Sunday, July 21, 2024

Euro 2024: Kai on his own supply

Good morning.

It was an eventful evening in Dortmund last night, with disallowed goals, thunderbolts and lightning which were very, very frightening for Michael Oliver so he took the players off the pitch, before goals from Kai Havertz and Jamal Musiala sent Germany through and Denmark home.

It looked as if Germany had gone ahead early, a fine header by Nico Schlotterbeck appeared to be a perfectly good goal, but a not too subtle block from Joshua Kimmich saw it ruled out. Germany were on top, then Denmark got back into it. Kaspar Schmeichel saved from Havertz twice, Christian Eriksen produced a first touch of outstanding quality, and it was a decent contest.

In the second half Denmark thought they’d scored through Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen, but this too was ruled out because of the intervention earlier of a player whose toenail was offside.

Then at the other end, Andersen’s misery was compounded by the fact a penalty was awarded against him when the ball hit his hand from relatively close range. I’ve seen a lot of chat about how if we’re going to apply the handball law correctly, it was the right decision, but I think everyone would agree it’s absurd to be punished so severely for simply having arms. Arms move, hands are attached to them, and not in a million years should that ever be a penalty. The rule-makers need to sort this out as a matter of urgency, because it’s farcical to see a penalty awarded for that in a major competition.

Havertz stepped up, and although Schmeichel went the right way, he had no chance – the ball pinged in just off the post and it was 1-0. Kai could have had another after a sublime first touch sent him through on goal, but he dinked the finish just wide. I have to say though, I think he would have squared it for the onrushing Leroy Sane for a tap-in, had he not been very obviously fouled as he sprinted into the box. I think Denmark got quite lucky in that respect. As for Havertz, if he could add 10% more conviction to his finishing, Germany and Arsenal would reap the benefits.

Musiala added the second after finding space in behind, I wonder if the keeper should have come but he hesitated and at 2-0 it felt like game over. Denmark can obviously have some regrets about the goal they had ruled out and the one that put them behind, but I think over the course of the game, Germany were the better side.

Earlier in the day, Switzerland were just too good for Italy, a side whose history and pedigree in European football is hard to reconcile with this group of players. They just have such a lack of quality in forward positions, and again it was their goalkeeper who kept them in it. A nice first half goal from Remo Freuler was followed by a superb strike from Ruben Vargas early in the second, and the Swiss absolutely deserved their win.

Today, it’s all eyes on England as they face Slovakia. What changes, if any, will Gareth Southgate make? Clearly they remain the obvious favourites for this one, but if the performance level doesn’t improve, there’s every chance Slovakia could cause an upset. With so much discussion and debate about players and positions, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of team he picks later on.

Afterwards, Spain take on a Georgia side who have been a breath of fresh air in this tournament, but will they end up suffocated by the Spaniards’ possession game. It could be a good one, fingers crossed.

Right, let’s leave it there for now – and please join us in a while over on Patreon for our latest Euro 2024 podcast, chatting about last night’s games, and looking ahead to today’s.

In the meantime, have a great Sunday.

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