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Euro 2020 Round Up (Quarter Finals)

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And then there were four. No surprises in the quarterfinals although maybe some people expected Belgium to go through rather than Italy. That was a toss of a coin game on paper but the other three fixtures had clear favourites who all progressed.

 

I’ll start with Italy because they’re my boys. I’ve wanted them to reach the final since day one and it’s only partly because of the anthem. Ok, it’s a bit fucking part, but still, I have enjoyed watching them and they’ve been the best team in the tournament so far (I can’t count England in that as I’ve only seen them play once). 

 

Mancini’s side put on a masterclass against Belgium. The first half was a brilliant game of footy and the second half was a defensive clinic from Bonucci and Chiellini. Combined age of 70, absolutely no frills about either of them. Absolute throwbacks. I fucking love them both, but especially Chiellini. What a guy.

 

As they were getting ready for the anthem he just had a massive grin on his face in anticipation. He loves it. Almost as much as I do. I rewound it and watched it four times, belting it out along with my Azurri boys. It’s just fucking boss, I can’t get enough of it and Chiellini has proven to be a worthy successor to Buffon.

 

On the subject of national anthems though that’s just reminded me of a clip I saw the other day. I was down a Maradona rabbit hole on youtube again and it threw up a clip of the anthem before the 1990 World Cup Final. Argentina had beaten Italy in the semi final and Maradona had become public enemy number one over there. When the Argentina anthem was played before the final, the Italians in the crowd were booing and whistling it, and Diego was fucking livid. While his team-mates tried to sing above the din, he was stood there seething and shouting “sons of whores!!” at the crowd. I fucking love him. 

 

Anyway, Bonucci thought he’d given Italy a dream start early on but it was ruled out for offside. I’m not sure that would be offside without VAR as I doubt the linesman would have been able to see it with the naked eye. Chiellini was offside but didn’t touch it, so they couldn’t rule it out for that. Bonucci is onside from the free-kick and finishes it off, but it’s only on the replay you can it brushes off Di Lorenzo just before it reaches him, rendering him offside. I doubt if any linesman could have spotted that in real time though.

 

It was a lively start to the game and Donarruma made great saves to deny De Bruyne and Lukaku as Belgium looked dangerous on the counter attack. Italy weren’t playing it cagey at all though and the first half was end to end, pulsating stuff.

 

It was Barella who broke the deadlock with a lovely goal. Quick feet and a great finish. Insigne doubled their lead with a typical Insigne goal. Cutting in from the left and bending one into the corner. Haven’t the Belgians ever seen him play before? That’s like allowing Sterling to score from a yard out, or going within five feet on Kane in the box. Naive as fuck.

 

Belgium were given a lifeline with an incredibly soft penalty in first half stoppage time. It’s one that you can give as there’s a bit of a nudge there, but it’s also one that you really shouldn’t give as there’s fuck all in it. Robbo does that all the time so they better not start giving pens for it. 

 

In terms of the spectacle it was a good decision as it got Belgium back in it and set the second half up perfectly. It wasn’t as entertaining but it was a fascinating, tense half of football.

 

Italy defended masterfully but Lukaku still had two incredible chances he failed to take. At the other end Spinazzola almost scored one of the goals of the tournament from an exquisite Insigne pass. Belgium threw everything they had at the Italians and Doku was a constant menace, but Italy just managed the game superbly, wasting time when they needed to, taking the sting out of it and they deservedly went through.

 

I’m made up, I buzz off the Italians and Immobile’s impressive show of shithousery after the first goal was the icing on the cake for me. He’s wanting a penalty (and should have got it as it was a foul), rolls around on the floor when he didn’t get it, play goes on, Italy score and he gets up and runs off to celebrate with the goalscorer. Utterly shameless. Suarez-esque that was.

 

It was also seeing Bonucci and Chiellini basically in the crowd at the end, hugging all of the fans. It won’t be so funny if they test positive for Covid this week. Not sure how smart that was really.

 

The only negative for Italy was a bad injury for the brilliant Spinazzola. He’s out for the rest of the tournament (and a long time after that too) and was in tears as he left on a stretcher with a ruptured achilles. Hate to see that, as him and Maehle have been the two best full backs in the tournament. Both right footers playing on the left too. Where are all the left footers? 

 

So Italy progress and Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ look like they’re going the same way as the England one - trophyless. Much was made of them being the number one team in the world but world rankings in footy count for absolutely fuck all. The Martinez PR machine has used that as some kind of proof that he’s a good coach but he’s not. He’s not hopeless by any means, but he might be the luckiest coach in the world to have found himself in that job after doing fuck all at Everton. 

 

Be interesting to see which gullible fucker hires him next. Unless Belgium let him stay on of course, which they shouldn’t. They’ve probably got one more big tournament with that squad before it needs breaking up, so do they really want to pin their last shot on Martinez?

 

Doku looked class. We’ve been tracking him for a few years and almost signed him when he was 15 and then again last year, so it will be interesting to see if we make a move this summer or not. He’s exciting, really skilful, but his goal record is appalling at this point. You’d think it will improve as he gains more experience though and if we could get him in to replace Origi then I’d take that in a heartbeat.

 

 

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Please note that Euro 2020 round ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here. 

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2 hours ago, alles ist gut said:

Top, top scruff-bag manager analysis there, Dave.

Feels like he's not even trying. You'd expect him to be proper dapper, but he can't even be arsed combing his hair or buttoning up his polo shirt.

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I am low-key freaking out at the thought of England winning a major tournament. I think back to that stupid Liverpool can't win the league because their fans will be unbearable narrative we had to deal with and that's exactly how I feel about England potentially winning this thing.

 

The thought of them winning makes me shudder, what the fuck was Germany thinking? Beating England was their whole point of being in this tournament and now we're staring down the barrel of a potential England final. Italy needs to beat Spain by hook or crook because I can't stand the thought of Spain being the only thing between the world and an England finals victory

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Don’t worry Dave, The Italians still know how to win a game the old way. They made the last 10 mn unplayable : fouls, agony, ball away. England won’t be able to deal with that.

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22 hours ago, dave u said:

I've been thinking a lot over the last couple of weeks that this must be what being a Blue feels like.

 

It's fucking depressing.

You think the darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark...

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Don't want England to win this thing at all (and I still don't think they will) but have started reconciling myself to it by thinking it would be nice for the decent lads in the squad if they did.  It's all I can do really, not gonna let myself be wound up by it, it's just not worth it.  Though I'm sure I'd avoid the media in the days that might follow, especially pictures of the "fans" celebrating and government aligning themselves to any success.

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