What a Weekend to Remember!

This weekend in particular will be remembered by many people for many reasons, and rightfully so. Both the Copa America and The Euros found a home, Wimbledon ended after two weeks of competition, and a loud mouth Irishman predicted the need for a stretcher, albeit for the wrong person. 

The Italian Job

The Euros came to a climactic end with a penalty shootout between Italy and England, which the Azzurri won. As expected, the game was played in the middle of the park in which Italy were able to dominate, but not before England scored the fastest finals goal in history. That shot by Luke Shaw was the only shot England had in the first half as they allowed Italy to control the ball. The Italians didn’t really do much with the possession, playing very slowly in the final third. After all this was unknown territory for Italy who hadn’t trailed in any match for 10 months, in fact, in the last 24 matches they’d been behind for just 10 minutes prior to the final against England.

The second half was even more one-sided with the Azzurri playing a little faster, and causing issues for the Three Lions. Jorginho and Marco Verratti started to take over. However it was Federico Chiesa who was causing trouble for the England back line. Every time he got the ball, there was an end product. The inevitable happened, albeit from an unlikely source. Christian Bonucci stayed alive to the ball while everyone else was flat footed. His movement and finish was more reminiscent of Filippo Inzaghi than a defender. We should have expected extra time with the two previous finals at Wembley – 1966 World Cup and 1996 Euros – also needed the extra 30 minutes. 

England did wrestle some of the control back, with both teams missing half chances, but neither could get that all important dramatic winner… so we went to penalties. 

England coach Gareth Southgate had brought on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho just before the end to take a penalty…both missed to hand the advantage to Italy who had fallen behind after Andrea Belotti miss earlier. Up stepped Jorginho, arguably the best penalty taker in the game, only for Jordan Pickford to pull off a fantastic save. 

England were still in with a chance especially with Sterling, and Grealish yet to take a pen. Up stepped…wait a second…erm, Bukayo Saka. The young man hadn’t had a great game, but showed bottle to take the penalty, just like coach Gareth Southgate in 1996. Just like Southgate, he missed…

Italy became the fourth side to come back from behind in a final! 

The defeated Lions showed true heart on the pitch, shame the same can’t be said about the mindless minority who once again performed in their thuggish ways by trying to enter Wembley without tickets and then attacking Italian fans after the game. Just a bunch of cowards! 

The online bullying, and racism is another matter, and the video of the man snorting cocaine while the rest of the fans cheer…wow!

Messi’s Moment

Lionel Messi started the Copa America hoping to finally end his, and Argentina’s wait for a major international triumph. He got close at the 2014 Fifa World Cup when they lost to Germany after Gotze scored in extra time. Equally heartbreaking were the runner-up finishes at the Copa America in 2007, ’15, and ’16 . 

The final was against Brazil, in Brazil, which was not a good sign. The tournament has been held in Brazil on five occasions, and Brazil have won them all. They were also the favourite on this occasion, as expected. 

Argentina scored in the first half when left back Emerson – not the Italian one – made an error, and Angel Di Maria chipped Ederson. Brazil made plenty of chances in the second half without scoring, before Messi got a great chance to end the tie…which he made a mess of. Leo’s teammates made sure he would not rue the missed chance. At the final whistle, they all crowded round him! 

A step closer to greatness

Novak Djokovic won a record-equalling 20th men’s Grand Slam title by beating Italian Matteo Berrettini in Sunday’s Wimbledon final. The big serving Italian wasn’t expected to pose much of a threat to Djokovic, and everything was going to plan early on. Novak was serving for the first set, and got broken before losing the tie-break. Novak then went on to win the next three sets to land his sixth Wimbledon title from the seven finals played – loss to Andy Murray in 2013. 

The Serb is now tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after winning all three Grand Slams of the season. Novak is playing at a level that is far superior than any of his peers, and he has the chance to complete the “Golden Slam” by winning Olympic Gold and the US Open, a feat only achieved once, by Steffi Graf, in 1988. 

He will undoubtedly be the best ever in the men’s game as he pushes to break the all-time record held by Margaret Court. He will be aiming to surpass 24 Grand Slam titles, while preventing Roger and Rafa from getting back ahead of him. 

Barty-ful 

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty won her second Grand Slam title after beating Karolina Pliskova in three sets to add the Wimbledon title to the French Open she won in 2019. Although she wasn’t playing as well as she had in previous rounds, Barty was able to win the key points. In the end, her 2nd serve win percentage was the telling factor. Barty only dropped two sets at the tournament both in a tie-break. 

The victory solidifies Barty’s position at the top of the rankings, going into the Olympics in Tokyo, and the US Open after that.  

Karma is a b***h

We all know that when it comes to MMA, there’s one thug who stands out in the field of trash talk – Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor. McGregor and Dustin ‘Diamond’ Poirier have a genuine hatred for one another. In their last fight, Dustin knocked Conor out, and the latter wanted a final bout to determine who is better. 

The Irishman came out shouting at the pre-fight press conferences, making personal comments about Poirier and his family. Conor even talked about killing Poirier, and that he would need a stretcher to leave the ring. Imagine how happy it makes everyone that it was the Notorious L-O-S-E-R who needed the stretcher. After being beaten up for the vast majority of the fight, McGregor ended up breaking his leg as he stepped back after a missed punch. According to Poirier, he felt something after a checked kick and the leg gave way by the end of the round. 

Despite being in clear pain, and losing yet another fight, Conor continued to run his mouth. Ever since the joke fight against Floyd Mayweather, McGregor’s only win in the UFC has been against Donald Cerrone, who everyone beats. 

This time though, a comeback from McGregor is going to take a lot more time, effort, rehabilitation and patience. So, if McGregor can keep his trap shut long enough, he may be able to come back, not that he will actually want to. 

Bullish Bucks!

The NBA final between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks is hotting up nicely after the Bucks were able to win the the third game of the series to keep their hopes alive. Although the Suns keep home advantage, the manner of the defeat showed that the Suns would not be having it all their way.

For both Chris Paul – better known as CP3 – of the Suns and Giannis – The Greek Freak – this is their first final, and neither want it to end in defeat. For CP3, this may be his one and only finals appearance so he wants to make it count. Giannis Antetekounmpo scored 40+ points for the second game running to keep their hopes alive.

Game four will be at 8pm local time, which is 9am for Beijingers, and 2am for people in the U.K.

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