I watched three of the matches, and listened to a further two on BBC Radio 5. The results from the first set of matches don’t make my predictions terribly embarrassing, only marginally so. Two matches stand out: Russia 4-1 Czech Republic, and the Netherlands 0-1 Denmark. The latter is egregious in that I predicted the Dutch to win the group and Denmark to finish last. The Dutch did out play the Danes on almost every metric, aside from the small matter of goals scored. That said, qualification suddenly looks in doubt: They’ll need to pick up four, and likely all six, points from their matches against Germany and Portugal. Four is possible: three second place finishers qualified out of the groups in the past two Euros with four points. Italy in 2008 (finishing second to the Dutch on nine points), both the Dutch and Greeks in 2004. However, given the dynamics of the group, it’s a long shot. I could be wrong, but they’d need to beat Germany and draw Portugal, hope the Danes run the table, and even then there would be a tie breaker involved (I very well might be missing something). Easier just to win out.
The former, while I predicted Russia top and the Czechs second, losing 4-1 doesn’t seem to be what a group runner up should be all about. That and I wish Arshivin looked that good while wearing an Arsenal shirt.
The other two groups didn’t have any stunning surprises. Perhaps one could argue that Spain should have beat Italy, and it is possible that Spain’s time is over. Croatia hammering the Republic, sadly, was not a surprise. Ukraine pipping Sweden last night maybe, but I essentially have those level on chances. England were unfamiliar to me: they were . . . organised. Against a France side that I obviously underrated.
Today we have two more matches in the scintillating Group A, which are of interest to me only for the political overtones attached to Poland v Russia.
In other news, the embarrassing circus that is Rangers F.C. took a bad turn today: they’re dead certain to be liquidated now. Given the news that HM Revenue and Customs will not vote for a Company Voluntary Agreement, liquidation is unavoidable; the only path back is through the formation of a new company that itself purchases key assets from liquidation. I don’t see how a new company running the club will be justified its spot in the top tier of Scottish football (or, for that matter, even a position anywhere in the top four professional leagues.) Chick Young indirectly predicted this over a month ago on the BBC. As a Celtic supporter, it might strike readers as unlikely (and is definitely not an opinion universally shared amongst my fellow Celtic minded fans) but losing Rangers, even for a few years in the lower divisions, would not be good for Celtic.
Nor the whole of the SPL. The problem faced by the other 11 SPL sides who are to vote on admitting a “new Rangers” is outlined here. While it’s in the interests of the companies running the teams to admit Rangers, there is considerable disagreement among the fan support of all 11 sides:
In recent weeks clubs have expressed the dilemma they face: Rangers’ presence in the SPL brings revenue through the turnstiles and from broadcast deals, but many fans have said they will not return if “sporting integrity” is not seen to be upheld.
These supporters have been in contact with their clubs to demand that they vote against Rangers playing in the SPL next season. Their preference is for Rangers to apply to join the Scottish Football League and to start again in the Third Division.
That won’t happen. The clubs will vote to re-admit (admit?) the new Rangers, and assume the fans will return.
And there’s the small matter of the USMNT away to Guatemala in the third round of the interminable CONCACAF qualifying system for the 2014 World Cup. This is the most difficult match for the USA in the third round, and based on the sedate performance against Antigua & Barbuda the other day, optimism doesn’t prevail.