The Big Match

Monday 25th June

As you can probably guess although these blogs are posted at about 5 in the morning I do not write them then; I write them the day before and schedule them to be published a day in advance.  So as I write this I do not know the result of the big match, or what in the most improbable scenario might be the first of three big matches.  But in European Championships Italy are about as big as you can get, and even if by some amazing combination of uncharacteristic Italian sloppiness and a moment or two of genius by our boys we still have to meet Germany in the next round and then either Spain or Portugal.  To be honest the way we have been playing anything can happen.  Yes, we are incredibly poor at moments, such as when the Swedes scored two goals from almost identical free kicks, but then we have scored a couple of crackers, the best being Andy Carroll’s header against France.  But it is the nation’s response I am most interested in.  Possibly alone amongst foot-balling nations we almost revere defeat and are very skeptical of success.  If perchance we go one goal up, we are almost as apprehensive as if we hadn’t scored yet; it being only a matter of time before we surrender the lead and then when it is 1-1, we know for sure we are doomed.   Other nations are able to shrug off a one or even a two goal deficit, whereas both players and crowd and all the viewers at home seem to know it is beyond us to pull it back.  If we do win the game, there will be relief tempered by the much bigger mountain of Germany looming in the background, and even if we beat them there will probably be Spain to face; so we know we will never do it.  So, I wonder what the mood will be tomorrow morning when you read this; slight surprise that the Italians didn’t really turn up and we played better than we should have, mixed with that sinking feeling when we compare our performance with the Germans, or ‘We knew it, there was just no way we could ever dream of beating Italy, I don’t know why those commentators and all the newspapers built the team up so much, there was no way we were going to win.’   And, though my head falls into the second camp, my heart like the rest of England is in the first.