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Swedish travel agencies selling up to five times as many package deals to Old Trafford

11 July ~ In spite of both Sweden’s and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s underperformance at the Euros, the latter's status and commercial drawing power is just as strong as it was before the tournament. After a decade of pilgrimage to Milan, Barcelona and Paris it is now time for Manchester to be the hottest destination for the relatively well off among Swedish football fans. It’s fair to assume that the weak British pound will also contribute to the stream of travellers.

Echoes of 1998 World Cup as Didier Deschamps instills winning mentality

8 July ~ The car horns were sounding in Lille way past 1am, more than a couple of hours after the final whistle of France’s semi-final against Germany. Social media showed scenes of celebration across the country after Les Bleus’ 2-0 win sealed their place in the Euro 2016 final.

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.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth Town 1 Newtown 2, 17/05/2015, Park Avenue, Europa League play-off final

View of the Park Avenue ground and Aberystwyth, Wales. Aberystwyth finished 14 points above Newtown in the Welsh Premier League, but were beaten 2-1 in the play-off final.

Photos by Paul Thompson for WSC Photography
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Selected images available as prints

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.

North Ferriby United 2 AFC Fylde 1, 14/05/2016, EON Visual Media Stadium, National League North promotion final

Photos by Paul Thompson for WSC Photography
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Selected images available as prints

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.

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