shock, miraculous comeback and “YMCA”

  • On the bill: Netherlands – Czech Republic and Belgium – Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo will be as always the main offensive weapon of Portugal, on the occasion of the round of 16 which awaits him against Belgium.

The opportunity is good for the Dutch. Unbeaten in the playoffs after successes over Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia, Memphis Depay’s teammates fell into the “good” part of the table, the one in which neither France nor Italy appear. neither Belgium, nor even Portugal. They face the Czech Republic this Sunday, June 27 at 6 p.m., in a meeting where they will be the huge favorites, carried by an iron defense and strong individualities, like the future Parisian Georginio Wijnaldum.

For its part, the Czech Republic had more difficulties to reach the round of 16. Coach Jaroslav Silhavy’s men finished among the best third in the group, thanks in particular to an inaugural victory against Scotland. However, they were not ridiculous afterwards, drawing a draw against Croatia (1–1) and losing only one unit against England (1–0).

Netherlands – Czech Republic, Sunday June 27 at 6 p.m. in Budapest, and to follow live on Lemonde.fr

In the other meeting of the day, shock in sight! The Portuguese title holders challenge Belgium at 9 p.m. in what represents the first knockout confrontation between favorites in this edition of the Euro. The Seleção trembled until the end in Group F to secure their qualification, and they paid for their third place obtained behind France and Germany by pulling Belgium from Eden Hazard in the round of 16.

The Red Devils for their part did the job with the manner, during the first phase of the Euro, pocketing three successes in as many games against Russia, Denmark and Finland, and conceding in the process only ‘a small goal (against Denmark). Semi-finalists of the 2018 World Cup, the Belgians seem sure of their strength, especially since they will be able to rely on a Romelu Lukaku on mission (three goals in three games) and on a Kevin De Bruyne recovered from his facial injury.

Belgium – Portugal, Sunday June 27 at 9 p.m. in Seville, and to follow live on Lemonde.fr

Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel in the game against Finland.

Barely six months after a ruptured Achilles tendon, Axel Witsel hit the ground again: it was against Denmark, during the second day of Group B of the Euro (victory of the Red Devils 2 to 1) . A return that the Belgian press describes as « miracle ». Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne may well take the light, the fact remains that the Belgian game relies heavily on the presence of the Dortmund midfielder in its ranks. “I am here to bring back serenity; that was my goal when I got home ”, summed up Axel Witsel after the match. Holder during the victory of the Belgians against Finland (2 to 0), the number 6 impressed his coach, Roberto Martinez: “He is an example for all young people. What he has done to come back is simply amazing, and he achieved it through his personality and selflessness. “

Denmark – Wales (4–0): Denmark largely dominated Wales in Amsterdam thanks to a brace from Kasper Dolberg and goals from Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite. The beautiful story therefore continues, for Denmark, which has made short work of an unimaginative Welsh eleven. The Red-Whites will face in the quarterfinals the winner of the match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

Italy-Austria (2–1): Austria resisted the Italian waves for a long time before cracking, on a nice forward goal from Federico Chiesa, and before Matteo Pessina doubled the lead. First team to fool Gianluigi Donnarumma at this Euro (thanks to a superb diving header from Sasa Kalajdzic), Austria will long regret the cancellation of Marko Arnautovic’s goal after resorting to video refereeing, when the score was blank.

  • Meanwhile, Sylvain Ripoll continues to rack his brains

We thought the puzzle was over for Sylvain Ripoll, when the French Football Federation announced on Friday the list of 18 players chosen by the coach for the Olympic Games. And she was dreaming, with the presence of Eduardo Camavinga, Maxence Caqueret, Jonathan Ikoné or Amine Gouiri. But none of these players is ultimately certain of making the trip to Japan.

A little after, The team announced that many clubs, like Stade Rennes or OGC Nice, had no intention of letting one of their players go. The federation’s bluff will have made “pschitt”, even though it had already made some compromises, for example by striving not to take more than one player per club, and none from PSG.

Sylvain Ripoll will now have to negotiate with the clubs – once again – or be forced to look for other players. Time is running out: the coach must make his final list Wednesday, June 30 at the latest.

  • In the skylight: Nani’s missile

Nani, European champion in 2016 with Portugal, and who ends his career in Orlando, in Major League Soccer, offered a superb goal against Blaise Matuidi’s Inter Miami. Nice leftovers.

  • A corner of blue sky: Le Grand Bucarest Hotel

For a festive weekend in Bucharest, the Athénée Palace Hilton is ideally placed. Problem: the Blues are in the Romanian capital to prepare for a round of 16 of the Euro. In his June 26 edition, The team told how the French had been able to enjoy, on the night from Friday to Saturday, a student party against the backdrop of YMCA, timeless hit from the Village People group, at the origin of which we find French producers (as those who have little disco culture know).

The Athénée Palace Hilton hotel in Bucharest, where the players of the France team reside before their round of 16 of the Euro, against Switzerland.

Nice but not ideal for sleeping well and recovering well. Saturday morning, some young French supporters waited in vain to see a Mbappé “Pass a head to the window”. But, as in Munich or Budapest previously, the players of the France team only leave the establishment – chosen by UEFA – to go to training. A monastic life made “Reading, [de] Netflix [et de] PlayStation », as confided by Presnel Kimpembe during his visit to a press conference on Saturday.

The Parisian was able to compare with the accommodation conditions – less restrictive – at the last World Cup in Russia. “The difference in Istra was that we had the opportunity to go out in front of the hotel. But frankly, that does not change much … We have the chance to do our job, we are not going to complain ”, assures the defender, perhaps a disco lover.

“We would rather be first and have had problems than finish second, third, or even eliminated with a good game.”

Presnel Kimpembe

Saturday, central defender Presnel Kimpembe returned to the criticisms affecting the France team. After three group matches, observers pointed out in particular the lack of offensive binder between the trio Mbappé-Benzema-Griezmann. But the PSG player wished to recall that France had finished first in the “group of death”: “At some point, you have to put things into perspective and take the bright side of things. The objective was to finish first: it’s done. We are very happy with it. “

  • Covidometer: Saint Petersburg, the most affected city in Russia

Saint Petersburg recorded the heaviest daily death toll in Russia since the appearance of Covid-19 on Saturday, June 26, with 107 deaths in twenty-four hours. Russia’s second city hosts a total of seven Euro matches. There is still one to play in the Gazprom Arena: a quarter-final, Friday July 2, which could see France play if it beats Switzerland on Monday. The World Health Organization had warned against the risks of contamination in the stadiums where the Euro is played.

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