THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Cristiano Ronaldo has found new ways to influence the Seleção despite his poor form

6 July ~ Portugal are already champions of sorts: they seem to be the most reviled team of Euro 2016, for whatever reason – and there are a number to choose from, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s narcissism, Pepe’s borderline psychopathy and the perceived injustice of the team’s dogged progress, which has come despite the generally poor quality of their play.

For the armchair viewer the tournament has been a mixture of pain and pleasure

4 July ~ On Thursday June 9, I doubted I had the stamina for another televised summer finals. By Thursday June 23, in the break after the group games, I doubted I could endure two whole days without live European Championship football.

Jogi Löw’s team have never beaten Italy in a major international tournament

2 July ~ As Germany face Italy tonight, coach Jogi Löw is refusing to entertain the notion that there is anything like an “Italian curse” hanging over his team. That has been a common refrain over the last decade, and while it is true that Germany have yet to beat Italy at the finals of a major tournament, it is the events of 2006 that really anchored the idea in Germany’s collective psyche.

Jan Vertonghen injured and Thomas Vermaelen suspended for quarter-final

1 July ~ “His Euro is over, that’s fate for you,” Marc Wilmots told the press on Thursday night, reporting on Jan Vertonghen’s injury. Belgian media had speculated all afternoon about Vertonghen’s ankle, badly sprained in training earlier in the day, causing ligament damage.

Vicente del Bosque was out-thought by Antonio Conte and it’s time for a change

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30 June ~ It's the end of an era. After Spain's early exit of Euro 2016, Spanish fans and media agreed that La Roja's dominance of international football is over. The so called "tranquil transition” led by manager Vicente del Bosque after the shocking flop at the 2014 World Cup hasn't been successful. Now, broader changes are required.

An extract from a new book about the 1966 World Cup looks at how exotic visitors to that tournament inspired England’s own fans to travel abroad

29 June ~ The England squad that travelled to the 1962 World Cup in Chile had to endure a flight with two separate changes to Lima where they played a warm-up game against Peru before moving on to Santiago, then Rancagua where they would play their group games and then bus to their base at the Braden Copper Company staff house in Coya, some 2,500 feet up in the Andes. The journey of over 7,500 miles would have taken them more than twenty four hours. Hardly an ideal preparation for the tournament.

Last night Iceland’s men beat England to reach the quarter-finals in their first-ever European Championship, yet their women’s team have nearly qualified for their fourth Euros without the same fanfare

28 June ~ When the Icelandic men’s team qualified for Euro 2016, articles were published around the world about it being an unprecedented milestone for a nation of only 330,000. However, this is not the first time Iceland have qualified for a European Championship. In fact, this is the fourth. The national women’s football team have played in the Euros three times – in 1995, 2009 and 2013 – and have almost qualified for Euro 2017. The men’s team are ranked 34th in the world, the women’s team are 20th.

The Azzurri haven’t beaten La Roja in a competitive match since USA 94

27 June ~ Spain, again. The Azzurri beat La Roja for the last time in a competitive match at the World Cup in the US in 1994. The two Baggios (Dino and Roberto) scored the goals, but after that Italy lost to Spain in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals on penalties, 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final, and on penalties again at the semi-finals of the 2013 Confederations Cup. The last victory was in a friendly in Bari five years ago.

Run to knockout stage of Euro 2016 has eclipsed interest in both rugby and GAA

26 June ~ While marketeers will occasionally try to aver that Ireland has become “rugby country”, the national team’s progress at Euro 2016 continues to illustrate that nothing comes close to capturing the collective imagination.

Chris Gunter’s “chin up” approach epitomises team’s bond with fans

25 June ~ At full time in Stade Bollaert-Delelis, as England fans and players celebrated Daniel Sturridge’s late winning goal, Chris Gunter made straight for the Wales fans at the opposite end of the field. As he reached that red-clad corner of Lens, Gunter, the most-capped player in Chris Coleman’s squad, gestured sternly at those applauding back at him, to keep their chins up.