Saturday, February 4, 2023

Euro snoozes + The Mirror make Giroud faux pas

It’s a quiet one today.

Perhaps people have been bored into submission by how boring Spain were or how boring people talking about how boring Spain are. As I said yesterday, I was hoping for a really good, exciting game of football between France and Spain last night. What we got was anything but.

I know Spain’s style essentially nullifies opponents. It’s hard to do much when you don’t have the ball for long periods, but there was such a lack of effort and fight from the French. Blanc picked a team to try and not concede,  perhaps to nick a goal then try and not concede some more, but falling behind in the 19th minute to a Xabi Alonso header (where was Clichy?! – and I know Malouda completely failed to track the run) meant they really had to change things sooner than they did.

It was only with half an hour go he made changes, bringing on our old friend Na$ri who, as far as I can remember, barely touched the ball. He made sure that he made headlines though, getting involved in a post-match altercation with a reporter, and nobody, least of all Arsenal fans, should be in any way surprised he’s been at the heart of the divisions in the French squad.

Laurent Koscielny had a good game, I thought, certainly better than his more senior partner, while Olivier Giroud got a few minutes at the end but at that stage there was nothing he could do. A striker needs service, and when your team doesn’t have the ball and can’t really be arsed getting it back, it’s a bit of a thankless task up front. So Spain go marching on, Alonso’s late penalty sealing the deal, and they’ll meet Portugal in the semi-final. France looked like a team more than happy to go on their holidays.

Tonight it’s England against Italy and hopefully this will be game where the quarter-finals really kick into life. I assume we’ll see something of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, if not from the start, so there’s some measure of Arsenal interest. Fingers crossed it’s a better game than the three which have preceded it though. The group stages of the tournament produced far better football, perhaps because there’s not as much pressure, but I think we could all do with a shot in the arm. 5-5 draw then penalties, come on.

In Arsenal news there’s really very little. The Brazil manager states the bleedin’ obvious when he says that Andre Santos is good going forward but not the most tactically astute defender around. Anyone who watched him last year will know he likes to spend as much time in the opposition’s final third as possible – can we call him a ‘False Three’? – but while defending isn’t obviously his favourite thing, I don’t think he’s as bad as some people suggest.

I quite like his weird, stabby tackle (er, that sounds a bit off first thing on a Sunday morning but you know what I mean) and it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on without having his season interrupted by a three and half month injury. The left back position is one where we don’t have an obvious first choice and hopefully the competition between himself and Gibbs will bring the best out of both of them.

Finally for today, The Mirror runs a story about how Olivier Giroud posed for the cover of a gay magazine in France. Big deal, you might, say, but this morning’s online edition has been changed because last night it suggested there could be ‘trouble on the terraces’ and that Giroud could be a target for opposition fans because of it.

“Olivier Giroud has set himself up as a target for rival fans, by posing provocatively for a gay magzine in France…”

‘Provactively’, eh? Good job footballers have never, ever posed with skimpy underpants on. On the one hand it’s good that they’ve had the common sense to amend it, but on the other it’s sad and utterly pathetic that they went down that road in the first place. It is probably football’s last taboo and if leading newspapers perpetuate the idea that any hint of homosexuality is an excuse to make ‘trouble’, or to leave a player open to abuse, then it’s bad form indeed. In fact, the story would do more to bring about that reaction than the picture itself.

Giroud told Tetu, the magazine in question:

I would be delighted if my ­gesture can help change the mentality of some people ­involved in football.

Sadly, given the way the Mirror first reported it, we’ve still go a long way to go.

Right, that’s your lot. Have a good Sunday. Till tomorrow.

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