Good day! We’ve seen every team once so now the tournament enters the serious business phase. But let me ask you, was it ever anything other than serious business? We’ll be seeing all four sides in Group A again today and then dropping by Group B to see Finland and Russia battle to avoid almost certain elimination.
Back with Group A to begin with and Turkey will look to bounce back from their opening round defeat whilst Wales started with a draw.
Turkey vs Wales
It’s never good news losing your first game but at least in the circumstance where 3rd placed teams can advance, it’s not quite the opposite of match point for Nathan. The mercurial Gulunoglu is in central midfield now with Tayfun in the holding midfield role.
Wales came back from 2-0 down to salvage a point against Switzerland and they won’t be relishing the trip to Turkey. Andrew has retained the same starting 11.
Well, if this isn’t game of the tournament we’re in for a treat later on. Turkey take the lead on 3 minutes but big John Hartson equalises. Giggs and Sukur exchange goals within a minute and the future adulterer makes it 3-2 on 40 minutes. Gulunoglu equalises only for Sukur to give Turkey the lead on half time. 4-3, a tight affair (not that sort, Ryan).
Andrew throws Gareth Taylor into the mix for Nathan Blake and there are immediate rewards when he equalises five minutes into the second half. Giggs gets his hat-trick, Hartson adds a second and that’s first set Wales. When you think you’ve seen it all, Rustu gets sent off and Giggs slots the pen(alty for avoidance of doubt). 7-4. Wow.
Absolutely incredible stats as these two share 46 shots. Ridiculous.
That puts Wales in with every chance of qualifying, they can’t finish lower than third now anyway. Italy could seal qualification with a win here.
Italy vs Switzerland
There’s a few injuries for Nikolai to deal with. Carbone is in for the stricken Robbiati and Serena replaces Panucci. It’s a strong team…
Jakob probably has one eye on the final game with Turkey but anything he can pick up here would be a bonus.
Oh hang about, is there an upset brewing? Switzerland get a penalty early on and Sforza converts. Any hope of a shock is extinguished when Ravanelli equalises just four minutes later. Signori scores twice to take himself back to the top of the scorers chart, joint with Giggs who we’ve already seen run wild.
Switzerland were really unlucky here. More shots, way more on target but Pascolo didn’t have a great game. Unfortunate.
Pagliuca gets man of the match which says it all.
That leaves Group A looking like this, with Italy qualified and Turkey now relying on a 3rd place back door route to the last 16.
Still time for one game from Group B.
Finland vs Russia
Did you know this is sort of a derby? Part of St Petersburg is connected to Finland so there you go. It’s not just a derby, it’s not just Finland vs Russia, this is Moomins vs Masha and Bear. And it’s live!
Here’s who CorinthianHead (MK) has put forward for Finland.
Dan Barker has a problem. No, not a sexy problem. Quite the opposite. He has no defensive midfielder so Gradilenko, a centre half, is deputising.
Get it in the Mixu. Mixer. Whatever. It’s easier than typing his surname. Quite how a Finnish International becomes a journeyman of England and Scotland I don’t really know. But here he is, at the double. Jonathan Johansson adds a third. Russia on the brink but new life in the Moomins.
Very efficient from Finland whereas Russia ran into an inspired goalkeeper as Petri Jakonen takes man of the match.
Russia can’t be eliminated tomorrow but they’ll be staring down the barrel if Denmark and Belgium draw. This group has some way to go yet.
All in all that’s another highly successful day. The goals are flowing in every group and it turned out to be a good day for the relative minnows of Wales and Finland. Join me tomorrow where we’ll see Belgium battle Denmark before seeing if Holland can rescue themselves from their poor start. Toodles!