EURO 2022 IS HERE, BABY!
For the first time in ages the Euros are back in England. Yes, last year’s Wembley-bothering visits don’t count. Spreading a tournament around Europe like cheap marmalade was not for us, Clive. International tournaments should be hosted in one country and (take note Fifa suits) in the summer months! Simple, eh? So praise be for Euro 2022, which kicks off with England v Austria at a sold-out Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. We’ve got a proper buzz on about this one, chiefly because we know loads about it. Unlike in 2005, when the Women’s Euros were also hosted by England, this tournament is getting a lorry-load of love and some cracking coverage.
We’ve seen the faces of players everywhere, from Leah Williamson on Tower Bridge to Ellen White illuminating the White Cliffs of Dover – and they’re even on the packets of cholesterol-boosting crisps we munch every other hour. Big Website has got the skinny on every single player here, too. Oof. That’s a lot of work. But best of all, one pub chain is offering free beer to customers who share a surname with an England squad member. It’s why we’ve changed our name by deed poll to Fiver Wubben-Moy. Hic!
More than half a million tickets have been sold for these Euros, which is expected to make it a rip-roaring success. There are still things that could have been handled better. There have been complaints from some that Manchester City’s Academy Stadium and Leigh Sports Village are hardly the biggest and most iconic venues to grace an international tournament, but some football clubs were not forthcoming in offering their stadiums, lest their precious Premier League pets don’t have the loveliest green carpet to roll around on in early August. On top of that, the hosting rights were dished out five years ago, since when the women’s game has grown like it’s been on a strict diet of Wonderland “Eat Me” cake.
The big story, alas, is that Spain’s obscenely talented Ballon d’Or winner, Alexia Putellas, has been ruled out with a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in training. It’s awful news and we wish her a speedy recovery. It also means that some bookies have England almost level with Spain to win the tournament, with gifted serial-tournament-imploders France not far behind. No pressure, then! “[It’s] a privilege so it’s something we’re embracing and it comes with it – it’s part of the job,” shrugged England captain Leah Williamson.
The squad is clearly benefiting from having ice-cool Sarina Wiegman at the wheel. The Dutch coach won the Euros with her home nation in 2017 and appears to have a tactical solution for any problem her team encounters. It’s why England haven’t lost a game under her tutelage, scoring a dizzying 84 goals and conceding just three in 14 matches. That record should be extended later. Austria have lost all seven matches against England, though the last time they met – last November – it was a tight 1-0 victory in a ridiculous Wearside storm. A record Euros crowd at Old Trafford will be full of expectancy – and The Fiver is willing to bet a free pint of beer that England will deliver. It’s on!
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Gregg Bakowski from 8pm BST for MBM coverage of England 2-0 Austria in Euro 2022.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It shattered my world. My mentor. Someone I looked up to. Someone who I thought could teach me how to be an amazing coach now that I was an assistant. Who would do that? Who would take advantage of someone? He would. I only wish I spoke up sooner” – Molly Cornwell talks to Matthew Hall about Brad Evans’s sudden exit as University of Toledo soccer coach, how the school managed reports about his behaviour, and how he has still been allowed to hold prominent positions within the game.
Our new Women’s Football Weekly podcast has landed. Listen in all the usual places, but it’s here if you want it. And here’s the latest Football Weekly pod.
“Football being ‘an industry that mislaid its moral compass 20 odd years ago’ (yesterday’s Fiver). Only 20 years ago?” – Chris Hale.
“‘The whole world and its dog’ knew that PSG would sack Pochettino (yesterday’s Fiver)? Au contraire. My puppy thought that the club might give Poch another year to help develop kids in the club’s academy and integrate them into the squad. Plus, with the transfer window still open, Doggie felt there was a decent chance that Poch could possibly lure Harry Kane and/or Son Heung-min to Paris. I acknowledge that my dog may have been a bit naive here. Still, she correctly predicted that United would hire Ten Hag” – Mike Wilner.
“After all the recent talk of Fiver merch (Fiver letters passim), I thought I should point out that my wife and I are a couple of years ahead of the game. Firstly there was the T-shirt I had made in recognition of her prizeless letter o’ the day, and then there is the sign she affixed to the back of our front door (which I hope was humour rather than an instruction). I’ve often thought that there ought to be some sort of annual award for the greatest contribution to Fiver Letters. Maybe you could call it the ‘Noble Prize’?” – David Maddock.
“Just a quick note to say I look forward to seeing Fiver tees at future Half Man Half Biscuit gigs. Honours level! No more retro Dukla Prague away tops and such like! Roll on the mid-2020s” – Neville Bourke.
“Just looking at the quote from Thomas Daddy Brima: ‘We’re going to launch an immediate investigation and bring to book all those responsible for this mediocrity’ (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). Are you sure that belongs in News, Bits and Bobs? Sounds to me like it would fit better in Fiver Letters” – Iain Plummer.
Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … David Maddock.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Franck Kessié says the chance to play under Xavi was central in his decision to join Barcelona from Milan. “When a great coach like him calls you, you see that all your efforts are worth it,” he cooed. “I am at Xavi’s disposal, he will be the one who will decide my position here at Barça.”
Southampton are closing in on a move for Rangers’ Joe Aribo, having wrapped up a £12m deal for Roméo Lavia with Manchester City.
Ángel Di María and Paul Pogba in the same team, you say?
And West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski is staying between their sticks for another year.
STILL WANT MORE?
As a girl, Sophie Downey dreamed about covering women’s football. She explains how it’s now a reality, while Jonathan Liew welcomes in our new summer overlord.
Get the lowdown on all 368 players taking part in Euro 2022 with our shiny interactive.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!