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Euro Daily: June 21, 2021
Day 11 of the European Championships will see four fixtures played out for the first time, as the likes of Ukraine, Austria and Finland eye a spot in the knockout rounds.
Below, check out five things you need to know about Monday’s action.
1) All still to play for
Ahead of the final round of Group B and C fixtures, there’s still plenty to play for.
Both Belgium (B) and the Netherlands (C) have booked their respective spots in the Euros’ knockout rounds, having secured maximum points from their opening pair of fixtures. North Macedonia, on the other hand, were the first country officially eliminated from the competition.
For the likes of Russia, Finland, Ukraine and Austria, however, it remains game on. All four sit on 3 points, eyeing 2nd-place finishes. The former two face final day meetings with Denmark and Belgium respectively, with Group B’s runners-up spot still very much up for grabs. Remarkably, the Danes also remain in with a glimmer of hope of advancing, despite sitting bottom of the table, without a point to their names.
In Group C, Ukraine and Austria will go head to head, in a tantalising battle for 2nd spot. A draw could well suit both nations, though, with 4 points likely to prove enough to guide the eventual 3rd-placed finishers into the Last-16.
2) Russia fans can’t travel to Copenhagen
Denmark’s final group stage outing, as outlined above, comes versus Russia. The clash is set to play out at the Parken Stadium, the same venue which saw Christian Eriksen bring the football world to a complete halt just a week ago.
The home advantage boasted by the Danes, meanwhile, will be boosted even further later today, due to somewhat bizarre circumstances surrounding the Russian fanbase. Whilst away supporters were permitted to attend Russia’s opening pair of group games in Saint Petersburg, ‘The National Team’s own fans will not be present at the Parken Stadium.
Why? First off, the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine has not yet been approved by the EU. In addition, Russia has been placed on Denmark’s ‘Orange’ list for travel, meaning citizens of the country cannot enter without what is deemed as a ‘worthy purpose’.
With the attendance of Euro 2020 fixtures not deemed as such, up to 2,500 away fans in possession of tickets have therefore been left disappointed.
3) Pandev’s swan song?
Moving onto Group C, a special night could be in store for one of North Macedonia’s greatest ever players.
The individual in question? Goran Pandev. Genoa hitman Pandev has lined out for his country on a hefty 121 occasions, netting 38 goals along the way – both of which represent national records.
Not only that, but, despite being set to turn 38 in a little over a month’s time, the veteran hitman has been afforded starts in both of North Macedonia’s group stage outings thus far. Pandev even managed to find the net in the first, dragging his side level en route to an eventual defeat at the hands of Austria:
The captain, the leading appearance-maker, the all-time top goalscorer.
Had to be him, didn’t it?
Goran Pandev scores a goal that will never be forgotten in #MKD
— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) June 13, 2021
The stark realisation has no doubt hit Pandev by now, though, that Monday’s meeting with the Netherlands will likely mark his last ever appearance in his country’s colours. And if it does, who would bet against the attacker finding the net just one more time? It would certainly prove a fitting end to a legendary international career…
4) Finland’s nickname
Returning to this evening’s 2nd set of fixtures, Finland’s showdown with Belgium is set to evoke fond memories for fans of the former.
Back in 2007, a bizarre occurrence during a European Championship qualifying meeting with Belgium eventually culminated in the Finns securing the nickname which remains with the country’s national team to this day. The clash in question was, at one point, forced into a stoppage, after an Eagle Owl entered the Helsinki Olympic stadium, before taking its place atop the crossbar.
Following a lengthy pause in the action, the large bird eventually moved on, with a Finland outfit coached by Roy Hodgson, from here, having upset the odds to emerge on the right side of a 2-0 scoreline.
This sequence of events gave rise to the Finns’ nickname, ‘Huuhkajat’ – which translates into English as the Eagle Owls.
5) West Ham intrigue
Our final talking point worth taking note of ahead of today’s round of fixtures centers on West Ham United.
This comes with a pair of ex-Hammers teammates set to face off in Ukraine’s meeting with Austria. The players in question? Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic. The former of course remains a member of David Moyes’ squad to this day, and lined out alongside ‘Arnie’ during the 2018-19 campaign.
Both players, meanwhile, have been in the spotlight throughout the Euros to date. Yarmolenko’s headline-grabbing endeavours have proven of an altogether positive nature, with the 31-year-old having found the net in both of Ukraine’s fixtures. His first, which sparked a nearly telling comeback versus the Netherlands, remains one of the goals of the tournament thus far:
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 13, 2021
Upcoming opponent Arnatutovic, however, has seen his name take centre stage in the media for considerably less positive reasons.
After opening his own Euro 2020 account with Austria’s 3rd in a 3-1 downing of North Macedonia, the experienced attacker took aim at Ezgjan Alioski, courtesy of a foul-mouthed tirade.
Following a UEFA investigation into the matter, Arnautovic was slapped with a one-match ban, which saw him forced to sit out his country’s defeat to the Dutch.
Will Arnie manage to keep his emotions in check this time around? Could Yarmolenko make it three goals in three?