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Day 6: Recap
Straight up: 7-1-2
Ahem. The hell? Two consecutive nights discussing a first-half major blowout? This tourney has gone right off the rails, to the chagrin of some and the delight of others. Forget a 5-0 halftime scoreline. Let's do six. No more worries about France's Grace Geyoro running away with the race for the Golden Boot.
Beth Mead and Ellen White have something to say about that.
"Goggles for everyone"!
Vicey shall be most disappointed if he doesn't see Modeste in the stands for the next England fixture. Specially branded coffee in tow, Toni! These girls have earned your support!
S.S.S. Tactical Breakdown
Draw ups for England, Norway, and Austria tonight. No need for grades from the 8-0. Bookie has always felt so sorry for the poor journalists committed to do so after a non-football-match like this. Those are the days when one truly hates one's job.
The Austrian Mädels do receive grades for their win over Northern Ireland below. Before getting to both them and Norway, your friendly bookie must concede that he might have actually missed the point of Sarina Wiegman's strategic plans.
Lineup—England—Match Two (4-2-3-1) (6/11/22)
Okay. First and foremost, it's immediately time to rethink what this English lineup is supposed to be. Recall that I labelled it a 4-1-4-1 in the last England daily, yet left open the possibility that we were dealing with a midfield split-stagger and quite possibly a "six-seven-eight" stepping stone.
What I saw in the early stages has me at the very least convinced of the middle option. Walsh and Stanway don't work on the same plane. What's still unclear to me is whether Kirby is supposed to be rolling on her own axis or possibly keep a vertical line with Walsh. To make that call, I need to see more actual football.
Everybody was all over the map after Hemp's second tally in the 1th, in a good way mind you. The whole of the Lioness XI pushed forward as they whipped themselves into a good old fashioned footballing frenzy. White's 3-0 at just under the half-hour mark effectively sealed the result.
It's obviously pointless to assign grades for an 8-0 stomping. Nothing negative on the pitch at all. Even young subs Ella Toone, Alessia Russo, and Chloe Kelley were buoyed and brilliant. It doesn't technically qualify as a football match when everyone's dancing on air. Much like last night, we've nothing more to discuss.
Three changes to the XI that blew out Northern Ireland on Thursday. Actually, just like the bookie predicted, the Norwegian head-coach reinforced his right flank with younger and faster players. Bookie doesn't want to take too much credit as it was fairly clear that Anja Sønstevold and Amalie Eikeland were mere placeholders. No surprise to see Tuva Hansen and Karina Saevik replace them.
I don't find fault with the two changes on the right at all. Saevik ended up fluffing her lines badly, as it turns out badly hurting her team's chances to keep the match competitive before the floodgates flew open. That unfortunate, yet not wholly foreseeable. Saevik remains a talented player who needed to start here. Hansen might have matched up better against Hemp on a different day.
Thus far were dealing with logical moves. It gets most illogical when it comes to Sjørgen's decision to turn to Vilde Bøe Risa over Frida Maanum in midfield. What? Maanum was one of the best players on the pitch last round. Moreover, if we learned anything from the opening fixture, it's that Engen really didn't need any additional assistance in her six-pocket.
Bookie certainly doesn't wish to single-out Bøe-Risa. No shortage of culprits here. One can start with Maria Thorisdottir for her (albeit a little soft) infringement that accorded England the initial penalty kick. She also rather embarrassingly got her pocket picked by White on the third.
On the Norwegian back-line, captain Maren Mjelde and Julie Blackstad repeatedly fell apart. The latter kept everyone on England onside when she couldn't get up in time on the second goal. Tuva Hansen at least controlled Hemp a bit.
When it comes to the Norwegian midfield, Engen really supplied some pretty play before the match got out of hand. Great ball wins and telegraphed passes. Bookie also found it impressive that she kept communicating to her teammates throughout in a futile attempt to restore some order.
She made her fair share of mistakes as well, but I would say that Engen was by far the most consistent Red-clad grasshopper on the pitch. Bøe-Risa couldn't feed off her play. No clue why Engen's successful partnership was broken up. That made no sense.
It might be too late to restore it now after Maanum picked up a booking after being subbed. Damn. I guess that about does it for the Norwegian autopsy. Bookie sincerely wished he had better answers for where Sjørgan can go next. One more group stage match doesn't afford enough time for a radical rebuild.
The midfield six duo is busted and bruised. The whole back-line from the captain to the phenoms just got toasted. It's probably too late to do much in terms of changing the attack as there aren't any really superior options to Graham Hansen behind Hegerberg.
One could put Hegerberg and Graham Hansen up top together like in the originally projected 4-4-2, but then how do the long builds and service work with no one other than Reiten posing a reliable threat? Ugh. No easy solutions here.
Let's have a look at today's other Group A match.
The extent of the Norwegian debacle leaves some syndicate -Ms and Fs wondering if the girls from "Kleindeutschland" actually might stand a chance of making the knockouts. Your German bookie obviously possesses no crystal ball, but can do his best to lend a little insight on the Mädels operating around his beat.
Lineup—Austria—Match Two (4-1-4-1) (6/11/22)
Three changes from ÖFB-Trainerin Irene Fuhrmann saw Julia Hickelsberger-Füller and Marie-Therese Höbinger freshen up the attack in place of Laura Feiersinger and Katharina Naschenweng. Additionally. Katharina Schiechtl had to deputize for the COVID-strcken Laura Wienroither at right-back. Man, these Austrian names. We've burned through an entire paragraph already.
This particular 4-1-4-1--unlike the shape a little more finely tuned to match the English press--resembled the one your friendly bookie more expected based on the pre-tournament scouting. It did its job well enough against what appeared to be a Northern Irish 4-4-2. After taking some time to adjust with long builds and what to do with clusters off players around the ball, the girls got the attack running coherently.
A deserved-enough 1-0 halftime lead despite the fact that--just like on Thursday--Northern Ireland's set-piece marking was appallingly bad. Interestinglyenough, it was Fuhrmann who made a double switch at the half. Feiersinger and Marina Georgieva came on for Höbinger and captain Schnaderbeck. The midfielder and the center back appeared to enter on like-for-likes with no changes in the shape apparent.
I genuinely wonder why the Austrian head-coach did this. Why the captain? Why, in spite of a lukewarm first-half, one of her fresh-legged starters? Can't make heads or tails of it. If anything, the squad's level of play decreased in the second 45. After thirty minutes of pretty lame and turgid football, the trailing team generated the better of the chances before Naschenweng doubled the advantage on a quick fire counter.
Only the football Gods know if the confidence the Mädels carry from this one will prove sufficient against a demoralized Norwegian team in a precarious mental state. There we at least behold one of the great joys of tournament football. Belief renders so much possible in the short intervals between fixtures.
The bookie's grades remain fair-to-middling.
Grades—Austria (Match Two)
Really liked the short passes (and especially the verticals from keeper Manuela Zinsberger. Köln's Sarah Puntigam pushed more average marks up to the top level with that late assist. Hoffenheim's Hickelsberger-Füller continued to impress, though she did tank a bit late. Dunst and Scheichel were just fine.
Heading down the ranks a bit, some of the actors we felt this team really needed to get going if they were to make a deep-run have had some difficulty getting off the mark. Bookie not really liking what's he's seen from Hoffenheim's Nilla and Bayern's Zadrazil thus far. Eintracht's Feiersinger isn't playing up to her level yet either.
Nyah. Good thing I don't have to make this decision on the next Line today. So tough to figure out if this crew can hold their own against a much more talented XI, however on the ropes they may be. For now we'll just let the Mädels have their press conference party.
Okay. A shame that they still have to wear masks. This native German couldn't understand a word that they were saying. About all we can say is that the word from the Austrian camp is "mffuwawauwssa". Great. That clears nothing up.
“Riffs of the Day”—Day Six
Reader: Vicey....is it time to begin considering whether Kenny Shiels was right about women and their emotions?
Vicey: The ever-thoughtful 17-M with one of his trademark "write yourself into a corner" questions. Appreciate that, homeboy. I know I can always rely on you.
So here's the deal. Back in April, current Northern Ireland trainer Kenny Shiels found himself called out for claiming that "women get more emotional than men" after his lasses conceded four goals in rather quick succession in a 0-5 World Cup qualifying match against (of all teams) England.
Now that we've just watched two women's teams loose their wits two nights in a row, 17-M wants to know what I think about it. Unfortunately, this question already has an answer in the Group A Preview section. As it turns out, men's football teams also concede multiple goals in quick succession all the time.
It's part of football. One mistake leads to a knock-on-effect. Emotions rattle one's nerves. One plays slower. One hesitates on the direct duels. Players pumped up with confidence sweep past you as you try to collect your senses and process the situation.
At least in the footballing context, men are as emotional as women. They even cry all the time when they get injured, miss a crucial penalty, or....conceded a bunch of goals in quick succession and got their asses handed to them on the pitch.
Sorry, 17-M. No "gotcha". This time. Try again. I do look forward to the joust.
Reader: We've got more braids!!
Vicey: Yes, 45-M. Our prayers and sacrifices to the Nordic Gods have been answered. Hegerberg didn't have to go it alone this time.
Saevik went all out!
Er...rather a shame that they both had terrible games and might not be starting next time. I'm positively sullen. No time for pre-match Nordic pleats after this.
Reader: What in the hell are those Austrian girls shouting?
Vicey: Why are you asking a German this question, 55-M? Even if they didn't have those bloody COVID masks on, how in the hell should I know what the Anschlußers like to sing? Conchita Wurst's "Rise like a Phoenix" for all I know.
Er. I still like Lena's "Taken by a stranger" better.
Reader: I can accept your newfound eschewing of profanity, Vicey, but you have to show us at least one female post-match shirt swap before this tournament is out.
Vicey: Okay, okay. I'll grant you that wish, 21-M. It fits with that whole "empowering women" narrative...or at least it should. I mean, why shouldn't they be able to do everything that the men do?
Reader: Another bad attendance day, Vicey.
Vicey: Yes, I know 19-M. Only 9,000 at St. Mary's (28% capacity) to watch Austria-Northern Ireland and a respectable (yet still only 90% capacity) crowd for England at the nightcap at the Amex.
Denmark vs. Finland
The Line holds for what should be out first major comeback story of the tournament. Can the Danes overcome that drubbing the Germans gave them? If they can do it, several others can as well.
THE LINE: Denmark +1 Goal (holding)
Deutschland vs. Spain
We'll keep it at a pick. Best of luck to the bookie's friends on the other side of the divide. An absolute make-or-break match for both teams.
THE LINE: Pick em' (holding)
GENTLEMEN, ENTER YOUR WAGERS