Sunday, July 21, 2024

Kieran Tierney suffers another injury blow + Euro 2024 round-up

Good morning.

Scotland kept their Euro hopes alive last night with a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, but the big story from the game is Kieran Tierney picking up what looks like a nasty injury. As he got turned by Dan Ndoye on the edge of his own box, he stumbled, and seemed to plant his foot, hyper-extending his knee. He immediately clutched the back of his leg, making many think it was a hamstring injury, but you don’t usually see players stretchered off if it’s one of those. I hope that’s all it is, but it’s hard not to fear it could be worse.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke was light on detail afterwards, but said:

It looks pretty bad. Obviously we have to assess it but Kieran won’t play the last group game. You have to feel for him, he’s got himself into great shape, he’s a top player for us who does ever so well.

On a personal level it’s a blow for a player who must have looked at this tournament as a way of putting himself in the shop window. A chance to convince potential suitors that his injury record is something they could take a risk with due to the quality of his performances, but as unfortunate as last night was, I think it’s only going to close doors for him rather than open them. It’s sad, but if you’re in the market for a left-back, and it’s a toss-up between him and a player who might not be quite as good but who is always available, most clubs will make the sensible choice.

Fingers crossed it’s not too serious though, and perhaps we’ll get a little more information as the tournament goes on. As for the game, I thought Scott McTominay was very fortunate to be awarded the Scottish goal. Yes, his shot was on target, but it would have been a simple save for the keeper had Fabian Schar not literally kicked it into his own goal – thus making it … hang on, I know they have a phrase for this … ah yes, an own goal!

I think if a goal-bound shot takes a deflection, give it to the man who had the attempt, but this wasn’t really that. Anyway, it’s a small thing, which I imagine nobody cares about too much, and I bet Schar himself is more than pleased it went to the Man Utd man. Switzerland’s equaliser came from a mistake, but wow, what a finish from Xerdan Shaqiri, a man who looks more and more like someone made a mould of a human using a barrel, but forgot to remove the barrel afterwards. The way it curled just inside the post was spectacular.

Scotland will face Hungary in their final game, who were beaten 2-0 by Germany. Jamal Musiala scored the opener, but I think the host nation were quite lucky the goal stood – it looked to me like an obvious foul by Ilkay Gundogan in the build-up. Anywhere else on the pitch and I think the ref blows immediately, so I don’t know why he didn’t here. Hungary manager Marco Rossi admitted his side deserved to lose, but said:

“Germany didn’t need help from the referee, especially against a team like Hungary. When they play against someone like France, let’s see if a foul will be given or not.”

The second goal came from Gundogan himself, lovely quick passing and smart movement saw him ghost in to double the lead, and that was kinda that. It wasn’t much of a game, Kai Havertz didn’t play particularly well and got taken off just before the hour mark. Germany face Switzerland in the final group game on Sunday.

For me the game of the day was the early kick-off between Albania and Croatia, and Sylvinho’s side put the cat among the pigeons with another early goal, a smart header from Qazim Laci in the 11th minute. As in their first game, Croatia looked like a shadow of their former selves, but stepped it up in the second and really put the pressure on. An equaliser which always felt like it was coming was followed by a really unfortunate own goal from substitute Klaus Gjasula, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes.

But as is the way with this tournament, it’s not over till it’s over, and Albania kept trying, kept pushing, and the last 10 minutes took on a kind madcap rhythm which is so much fun for the neutral. How fitting for them that the man who scored the own goal, Gjasula, was on the spot to make it 2-2 with a lovely finish that went in off the underside of Gvardiol’s nutsack.

Both sides could have scored again in a frentic closing period, but a draw seemed a fair result. Croatia face Italy in their next game, while Albania will play Spain with interesting permutations at play given the three team qualifying system.

Today it’s Slovenia v Serbia in the early game, England are in action against Denmark later on – with obvious Arsenal interest there, before we have a tasty looking encounter between Spain and Italy in the evening. We’ll have another episode of our Euro 2024 podcast on Patreon a little later this morning, and a new Arsecast for you tomorrow.

Until then.

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