Tuesday 22 June
Czech Republic 0:1 England
Under pressure to perform and certainly to attack with more pace and verve England spent the first ten minutes, after Sterling’s early run, playing the ball around at the back, failing to run into space and looking inept. Perhaps to draw the Czech’s into a false sense of security as Saka drove forward and Grealish found Sterling’s head for the opener.
Grealish really is a revelation. Just looking at that haircut forces defenders to kick him in the legs. We are not sure we wouldn’t give him a swift kick for the same reason.
Luke Shaw, a mobile as a tub of lard, looked off the pace and gave away a dangerous free-kick that like most things the Czech’s overcomplicated.
Harry Kane, keen to look a hundred million dollars ($140m at current exchange rates) ran around the ball, misjudged the bounce of the ball and looked really slow. Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish buzzing around with zip and control just make the Tottenham journeyman look slower. His first real chance should have been passed to Sterling but did bring a save. To give the Spurs man his due he managed to control the ball just before half-time.
Gareth Southgate is such a negative coach that every ball headed out from an attacking corner was played all the way back to Pickford and he held on until both teams had made their way back to his area before trying to punt a long one for Grealish or Kane…
The close control, dribbling and positional sense of Bukayo Saka make you wonder why Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho aren’t playing too. We would be unstoppable. At one stage the Arsenal inside-forward was the last line of defence to stop the Czech’s equalising.
Declan Rice didn’t appear to be the heartbeat of the team but his replacement, at half-time, by Jordan Henderson led to a period of drift and indecisiveness. His passing is telegraphed and the speed of thought closes opportunities before he can play the ball.
The offside law is different in Portugal? The linesman flagged England offside when a flick on was controlled and played away by a defender and then guessed at an offside from an England free-kick and was completely wrong. He didn’t spot Henderson as offside when he thought he’d scored but was quickly corrected.
We saw he game out. It is possible to underestimate defensive solidity and this team has not looked like conceding in three games. First place in the group however, means that solidity will be tested by Germany, France or Portugal.
Mount and Chilwell are both probably out of next week’s game as well as tonight. Saka might have played himself into the game.
Croatia 3:1 Scotland
With no Chelsea boys in the England team and Gilmour out for Scotland meant that this diary should have been watching Kovacic, Modric and Perisic torture Scotland. The hole where Billy Gilmour would have been was obvious as the Croatians took the lead and was gaping when Modric scored the goal of the tournament so far; edge of the box, top corner with the outside of his right boot.
Scotland did score a tournament goal, through Callum McGregor, but drop out bottom of the group.
Izzy Brown has secured a one-year deal with Preston North End. The Lancashire side have an option to renew for a further year. Izzy should have been in our first team and at the Euros this summer but injuries have delayed his development and he missed the Frank Lampard era. He is still an abundantly talented attacking midfielder and will forge a good career.
Peering even deeper and Ed Brand and John Terry both passed their Uefa Pro Licence
Wednesday 23 June
Germany 2:2 Hungary
Kai Havertz scored again as the Germans set up a date with England on Tuesday. It was a crazy night as Hungary held a one goal lead at the half and scored straight from the kick-off after Kai had finally equalised. The defensive frailty suggests that an ambitious attacking England should have a real chance. Unfortunately, Gareth only plays crablike cautious football and we might well get picked off.
Portugal 2:2 France
N’Golo played his usual calming role in the France midfield in a game marred by a referee who obviously had a spread on the number of penalties. All of the awards were harsh the last two unbelievable even in the current climate. So a game that only had one legitimate goal ended up two-each. Some Portuguese nobody with a Napoleon complex, who should be rotting in US maximum security for rape, apparently played. At least the Germany equaliser means we will not see his stain at Wembley on Tuesday. Portugal limp through to play Belgium.
Elsewhere, Spain recalled Cesar Azpilicueta and ran out 5-0 winners in a must-win game
Rumours that Billy Gilmour might be loaned to Norwich City are circulating. Daniel Farke was at Dortmund at the same time as Thomas Tuchel as second-team manager and should be offering Billy guaranteed regular first team football. We think it is an unnecessary step, he is good enough to replace Kovacic or Jorginho in the Chelsea midfield but if he has to go anywhere then Norwich is a good berth.
The move would allow Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Bakayoko another shot at impressing a boss who hasn’t see much of either. Pre-season is going to be important.
The verdict in the Dalian Atkinson trial is manslaughter and PC Benjamin Monk will be sent to prison. The family recognised that justice has been done.
Thursday 24 June
Away goals has been scrapped. What benefit Uefa think they will get from the move is a mystery. Cagey performances looking for or trying to avoid the away goal will go and drawn two-legged will be settled by extra-time and penalties.
The move will increase the amount of time on the pitch players need to struggle through, although all Uefa edicts increase the pressure on players. If the keep 8pm as a regular kick-off time after the pandemic restrictions it will also mean more fans missing last trains.
The academy learned who we will take on in the EFL trophy and, guess what, we are going back to the west country with a trip to play Exeter City and Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town make up the group.
Friday 25 June
The club announce a pre-season series against Arsenal and Spurs in aid of the charity Mind. Our first match will be at the Emirates on Sunday 1 August with a game against Spurs at the Bridge Wednesday 4th.
The loan season is getting into gear as Nathan Baxter agrees to join Hull City in the Championship next season. The gifted young ’keeper has already been out with Accrington Stanley and has won player of the year awards after loans with Yeovil Town and Woking.
Levi Colwill will play at Huddersfield after signing a four-year contract extension.
Season tickets for the women’s games have sold out. Match tickets will be available on a match-by-match basis. It is impressive how far the women have come and means we will have full-houses for the new BBC/Sky broadcasts.
Saturday 26 June
Wales 0:4 Denmark
Andreas Christensen stepped into midfield as the Danes sought to nullify Gareth Bale and our young defender put in a real shift. With only Kieffer Moor up front the Danish manager pushed Christensen into midfield to mark Arron Ramsey. The young Chelsea defender was so effective that Ramsey was missing for much of the match. When the Juventus midfielder finally made a break, it was the Chelsea man who got back to block. Andreas has put in a number of impressive defensive performances in this tournament and today he added positional versatility and intelligence.
Denmark were devastating going forward and goals from Dolberg (2) Maehle and Braithwaite sealed a thumping win. The Danes are the first to score four in consecutive matches in finals history.
Italy 2:1 Austria
This was a match where a confident Italy completely underestimated Austria. And, but for an offside flag against Fulham’s Marco Arnautovic, might have lost in regulation.
Jorginho had a frustrating night in the Italy midfield as Austria’s low block made playing through balls almost impossible. Our number 5 did nick a couple of balls in midfield but their wasn’t the movement or invention further forward to make anything of it.
The Chelsea man lasted the entire 120-minutes and was still getting his blocks in
Berardi summed up the Italian night by fluffing a flying volley and hooking the ball hopelessly wide.
It took an extra-time goal from Federico Chiesa to give Italy the lead. The Juventus man controlled brilliantly and fired in from an acute angle. It was worth the 100-minute wait for a goal.
In the celebrations Gianluca Vialli rushed into the technical area and lifted Roberto Mancini off his feet.
The second came from Matteo Pessina, who picked up a scrambled loose ball and thumped it home.
Schaub almost pulled one back just after the break but all Austria really achieved was to make the Italian defence look vulnerable. They set up a couple of great chances but blazed them over… until one of the substitutes headed Austria back into things, Kalajdzic took his header just above the grass but it wasn’t enough.
Sunday 27 June
Netherlands 0:2 Czech Republic
The referee, the gormless and incompetent Sergey Karasev, made a real hash of this one. Sending off De Ligt for handball and refusing any sort of balanced or fair performance.
De Ligt did handle the ball but, the elephant in the VAR studio, was that, already off balance, the Czech striker barged and then pushed him and then he handled.
The Czech performance from then on drew praise but playing ten-men is no measure of a side’s ability.
Tomas Kalas headed the ball back for Holes to head in. The second came when Holes muscled the ball in midfield, took a clumsy touch but managed to cut the ball back for Schick to finish.
Late in the game the ref handed out a yellow card as the Dutch asked for a penalty. The replay showed the orange striker being pushed in the back as the goalkeeper claimed the ball and collided with one of his defenders. The decision, free-kick for a foul on the ’keeper – for colliding with his own defender. VAR was conspicuously silent.
Belgium 1:0 Portugal
Thorgan stepped out of his brother’s shadow long enough to plant a precise shot into the Portuguese net from 25-yards.
Portugal had little to offer and surrendered the title they won five years ago with little fuss. Courtois made a handful of saves but never looked troubled, for all the talk about Ronaldo the holders had one world class player while Belgium bristled with them.
Kevin De Bruyne’s fitness will generate more headlines than Portugal’s exit as the former Chelsea man left the field early in the second-half and Eden appeared to pull a muscle late on. It would be shame if either missed the quarter-final against Italy in Munich on Friday.
Monday 28 June
Croatia 3:5 Spain
It seems the tournament was waiting for a game like this. All the goals you could want, drama, passion and Emma Hayes.
The Spain goalkeeper, Unai Simon, had nowhere to hide in the Copenhagen sunshine as he shinned a back-pass for own-goal of the tournament. The poor lad will have to live with that one forever ask Joe Hart and Robert Green.
Pablo Sarabia prodded in a rebound from José Gaya’s shot to restore parity as Cesar Azpilicueta’s Spain recovered.
Kovačić, bossing the Croatia midfield even found time to cut inside and blast a piledrive over the bar. He was in the mood and finding colleagues’ runs and making space despite the close-pressing Spain use to control matches. Just before the break the Chelsea man threaded a beautiful ball down the middle for Ante Rebić but Simon was quickly out.
And then, just before the hour, Dave headed Spain ahead. All the Chelsea boys at this tournament have stepped up and showed just what being a European champion means to the levels of confidence and panache. Every Chelsea player is showing off a bit.
Croatia couldn’t readjust, they’d gone into their shell at the break and Azpilicueta’s strike caught them on the backfoot and the passes through the Spain in the first had become hopeful punts up field.
Ferran Torres controlled and slotted the third after Gaya duped the entire Croatia squad. The Valencia defender went down requiring treatment and as many players took the opportunity to have a drinks break, Gaya popped back up and played a quick free-kick out to Torres, who merely had to round the ’keeper.
The Croatians looked beaten but Modric jinxed his way into the box and someone prodded the ball over the line in a melee. Spain still looked favourites until a Cobham graduate, Mario Pašalić, headed, emphatically headed, the Croats level.
Sadly, Balkan hearts were broken by Alvaro Morata. The former Chelsea man – whose fee paid for much of last summer’s transfers – controlled and volleyed before Dominik Livaković, in the Croatia goal could react. It was a pure a beautiful goal.
The final act came just after Simon had saved Spain another equaliser, Oier Olazábal slotted into the bottom corner.
There were chances for Croatia in the second period of extra-time but Spain held their nerve, just.
It is a shame is that Spanish manager, Luis Enrique, is still in the tournament. Like the trendy teacher who sings Kumbaya too loud and has a personal relationship with the Baby Cheeses.
France 3:3 Switzerland
(Switzerland win 5-4n on penalties)
You wait for years for three-all draws and two turn up in the same evening.
France were guilty of underestimating the Swiss and after a bright start where they looked full of guile and class France fell to the sucker punch.
Haris Seferović headed the Swiss into the lead which they held onto at half-time.
The Swiss missed a penalty and ITV’s natural order, they love it when they can praise the personality rather than watch the football, was restored when moments later Benzema battered in two for the French to lead.
Paul Pogba was at his best in curling a third, at his worst posing in celebration.
To teach the United midfielder some humility, Seferović headed a goal back and just as you didn’t think it could happen twice in one day, Pogba lost the ball in midfield – yeah, Vogue on your own time – Xhaka fed Mario Gavranović who finished neatly.
Kanté did his best to shimmy forward and break Swiss hearts but the improbable didn’t happen and both sides seemed to settle for penalties. Extra-time sub Giroud converted his kick but Kylian Mbappé missed the final kick of the five.
It is the first time the Swiss have won a knockout match since 1938
So, Kovačić heads home with N’Golo Kanté, Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud and join Billy Gilmour and Ethan Ampadu on holiday after an exhausting season. At least three Chelsea boys will be home tomorrow night and three guaranteed to progress.
Tuesday 29 June
England 2:0 Germany
Days like this are few and far between. We haven’t beaten Germany since the debacle of Euro 2000 and we have watched them become world champions again in between. This was different though and a young, skilful Germany couldn’t break England down. In the end, for all our nerves it was a fairly routine win.
From the start though it didn’t look good as Southgate really bungled the tactics. Playing three at the back is unfamiliar and the players spent the opening ten-minutes hoofing the ball 80s style.
For the German Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rüdiger all started and the visitors passing was better and their closing surer.
Mount made the bench but without a midfielder who can dictate the pace and find angles England looked two dimensional.
The set-piece conundrum continued; England appear to be under orders to get the ball back to Jordan Pickford as quickly as possible from each corner and free-kick.
Maguire headed a good chance wide but Kane was a road block, so immobile, so slow. When the ball looked like breaking towards an England shirt, if it was Kane a German was first to the ball. Mats Hummels is about 52 and slow but easily controlled the lacklustre Kane. When the ball broke to him just before the break Kane mis-controlled and the chance was gone in a flash of Hummels’ boot.
What we needed was Calvert-Lewin up front – he didn’t even make the bench – Grealish and Bellingham in the middle and Sancho wide.
You had the feeling that Germany were just waiting for the one opportunity to break knowing that, without a creative spark, this England team could never hurt them. Werner was looking for it and tested Pickford on the half hour, after Havertz easily found his run
Early in the second period and Havertz’s shot was tipped over by Pickford as Germany looked to pass it around a quiet the crowd.
England were so helpless that they took the lead. Sterling picked up the ball in the middle, passed to Kane, to Grealish, to Shaw and then tapped in with the German defence sprawling.
Müller was played in by Havertz but put his effort wide. It made little sense. Germany always take those chances.
Kane played a part in the build-up and that appeared to spark something deep in his lardy arse. He started running around instead of walking and when Luke Shaw popped up in the middle fed the substitute Grealish and somehow Kane dragged his unhealthy frame into the middle to finish.
Kane has gone from a bit lardy at the training camp and as the tournament has progressed he became a tub of lard, then a bucket and, inevitably, a barrel he was well on his way to skip of lard when he popped in that header and became, once again, England’s captain, inspiration and leader.
Havertz, Rüdiger and Werner all now hit the beach and hopefully will get some rest ahead of pre-season training which is little over two weeks away.
Sweden 1:2 Ukraine
It was almost as if both sides played for penalties from the kick-off. West Ham’s Yarmolenko hadn’t read the script and his cross was lashed in by Zinchenko but that strike was cancelled out as Forsberg’s shot deflected in.
Both sides had a go at the beginning of the second half, Sweden smacked the ball off the woodwork but the game dwindled as a spectacle and both sides looked out on their feet at the end of 90-minutes.
Sweden had Marcus Danielson sent off after he played the ball and a Ukraine forward ran into him. It looked bad as Besedin’s leg was bent back by the force of the collision but that is all it was a collision. The Swede played the ball. It looked bad but a defender has to go for the ball. If we send everyone off when it looks bad we might as well give up.
Hoping to get more Swedish players dismissed the Ukrainians threw themselves down with every contact. Some of it wasting their own time as Ukraine tried to increase the pressure their players threw themselves to the ground and burst the bubble.
Just as penalties looked inevitable Artem Dovbyk stooped to head in Zinchenko’s great cross and the Swedes are out.
For all that England haven’t often beaten Sweden in tournaments and will probably be happy that the Ukraine had to play the extra half an hour and look to have picked up a few knocks.
England will have to concentrate in Rome on Saturday night.
Wednesday 30 June
Billy Gilmour will have a medical at Norwich as soon as his isolation is over on Thursday. The move will give us all another second team to watch next term.
It is not just Billy who had covid at Wembley, Public Health England are linking 400 positive covid cases to Scots had tickets to see the match. It is an impressive strike rate considering only 2,700 Scot had tickets, so some 15% were infected.
Two managers took risky appointments today. Rafa Benitez took another job where he is not welcome and Nuno Espirito Santo took the Spurs job despite six potential managers refusing the poisoned chalice before him.
Benitez was not widely liked during his interim managerial spell at Stamford Bridge and has now accepted the Everton job despite a contemptuous attitude to the Toffees while at Liverpool. He is a good coach but it will end in tears, sooner rather than later.
Spurs have been searching for a new boss since Jose left back in April and Nuno will be aware that he wasn’t the first choice but the seventh. Again, he is a good coach but the reason bigger names have rejected Daniel Levi at the Tottenham Dome must weight on his mind. The suspicion is that funds will limited by the cost of the stadium and the decades drift similar to Arsenal’s is inevitable.
All the news in football at the moment is good news.
Thursday 1 July
Talking of second teams and Fulham appointed former Watford and Everton boss Marco Silva to replace Bournemouth bound Scott Parker. It should be a good fit for the Cottagers.
Friday 2 July
Switzerland 1:1 Spain
Spain win 3-1 on penalties.
Spain looked to be living up to the commentator’s wet dream as a deflected goal handed them an early lead. But, despite a Cesar Azpilicueta header that was too close to the ’keeper, there was little substance to the praise lauded on the Spain side. They threatened but didn’t create clear chances and it took the sending off of Remo Freuler, another red card for a clean tackle and incidental contact with an opponent, for Spain to even dominate the possession stats. Michael Oliver did little else wrong but when you send someone off for cleanly winning a tackle and the opponent making a meal of it you don’t need to make many more to be an embarrassment to the nation and the profession of refereeing.
Switzerland were a credit to their loose collection of cantons, frequently looked the more likely to create clear chances and deserved their goal when the Spanish defence managed to shin the ball to Freuler who squared it to Shaqiri. Even when reduced to ten the Swiss stood toe-to-toe with the supposedly mighty Spain and forced them to extra-time.
Spain almost handed them the penalty shootout but the Swiss pissed away their own chance with tired penalties.
Belgium 1:2 Italy
This was the best game of football so far. Both sides committed to total football from the start, the excellent Italian left-back Spinazzola exemplified the mood by nearly applying a volleyed finish to a length of the field move.
The Italian goals were special. The first an opportunistic intervention and then balance and skill to wriggle through the Belgian defence by Barella and the finish into the bottom corner.
The second was a peach of a finish but the Belgian defence was standing off, arms behind their backs and waving a leg at Insigne but doing nothing to stop him shooting.
Just before the break and Doku was pushed over in the box and Lukaku converted the penalty. The BBC panel were weirdly offended that a clear push in the back should result in a penalty.
The second-half was breathless Belgium very nearly smuggled the ball in on a couple of occasions but Italian defenders seemed to feel they were on a mission and no clear chance fell.
Jorginho had a monumental night. He was the rock in midfield that Italy move around. The whole team attacked as a unit and fell back on the defence as one with Jorginho at the centre of the movement.
Right at the end Jorginho nicked the ball off the toes of the quick and ever-moving Doku as the Rennes teenager looked to trick his way into the box.
What the game needed was an equaliser – De Bruyne poised to take the last minute free-kick when Beradi went full-Zaire in charging the ball down before it was struck. The referee then handed the Italian goalkeeper a free-kick for jumping into his own defender and then sucked the tension and momentum from the match by awarding a free-kick to Italy for literally anything. And the last-seconds corner led to nothing.
Italy deserved their win and for a team that didn’t qualify for the last world cup Mancini has sculpted a very efficient machine. On this evidence Spain will do well to give them a game.