14 min Baumgartner crunches Shaparenko in centrefield, sliding in in pursuit of a ball between the two of them, studs bared. He avoids a caution – the refs have been really good and really lenient so far – and both players are fine after a little sit-down.
12 min “An interesting coda to the Disgrace of Gijón affair,” says Peter Van. “One that will make you believe in karma. Algeria’s best player in 1982 was Rabat Madjer. He might have been one of the stars of World Cup 1982 had Germany and Austria not gone for their stitch-up.
Five years later, Madjer had his revenge: he scored a decisive goal in the European Cup final for FC Porto. His opponent: Bayern Munich. The venue: Vienna’s Prater stadium. It’s one of the greatest European goals, in my opinion – the cheek of him, backheeling it in the middle of three Bayern defenders. Now tell me karma isn’t real.”
I remember this goal well, I’m afraid to say. Incredible really, that Porto have as many European Cups as all the London clubs combined.
10 min Laimer stretches down the right again, winning a corner off Malinovskiy. This time, the ball is sent into the middle of the box, but Matviyenko can only head over,
9 min It feels like the pattern of the game is set, Austria pushing the pace and Ukraine waiting to counter – although that’s not really what they’re into, Andriy Shevchenko preferring a team to dominate rather than react.
7 min Arnautovic puts himself about, missing a flick but nodding across to Sabitzer when the ball ricochets off a defender’s shin; Sabitzer duly lamps high and wide.
6 min “This has the looks of an early 90s Arsenal-Leeds FA Cup tie,” emails Gary Byrne. “And my money is on the draw.”
1991 to be precise – four games were required to separate the teams.
5 min Alaba is playing left-back today, which makes some sense – he’ll find space out wide – but Hayes reckons he needs to be in the middle of the pitch where he can exert most influence.
4 min Now Ukraine break, Yarmolenko running down the line to collect a quick long through. But after cutting into the box, he can only direct the ball into the arms of Bachmann.
2 min Schlager breaks down the right and clips a cut-back for Lainer, whose first touch is heavy but earns him a corner that yields another.
1 min “It’s a bit of a shame that the idea of managers’ challenges for the VAR never gained ground,” tweets Gary Naylor. “We might have seen a few reviewing penalties given in their favour today.”
1 min Away we go, the Ukrainian fans now bouncing, arms around each other. Ah man, I’m absolutely desperate for the invasion of my personal space.
The Ukranians in the crowd properly lay into the anthem, great stuff. Though it does drown out the players, and footballers singing badly is both one of my favourite things and the name of my new LP (recorded under the alias MC Tominay).
Emma Hayes is so good she was picked to manage the Guardian’s Premier League Likeable XI despite not managing in the Premier League (yet, perhaps).
“I see you’re the one who drew the short straw and have to MBM this match,” chortles Alexandre Chesneau. “I just wanted to do a quick reminder of both teams’ situation.
Ukraine:- win and they qualify as 2nd- draw and they qualify as 2nd- lose and they are 3rd with 3 points, a negative goal difference and the hope that somehow 2 teams finishing 3rds in the groups B, D, E and F have a worse record – Switzerland’s is better. The situation would be grim.
Meanwhile Austria:- win and they are 2nd, getting the honoor of a round of 16 match against a mightily impressive Italy – draw and they are 3rd with 4 points and a better record than Switzerland (and likely a better record than the 3rd in group B – the 3rd in group B will have 4 points or more only if both Russia and Finland get something out of matches against superior teams, which I’d obviously rate as highly unlikely).
That would mean very good hopes for them to get a round of 16 match against top of Group E (which could be pretty much anyone in that group, I think even Poland can if they beat Sweden and Spain-Slovakia ends up being a draw) or against top of group F (which is to say, Portugal, France, or Germany)- lose and the situation is the same for them as it is for Ukraine if they lose.
In other words, I’d question the sanity of a team who sets out to attack in such a game. Ukraine have nothing to win and everyone to lose, while Austria…. Well I’m not sure getting to play Italy is a win, right ? So they’re in the same situation really. There’s been a lot of talk about how this format is better since it avoids dead rubbers, but in dead rubbers teams at least don’t have stakes encouraging both of them to start the match negatively. I’d take dead rubbers over matches where both teams have nothing to gain and everything to lose any day.Still, here’s hoping that a freak early goal gets this game going somehow. Thank you very much in any case for taking the time to MBM such a game!”
We’re all good – Emma Hayes is on co-comms, so this is going to be a lesson if nothing else.
“I can’t see that the actual game is going to be anywhere near as interesting as these pre-match discussions,” returns @Mysteron_Voice. “Can we just relight our pipes, pour another drink and carry on like this until seven o’clock…”
I’m actually looking forward to this. It might get very boring later on, but I think Austria are going to set about this, and Ukraine are pretty nifty on the counter never mind against a team playing so high a line. Feel free to laugh at this prognosis later on.
“It’s the (lower case t) Netherlands and the United Kingdom as they are essentially aggregates (see previous correspondence),” tweets @Mysteron_Voice. “However, The Bahamas (upper case T) and The Gambia are the official nomenclature of those two countries, therefore it’s capitalised.”
“As a follow up,” returns David Wall, “have you really never referred to the other examples as the West Indies, or the United States? Perhaps it’s a personal thing but I find those more natural ways of referring to them.”
I’m absolutely certain I have, but because I write about cricket I had to make a call on West Indies – the glamorous life of a liveblogger – and I went for no definite article.
“Speaking of countries with articles,” says Chris Parker, “Ukraine was often referred to as ‘the Ukraine’ up until around 1993, when they asked for it to be officially dropped.”
Trudat, I remember is being said of the great Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko.
“I clicked through the link to that Hit Parade list,” emails Fred Decker. “I’m on the other side of the pond (Canada) so I expected lots of names that wouldn’t have made the charts here, and that’s the fun of the thing. That being said, I can’t help but have questions. Like … why not one but two covers of “Iko Iko” at the same time? And why Free Bird, a decade after the fact?”
I wondered about Free Bird too, so wondered if perhaps it was in a film at the time but I’m coming back with nothing – anyone know any more? I didn’t realise that calling for it at gigs had become a thing – it was the Sandstorm by Darude of the pre-internet era – nor that Bob Dylan and his band played it in Berkley a few years ago.
“On the subject of 90s rock,” says Matt Burtz, “have some sympathy for those of us in the US [sic] as our exposure to Blur was limited to Song 2 and it was years before I realised they had lots of other songs. (And I listened to a lot of modern/alternative rock radio.) We had plenty of Oasis, though I’m not sure if you consider that to be a good or a bad thing.”
Song 2 was a very college rocky effort. I remember seeing Blur at the first V in 1997 and people were shouting for it, so Damon says “Alright, alright, you know we’re gonna play it.” I remember being very taken with what a buzz that must’ve been for him, and for Oasis, they captured a moment.
“If I doubt about the origins of words,” says Phil Lacy, “I always dash over to etymonline.com and am informed. They tell me the following: “From Dutch Nederland, literally “lower land” (see nether); said to have been used especially by the Austrians (who ruled much of the southern part of the Low Countries from 1713 to 1795), by way of contrast to the mountains they knew, but the name is older than this. The Netherlands formerly included Flanders and thus were equivalent geographically and etymologically to the Low Countries”.
Got it, but now it refers to one single body should it not rebrand as plain on “Netherlands”? Or even “Netherland”?
“Is the definite article of The Holland because they’re plural?” asks Bob O’Hara. “Like The British Isles. So if we want The Ingerland, we would have to have more than one. Perhaps we could have one in the EU and one outside it. Like a controlled experiment.”
Meanwhile, Richard Morris reckons thusly: “The Netherlands has a definite article because it’s a group of separate entities like the United States, or the Philippines. England as a name relates to Land of the Angels so wouldn’t be a candidate (like land of the Thais, so never the Thailand).”
I’d love to have seen the boys Gabriel and Michael tossing plastic furniture the Garden of Eden’s main square.
“Wouldn’t the Netherlands be similar to the United Kingdom,” wonders David Wall, “i.e. it’s made up of a number of regions/nations that historically might also be referred to separately?”
I guess that’d make some sense, but I’d always refer to “West Indies” not “the West Indies” and “USA USA USA” not “the USA”.
I guess that brings us back to the retro tip, and the yer da vibes that can’t help but infuse this genre and force me to note that back in good old Euro 96, we had bands like Supergrass and Super Furry Animals who weren’t the best of the era but would be the best by miles of the current era. Bah etc.
Thinking about that Austria-West Germany game, I thought I’d have a look at the hit parade for that week and discovered, as I thought I might, numerous bangers. Hungry Like the Wolf, Do I Do, Avalon, Only You (Yazoo, not Flying Pickets featuring Doug Murray from Corrie), Temptation, Rock the Casbah and this absolute classic.
Talking of the Netherlands, can anyone explain why they’re a definite article? It’s surely a matter of time before the FA start referring to The England.
On this day in 1986, France and Brazil engaged in one of the greatest international matches ever played and certainly the greatest I’ve ever seen. All 120 minutes plus penalties are available to you here:
For those with less time than sense, here’s a digested version:
And here’s a retro minute-by-minute for you to read here:
Ch-ch-changes (2): Austria make two changes, Ulmer and Gregoritsch losing their places to Grillitsch and Arnautovic. Arnautovic, remember, was banned for Austria’s game against the Netherland after being found guilty of insulting Ezgjan Alioski, but not guilty of discriminatory behaviour. Which is an interesting standard, really, given that the former seems worthy of no punishment and the latter seems worthy of a far more serious punishment. Uefa, eh. Anyhow, by the looks of things, Austria have also changed formation from 3-1-4-2 to 4-3-2-1 – that to me sounds like a team seeking all three points.
Ch-ch-changes: Ukraine make one change, in the middle of midfield, where Sydorchuk replaces Stepanenko.
Ukraine (a Milanese 4-3-3): Bushchan; Mykolenko, Matviyenko, Zabarnyi, Karavayev; Zinchenko, Sydorchuk, Shaparenko; Malinovskiy, Yaremchuk, Yarmolenko. Subs: Pyatov, Trubin, Sobol, Sudakov, Kryvtsov, Stepanenko, Marlos, Makarenjo, Tsygankov, Besedin, Tymchyk, Dovbyk.
Austria (a lesser-spotted Weihnachtsbaum): Bachmann; Lainer, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Alaba; Schlager, Laimer, Grillitsch; Baumgartner, Sabitzer; Arnautovic. Subs: Schlager, Pervan, Ulmer, Posch, Ilsanker, Gregoritsch, Lienhart, Trimmel, Schaub, Schöpf, Onisiwo, Kalajdzic.
Remakes, covers, and cruel, callous governments – as a society, we’re obsessed with recapturing the past. Those of us with a cynical bent might surmise that shallow people with no imagination see money only in things that have made money in the past, while those of us with a more altruistic sensibility might surmise that people enjoy looking back, so invoking it makes them likely to hand over their money. What a species!
By amazing coincidence, Ukraine v Austria brings with it an unmistakably retro feel. Thanks to the primacy of money over integrity – a timeless classic if ever there was one – we’re not only playing 36 games to eliminate eight nations, but allowing some to stay on account of results achieved by other teams, in other groups. As such, both Ukraine and Austria know that a draw here would almost definitely see them into the last 16, the former in second place and the latter as one of the best third places.
Of course we’ve been here before: at the 1982 World Cup, Austria played out a 1-0 defeat to West Germany which allowed both to progress at the expense of Algeria, who went home. What a sport!
But tonight, hopefully that won’t happen. Ukraine have been impressive so far, edged by the Netherlands in one of the funnest games we’ve seen before beating North Macedonia in not one of the funnest games we’ve seen, while Austria beat North Macedonia in decent style then comprehensively succumbed to the Netherlands. If they’re level after an hour, a pact of non-aggression becomes likely, but in the first instance I’d expect both to seek the win.
And across Europe, there’ll be players and supporters platzing for exactly that: a positive result here, followed by a win for Belgium over Finland later on, and three points plus a goal difference of 0 will be enough to secure a spot in the knockout stage. This will have particular appeal for a Portugal team one step away from being pelted with pastéis de nata on their return to Portela, but actually, that sounds like a plan. Maybe we’re not such a bad old species after all.
Kick-off: 7pm in Bucharest, 5pm B“S”T