| Tavita |
NO QUESTION about it. EURO 2016 is turning into a pretty curious competition.
Just take a look at the Groups as they line up for this weekend’s fourth round.
Top of Group A at the moment is none other than the mighty squad from Iceland.
Three things going for them, of course.
They’re extremely well-known for being the most sparsely populated country in the whole of UEFA and having the hardest capital to spell.
They are also remembered for the most famous world chess championship ever between Fisher and Spassky in 1972 and for the most famous cosmic nuclear dismantling championship ever between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986.
And, apart from that, they have, in “strakanir okkar”, one of the weirdest nicknames on the planet, apart from those currently being used along Merseyside to describe Brendan Rodgers.
All good stuff!
They’ve never qualified for anything and once lost 14-2 to Denmark.
If you’ve managed to stop giggling about Iceland being on top of Group A, try this:
Wales is on top of Group B!
True. Not even Grandpa can believe it.
I hear him muttering down from above. He’s more than a trifle annoyed.
He’s always reckoned the best part of eternity was carrying on boring the angels’ wings off with non-stop repetitions of the 1958 outfit that reached the World Cup quarterfinals in 1958.
Cliff Jones, John Charles, Ivor Allchurch. Terry Medwin, the last Welshman to score a World Cup Final goal….
This week, he’s been trying to mutter “Bale, Bale, Bale,” Then “Bale, Bale, Bale,” followed by a couple more “Bales” and a “Ramsey!”
But the angels find it ridiculous and advise the nicene creed instead.
Slovakia’s another strange name on top.
They achieved considerable renown when they were half of Czechoslovakia. Since then, though, they’ve split off from the Czech Republic.
Their principal claim to fame has been the ability to win games 7-0…… against Liechtenstein in 2004, San Marino in 2007 and San Marino again in 2008.
Their big problem is that Liverpool’s Martin Skrtl plays for them.
“Do prdele!” the Czech Republicans all cheer, which I’m told is not a very complimentary phrase suggesting that Slovakia won’t be top of Group C for long.
Topping Group D is Poland, a fact which Arsenal supporters find extremely hard to comprehend since the goalkeeper is Wojciech Szczesny
His general approach appears to be to wait till Arsenal get the lead, then let in enough goals to make sure they lose.
They’ve also got a pretty awful record in the UEFA Euro Champs, failing to get through the qualifiers from 1960 to 2004 and coming 14th in the 2008 and 2012 Group stages.
They have, however, got an excellent record in the World Cup, coming third in 1974 and 1982.
They’ve never done anything much ever since. But they did get their very own Pope for a while which shows you can never write them off.
Unless they happen to take the lead!
Group F has already reached a fairly ridiculous stage with Northern Ireland on top. The lads come from leagues and benches all over the British Isles.
No one’s ever heard of them, however, which gives them the advantage of surprise.
“Who scored that goal,” the opposition coach observes.
“I’ve no idea!” his deputy mutters, rapidly looking up Accrington Stanley reserves on his clipboard.
Group G is headed by Austria who once ran the very First Division Austro-Hungarian Empire and started World War I. They lost it, though, and the Hungarian bit broke away and became the greatest side in the world for nearly thirty years.
Meanwhile, Austria only qualified once for the Euro finals when they ended up 13th in 2008.
Group H has Croatia at the top who have a pretty fair record in the World Cup and Euro finals.
The only problem, though, is that they have Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren at the heart of their defence and that worries fans in Zagreb as much as those on Merseyside.
Group I looks less of a joke with Denmark on top, since they actually won the Euros in 1990. But it could be very short-lived if Albania hit back and they promise UEFA they’ll stop throwing flags at the opposition.
And that leaves, of course…
England’s at the top. The mighty Hodgsonians under cententarian Wayne and a whole benchful of BPL-ers are ready to crush second-placed Slovenia
Slovenia, in turn, so I’ve heard, are changing their name to Fast Venia in view of their recent performances.
So, this one’s really no joke at all. It’s the top of the weekend’s football.
“Nogomet” in Slovenian.
“No Go, Mate!” in Wembleyian!