Diary of a Euros: Day Nine

Last round of games in group A, both games take place at the same time. Trying to watch both games is a struggle, I decided to try and flip like a maniac and catch what I could of both. I could have set up two screens, but that would have been too easy. So channel hopping at the ready, the first group was reaching its finale.

Czech Republic versus Poland

I tipped the Czech’s to get through this group and to do it they more or less needed a win versus Poland. The game was a turgid affair, very little quality, tight and cagey and for the most part not at all good to watch. With very little going on, I decided to swap to Greece versus Russia.

Greece versus Russia

This game was strange. It didn’t make any sense, Russia had destroyed the Czech Republic in their opening game, but like a firework, had exploded with a bang and now had nothing left. Greece were still looking terrible at the back but the Russian’s couldn’t find the creativity or the flair that they had displayed in their opening group game, then just when you think you’ve been surprised by football just about as much as you can be, Greece scored, right before half time.

35 year old captain Giorgos Karagounis scores for Greece.

At this stage, it meant that both Russia and Greece were going through albeit with three teams tied on four points.

I should mention that the first half of the football was terrible. It was punctuated by large amounts of Sister Act that happened to be on channel 4. For those who haven’t seen Sister Act, it’s a comedy staring Whoopi Goldberg who hides out from the mob in a convent having witnessed a murder. It could be considered a musical, I hate musicals, which should aptly demonstrate how bad the football was to watch.

So the Russian’s continued to disappoint during the second half and Greece were denied a nailed on penalty. The Russian’s came forward, but never with any real sense of pace or purpose and then things changed, not in this game but in the other fixture.

Czech Republic versus Poland

The Czech’s had found their goal, a counter-attacking move where Poland surrendered possession cheaply, Milan Baros did well to find Petr Jiracek with a scuffed pass and Jiracek cut inside and stroked it home. This goal put the Czech’s top of the group on 6 points and eliminated Russia on the head to head rule. Poland weren’t offering much so it was back to Russia versus Greece.

Greece versus Russia

Greece hit the post from a free-kick and suddenly it seemed to dawn on the Russian’s that they were heading out of the competition. Dick Advocaat threw on strikers and the game totally lost its shape. It became about the Russian’s trying to score and Greece defending with everything they had got. The strongest team in the group were now sitting third in the table.

That’s pretty much how it stay, Alan Dzagoev headed a chance wide but other than that Greece had done enough to win the game. Russia had been a huge disappointment and a massive let down, having promised so much.

Czech Republic versus Poland

The Czech Republic were going through as group winners, unless they were silly enough to leak a goal against Poland who were crashing out at the group stage. Into injury time and suddenly Jakub Blaszczykowski was through on goal, he had the chance, a chance that would do nothing for Poland but would have sent the Czech Republic out and the Russian’s through, he lifted it over Petr Cech only for Tomas Sivok to save the day and head it off the line.

Day nine is over… Meanwhile, on Sister Act

Greece go through. How, I’m not quite sure. They were shocking against Poland, but could have easily won the game and ended up with a draw. They were terrible against the Czech Republic and were well beaten and could have lost by more. Then somehow, they ground out a somewhat deserved win against the Russian’s to advance to the knock out stage where they will almost certainly be beaten by whomever they face from group B.

Russia flopped, they did an England, it was horrible to watch so much talent being wasted. Poland are out, but as much as they are co-hosting the tournament they were never really in it. Greece have somehow made it through and are joined by Czech Republic who certainly did enough to advance but who I would also expect to be swiftly eliminated by the team they face from group B. Who will that be? We find out tonight, in what promises to be a much more enjoyable climax.

Highlight of the day: Whoopi Goldberg sings that song in Sister Act. It’s all funky and unexpected with fish out of water type shenanigans and Maggie Smith looks on disapprovingly, glorious.

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