THE GROUP OF F
The Fiver knows what it is like to be written off. Every day since we failed O-level English and Mr Cane said we would grow up to be nothing more than a daily laughing stock, we have been trying to prove the buzz-killing fool wrong. And after nearly a quarter of a century of being forced to bash out words for a boss who throws them back in our face upon completion while screaming at us that they’re in the wrong order, boy did we fail. It feels good getting that off our chest but there is a reason we’re telling you this. Yes, Germany v France!
You see, Die Mannschaft kick off their Euro Not 2020 campaign with a general sense of being past their sell-by-date. Having turned their Ethics World Cup campaign into a three-part performative art exhibition of the Titanic sinking, they have kept shipping water ever since. There was that 6-0 shellacking by Spain in the Nations League and, just a few months ago, a defeat at home in Human Rights 2022 qualifying by North Macedonia (subs, please check), a country whose population is only just larger than Munich’s, where Tuesday’s match is taking place. Hardly the best preparation for a major tournament.
Their manager, 2014’s Jogi Löw, will leave at the end of the tournament but that might actually benefit them here. Some of football’s most memorable performances have been a leader’s very last. Just look at Zinedine Zidane in 2006. If ever there was a chance for Löw to release the handbrake and send his side out in a footballing equivalent of a V-flicking frenzy, it is now. He’s a dead man walking in the Group of Death, but our experience of George A Romero films tells us that every zombie sinks its yellowing teeth into someone sooner or later. So look out Diddy D!
Despite having so many talented players that they can afford to give some away to Spain, Les Bleus have their own problems to contend with. They go into this tournament, as they go into every major event, with stewing animosity in the camp. Olivier Giroud is feeling fresh and funky with Kylian Mbappé because the whizzy young forward never passes to him while Karim Benzema, who has only just recently returned from the international wilderness, described the Chelsea forward as a “go-kart” only last year. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité? Pah! Unlike The Fiver, Germany have a fighting chance of proving the doubters wrong.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
The Euros blog is here, while Will Unwin will be on hand for hot MBM coverage of Hungary 0-2 Portugal at 5pm (all times BST), followed by Rob Smyth on France 2-2 Germany at 8pm.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I saw him [off his line]. I checked in the first half when this situation would come. I was checking where he was standing” – Patrik Schick reveals his foresight after scoring from near the halfway line in spectacular fashion over poor David Marshall during the Czech Republic’s 2-0 win over Scotland.
Football Daily at EN 2020: Schick and a parrot.
Here’s David Squires on … real heroes and the big kick-off.
“There you all go again! You’re all prancing about rapturously over that performance? From this side of the [flamin’] planet it seems that once again everyone in the land of my birth who should know better has rejoined a strange cargo cult. I’m quite resigned to going to my England grave never getting to actually witness a triumph. However, what I do admire about the Poms is that as soon as it all comes crashing down there is no real rending of hair, gnashing of teeth, etc: you just move on as though it never happened. Which is what you will do, no doubt, after they come up against a decent team” – Alex Damon.
“In 1977, the year Baccara were top of the charts, thousands of Scots came to Wembley and memorably demolished the nets. On Monday, David Marshall got in some early practice for Friday, demolishing his own at Hampden. Given the Scots’ usual exit after the third match of every tournament ever, perhaps they should have chosen that lesser-known hit for their new anthem” – Justin Kavangh.
“Can anyone remember when Sweden last did anything interesting? I think it was the Brolin free-kick v Romania in 1994, but I’m wondering if I missed something in the last 27 years” – Tim Woods.
“Great to see The Fiver listed among the best albums of the year so far on Big Website. Fiver with the Atlantic School of Spontaneous Composition is described as ‘exploring the frontier between country and improv … singing of human solidarity during precarious times.’ Sounds about right. Weird Uncle Fiver on lead jazz flute?” – Nick Roe
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
The Macedonian Football Federation (FFM) wants Uefa to investigate Marko Arnautovic for remarks towards its players and fans after the Austria striker scored late in Sunday’s 3-1 win. And Uefa is going to oblige. “There were some heated words in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise – especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania,” parped Arnautovic. “I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that.”
Sweden players have offered their support to Marcus Berg after the striker was subjected to abuse on assorted social media aberrations for missing an open goal in the 0-0 draw with Spain. “It’s so ridiculous, I’m not even going to invest energy in it,” sighed keeper Robin Olsen. “It’s incredibly low to be carrying on like that. He knows that I and the rest of the team have his back.”
Oh Scotland, how could you, etc and so on.
Big news dept: Cristiano Ronaldo has stuck it to carbonated fizzy drinks.
And in a tremendous advertisement for 26-strong squads, England have been allowed to replace hip-knacked goalkeeper Dean Henderson with Aaron Ramsdale.
The Copa América has paid tribute to the late Diego Maradona with a spectacular light show as Argentina got their campaign under way in a 1-1 draw against Ben Brereton and Chile. Leo Messi provided his own tribute with a beautiful free-kick before Eduardo Vargas sealed a share of the spoils.
And Manchester United suit Joel Glazer concedes that his family’s silence has given fans the impression they don’t care about the club. You don’t say.
STILL WANT MORE?
What’s eating Harry Kane? Barney Ronay investigates.
Cristiano Ronaldo steps back on to the big stage later, as Andy Hunter reports.
And this is fascinating. Honest. How the pursuit of the perfect pitch changed English football forever.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!