say the host nation France, without the resurgence of the talented Payet you have to wonder what might have been. They’ll need to improve to progress past a spirited Rep Ireland.

Sweden, Russia and Austria all came through the same “weak” qualification group and perhaps no major surprise to see them all on the 1st plane home given how they have performed.

Stood their ground

Little Iceland, a country with a population half the size of Glasgow holding the mighty Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to a 1-1 draw and deservedly progressing from the group. Lots of talk about fairy stories this season and the men from Reykjavik need adding to this list.

A strange category for Spain to be mentioned, Iniesta has proved once again to be a maestro. A tough 2nd round match vs. Italy awaits after a Sergio Ramos missed penalty against Croatia. They’ll probably still be there or thereabouts but they are not the all-conquering side of recent years.

Euro-Image-1

 

We are starting to see Euro 2016 spark to life and knockout football will only aid this even further.

One thing we have certainly been impressed with is that every game has been well contested, played in the right spirit and the general standard of refereeing has been high so far and long may it continue.

It’s been entertaining albeit tense, but hopefully there is more good football to be seen in the next few days.

Certainly make no plans this weekend with 6 games split over Saturday and Sunday!

All the best to your supported nations for the rest of the championship.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Last 16 image sourced from; www.goal.com


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England’s Euro Squad

Given Roy’s revelations that he’s considering taking Man Utd’s man of the moment Marcus Rashford and Arsenal’s answer to Darren Anderton (Jack Wilshere) to Euro 2016, we felt compelled to give our view on the imminent announcement of the final England 23.

It’s only a few weeks away, thousands of fans from all over Europe will descend on France in the hope of seeing their nations perform and do the best they can.

In other cases the expectation is slightly higher. They are looking for a prolonged campaign culminating in appearances in a semi-final or even the final itself. One of these nations will be England.

The media and many fans claim to have “the best league in the world” so the time has come for the national team to start backing up that claim and prove they have what it takes to perform in more than quality-lacking qualifying groups. This is a chance for Roy Hogdson to put together the best squad any England manager has had at his disposal for decades.

So we are going to take a look and suggest (based on current form and Injuries aside) who the three lions should be taking across the channel :-

Goalkeepers x 3

J Hart – F Foster – J Butland

  • These 3 are all capable of being England’s No1 at any given point
  • Yes Hart will start but not a position for England to worry about

Defenders x 8

C Smalling – G Cahill – J Stones – P Jagielka – D Rose – A Cresswell – K Walker – N Clyne

  • 2 right backs, 2 left backs and 4 centre halves
  • A good mix of youth , experience and versatility
  • Full backs should all be hungry and fighting to make the place their own

Midfielders x 8

R Barkley – D Drinkwater – E Dier – D Alli – J Milner – T Walcott – R Sterling – M Noble

  • Not the nation’s strongest area, need to be grateful for the Spurs duo of Alli and Dier’s progression this year.
  • Not blessed with good enough width and having to take players who are too often hit or miss (Walcott & Sterling)
  • We can only see a Midfield diamond working given the players available
  • Certainly an opportunity for Barkley to prove if he is the player we think he can be
  • Drinkwater in on total merit and Milner a safe option.

Dier-and-Alli-Image

Forwards x 4

W Rooney – H Kane – J Vardy – J Defoe

  • Currently blessed in this area, the best striking options since the late 90’s
  • Captain and all time top scorer is a must, not matter of club form
  • Kane & Vardy will turn up and play without fear
  • Defoe is scoring goals in a poor team, is a poacher and rarely lets anyone down. A solid back up option instead of a half fit Welbeck or a fragile Sturridge.

Leaving at home

GK –  B Foster, T Heaton, J Ruddy

Def – L Shaw, P Jones, G Johnson, L Baines, K Gibbs, C Chambers, R Bertrand

Mid – F Delph, J Wilshere, A Lallana, M Carrick, J Henderson, A Oxlade-Chamberlain, J Lingard

For – D Sturridge, D Welbeck, S Berahino, C Austin, A Carroll

Mentions have to be given to players that the FA should be looking to include going forward, some will be controversial names but moving away from a “top team” players focus is a must for progression:-

Joel Ward & W Zaha (Crystal Palace)                                  B Afobe (Bournemouth)

Reece Oxford (West Ham)                                                     Andre Gray (Burnley)

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)                                 Will Hughes (Derby)

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)                             Demarai Gray (Leicester City)

Kane-Image

Our potential England starting XI v Russia on 11th June

Hart

Walker     Smalling     Cahill     Cresswell

Dier

Alli                     Milner

Barkley

Rooney            Kane

Dier and Alli image sourced from; www.express.co.uk/sport/football
Kane image sourced from; http://www.matiastanea.gr/gb/