Greize the Man

Et donc, il arrive.

The ‘business end’ or ‘fin d’affaires’ of the tournament. TV listings provide alternative scheduling, some teams step up, some teams get even more nervous, financial investments are put at risk by the potential for extra time and everyone talks about England and penalties…days before that game even kicks off.

It was a weekend of two halves on the pitch with Sunday’s games much easier on the eye, but at TLF Towers there was a strong element of consistency throughout with a high tempo consumption of saturated fats, sugar and alcohol accompanied by a strong spine of bad puns underpinned by a committed team performance in remote control management.

It was good to have the company of ex-housemate Iain, signed on loan to our sofa from Birmingham for the weekend. Apart from providing a series of assists in the double entendre department (if Mr TLF is going to boast about having a bush in the bedroom, even though he is referring to a TV, he only has himself to blame) he is also very good at managing my expectations when it comes to TV commentators, “You expect too much Brooksie!”

And boy were they on form this weekend. I knew we were in trouble when I saw the Beeb’s line-up for the Poland game: Walker, Murphy, Keown and Jenas. The B team. And so it proved. While I will admit that the game was ca ne casse pas trois pattes a un canard (that’s the French equivalent of nothing to write home about BTW) half-time comments implying that the players are not trying on purpose and ‘just passing it sideways’ do irk me. And no one likes an irked TLF.

Even more irking was the fact that yes Poland (TLS’s first wager of the day) might have won but they waited until penalties to do it. There’s no point in putting the effort in once my 90 minute bet is up chaps.

Enter Wales, all ready to break Irish hearts and get TLF’s investments back on an even keel. Although I didn’t get ahead of myself once Wales took the lead; as Iain pointed out, in a Wales game it’s not over until the male voice choir sings. Our friends on planet television were helping with the general bonhomie by this point (although it might have been the champagne cocktails as well), offering up the fact that a Ramsey cross led to two Welsh players, “both straining to put their nuts on that.”

By the time of the third match the cards were out. TLF was on a carte jeune after excessive and repetitive chanting, “Your defence is terrified, Theo’s on fire.” Normally not a bookable offence, but when the player in question isn’t actually in the tournament you can see the ref’s point of view. Mr TLF meanwhile exhibited ungentlemanly conduct by dissing what are generally agreed to be Croatia’s fine home shirts….while Croatia just dissed yet another TLF bet.

Sunday: cometh the hour, cometh tournament favourites getting into their stride and cometh Mr TLF’s tout-les-oeufs-dans-une-basket-defying wagers. TLF meanwhile was struggling a bit; another traumatic European exit, this time in the form of Slaven Bilic from the ITV panel left us relying on Lee Dixon, Lothar Matthaus and Ian Wright had left TLF bereft and not the usual clinical gambling machine. Financial success meant a bit more interest from Mr TLF and as we pointed out, “You only watch when you’re winning.”

Apart from more TV despair there were more broken Irish hearts, even though that early penalty gave hope and a much more enjoyable game than anything we had seen the day before. A BBC highlights panel reviewing that game included Thierry Henry (infamous handball against Eire back in 2010) – great team selection by the Beeb there. And scripted or not Shearer’s “you’ve got to hand it to the Irish”, fitted right in with the tone Chez TLF.

Germany, against an admittedly disappointing Slovakia looked ominous and Belgium perhaps for the first time looked like a team ranked second in the world. Mr TLF had restored his betting equilibrium and all was well with the world.

Two quarter final places left to decide. Italy face Spain, a strange reward for topping their group methinks. And then there is Ingurland against Iceland, one of the great stories of this tournament. On paper there is surely no contest but let’s look at the stats – zero success for Ingurland when playing in a knockout game in a tournament for the last 10 years. And perhaps even more damning, last time there was a knock out game on the same day as Iain’s birthday, Ingurland got spanked by Germany at the World Cup.

Can they keep cool heads or will they freeze, returning to face a frosty reception back home? Think it might be time to depart. I have a feeling TLF is skating on thin ice.

Here’s to pas de penalties!

TLFerix the Fox

Italy v Spain 5pm
Eng;and v Iceland 8pm


Switzerland 1 Poland 1 (Poland win 5-4 on penalties)
Wales 1 N Ireland 0
Croatia 0 Portugal 1
France 2 Republic of Ireland 1
Germany 3 Slovakia 0
Hungary 0 Belgium 4

Mange ou boire?

We’ve been a bit light on the old pudding front (sure there is a pun in there somewhere) so let’s go with something Italian for today, but with a slightly icy influence to continue a theme. Described as ‘simple but impressive’. Just how I like my football. But not my men.

Sing-a-long-a-quarter finalist – The German national anthem
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles
über alles in der Welt
Wenn es steht zun Schutz und Trotze
Brüderlich zusammen hält
Von der Maas bis an die Memel
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles
über alles in der Welt

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