Monday 14 June
Scotland 0:2 Czech Republic
No Billy Gilmour meant the Czechs dominated after an early surge from a keyed-up Scotland. After that, to be frank, Scotland struggled to hoof the ball to a lone striker. We didn’t expect a Steve Clarke side to play so negatively.
Scotland looked leggy, as if they have been putting in hours on the practice pitch after a long season but without Gilmour they lacked a creative, driving midfield presence.
The Czech’s on the other hand looked fit, imaginative and well structured. Their first was a well taken header and the second curled in from half-way as David Marshall, the Scotland ’keeper, tried to play sweeper.
It was chastening to watch as Hampden started with a party atmosphere, school children all over the country were allowed to watch the match, only for everyone to file out in silence.
Poland 1:2 Slovakia
Poland self-destructed, in Leningra… St Petersberg, when Wojciech Szczesny showed that you can take the goalkeeper out of Arsenal but you can’t take the Arsenal out of the goalkeeper. Robert Mak’s powerful drive bounced into his own net via a deflection of the hapless former Gooner.
The Poles did manage to equalise at the start of the second period but a red-card followed a second yellow for Grzegorz Krychowiak and the Slovakians will be dancing in the streets of Bratislava tonight after Milan Skriniar scored their winner.
Spain 0:0 Sweden
Spain resemble 11 bald men hunting for a comb in a hotel bathroom. A comb left at home when they packed.
Tika-taka has its place but we feel for Spanish fans who, in effect, have to watch the same game over and over again.
Sweden barely touched the ball but had the clearer chances.
Casper Schmeichel has contradicted the Uefa position that the Danish players agreed to proceed with their match against Finland on Saturday.
What actually happened is that the Danish squad were given three options, carry on, play the game on the Sunday or forfeit 3-0.
“We were put in a position I don’t think we should have been put in … It probably required that someone above us had said that it was not the time to make a decision and maybe should wait for the next day. Uefa had said in a tweet that “following the request made by players of both teams”, the match would be restarted on Saturday night.
Tuesday 15 June
Hungary 0:3 Portugal
Boring to watch Cristiano Ronaldo strut his self-centred stuff. A couple of well-taken goals against a very poor Hungary side will just serve to plump the little git’s ego further. The distasteful little runt has now scored more goals than any other narcissist in showboat history.
France 1:0 Germany
France did Germany, eventually. The French have probably never worked harder on a football field. N’Golo Kanté marshalled a magnificent defensive performance with his usual energy and skill and for all that Kai Havertz, Antonio Rüdiger and, second-half sub, Timo Werner could do it wasn’t enough.
Typical of a match where the current and previous world champions face each other the only goal was a scruffy own-goal.
The first-half developed around that gaff, with Germany straining every sinew to equalise but their decision making was poor. Sane kept wasting possession flashing free-kicks into the crowd or slipping over and allowing the ball into touch. And the City man’s errors were spread to all of his colleagues as cross were over hit or, where a subtle pass was needed, blooted into touch.
For France the equation was simple, defend their slender lead and try to catch Germany in the break. But they fell short, Kylian Mbappé, after drawing an early save, looked indecisive whenever he was on the run and the one time he found a colleague Benzema’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Not a classic, neither side, on this performance, will frighten England but then teams do get better as the tournament goes on.
There was a suggestion the Antonio Rüdiger bit Paul Pogba… the evidence was inconclusive. Possible just a nip.
Rüdiger was in the news earlier as his contract will end at the close of next term and he is stalling over a new, longer-term, deal.
Wednesday 16. June
Hang the Euros it is fixture day.
We start at home to Crystal Palace and then play Arsenal (a), Liverpool (a), Aston Villa (h), Tottenham Hotspur (a) and then Manchester City (h) in that order. We don’t have a West London derby until we visit Brentford in October.
We are mostly at home after European dates and face Aston Villa away on Boxing Day; Liverpool at home on New Year’s Day.
We play Manchester United away in the penultimate game and finish against Watford at home.
Turkey 0:2 Wales
The Welsh missed a host of chances before putting this to bed. Their main tactic seemed to be to give the ball to Gareth Bale and let him curl balls over the Turkish defence.
It was the ball that led to the opening goal. The backs-to-the-wall never really threatened an equaliser as Wales always looked more likely to get one on the break and Ethan Ampadu came on for the last quarter of an hour to see off the Turks.
The late second was no less than the Welsh deserved and means they are almost guaranteed to progress.
Italy 3:0 Switzerland
Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli owned this one as he tapped in one goal and fizzed a second from outside the area. Ciro Immobile, after a host of presentable chances were wasted, finally got his goal at the death.
Wales made a meal of Switzerland but this Italy side continue to look more menacing. Their closing, and scrapping limited their opponents to a handful of half-chances. With Jorginho at the heart of the block, always finding the right position and constantly driving his side the Chelsea man is another, after Andreas Christensen, who looks more mature at this tournament after six months under Thomas Tuchel.
Finland 0:1 Russia
Another we couldn’t be bothered to watch. The fence doesn’t paint itself.
Thursday 17 June
Pre-season friendlies for the academy sides will see the U23s in Glasgow for a run on Celtic’s training pitch (Tuesday 13 July), and then Derby (21 July) and Stoke City (23 July).
The stiffs are then back at Cobham for the visit of a Portsmouth XI (27 July) before tasty tests away at Woking (31 July) and then Boreham Wood (3 August) against full senior sides.
The U18s will also be on the Celtic away day before hosting Bournemouth (24 July) and Fulham (7 August). There is a mini-tournament at Manchester United’s training ground with Wolves and Spurs (29-31 July).
Ukraine 2:1 North Macedonia
There is women’s test cricket on the other side.
Denmark 1:2 Belgium
The Danes clearly hopped up on adrenalin to play the game for Christian scored within two minutes and the dominated until the break.
A minute’s applause for Christian Eriksen was a bit mawkish, the guy is alive and doing fine; let’s get over it now.
But Belgium, however shaky their aging backline, have weapons on the break and it was Lukaku, linking with the sub De Bruyne, the disguise on the pass was worth the entry in itself, who fed Thorgan Hazard for the equaliser, it was breathtaking football and all ex-Chelsea.
The second was almost better as Lukaku’s run and hold-up play worked the opening for Tielemans fed Thorgan, fed Eden and Kevin finished. All one touch all, again, breathtaking. All, again, Ex-Chelsea, God what we have let go…
Denmark fought to get back into the match and the group but Belgium were equal to the increasingly desperate lunges and counter-thrusts.
Belgium are through with two wins and the Danes will have to beat Russia and hope that
Fikayo Tomori has joined AC Milan for £24m. Fik was on loan at the San Siro and while it is sad to see him leave we have Guehi coming through at centre-half and he is the first big money move of the crop that Frank Lampard brought through.
That is also, hopefully, a down payment on an expensive striker.
Danilo Pantic has also left us, joining Partizan Belgrade, a couple of years after he was first scouted by the Serbian club. He will have a good career when he can settle and feel at home after constant loans during his time at Chelsea.
Friday 18 June
Sweden 1:0 Slovakia
Sweden piled a little pressure on Spain but inching past Slovakia with a penalty.
Croatia 1:1 Czech Republic
The referee nearly decided qualification from the group by awarding a penalty for a defender heading the ball away. An elbow met a Czech face but only coincidentally. Half-way hero, Patrik Schick, converted but Carlos del Cerro Grande was making up the laws as he went to the pitch-side monitor and saw a penalty.
The Croatian equaliser was the one moment of class from either side.
Scotland would have been hoping for a different result. Whatever happens tonight against England they will face a Croatia team that needs a victory. It should be a good fight.
Billy Gilmour was the big news as the team sheets were announced. To be dropped in to a huge match like England v Scotland could be the making of the young man.
Reece James will be feeling the nerves too as he comes in with the fat lump Luke Shaw preferred to Ben Chilwell at left-back.
England 0:0 Scotland
England’s clearest chances came early as John Stones improbable leap – think salmon – sent the ball cannoning back off the post. Mason mount poked one wide but we didn’t test the goalkeeper.
For the Scots, Che Adams miskicked and Tierney drew a save from Jordan Pickford.
The referee was a joke from the start, penalising Kalvin Philips when his legs tangled with a Scottish tackler who had just come through the back of him after the ball had gone. John McGinn was booked for nothing just after.
Billy looked a little behind the pace of the match in his first start but just as Scotland were not as bad as we expected, so Billy grew into the match. One tussle saw Mason Mount trying to get away from Gilmour and only just managing it.
Reece James on the other hand was languid by comparison. He didn’t drive into the space available to him. It looked like he had been ordered to keep the defensive shape. He didn’t try to beat his man all night.
After the first few minutes of oohs and ahs the match settled down to their shape stopping us and our shape stopping them. If anything Steve Clarke had set his team up better, England needed tweaking at half-time.
Harry Kane’s contribution was so quiet you almost didn’t know he was there, again in an England shirt.
No tweak came but Mason Mount started the half with a piledriver that was touched wide. But his corners weren’t causing much difficulty for the Scottish defence.
England were gifted possession but Reece James’s shot summed up how ineffectual the movement was. He had Mount outside him but thrashed the ball high into the evening air
Kane was so out of puff that he was delighted when the referee gave him a free-kick as a potential break died with Spurs striker’s lack of pace.
Reece James had to head the ball off the line as Scotland pressed.
When England finally hauled off RMS Kane and replaced him with Marcus Rashford the shock in the ITV commentary team was palpable. They don’t analyse the football but laud the personalities. It is a bit weird that a country with Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham on the bench turned to Kane and then Rashford.
Billy Gilmour came off with quarter of an hour to go and can be very proud of his contribution in what was his first international start.
The referee didn’t like Sterling falling over in the box but the replay clearly showed a Scottish boot trod on his toe. VAR didn’t even review.
There was a scramble at the end in the penalty box – this is, after all, a derby match – but England failed to test the Scottish goalkeeper enough in the second-half.
It was breathless stuff but not very good football.
The Scotland crowd got the last laugh by completely drowning out Harry Kane’s post-match interview.
Marco van Ginkel has joined PSV Eindhoven after his Chelsea contract expired. Marco has already captained PSV to Eredivisie titles but lost almost two-years to a serious knee problem. He is a regular scorer from midfield and Chelsea stood by him during the period he was out injured and everyone at Cobham knows that he is going to have a stellar career from here on out – fingers crossed.