In the event of a tie, I will have the deciding vote. Voting closes at 19:00 on Monday 2nd December.
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Start from the introduction.
Re-read yesterday’s action.
Group B – Iceland V Brazil & Tunisia V Costa Rica
Going into the final matches, the Group B table looks like:
Brazil are, as everyone expected, safely through to the knockout stages. They will finish as runners-up if they lose to Iceland, who only require a draw to ensure qualification to the knockout matches. They could still qualify even if they lose, but Tunisia would either need to record a big win or hope that Brazil record a big win over Iceland.
Tunisia start well and take the lead in the 10th minute through Saber Hraiech. Costa Rica lost Christian Duarte to injury in the 32nd minute. At half time, Tunisia are leading 1-0, whilst Brazil V Iceland are drawing 0-0. Tunisia have 45 minutes to rescue their campaign and set out accordingly. Saber Hraiech grabs his (and Tunisia’s) second in the 48th minute as bodies start to flood forwards in search of goals. Yohan Benalouane adds a third in the 62nd minute, before a quickfire double from Housem Maamria (77th and 81st minute) puts Tunisia into a commanding lead. Aymen Abdennour also scores in the 81st minute and Tunisia’s approach changes; they need to ensure they don’t concede, whilst hoping Brazil can find a way past the Icelandic defence. Even a 1-0 victory for Brazil will see Tunisia qualify at the expense of Iceland. All eyes turn to the other game, but it finishes goalless in a result that suited both Brazil and Iceland.
As expected, Brazil have qualified unbeaten and as group winners and are joined by debutants Iceland.
Group A – Spain V Russia & South Korea V Zambia
Going into the final matches, the table looks like:
Spain are topping the group, but depending on results could miss out on qualification on goal difference. However, the most likely outcome seems to be one of South Korea or Russia missing out. The hosts are currently in the stronger position, but they have to play the group leaders, whilst South Korea take on a Zambian side that has leaked eight goals in two games…
Dennis Glushakov puts the Russians ahead after 9 minutes of their game against Spain. The South Korean, who know they need goals, score in the eleventh minute. Dennis Glushakov doubles his tally and Russia’s lead in the fifteenth minute, strengthening their position and putting the second qualification spot in doubt. Fedor Smolov goes off injured after 18 minutes, but it has little impact on their performance with the crowd cheering them on. Goals remain important for South Korea and Heung-Min Son doubles their lead in the 21st minute. At half time, Russia lead Spain 2-0 and South Korea are beating Zambia by the same scoreline. Sixteen minutes into the second half, Jae-Hoon Na adds a third for South Korea. It’s becoming very clear that if Spain are to qualify, they need to find two goals. South Korea add a fourth through Heung-Min Son in the 80th minute; it boosts their goal difference, but has little impact on the group. Spain V Russia is the match to watch if things are going to change in the group, but Spain are unable to find a goal.
It’s a tight finish to the group with three teams finishing on six points. The hosts have qualified as group winners, whilst South Korea have snatched second. Spain have surprisingly failed to qualify from a group that they would have expected to at least qualify from and probably win. Even more surprising is that they were topping the group going into the final game.
Find out what happens on Day 13.
Read from the start of the tournament.
Recap on yesterday’s games.
Group B – Iceland V Costa Rica
Costa Rica performed above expectations in the 2014 World Cup and Iceland did the same at Euro 2016. Oscar Duarte is injured in the 8th minute and replaced by Costa Rica. The scoring is opened by Iceland through Kristofer Ingi Andrason in the 25th minute; the lead is doubled by Jon Dadi Johannsson a minute later. Johan Berg Hreidarsson is sent off in the 56th minute, which appears to give Costa Rica a way back into the game. There are goals after the sending off. Three of them. Aron Gunnarsson in the 72nd minute, Atli Hrafn Andrason in the 79th minute and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in the 82nd minute as a three-goal ten minute salvo from Iceland gives them a 5-0 victory.
Group A – Zambia V Spain
Zambia’s loss in the opening game make this a must-win game for them, whilst Spain can put themselves into an incredibly strong position in the group if they win. It starts well for Spain as Juan Mata puts them in the lead in the 6th minute. Stephen Kandi needs to be substituted for Zambia a minute later due to injury. Gerard Pique adds Spain’s second goal in the 25th minute and puts them in complete control. James Aborah scores for Zambia in the 49th minute to bring them back into the game, but Dani Carvajal’s goal in the 72nd minute restores Spain’s two-goal lead. Any thoughts Zambia had of completing an unlikely comeback are ended in the 82nd minute with the sending off of Sol Kone.
After two group games, Group A looks like:
Group B – Brazil V Tunisia
Iceland have certainly laid the gauntlet down to Brazil with their earlier demolition of Costa Rica. The floodgates are expected to open against Tunisia, but it never materialises. Aymen Belaid is injured for the Tunisians in the 73rd minute and Fernandinho scores the only goal of the game in the 77th minute. It’s another win, but not by the margin many would have expected.
The Group B table now looks like:
Find out what happens on Day 8.
Recap on the groups
Recap on yesterday’s games.
Group B – Costa Rica V Brazil
The heavily-fancied Brazilians open their campaign against Costa Rica, who performed above expectations at the 2014 World Cup. There’s no fairy tale opening match for Costa Rica; Dalbert opens the scoring 13 minutes in and Fernandinho guarantees the win one minute after half time. Joel Campbell limps off with 8 minutes to go, which could have an impact on Costa Rica’s remaining two group games.
Group B – Tunisia V Iceland
Brazil are the strong favourites in the group, with second place up for grabs. Tunisia open the scoring 5 minutes in through Barratli. Abdennour is replaced by the Tunisians in the 19th minute due to injury, but the change doesn’t seem to impact the Tunisians who double their lead in the 32nd minute as Harbaoui scores. With time running out and Euro 2016 surprise package Iceland staring defeat in the face, Bjarnason score twice in 4 minutes to secure a point. Tunisia, leading 2-0 with 12 minutes to go, will definitely see it as two points dropped. Iceland started their unexpected Euro 2016 run with a draw…
The opening round of fixtures for Group B are complete.
Group C – Ukraine V USA
The third and final game of the day sees the start of Group C. Besedin puts Ukraine in to the lead after 36 minutes. Pulisic draws the Americans level in the 68th minute, but the equaliser seems to wake the Ukrainians up and Ordets and Besedin both score to give Ukraine a valuable win.
Find out what happens on Day 3.
Group B consists of Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Iran. This would appear to be one of the more straight forward groups to predict as Spain and Portugal will be expected to progress with ease. However, Morocco and Iran are capable of pulling off a shock and will relish the chance to do so. Although capable, I expect that Spain and Portugal will qualify, with Spain topping the group.
Leave a comment with your prediction for Group B.
Hodgson made 6 changes (Clyne and Bertrand for Walker and Rose, Wilshere and Henderson for Alli and Rooney and Sturridge and Vardy for Sterling and Kane). Kane and Sterling not playing was expected, with both having been replaced against Wales after poor first half performances. England controlled the game, but struggled to create clear chances, with the best chance going to Jamie Vardy, who ran on to a through ball, but his shot was saved by the keeper. Hodgson brought on Rooney, Alli and Kane, but England were unable to find a way through against a resolute Slovakian defence.
England have qualified second in the group and will play the runners-up of Group F, which will be found out tomorrow. The game highlighted a problem with the format of the tournament, as Slovakia seemed very happy to play for a draw, secure a point to move themselves onto 4 points and all but guarantee qualification for the last 16 (now secured) as one of the 4 best third-placed teams. With the old format of only the top two qualifying, Slovakia would have had to play a more attacking game, which would likely have resulted in a more open game. However, Slovakia must be congratulated for sticking with their game plan and preventing England from breaking them down to secure the result they wanted. I think Hodgson missed a trick in not bringing on Barkley – in a game where the opposition were packing the defence (strikers were taken off for defenders), Barkley could have produced a bit of magic to unlock the defence and break the deadlock.
England had more possession in the first half, but could not make it count and failed to convert any of the chances they created. Wales went into half time with a lead courtesy of a 35 yard free kick by Gareth Bale. Hodgson made two substitutions at half time, bringing on Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge for Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. It was Vardy who got the equaliser, bundling home from close range. England continued to dominate possession and apply pressure, but it took until the second minute of stoppage time for England to score the winner, with Sturridge poking home from close range.
Despite England controlling much of the first half, Wales were rarely troubled. Wales were content to allow England to have the ball in front of them and much of England’s play was slow. The changes at half time saw England’s tempo increase and Kane and Sterling, both of whom were poor in the first half, are under pressure for their places, especially at their replacements scored the goals. England go into their final group game at the top of the table against a dangerous Slovakian side. My starting XI for the game would be a diamond 4-4-2: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Alli, Lallana, Rooney; Sturridge, Vardy.
Who would make your starting XI?
Here is my England and Wales combined XI. Tell me what you think of my selection and who would make your team.
Despite dominating for much of the game (and certainly the whole of the first half), England conceded a stoppage time goal to record a draw in their opening fixture of Euro 2016. Hodgson selected a 4-3-3 formation of Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Alli, Rooney; Lallana, Sterling, Kane. Hodgson has often been criticised as a defensive-minded coach, but this was an attacking selection. England controlled the ball for long periods of time and should have had the game won by half time, but the final ball was lacking or the finishing was wayward. Russia started the second half better, but England were able to get back into the game and finally scored through an Eric Dier free kick from 20 yards. It looked as though it would be the winner until Russia scored their equaliser deep into stoppage time.
The attacking selection worked very well in the first half, but the team faded in the second half, with Lallana in particular noticeably becoming less involved. Sterling too often ran into dead-ends and when he did produce a cross, there was little to trouble the Russian defence. Kane continued on corners and delivery was generally poor. Hodgson was slow to make changes – replacing Sterling and Lallana could have helped bring back some of the energy that had been on display in the first half. Hodgson’s first change was to bring on Wilshere to help retain the ball after the goal and Rooney was taken off. I would have kept Rooney on; he had played well in the midfield and also had lots of experience (particularly in tournament football), which was lacking in the rest of the team. The England camp were keen to say there were lots of positives (and there were), but delivery in the final third and finishing need to be more clinical. England next match is against Wales, who currently top Group B, on Thursday.
What changes, if any, would you make for Thursday’s match against Wales and what would be your starting 11? I would start with a 4-4-2 diamond of: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Alli, Wilshere, Rooney; Kane, Sturridge.
The four countries in Group B are England, Slovakia, Russia and Wales. When the draw was made, it was seen as a good draw for England, with understandably much of the focus being on the England V Wales match on June 16th. Despite being seen as a good draw for England, I think it will be a tougher group than initially thought, particularly with the order of the fixtures. England’s first game is against Russia, who often start tournaments very well. The game against Wales was always going to be a tough one because of the rivalry between the two countries and Slovakia will provide the final test; with the potential of three teams going through from a group, there is likely to be plenty to play for and Slovakia should certainly not be underestimated, as a 2-1 victory over Spain in qualifying and a recent 3-1 victory over Germany (in very wet conditions in the second half) demonstrated. Despite the tests, I think England will be able to qualify from a keenly contested group. I would expect Russia to have enough to join England in qualifying for the group, although if Wales remain tight in defence and Bale produces some magic going forward, they could pose a great threat.
Predicted final table: