European Championship

Roberto Martinez to stay on as Belgium coach

Roberto Martinez will stay on as Belgium coach despite the country’s European Championship exit and attempt another tilt at a major title at next year’s World Cup, he said in an interview with Belgian newspapers on Friday. Martinez, whose contract runs until after next year’s tournament in Qatar, had not given any clarity on his plans since Belgium were beaten 2-1 by Italy in Munich in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals a week ago in a major disappointment for the team, who have spent the last three years top of the Fifa rankings. “I’m staying as coach. When I feel I no longer have anything to contribute is when I will leave,” he said. “But I don’t have that feeling now. I was a bitterly disappointed to be knocked out but now I’m looking ahead to the World Cup in Qatar. And also the Nations Leag...

Coronavirus: England to lift mask, distancing rules July 19

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday revealed plans to lift most of England’s legal coronavirus restrictions, including face masks and social distancing from July 19, urging personal responsibility rather than government edict. Johnson had initially aimed for a full reopening on June 21, but was forced to push back the date because of a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant. That variant now accounts for nearly all new Covid-19 cases in Britain, and infection rates have soared, sparking concern. But mass vaccinations have stopped a resultant surge in hospital admissions or deaths. “This pandemic is far from over, it certainly won’t be over by the 19th,” warned Johnson. “We must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid. “There’s only one reason why we can contemplate g...

Luke Shaw hits back at Jose Mourinho in Rome as England roll on

At Jose Mourinho’s new home, the Stadio Olimpico, Luke Shaw, chose the perfect setting for his latest riposte to his former boss with two assists in England’s 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine to reach the Euro 2020 semi-finals. Shaw suffered at the hands of Mourinho for three seasons at Manchester United, a string of public criticism not a patch on what was said behind closed doors, the 25-year-old admitted this week. Mourinho’s arrival at Old Trafford came hot on the heels of a horrible double leg fracture Shaw suffered in September 2015. The former Southampton defender revealed in 2018 there had even been fears his right leg would have to be amputated because of blood clots that required emergency surgery. His career never got back on track during Mourinho’s tempestuous time at United, where he ...

Tactical Analysis: How Italy outclassed Belgium in the Euros

The 16th edition of the European Championships continued to deliver football and entertainment of the highest order as we entered the quarterfinal stage, and the biggest clash of the last-eight featured Belgium and Italy, who squared off in the Allianz Arena in Munich. Both sides had exited in the quarterfinals in Euro 2016, but one of their fates was set to change here. Belgium had a couple of key players including Eden Hazard out due to injury, while Italy were fit and firing as Roberto Mancini had a winning formula working brilliantly even before the group stage started. After a hard-fought 90 minutes, Italy emerged 2-1 winners thanks to a couple of very good finishes in the first half. In this analysis, we will take a look at how Roberto Mancini’s side were able to beat the Belgians, a...

Euro 2020: Knockout games bring the best out of France – Hugo Lloris

A depleted France will draw motivation from the threat of elimination as they prepare to face Switzerland in their European Championship last-16 match, captain Hugo Lloris said on Sunday. World champions France topped Group F with one win and two draws ahead of Portugal and Germany but key players in their backline have picked up injuries to give coach Didier Deschamps a selection headache on Monday. While Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Thuram are unavailable, Deschamps confirmed full backs Jules Kounde and Lucas Digne are also ruled out against the Swiss. Left back Lucas Hernandez, who injured his knee, has a chance to feature. Speaking at a news conference, goalkeeper Lloris said France – who finished runners-up in 2016 – were accustomed to do-or-die situations and thrived under pressure. “W...

Romelu Lukaku backed to succeed Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich

Former Belgium striker Emile Mpenza has tipped Romelu Lukaku to succeed Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich. The 28-year-old has excelled at Inter, scoring 64 goals in just 95 matches since joining the Serie A side from Manchester United in 2019. The forward has a similar record for the national team, having struck 63 times in 96 caps for the Rode Duivels, including three at Euro 2020. Mpenza has been amazed by the ex-Chelsea and Anderlecht player’s development and believes Bayern would be smart to look at him if they need to replace Poland sensation Lewandowski following his 48-goal campaign in Germany. “Romelu’s strength in a duel and his speed are outstanding. That makes it so difficult for the defenders against him,” Mpenza told Sport Bild. “If they go into a duel with him, he uses his...

No Uefa hammer for gay supporting German skipper

The German FA has said it will not be punished by UEFA for the rainbow-coloured captain’s armband Germany skipper Manuel Neuer has worn during Euro 2020 in solidarity with gay pride this month. The German Football Association (DFB) said it has received a letter from European football’s governing body stating that a review of the matter has been stopped. “The armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus for a ‘good cause’”, the DFB said on Twitter. Normally, the captains of each team at the European Championship are obliged to wear a standard armband issued by UEFA. Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay after retiring in 2013 and is now head of sport at VfB Stuttgart, was unimpressed that UEFA were even looking into the armband matter. “Come...

Euro 2020 Matchday 2 Review: Italy, Belgium and The Netherlands progress, Scotland hold England, Germany blow Portugal away & much more

The second matchday of Euro 2020 once again featured 24 nations participating in 12 fixtures across the six groups, and there is lots to unpack from the week’s action. So, let’s get straight into it in this review: Group A Turkey and Wales faced off in Baku for the Group A opener, and it certainly was a tense affair as the two sides were fighting to have a realistic chance of reaching the knockouts. Turkey looked rather hopeless against Italy, and they weren’t particularly good in the first half here either as their defence was pulled apart effortlessly and there was space available almost everywhere in their half. Gareth Bale often dropped deep for Wales, and from such positions, he attempted a fair few chipped passes in behind the Turkish backline. Aaron Ramsey was most often the recipie...

Tactical Analysis: How Scotland’s in-match adjustments contained England in the Euros

For the 100th time in a competitive football match, less-than-friendly neighbours England and Scotland prepared to face each other. This was their first clash at the Euros since (look away Scottish readers) 1996, which was also at Wembley Stadium, where a certain man with bleached hair scored a rather good goal. This time around, England and Scotland’s match was their second group game, but the difference was that the hosts had won their opening clash while the visitors had lost theirs, as opposed to both drawing. So, this game bore greater importance for Steve Clarke’s side, who needed to win to keep their chances of progression to the knockouts in their own hands. A gripping tactical battle followed, which involved both managers making various changes during the match to give their side ...

Euro 2020: Kieran Tierney ‘fit and available’ for England clash – Scotland boss

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has confirmed that Kieran Tierney is “fit and available” for their Euro 2020 clash with England. Tierney was forced to miss Scotland’s Group D opener against the Czech Republic after picking up a knock in training. The Arsenal defender saw his country suffer a damaging 2-0 loss in his absence, but Clarke is ready to welcome him back into the fold for their vital meeting with the Three Lions at Wembley on Friday. Asked for an update on Tierney’s condition at a pre-match press conference, the Scotland head coach told reporters: “Everybody fit and available, including Kieran. “It’s good news for Kieran, it’s good news for us, it’s good news for the Scottish supporters, so hopefully we can back all that up with a good result. “He’s trained fully the last two days, so...

Euro 2020: Spain boss rues missed chances but defends game plan

Spain coach Luis Enrique rued missed chances from his side in their 0-0 European Championship draw with Sweden on Monday, insisting he will not be changing his style of play despite getting off to a disappointing start in the tournament. It was a familiar story for Spain, who enjoyed 85 per cent possession in Seville, the highest figure for a team in a European Championship fixture since 1980 when Opta started recording the data. “We were by far the better team, the opposition tried to hang back, we completely controlled the game and tried to generate as many chances as possible,” Luis Enrique told a news conference. “We were up against a physically strong team. We did have the chances to win the game. What went wrong was that we did not take these chances.” The Spain coach was also keen t...

Cristiano Ronaldo is unconcerned over Juventus future

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo insists his sole focus is on Euro 2020 and reports of interest from rival clubs are causing him no “sleepless nights”. Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juve in 2019, but the move has not worked out quite as planned. Although the Bianconeri won the Serie A title for a ninth successive season in the forward’s first campaign, they lost their crown to Inter this term and scraped Champions League qualification. Success in Europe’s premier club competition, which Ronaldo won five times with Manchester United and Madrid, continues to evade the Turin giants. A frustrating season ended with Massimiliano Allegri returning to replace Andrea Pirlo, and there has been speculation Ronaldo could follow his coach out of the door. Madrid, United and Paris Saint-Germain have...

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