Good day! Here we are on day 11, 10 days of consecutive group action has lead us to this moment. There’s a lot to sort out today, starting with Groups E & F. We’ll then look at the third place qualifiers and reveal the last 16 draw.
Ireland need to beat Spain…handsomely. Well by two goals should be enough to make it interesting for the third place table. Spain just need a point to secure top spot.
Republic of Ireland vs Spain
Paddy has gone back to 4-4-1-1, which puts a lot of pressure on Keith O’Neill. I think he can handle it.
Rob Tait’s Spain side have found things relatively easy so far. Alfonso is still working his way back and will be on the bench.
Sean Devine hasn’t given up on this. He gives Ireland the lead and for five minutes, a country believes again. Sadly for them, Sanchez Fernando equalises and Kiko puts a nail in the coffin on 46 minutes. Fernando hammers it shut and despite Devine’s best efforts, it’s over. A shame for the valiant Irish but Spain march on.
A pretty even game in the end but Spain’s extra quality told.
The picture is clear then. Sweden and Poland effectively have a shootout for automatic qualification.
Sweden vs Poland
Sweden will go through with a narrow defeat whilst Poland just need a point. Michael sticks with the 4-4-2 that served him well against Ireland. Kamark keeps his place with Bjorklund still injured.
Ash wants a point. He’s made no bones about it and has set up in this formation. Crikey.
Jonas Thern puts a severe dent in that plan with an early goal. It’s all Sweden really so at half time Ash brings on Majak from the bench and opts for a more attacking, direct approach. It pays dividends as Majak and Juskowiak get a quickfire double. Sweden come roaring back but can’t find a leveller and Majak scores again to leave Sweden hanging on to a 3rd place spot. What a turn up!
Poland were lethal here, Sweden left to rue missed opportunities.
Confirmation of Spain and Poland making it through whilst Sweden will be through, their superior goals scored edging them ahead of both Holland and Finland and meaning they escape punishment for their meltdown.
One group to go!
Germany vs Scotland
Andrew must be quite happy with how this has turned out. A home game with Scotland is all that stands between him and the last 16, a scenario he would surely have taken before the group kicked off. Goal machine Sean Dundee will be looking to add to his two hat-tricks so far.
Zak is guaranteed a place in the last 16 as even if they are overhauled by France, we know now that 4 points will be enough. There’s still a striker crisis so Burley continues as a forward.
David Hopkin puts through his own goal after 10 minutes and the writing might be on the wall. Bierhoff makes it 2 but some hope is offered when Jurgen Kohler is sent off. Lauchlan pulls one back and the dream of another shock is briefly reignited, until Pflipsen scores from kick off. Germany top the group.
The stats show just how one sided this was. Still, both sides are through and that’s all that matters.
The only remaining question is whether it’ll be Portugal or France who make up our 16th qualifier. Actually it could also be Holland, if Portgual win less than 6-0. This may not be the dramatic ending it could have been.
Portugal vs France
Matt Wills needs somewhat of a miracle. Nuno Gomes is in for Cadete and it’s a change of shape. Will it work?
Dan continues with this madness…and Dumas is in at right wing back. I have no idea.
Domingos scores after 4 minutes and maybe the dream is alive. Trezeguet equalises but Nuno Gomes restores the lead. Any hopes of a heavy win are curtailed when Secretario is sent off. Trezeguet and Carnot turn the game on it’s head and despite Boa Morte’s equaliser it finishes a draw. Portugal go out, France advance.
France somehow end with no wins despite having the best of all three games. They still advance.
Here’s the table:
We know France have qualified now so here’s the final 3rd place table:
Holland’s lack of goals cost them dearly in the end, out on goals scored. France top the table despite not winning a single match. Football, eh?
The ranking of the qualifiers gets them through but it doesn’t get them a better draw, that’s all decided based on which group they got out of. Don’t blame me, blame UEFA. Here’s how the last 16 lines up:
The obvious analysis from this is that the right side of the draw is stacked, whilst the left side is looking good for Germany.
We’ll be back on Sunday with the first four last 16 ties, with the second four to follow on Monday. Toodles for now.