Somehow, someway, the best two teams from Group A have been eliminated and the worst two have found themselves through to the knockout stage. Russia entered the final group game needing only a draw to qualify, but a 1-0 defeat to Greece (?!) and Poland’s 1-0 loss to the Czech Republic saw positions switch and hearts broken as Russia and Poland found themselves sitting below the Greeks in second and the Czechs atop the table despite a -1 goal difference and being absolutely dreadful.
Fairness and football have never really gone together. On style and ability, Poland and Russia should’ve walked into the next round; but when it mattered most, Greece and the Czech Republic did what they had to do.
Group B came to a conclusion over the weekend too, and joining Greece and the Czech Republic will be Germany and Portugal. But not the Netherlands. Oh definitely not the Netherlands. While not quite reaching France 2002 levels of “what the hell happened to this team?” the Dutch look a different side to the team that bludgeoned it’s way to the World Cup final two years ago. Not quite as menacing, and certainly not as creative as they once were, it’ll be interesting to see the approach they take to the next tournament.
Those eliminated will soon be joined by Sweden, as it’s now mathematically impossible for them to progress after they managed to prove themselves to be worse than England. It was an exhilarating game – but lacking in quality – and though England did well to snatch the win, you’ve got to think if they play like that against the Ukraine they won’t be so lucky. But then again, I thought the same thing about the game versus Sweden…
It's so rare to find an honest footballer these days, we should cherish Zlatan Ibrahimovic while we have him. Following Sweden's elimination from the tournament, Zlatan was asked which team would be the eventual winners, and said: "I don't give a shit who wins it now. I'm going on holiday."
Ukraine 0 - 2 France
Sweden (eliminated) 2 - 3 England
Czech Rep. (1st place) 1 - 0 Poland (eliminated)
Greece (2nd place) 1 - 0 Russia (eliminated)
Denmark (eliminated) 1 - 2 Germany (1st place)
Portugal (2nd place) 2 - 1 Netherlands (eliminated)
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