Today’s main report reviews the first round of matches in Group C from the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report for learners who wish to improve their English.
It was a refreshing change to see a team take on Spain, and Italy really had a go at the World and European Champions. They employed an unusual 3-5-2 formation, while Spain went into the match without a recognised striker. The game was fast paced yet skillful and although it was a low scoring draw, 1-1, the fans were treated to some fantastic moments, particularly the ball that Silva played to carve open the Italian defence, allowing Fabregas to get Spain’s equaliser. Both teams deserve credit for this entertaining game.
The Irish team will feel that they could have done a lot better, but instead the boys in green ended up the whipping boys of group C. They were thrashed in a game that they fancied their chances in, 3-1 by Croatia, and after that shock they were rolled over 4-0 by tournament favourites Spain in their second game. They did restore some pride with a battling display against Italy, going down 2-0, but by then it was too little and too late. Trapatonni, who was praised for getting the Irish to Euro 2012, was criticised for his selection policy, especially leaving out players such as Gibson, McCarthy and Houlihan. The fans were praised by everybody for the atmosphere they brought to the competition, but they won’t be praising their team’s performance.
It was sad to see that some Croatian fans racially abused Italian striker Balotelli, and that they are being investigated again after displaying a flag with racist slogans in the game against Spain. However, it was refreshing to see how clearly and strongly the national coach, Slavan Bilic, condemned the fans’ actions, saying, “We are not a racist country and we are angry at these few crazy supporters. We have to put sanctions on these kind of supporters and stop them forever.” Too many times managers attempt to ignore or defend their fans behaviour, so this attack on the racist fans that follow the Croatian team was extremely welcome. Well done, Bilic!
have a go at: attack the opposition; play a positive game; try to win
formation: the shape a team plays: for example, 4 defenders, five in midfield and a striker is a 4-5-1
carve open: split a defence; go through a defence easily; open up the back line
whipping boys: the team all other teams beat easily; the weakest team
fancy (your) chances: believe you can win (usually against strong opposition); sense a weakness in another team
roll over: easily defeat; win comfortably (usually with several goals)
condemned: criticised strongly