Onto the Final

The Semi Finals of Euro 2016 have been concluded and the teams in the Final are decided now…  tournament hosts France face Portugal in the Euro 2016 Final, to be played on July 10th at 8PM GMT.

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So, who didn’t make it? Well, Wales and Germany both were knocked out in the Semi’s and that was the last of the Liverpool players who will be playing in the competition now. Joe Allen, Danny Ward and Emre Can now all make their way back to Liverpool as Euro 2016 reaches it’s Finale without them now.

Portugal v Wales

Real Madrid fans had something to look forward to in this fixture as teammates Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo would go head to head for their countries, rather than playing alongside each other in Spain for a change.

Real Madrid teammates Ronaldo and Bale shake hands before the game

Real Madrid teammates Ronaldo and Bale shake hands before the game

Liverpool fans would get to see Joe Allen play in his last tournament appearance and Danny Ward was named as substitute again, although unused by the end of the game.

Gareth Bale protests to referee Jonas Eriksson after Joe Allen is shown a yellow card during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Gareth Bale protests to referee Jonas Eriksson after Joe Allen is shown a yellow card during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Wales would start off quite offensively, although it wasn’t always to their advantage as within 7 minutes played, the referee had shown a yellow card to Joe Allen who had already made a couple of rough tackles in the midfield. He wouldn’t get to keep on playing so roughly and was asked to calm it down a little by the match official who wasn’t afraid to discipline players from early on in the game.

Portugal's defender Raphael Guerreiro flies through the air after Joe Allen gets far more of the player than the ball and Allen would be booked at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016.  (Photo credit : ROMAIN LAFABREGUE/AFP/Getty Images)

Portugal’s defender Raphael Guerreiro flies through the air after Joe Allen gets far more of the player than the ball and Allen would be booked early in the game at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. (Photo credit : ROMAIN LAFABREGUE/AFP/Getty Images)

There was attacks from both sides throughout the game and the first half saw plenty of goalscoring opportunities although it would be the second half before any goals were scored at all. Wales managed to not concede against Portugal until shortly after the half time break.

Around the 50th minute, a short corner was taken and once Guerreiro had the ball, he crossed it into the box. Cristiano Ronaldo leapt through the air and headed home Portugal’s first goal of the game to open the scoring. Portugal 1-0 Wales

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Gareth Bale looks on as his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo scores a header

Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo scores the opening goal past Wales' goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey (R) during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. / AFP / JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK        (Photo credit should read JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo scores the opening goal past Wales’ goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey during the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Portugal and Wales at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon, on July 6, 2016. (Photo credit: JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Unfortunately for Wales, any thoughts of an equalizer were shortly put to rest also as just three minutes later, a second Portugal goal was scored.

Ronaldo would be involved in this goal too although he did not score it. Ronaldo had tried his luck at testing the goalkeeper from about 25 yards out, but the failed shot had ended up near Nani, who was in a dangerous position and ready to put the rebounded ball past the goalkeeper from close range. Portugal 2-0 Wales

Wales had over half an hour to respond with at least two goals which would have taken them to extra time and perhaps even a penalty shoot out to decide the winner, but Portugal never conceded a goal in the rest of the time to be played. There seemed to be no hard feelings between the two Real Madrid players as Bale and Ronaldo embraced each other after the full time whistle.

No hard feelings... after this, Ronaldo and Bale will keep playing on the same pitch, for Real Madrid.

No hard feelings… after this, Ronaldo and Bale will keep playing on the same pitch, for Real Madrid.

And so, Ronaldo and his country made it all the way to the Euro 2016 Final.

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal celebrates at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Well done Welshmen, but your time is over. Your team did well to come this far and everyone’s proud of your achievements. Too bad you couldn’t make the final, I’m not Welsh (I’m English – born in Liverpool) and yet still truly wanted to see Joe Allen (and Danny Ward) make it there. Allen’s represented his country magnificently from the start of the tournament to the Semi Final of it, being a key player in Wales midfield throughout the competition from the group stages onwards. Good job, Joe.

Joe Allen was heavily involved in Wales Euro 2016 campaign which saw them reach the Semi Final

Joe Allen was heavily involved in Wales Euro 2016 campaign which saw them reach the Semi Final

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Welsh fans cheer on their country in the last game they would play at Euro 2016.

Germany V France 

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Germany failed to win or even score in a shocking defeat to the hosts that sees France qualify over the World Cup 2014 Winners to reach the Euro 2016 Final now.

Germany did not have the exact same team that saw them make it to the Semi Final.

Emre Can was finally used in the Germany squad, but it would be his country's last game at Euro 2016.

Emre Can was finally used in the Germany squad, but it would be his country’s last game at Euro 2016.

There was some significant changes to the squad, including the starting of Emre Can, who hadn’t played a single minute on the pitch up until now with Can being nothing more than an unused substitute for the majority of the tournament. “Too little, too late” I say. The only reason he’s really there is because there was injuries and suspensions to deal with as Mario Gomez now faces some time out of any side after a hamstring problem while Mats Hummels couldn’t play due to receiving a few too many yellow cards in the competition. It’s not like the Germany manager suddenly had a moment of enlightenment where he realised “I HAVE A GREAT PLAYER IN MY SQUAD and I haven’t been using him, even when he’s on the substitute bench – that was a mistake, I will use him now!”. NO. That’s certainly not what happened. I don’t think he’s ever been of the opinion that Emre Can is a really great player.

Joachim Löw used Emre Can for only 70 minutes in a single game and even then, substituted him off in the second half

Since Euro 2016 started, Joachim Löw used Emre Can for only 70 minutes in a single game and even then, substituted him off in the second half.

Joachim Löw was simply forced into a situation where using this player was the last option available to him, Can had to be used because some key players were out injured or suspended.  Your “back up” was finally required and so you used him. Not that Can would ever be considered to be a mere back up by the people who know him well enough to realise his full value and quality. The Kopites around the world, our Anfield Family. I don’t think Löw has anywhere near the same appreciation for Can as Liverpool fans do. He’s really missed out on using an extremely versatile player who is always hard-working and determined to help his side achieve success. Jurgen Klopp certainly hasn’t been as shortsighted as Löw when deciding upon his starting lineups. Can’s value and true worth to a team isn’t lost to Klopp. Can’s used almost as often as Liverpool play, for most games we have on the fixture list.

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And so, Germany would play with Can for the one and only fixture of the entire tournament he got to appear on the pitch in… for about 70 minutes. Löw actually substituted him off in the second half, despite his lack of game time throughout the competition. Why not give him the full 90 minutes, Löw? He’s deserved that and even more. You’re only hurting your own country by not utilising a valuable asset to it’s maximum potential. Anyway… I think I’ve made my feelings clear about this now. There was more to the game than just Can’s single appearance.

Germany actually dominated possession, with around 70% of it in the first half, which saw the Germans attacking and looking like they could score at any time, really. But they didn’t score, surprisingly.

You might have had to change up your defence and midfield, but the German attacking force was just as strong as ever. There’s Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller. None of these are new to the squad, they’ve been there for the games that got them as far as the Semi Final. So, why weren’t they scoring now? It was a really bad time to start a scoring drought.

France would take a lead by half time, but only just. The match officials had decided to add two minutes of extra time onto the clock as it neared the break. A corner was conceded and then the ball put in from the corner flag. As Evra heads the ball towards goal for a headed shot, Manchester United player Sebastian Schweinsteiger jumped into the air and blocked the shot… with his arms. The referee did not hesitate to award a penalty kick, though it was not 100% certain that Schweinsteiger had intentionally used his arms to stop the ball, he had always looked like he was going up for a headed clearance. Referee’s can’t see intentions though but he did see a ball hit an arm inside of the penalty area. Not going to say it’s a “good call”, but it did happen and would give France their 1-0 lead as Antoine Griezmann took and scored the penalty kick, just before the half time whistle was blown.

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Schweinsteiger closed his eyes and jumped into the air… for what looked like an attempted header. The ball would hit his arm and the referee would award a penalty to France.

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Schweinsteiger and a couple of teammates protests the penalty being awarded, but the referee’s decision was final. France would take and score a penalty.

Antoine Griezmann would take and score the penalty given to France in the first half.

Antoine Griezmann would take and score the penalty given to France at the end of the first half.

After the break, Germany came back out again and looked like they wanted to equalise. I’m sure Schweinsteiger had told his manager “I didn’t mean to handball it, I was trying to clear it with a header” during the break. If the manager agreed with Schweinsteiger, all Löw would have said would have been that he just now wanted his side to get out there and grab a goal, level the scores again to at least have a chance of extra time and perhaps even to enter a shoot out and take penalties themselves, maybe defeat France with what they’d suffered already (goals scored by penalty kick). It was unfortunate that the Germans just couldn’t do this at all in the next 45 minutes. Only France would score again in this game.

Emre Can was not on the pitch when France scored their second goal. Mario Gotze had already replaced him, to be placed in the attacking portion of the side and as the defensive midfielder wasn’t there to challenge any French attackers, it may have cost them dearly. Not the smartest of substitutes, though I may just have called it clever if Gotze had gotten around to scoring at least one goal.

Mario Gotze scored in the Final and won the World Cup in 2014

Mario Gotze scored in the Final and won the World Cup in 2014.

The World Cup (2014) winner would not get any goals and by the end of the game his contribution seemed not have to been as valuable as Can’s, honestly. When a known goalscorer does not do as was expected of them (to score) in an important fixture… then what use have they been? Very little use, is the answer. Can was of more use than Gotze.

Around the 70th minute, France were really pushing hard and putting Germany under extreme pressure as their defensive capabilities were put to the test.

Thomas Muller attempts a clearance as France attack       (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Thomas Muller attempts a clearance as France attack in the second half. (Photo credit: BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Thomas Muller would make a clearance, but that wasn’t the end of the danger. Kimmich would also attempt to clear the ball away, only for it to be returned to France’s possession once more, forcing Germany to endure yet another counter attack. Once Paul Pogba has successfully crossed the ball into the penalty area, Manuel Neuer’s failed attempt to punch and clear the ball away was met with Antoine Griezmann’s outstretched foot and the ball was deflected from the Frenchman into the net. Griezmann was the hero of the day for France, scoring twice and ensuring their place in the Euro 2016 Final, which will be played in France, to the delight of all the tournament’s home fans. Credit to France, they’ve earned their place.

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Griezmann scores France’s second goal and seals an important win for his country

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I’m just sad that Mamadou Sakho could not have been a part of all these games in his own country and to have been in the final, making an international appearance as he attempted to win an important trophy.

Mamdou Sakho's career has been affected negatively by allegations of drug use [Photo credit : Amandine Noel / Icon Sport]

Mamdou Sakho’s career has been affected negatively by allegations of drug use
[Photo credit : Amandine Noel / Icon Sport]

According to recent reports, UEFA are ready to drop the subject of Sakho’s drug allegations and move on without seriously charging him any further but the damage was already done to Liverpool’s UEFA Europa League campaign (which we failed to win in the Final we were forced to play without Sakho) and of course, he wasn’t able to be named as part of the France squad to play in this tournament as his country just kept qualifying over and over until they reached the Euro 2016 Final without him. Such a shame for him, his country, his club and all the football fans who love to see him play. I still stick by him in support of the player’s innocence over these allegations, too. Good luck for your future, Mamadou Sakho. Or rather, “Bon chance”.

Well, that will be all for this tournament. There are no Liverpool players left to talk about. I hope you’ve enjoyed the reports on what our players have been doing in France up until now.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.

[written by] Stuart Drewery.

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I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.

I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.

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