I had not anticipated a glorious summer of sport with no major football competition.
Well, we had the rejuvenation of England’s Test side under the captaincy of Ben Stokes and coach Brendan McCallum when they achieved seemingly impossible fourth innings targets to win; we had the most exciting Tour de France in years with the duel between Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vaugigaard; we had a marvellous Sunday at the Home of Golf when Cameron Smith’s magic wand of a putter saw off Rory McIlroy; and now we have had an enthralling football competition in the (Women’s ) Euros with the prospect of 1966 being repeated with an England v Germany final.
I watched both semi finals.
In the first, after a shaky start, England ran out easy winners v Sweden.
The technique, movement and finishing of the Lionesses were all impressive.
The hype of the outrageous back-flick by Russo for the third goal was precisely that as the ball trickled between the legs of Swedish keeper Nordahl in a bad error.
She did not fare much better with the lobbed fourth but you still had to admire the finishing of the Lionesses.
The second semi-final – between France and Germany – was more intense.
Perhaps the parents of the French team remembered the men’s 1982 World Cup semi-final when the flair of the French midfield – known as the ‘magic square’ – of Tigana, Platini, Giresse and Fernandez was beaten by the brutality of the Germans and an awful challenge by their keeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston.
Perhaps their great-grand parents remembered the Occupation by the Nazis in 1940.
Anyway it was a full-on physical encounter with the clinical finishing of Alex Popp separating the teams.