Goals were flying in on Sunday, as hosts France came back from the brink and Germany and Belgium swaggered into the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 alongside them. But the 17th day of this extravaganza proved to be one where the fans were often the star performers.
GRIEZY DOES IT
France booked a trip back to the capital with their stirring 2-1 comeback win over the Republic of Ireland in Lyon. When they return to Paris for Sunday’s quarter-final at the Stade de France, Didier Deschamps will find a city that is beginning to fall in love with them.
There was tension, furrowed brows and cross words after 45 minutes at the Eiffel Tower fan park on Sunday – all ingredients amid the twists and turns of the classical Parisian romances. Ireland were leading but Deschamps tinkered to good effect and Griezmann came to the fore with a quick-fire brace.
The crowd went potty, cups were thrown in the air – the equalising header from Griezmann inadvertently left Omnisport’s man on the ground with a soggy calf – and it was “Allez les Bleus” all the way to full-time. Paris will be ready for a party on Sunday, when England or Iceland will be the guys.
— Dom Farrell (@DomFarrell1986) June 26, 2016
IRISH EYES ARE SMILING AND SINGING
But it wasn’t just the victors who were in good voice. Down in Lyon, the Ireland fans drowned some more enjoyable substitute for sorrows long into the night.
From Euro 2016 standard “Don’t Take Me Home” to the rousing standard for “Fields of Athenry”, the green-clad hordes were in fine voice and high spirits.
Just imagine what they’d have got up to if Robbie Brady’s second-minute penalty had been the only goal. Answers on a postcard – they don’t want to go home, remember.
— Iain Strachan (@IainStrachan) June 26, 2016
YOU AND WHOSE ARMY, HEIMIR?
Iceland might have bad memories of the last time they met England on the pitch, with the English recording a 6-1 friendly win back in June 2004, but they have successfully locked horns with Monday’s round-of-16 opponents away from football.
The so-called “cod wars”, a series of confrontations between both countries regarding fishing rights in the North Atlantic, ended with Icelandic victories. “I think it is the only time we went to war,” Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson stressed when questioned about the topic at Sunday’s pre-game media conference. “We have too few people for an army and we’d lose immediately if we went to war.”
On the field, however, he fully believes in Iceland’s battling skills. “These players are the Icelandic Army,” he cried.
THE BOYARD’S A BIT SPECIAL
Euro 2016 has been a happy cultural blend so far, but just how a 1990s gameshow came to influence pre-match proceedings in Lille is a mystery.
In the build-up to Germany’s last-16 win over Slovakia, the marching band at Stade Pierre-Mauroy began entertaining the gathering crowd outside the stadium with a rendition of the theme tune from Fort Boyard.
The TV show, one of France’s most successful exports of the 90s – alongside Eric Cantona – saw contestants take part in physical challenges in order to claim a big pot of gold, all set at the old fortress off the west coast of France.
Perhaps it was played as a tribute to the quest for glory at Euro 2016. Or perhaps they all love their silly TV. Either way, it was a rousing rendition.
If anyone can tell me why the Stade Pierre-Mauroy marching band is playing the Fort Boyard theme tune, please do. pic.twitter.com/WGhsBFP7mm
— Joe Wright (@JoeWright004) June 26, 2016
It takes a brave reporter to appear on live television surrounded by football fans. We’ve all seen the problems they’ve encountered before, from being mobbed to having their heads stroked or having sex toys thrust into their ears.
In an attempt to ward off any potential issues, a reporter from RTL negotiated a deal with a set of Belgian fans in Toulouse’s Place du Capitole prior to the Red Devils’ 4-0 win over Hungary on Sunday; he does his report, they then go mad.
It seemed a perfect plan. However, as he found out, football fans have a mischievous side…
The perils of being a TV reporter with football fans around… pic.twitter.com/KsnXcQO9oQ
— Jon Fisher (@fisherjon10) June 26, 2016
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