Its A Conspiracy,I tell ye!
It’s a conspiracy,I tell ye. Buggers are doing everything in their power to ruin my birthday on Sunday for me. Or alternatively,they might just manage to make it a birthday to remember!
I know what I’m hoping for…
Firstly,some of the football at this tournament has been bloody awful. That is to be expected at big tournaments,it happens all of the time. But generally,the football this time around has been of the highest quality. A subjective view of course,but the last time I enjoyed a Finals tournament this much was the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea. Very impressive in general,and one of the factors which may have allowed the football to flourish was the light hand of the referees.
Sure,they blew the whistle for the free kicks when they happened. But they have been far from card happy this entire tournament. This has allowed players the freedom to express their skills for the entire ninety minutes,rather than have to play within themselves after an early nothing booking.
There will be plenty of candidates for Man of the Tournament,but I think a mention should go to the overall head of refereeing policy too.
Another mention should be given too to whoever decided the parameters on the application of VAR. This has been a blight on the game since it was introduced,and nowhere more so than in England since its introduction two seasons ago. I remember going to a Hibs v Celtic game about 35 years ago,and it was damn near 6pm by the time the game finished,what with one thing and another.
Including a bliddy CS canister being thrown into the crowd. Sure takes a while to clear that stuff-by design,of course.
A few VAR decisions at a game in England can push a match to some ridiculous durations as they spend five minutes or more drawing fine lines across the screen. It certainly has not enhanced the game down here,I can tell you.
This tournament seems to have gone back to first principles on the scheme,which were for use in the case of a clear and obvious error missed by the referee and his assistants. The tournament has been all the better for it,matches have been allowed to flow-yet there has barely been a controversial decision!
Go figure. VAR clearly works as a technology. It’s the muppets in charge that have led to its misapplication,and every jurisdiction can learn from this tournament.
But back to the football. For me,the eventual winner of the tournament was going to be whoever won at the weekend between Belgium and Italy at the weekend. Frankly,I stand by that-though they will be exhausted after chasing the ball for 120+ minutes against Spain on Tuesday night. Almost 1000 passes they played during that match,which works out at roughly a pass for every three seconds they had the ball.
Spain were very impressive indeed that night. In midfield. Not so much upfront. Playing with two false nines gave them more options in midfield,but left them limited upfront. Italy played on the break as they tried to contain Spain,and the game was rewarded by two terrific goals,a match that no-one wanted to end,and a heartbreaking penalty miss in the shootout.
Sure left a lot of tired legs though to play the winners from last night.
A lovely free kick early on from Denmark gave us some hope but if I’m honest,England deserved their victory via an own goal and a penalty rebound. Jammy basterts maybe,but difficult to deny they were worthy winners.
And so it goes down to Sunday,there is little doubt that the crowd will be on England’s side. But this Italy squad have impressed the neutrals throughout with some fine displays right throughout the team. Maybe Spain have been better after the return of Busquets,who missed their first two matches,but over the piece I’ll stick my neck out and say that the best team at the tournament overall has been Italy.
But that means nothing if they don’t win on Sunday night. Few people remember the losers,fewer still a gallant and talented loser. And while this England team have been functional,they haven’t had us on the edge of our seats the way Italy have.
I believe they still call it The Beautiful Game,and this tournament has given us plenty of reminders why that is. I hope Italy can give us another one on Sunday night.
Above article by BMCUWP