Thursday, June 30, 2016

Euro 2016 France Part #2

This time just the one match.

Flew to Nice, hired a car and based myself in Antibes.

Thunderclap Newmen.

27th June 2016  England 1 Iceland 2  NIce  33,901

I had a nightmare that England would lose this match but then realised that could only happen in a parallel universe, surely ?

Then I woke up and we had lost to Iceland !

Inside the stadium the atmosphere did not feel as raucous as the previous England games and it was the Iceland fans, enjoying their most historic match ever, who set the tone with their rhythmic, ‘thunderclap’, clapping.

The game had started so well with Sturridge neatly finding the much maligned Sterling and he was brought down for a penalty.
Captain Rooney scored into the corner and all looked well for a solid 3-0 victory.

But then, soon after, a schoolboy error allowed Iceland to respond quickly as our defence switched off.
So that made it 1-1 and it got worse as Iceland worked a move through the centre of our defence giving Sigthorsson the chance to shoot.
It was a decent effort but Joe Hart clearly should have done better as the ball escaped his dive and went in to give the Icelanders an unlikely lead.

No problem, we would win 3-2, just be patient.

But it never happened.

And if anything Iceland might have another goal, Joe Hart to some extent redeeming himself.
England created little of significance, some long range shots and a half chance for Vardy.

With coach Hodgson on his feet but still looked transfixed and bewildered the team never seemed to have the passion and leadership required to recognise what was happening and retrieve the situation.
Iceland didn’t even have to waste much time, they continually tackled and rebuffed all the opposition moves.

Perhaps if Rashford had been brought on earlier ? Maybe if Wilshere had been fully fit rather than undercooked, perhaps if Kane was sharper ?

Nobody expected it to end this way.

But it was a stunning outcome for Iceland and their country.

The Gunnarsson’s, Sigurdsson’s, Arnason’s , Sigthorsson’s and the rest of their team will be remembered forever while Hodgson and co. will always be associated with England’s worst competitive defeat since USA in 1950.

As for Antibes that was very pleasant in the sunshine.

Not quite so comfortable was the arrangements for getting to the stadium in Nice.
I had parked the car some way from the ground and gone into the centre to collect my ticket.
From there it was back out again on a special bus.

Which dropped you a long way from the stadium (subsequently I learned there was a local bus that passed a lot closer)
Meaning a slow walk in the 28 degree heat.
But such is often the way with these tournaments.

At least, though I also had a long walk back, the return by car to Antibes was reasonably negotiated.
And I chose a late night Erdinger to calm down and to contemplate the future of the England national football team.

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