Welcome back to Edition Four of our “What A Strike” Blog and we are once again joined by Jamie Winter as continue to look at the Euro’s.
I am sure you will agree that on the whole it has been a great tournament so far with a few surprises along the way. We have now reached the Quarter Final stage and are already without, France, Germany, Portugal and Holland who were all among the favourites for the tournament, particularly the French who were backed by the majority of our squad.
What are your thoughts Jamie “It has been an outstanding tournament so far and it has got better as it’s gone on. More and more fans have been getting in to games which, let’s not kid ourselves, adds to football and is more like the football we know and remember.”
I was really disappointed with the French, they didn’t really show the class and quality in the group games and were undone by the Swiss in the first knockout round. In turn the Swiss have been excellent a real breath of fresh air. Belgium have looked very good in patches but for me the Italians have been standouts so far.
“I have been surprised by Denmark to be honest, after the tragic setback in the first game and losing their talisman in Christian Eriksen, they’ve regrouped and you can tell they obviously have a massive reason to do well, they are very solid defensively and have real pace up top to hurt teams.”
What about your disappointments? “Unfortunately, dare I say it, Scotland. As much as the England game was brilliant you can’t help but look at where Czech and Croatia have gone now and I don’t think there’s much between us and them. To play in a major competition with effectively two home games and to not get any points from those game is really disappointing.”
There have been rumours of problems in some dressing rooms at the tournament particularly the French, who important is a good dressing room atmosphere?
“It is vitally important to have that togetherness.. I’ve been in dressing rooms where we have had a better squad but had no team spirit and suffered. On the other hand I have been involved in teams with maybe not as much ability but will run through walls for one another, I know which one I’d rather be involved in that’s for sure.
Looking ahead to the Quarter Finals now, which start on Friday with Switzerland taking on Spain in St Petersburg. For me, you can make a case for either side to go through although the Spanish will start as favourites, Spain have looked good so far and have real quality however, they are prone to mistakes, the Swiss have nothing to lose, they are underdogs so can go for it and I am going with them, what are your thoughts Jamie ? “If it was a game of ten passes leading to a goal then Spain would murder teams, the Swiss have the momentum I think after getting rid of France, I fancy the Swiss as well to go on again.”
On Friday night it’s the big clash of the round as Belgium face Italy in Munich, I cant see beyond Italy, I think Belgium have overperformed if I am honest, a lot will depend on the Belgian big players turning up on the night but Italy will have too much experience. “Italy have been excellent as have Belguim this is one that is too close to call. It could well on what mood Kevin De Bruyne is in as to how this game pans out.”
On to Saturday and the Czech Republic v Denmark in Baku, another difficult one but with this one you could argue that neither side were expected to get this far. This one will be close but like you mentioned earlier, the Danes are playing for Eriksen and I think that will take them through.
“I agree, the Czechs have been solid and well organised but I am sticking with the Danes.”
Finally, it is the big game in Rome were Gareth Southgate’s England take on Andrei Shevcenko’s Ukraine. I said right at the start that tournament football is different and it is about peaking at the right time, England showed against Germany that they are definitely improving and go in to the game as favourites but Ukraine are no mugs and their will be no room for complacency. Having said that I can’t see Southgate allowing that to happen in his quad and he will leave that to the English media. Obviously I am going with England. “ I tipped England right at the start and they are hitting form at the right time and should feel it now, I am going for a comfortable England win.”
So we both agree that the Semi Final line up will be Switzerland v Italy, England v Denmark, we will be back on Monday to look at the Quarter Finals and see how our tips stand up.