Welcome to day three of the 2020 CM Cup. Our Eurl 2097 theme has seen us arrive in Group D, where England will get their campaign underway to a feverish backdrop no doubt. Later on, we’ll have Ireland vs Poland from Group E to complete a wonderful day for local TV broadcasters.
Here’s a reminder of who makes up the two groups:
We’ll start with England, who once again cross paths with an old foe (or future foe depending on if you’re reading this from the 90s perspective or not).
England vs Croatia
Dan Williamson won our inaugural CM Cup back in 2017 and he has every chance of becoming our first two time winner. England are a great draw if you can fit the pieces of the puzzle in the right way and Dan’s opted for the formation we all know and love. A very young Rio Ferdinand is preferred to Tony Adams and Robbie Fowler gets the nod over Teddy Sheringham. The keen eyed amongst you will notice I’ve had to edit Shearer and Fowler so they don’t have the injuries they start the game with.
Tom Rostance has the Croatia job and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Nothing wrong with the midfield or the forward line and even the three centre halves are decent, plus we all know of Robert Jarni’s quality. The goalkeeping situation is woeful though and there’s no natural right wing back, so Soldo gets the nod over Simic.
Although Shearer gives England an early lead, Croatia come back into it and more than deserve their equaliser through Asanovic. Tom’s lads are actually well on top but just before half time, disaster strikes. Jerkan gives away a penalty and is deemed to have denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity so off he goes. Shearer slots the pen and despite a reorganisation at half time, Fowler scores a minute after the break to all but end the tie. He goes on to complete a hat-trick, which is very harsh on Croatia but England won’t care. With three points and a good goal difference they’re in a very strong position.
It had been quite an even first half but the red card changed everything.
For Croatia of course the opposite is true, they’ve got some work to do to give themselves a chance. All eyes shift to Oslo…
Norway vs Czech Republic
Norway enter as one of the “Playoff” winners but their squad in 1997 is far stronger than it is in 2020. There are a glut of talented Norwegians in the database it’s just a matter of if they are ready for International football so close to the start of a save. Mark Carruthers has opted for mostly tried and tested which might not be the worst idea.
Guest blogger Nick Rowe has got an uninspiring but solid Czech side to work with. He’s been robbed of Vladimir Smicer due to injury but he still has plenty to work with. You feel the three sides behind England are all quite evenly matched so every game could be pivotal.
The Czech’s get in behind Norway time and time again and after Kuka gives them an early lead, Latal doubles it just before half time. Mark opts to switch to three at the back with Haaland employed as a sweeper and by crikey, it works. Ostenstad pulls one back before he and Patrick Berger exchange goals to make it 3-2. Despite a lot of pressure, there’s no equaliser though and it’s Nick who will be celebrating tonight.
A lot of Nick’s good work came in the first half, Norway were much better after the break but maybe Mark can take his new formation forward for the remainder of the group. With the top three advancing in most cases, it’s certainly not over yet.
Confirmation then of how Group D looks after 1 game:
Let’s move to Group E to finish today.
Poland vs Ireland
Ash has his work cutout to get anywhere near his exploits with Italy in 2018. He’s opted for a defensive looking system – ignore the injuries, some idiot messed up the original screenshot.
Meanwhile Paddy is bringing back the diamond. Not many diamonds have Keith O’Neill at the point but having Roy Keane at the base seems like a sensible decision. It’s more of a rhombus than a diamond, I guess.
It’s not a classic. These are two evenly matched sides lacking inspiration. It’s settled from a set piece, Ajax star Rudy getting on the end of a free kick and that’s enough to seal the points. No wonder the Kaiser Chiefs wrote a song about him. What? They didn’t? Whatever.
It’s harsh on Ireland. They deserved at least a point but it wasn’t to be.
Here’s the table, just for the sake of it. Spain will host Sweden tomorrow.
That’s all for today but we’ll have the group of death tomorrow as France, Germany and Portugal battle Scotland for a place in the last 16. See you there!