Good morning! If you know what day it is, you are a better man than I. I only deal in tournament days now and today is the penultimate day of group stage action. We’ll say goodbye to at least two nations today and there’s a couple of fancied sides in a bit of bother. Here’s how Groups C and D look as we join the action:
We’ll start in Group C where Holland have it all to do.
Romania vs Holland
Holland have to win to stand any chance of going through. If they’re going to overhaul today’s opponents Romania it needs to be by two goals as well. Liam has been involved in a couple of 3-2s so far so goals aren’t in short supply.
(I added the arrow on Sabau after taking the screenshot)
Ash is sticking with his 3-5-2. Not only do they need to win here but they could do with Austria beating Ukraine. This group is full of permutations but let’s just play the game.
What a game it is too. Holland somehow failed to score in their opening two games but Kluivert breaks their duck here after just 10 minutes. When Overmars makes it 2-0 just after half time Holland are temporarily second in the table but it is the most temporary of successes, as Dumitrescu makes it 2-1. Hagi equalises which might totally burst the bubble but Ronald De Boer wins it. 3-2 has been the scoreline in this group but will it be enough?
Another playground type of match which Holland just about keep their hopes alive. They’re actually bottom of the table on goals scored, sharing a -1 goal difference with Romania. Ukraine have a 0 goal difference but are yet to play. Avoid defeat and they’ll go through…
Ukraine vs Austria
Of course in reality these games would be played simultaneously. We’ve done some incredible things over the years but that is a step too far. Ross sticks with his 4-4-2.
Tom is safely in the next round so can relax but a one goal defeat would knock him off top spot.
Austria lad after just three minutes which is a real hammer blow to Ukraine’s plans. They look for a way back into the match but the Austrian backline have had an impressive tournament. Michelle Pfeifenberger is sent off on 68 minutes though and it sets up a grandstand 22 minutes…only for Herzog to make it 2-0 which means Ukraine are bottom of the live table. Respite for Holland. They can’t find a goal that would save them and who would have had Austria going through with a 100% record?!
Ruthless from the Austrians. Ross will be left to rue what might have been.
Konsel gets man of the match for those 4 saves. A curious game.
All of that means Romania hang on to second spot behind Austria whilst Holland are in 3rd on goals scored. It means they face a nervous wait to see what happens to the other third place sides but they are already behind Turkey and Finland from the other completed groups.
Let’s see if Group D is any less complicated!
Czech Republic vs England
If this finishes a draw, both teams are through. Nick will be hoping England are in a giving mood.
It’s rare for England not to be involved in any last game panics and with a front two of Fowler and Shearer already amongst the goals in this tournament, it’s hard to see them taking this one easy. Dan is unchanged.
Robbie Fowler has his own ideas here. The Czech Republic needed a quiet day but Fowler dismantles them with three well taken goals, all whilst wearing that damn nose band.
A routine win and one that swings the door open for Norway or Croatia.
Croatia vs Norway
That heavy defeat for Nick means both sides have a good chance of qualifying outright now. Four points would make either the strongest third place side so far too, which I guess is also good news for Nick as his Czech’s should be fine either way. Tom brings in Simic for this one, whilst Mario Stanic is fit again to replace Jercic.
Mark’s brought in Dokken up front on the basis that Solskjaer is better from the bench. It’s a gamble but at this stage, he who dares wins. A single goal victory will be enough for Norway.
Somebody could make themselves a hero here. I say could, what actually happened was one of the worst matches I have ever seen played out on this game. A pair of 5-3-2s sort of cancelled each other out and a late effort from Boksic was actually the only shot on target in the whole game. It finished 0-0, they could have played until 2020 and it still be 0-0. It’s a result that sends both sides out.
Both managers made changes but they just couldn’t find a way to break the stalemate.
Confirmation then that England go through as group winners with the Czechs joining them in the last 16. Norway and Croatia bow out.
My thanks to Mark and Tom for their efforts, it wasn’t for lack of trying but it’s not to be this year.
Join me tomorrow for the final group games and then I’ll reveal the last 16 draw. Toodles for now.