Euro 2016: The Group Stage

The Copa America this year has been quite the goal fest, the group stage of the Euros not so much. Weirdly enough there was a 7-0 win in the semi-finals of the Copa America, Chile getting the better of Mexico and Javier Hernandez, a score-line which of course ineveitably merits a comparison to Germany’s 7-1 defeat of Brazil. In the other semi-final the USA of course lost to Argentina, meaning they’ll be playing Colombia for third place. The final is a repeat of last year’s, Chile v Argentina. It’s strange, the USA opened the tournament against Colombia and it’s how they’ll be ending it. On a similiarly strange note Germany started their tournament preparations against Slovakia and now they’ll be meeting them in the last 16, though their tournament journey is of course unlikely to end there.

Despite the low number of goals and a lot defensive football being played it’s not been quite so bad. True there hasn’t been a huge number of goals, but there have been plenty of exciting ones. Last gasp winners and equalizers have been a key feature. On the one hand it keeps things interesting, at the same time it makes for a very nerve-wracking experience. Especially as far as Albania are concerned. I knew them getting through to the next round was a long shot anyway but it was so damn close. They almost got there, the first half of last night’s games went exactly as they needed them to. But Portugal came back to draw and Ireland somehow got the winner against Italy. The latter in particular is most annoying. Both countries are on my root against list anyway, Italy for that video of Jogi and Ireland for beating Germany in qualifying.

Germany will be playing Slovakia in the last 16 which is most disappointing,  I was hoping they’d play Albania which I know is completely illogical seeing as how that’s a guaranteed defeat for them but it doesn’t matter now. I do still have one of my wildcards left in the tournament though becuase Iceland made it through to the knockout round whcih is pretty incredible. A nation of approximately 330,000 people is up against the fifty somethimg million of England. With Albania out and Denmark not there at all I’m left with Iceland to root for as a second team.The last 16 has thrown up some good draws, not least Italy v Spain. I was disappointed by that at first, it means one of the favourites going out at such an early stage. I’m not now and will be rooting for Spain to win. This is very strange indeed, I have to root for Spain to win. The other game of interest to me is Switzerland v Poland. Two players I like going up against each other, former Freiburg player Admir Mehmedi for Switzerland going up against Robert Lewandowski.

Euro 2016 - last 16I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the expanded format, I know without it teams like Albania would be unlikely to even be at the tournament let alone have a chance of progressing to the knockout stages. It has been a little more interesting than I thought it might be but it still feels wrong, the idea of being rewarded for finishing in third place. Not that it matters now anyway, Albania are out. But at least I got Amir Abrashi’s sticker before that happened, plus three more Germans:

Amir Abrashi - Albania - Euro 2016 sticker Lukas Podolski - Germany - Euro 2016 sticker Julian Draxler - Germany - Euro 2016 sticker Thomas Müller - Germany - Euro 2016 sticker Bastian Schweinsteiger - Germany - Euro 2016 sticker Roman Bürki - Switzerland - Euro 2016 sticker Official match ball - Euro 2016 stickerAs for favourite moments there’s two sets of those, Jogi moments and then the best of the rest. Some of the Jogi ones are from training and some from matches, my favourite one is probably him gloving up or maybe him taking pot-shots at Bastian in goal. And it pains me to say it because I’m not a fan of Mario Gomez at all but his goal celebration with Jogi was quite cool.

Jogi_celebrating_Deutschland_Ukraine_EM_2016Jogi_the_keeperJogi_taking_a_shot_at_Bastian_in_goalJogi_Deutschland_v_PolenJogi_Mario_Nordirland_v_DeutschlandAs for favourite goals so far, Shkodran Mustafi would be top of the list but he’s upstaged by Armando Sadiku scoring Albania’s first ever goal at an international tournament. Apart from that I think Schweinsteiger’s is my favourite out all of them:

Albania_s_first_international_goal_Armando_Sadiku_Romania_v_AlbaniaShkodran_Mustafi_goal_Deutschland_v_Ukraine(1) Bastian_Schweinsteiger_goal_Deutschland_v_Ukraine Radja_Nainggolan_goal_Sweden_v_Belgium Balazs_Dzsudzsak_goal_Hungary_v_Portugal

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