Superstars wearing the expression of it being one of those days

<span>Oh Belgium!</span><span>Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images</span>
Oh Belgium!Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images


Sometimes, it’s hard to be the main man. And it’s thus far been a mixed Euros for the alphas. Luka Modric got enveloped in Rodri’s spider’s web. Toni Kroos’s month-long mic drop began with giving John McGinn the pure runaround. Memphis Depay’s attempt to look and act like legendary NBA maverick Allan Iverson saw him overshadowed by big Wout Weghorst once the getting-it-launched button was pushed. Christian Eriksen staged that beautiful Lazarus moment then ran out of gas in the manner that marred his second season at Manchester United.

Jude Bellingham’s Billy Whitehurst-like header and self-assured strut when England were cooking against Serbia has convinced much of his nation that he’s not just the next big thing, he’s already the biggest thing ever. LinkedIn already bursts with Bellingham “be the best” memes. But what about Phil Foden turning into a shrinking violet? Oleksandr Zinchenko, Mykhailo Mudryk? They could only stare on as Nicolae Stanciu’s goal began a Romanian riot that more resembled a fictional Florin Raducioiu trolley dash in Harvey Nicks.

Even Kylian Mbappé found himself afflicted by the pressure, with some clanking finishing and then the indignity of having his nose busted by the shoulder of Austria’s Kevin Danso. Perhaps dazed by that, he then got himself booked for a supreme act of time-wasting, throwing himself back on the field as Les Bleus hung on rather grimly. The plan is to return to play on in the type of protective mask first made famous by Michael Crawford in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera West End debut. And for N’Golo Kanté to keep playing like it’s 2016 again.

Still, when it came to superstars wearing the doleful expression of it being one of those days, spare a thought for Romelu Lukaku. Two goals disallowed, the first for the type of offside that no longer passes muster in the VAR era, the second for the type of infringement that gets people in Wolverhampton reaching for the pitchforks and sending Jeff Shi to storm Premier League Towers. Red Rom had swept home with a slap of his size 13.5s and was celebrating Belgium rescuing a point from Slovakia when the VAR alert went up. Loïs Openda’s hand had barely brushed the ball before he had laid on Lukaku. Even ITV’s immutable VAR expert Christina Unkel judged it harsh while Joleon Lescott wailed that “you have to have played the game to know what an unnatural position is”, opening a philosophical debate in doing so. Unlucky old Rom, but then again, he hadn’t been helped by fellow main man Kevin De Bruyne playing like a drain. Tougher than it looks, the superstar business.


Join Daniel Harris from 5pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Turkey 1-0 Georgia, while Scott Murray will be here at 8pm when Portugal pip Czech Republic 1-0.


“His nose got badly hit, that’s for sure. We need to check it out, but it seems quite complicated” – a wincing Didier Deschamps reports that Kylian Mbappé will be fitted for a mask after having his nose rearranged in France’s 1-0 win over Austria and is a doubt for their next match against the Netherlands.


Just wondering how you feel about D Man assisting for Romania at the Euros? I presume he got sick of having to supervise your ‘work’ and moved on to better things” – Patrick Fahy.

With all the talk about complexities such as positional versus relational (or whatever it is), you can understand if footballers sometimes forget the basics these days. Obviously, Ukraine can be forgiven more than most for having other things on their mind. Perhaps they should enlist a certain stalwart of Nominative Determinism FC and simply Mark D Man?” – Mark Read.

It’s often said the war between Britain and Spain was caused by Jenkin’s Ear. Who knows what will happen from the War Of Mbappé’s Nose?” – Kev McCready.

Send letters to Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Patrick Fahy, who wins a copy of Euro 84: The Greatest Tournament You Never Saw, by Pitch Publishing. Visit their bookshop here. Terms and conditions for our competitions can be viewed here.