Thursday, July 7, 2022

FEM 2022--Day Two Recap

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Day 2: Recap



Bookie’s Stats—

Spread: 1-1

Straight up: 2-0-0

Well, gentlemen. Too early for an "did the bookie effing well tell you or what" gloat? What a magnificent day for football. Five goals and some clear winners to award the day to. It certainly isn't too early for our "Long Live Football!" tagline

Long Live Football! I do believe I tried to warn all of you about Guro Reiten. Your friendly bookie even caught some flak for according her "legend status" in the preview section. Attention 36-M: No hyperbole involved in that tip at all; not for Reiten, Caroline Graham Hansen, Ingrid Engen, Frida Maanum, or Maria Thorisdottir.

We've also got the winner of the inaugural female Ballon d'or back on this team, doing just about everything but scoring in this one. Such a treat to see her back from her long hiatus (not to mention career-threatening injuries) and in fantastic form. 

If anything, Ada Hegerberg seems to be operating too unselfishly. Absolutely beautiful set-ups from her all night. On multiple occasions, she put one-touch close-range balls on a absolutely no one. Slight sightline and coordination issues. Soon to be fixed. 

 S.S.S. Tactical Breakdown 

Obviously a near perfect debut for the Norwegian "Grasshoppers". Four goals surely wash the taste of that nightmarish FEM 2017 elimination, during which they couldn't register a single tally and steered Hegerberg away from the team, off their palettes. 

To the bookie's eyes, Norwegian trainer Martin Sjørgen as well. Yes, this being a one-match day means that we'll have time to cover the Northern Ireland tactics in this evening's segment as well. They weren't worth much, but why not take a look.

 Lineup—Norway—PROJECTED (4-4-2) (6/29/22) 

Virtually all of us were expecting a 4-4-2. That isn't to suggest that the 4-2-3-1 totally shocked. Sjörgen went with a perfectly sensible way of organizing his surplus of attacking talent. Caroline Graham Hansen remains, after all, an eminently effective pocket-ten.

 Lineup—Norway—Match One (4-2-3-1) (7/7/22) 

Two personnel misses from the bookie, who admitted that he had to do a bit of guesswork on the right-hand side. Anja Sönstevold and Amalie Eikeland started over Tuva Hansen and Synne Hansen. Note that those two might appear in Monday's massive showdown against England. Sjørgen might have them in mind for the bigger test. 

Incidentally, readers might as well get accustomed to speculation about the England match. That's the most silent thing we have to talk about tonight. No need to assign grades to the Nordic girls as they were all excellent. The only potential weakness they displayed against the Irons concerns some of the space the frequently advancing Julie Blackstad and the often under-tucking Maanum left behind them.

These don't even really qualify as real problems. Such risks remained acceptable in the context of this match. After Iron Ladies Demi Vance and Rachel Furness were able to make early nuisances of themselves both Blakstad and Maanum had goals before we had reached the quarter-of-an-hour mark.


Let's go ahead and discuss all four Norway goals.

Northern Ireland keeper Jacky Burns could have done much better on both the 10th and 13th minute early tallies. To be fair to her, her teammates did leave her bonded on the first and screened on the second. The 31st minute penalty goal--while the correct call--was still a penalty. 

Reiten deserves immense credit for her 54th minute free-kick. She spotted Abbie Magee lean in on the wall, ruthlessly taking her chance to bend it around. That's still not the type of set-price organization you'll see on a team of England's caliber.

Taking nothing away from this superb Norwegian performance. Essentially every member of the XI turned in some nice tricks, looked as if they were getting up to speed quickly on distribution, and kept their shape through heavy positional rotations and even (later) all the substitutions. 

Nothing negative to say About any of the players on the pitch. England--provided Wiegman ditches that 4-1-4-1 we saw last night and reinstates her own 4-2-3-1--can still likely prove equal to them on Monday. There were actually a lot more passing miscues among the Grasshoppers then the scoreline might suggest, in addition to some pretty bad profligacy in front of goal. 

If the bookie were England trainer, he'd be a bit concerned about the fact that Sjøgren clearly kept his best set-piece designs and possibly his first choice right-winger and fullback close to the vest. To my eyes, the true unsung hero of this fixture, i.e. the player no one seemed to be talking about, was Norway's midfield ball winner.

Ingrid Engen ate up a lot of loose traffic and 50-50s. Wiegman's decision to pull apart her own double-six setup of Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh may come back to haunt her. Those two might have some difficulty handling Engen and Maanum now that they're warmed up and confident.

Let's talk some Ulster lasses.

 Lineup—Northern Ireland—PROJECTED (4-1-3-2) (6/29/22) 

Well. I told you that I was guessing. Kenny Shiels, hampered a bit by the fact that Marissa Callaghan couldn't start because of injury, had to improvise a bit. I think he was going for a five-back set...though the way these poor girls kept getting blown apart made it difficult to tell. 

 Lineup—Northern Ireland—Match One (5-3-2) (7/7/22) 

Could have been the case that there was meant to be a very deep false-nine in the form of Lauren Wade. I'd say that Abbie Magee and Nadine Caldwell were probably supposed to crash back in to help Chloe McCarron at sweeper. A lot unravelled early on here. Once Shiels got Callaghan on for Caldwell at the half, it looked a little more like this. 

The shape held up better in the second 45. Hence, I assume this was the plan all along. Kudos to these girls--whom you may have heard are working in grocery stores so that they can have the privilege of playing football--for during a better job in the second half. Great job from the traveling traveling supporters as well.

Bookie liked the late relief work of both the McGuinness sisters. Furness and Magill had their moments. Abbie Magee managed to be one of the most perplexing players I've seen in any football match I've ever watched. I loved her. I hated her. She did everything right and wrong at the same time. She was all over the damn map. 

Any hope for this team?

Not after Magill's late injury. Sorry. 

At least some of you have some cool tricots coming your way. 

“Riffs of the Day”—Day Two

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Reader: England women put in tepid performance. Boris Johnson resigns in disgrace. 


Vicey: Bwahahaha. And....ZING, 56-M!

Reader: Who the hell is that in goal for Norway?


Vicey: Her name is Gurro Pettersen, 23-M. Yes, I know it will take a little while to get accustomed to the fact that Ingrid Hjelmseth is no longer there. This poor girl had to wait until she was nearly thirty to finally get her chance.

Reader: I have a bad feeling that Ingrid Engen isn't interested in men. 


Vicey: That intuition would be correct, 16-M. As I told you three years ago, it would be quicker for me to list the number of players in these tourneys who are not, in fact, gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that. They don't need us. Cool. 

Reader: Why have I been deprived of my pleated Norwegian hair braids?


Vicey: That' excellent question, 45-M. Wow. I didn't even notice until you brought that up. This team used to be infamous for braiding each other's hair in the hotel room the night before matches. Now Hegerberg seems to be the only one left upholding that tradition.

Even she seems to be slacking off a bit too. That's not very ornate. Oh well. I guess female athletes just do the bobtail these days. Maybe they'll get back in the spirit of things as the tournament progresses. 

Reader: Abbie Magee seems like your type of girl.


Vicey: So nice of you to check in 3-F. I've decided that she's trying to frustrate us all at this point. Hustled so much that she probably lost ten pounds, then can't hold the outside of a free-kick wall. Reminds me of you if you truly want a shoutout. 

Reader: This match didn't sell out either.


Vicey: Sigh. No it didn't, 19-M. I said it would....and it came nowhere close. Only 9,146 at St. Mary's. That translates to only 28 percent capacity. Look. It's early yet. Those of us fond of the sport concede an early disappointment, but aren't conceding defeat. 

At least we got some nice scenes.


Spain vs. Finland


The line rolls up slightly as most are now convinced of the basic tactical fix to compensate for Alexia Putellas' loss. In point of fact, injuries to superstars rarely matter in these tournaments. That's what's sop beautiful about them. 

THE LINE: Spain +2 Goals (rolling up soft from Spain +1)

Deutschland vs. Denmark


Yes, I'll let it ride. A bit nervous. Hopefully I'll be rolling in ecstasy and money (that I'll give back to you in the form of Schwag packs) come tomorrow evening. 

THE LINE: Pick em' (holding)