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Euro 2020 - Congrats Italy


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Is there anyone with any knowledge of France who can shed some light on the translations in this Reddit thread? Purportedly conversations taking place during the match against Switzerland. It sounds like a completely dysfunctional team if they're true, but might well be complete crap.

One extract which captures the mood

Quote

Rabiot to Mbappé : Defensive efforts, Kiki...

Mbappé : Don't you talk to me

Rabiot : What did you say?

Pogba : Who do you think you are Adri ? Stay in your place !

Rabiot : What you guys are doing is inadmissible guys...

 

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53 minutes ago, Waggo said:

One thing that struck me last night was when Kane was substituted having scored a brace, Jermaine Jenas tutted and said something to the effect of ‘Not sure that is the right decision, I know I wouldn’t be happy about it’. 
 

Kane to be fair to him did not bat an eyelid, and if he had then I am sure Southgate would have come down on him like a ton of bricks.  The England job was never rocket science as Southgate is proving.  Pick a system and then pick the players to fit into it based on form, fitness and being the best player available for that position and it is amazing what can happen.  
 

Instead what we had for the previous 25 years was massaging of ego’s, shoehorning players into the team as they were too big to be dropped, cliques between players from rival league teams, gambling dens excessive drinking and god knows what else.  I remember David James once saying after he had let in a howler, that he had been up until 3 the night before the match playing PlayStation games!!!!!  For even being dumb enough to come out with such a statement he should never have played for England again.

 

So now we have a sensible modern forward looking manager and team who really look like they can go places, we need to get shut of these relics of past failure as well.  Why continue to reward their failure with handsomely paid careers in punditry?  Jenas, Danny Murphy, Ferdinand the lot of em had their chance and blew it.  Give us knowledgeable, insightful pundits who understand the modern teams and game.  Emma Hayes and the likes is who I want commentating on the big matches in the future not these Clowns.

I doubt Jenas was expecting Kane to have a public strop about being subbed - but given the professional that he is, there's no doubt at all that he would've wanted to stay out there and had the opportunity to get a hat-trick, so whilst it is very much team-first, he lives by his goals as any top striker does.

 

I don't think that football is as straightforward as you are making out, either. Picking players for a system is by no means the consensus approach in the world game, and I'm sure other England managers have tried that approach previously with various degrees of success - and besides, if we get knocked out in the semi-final would that approach still have been considered the best? Would the feeling be that England had an amazing tournament or another missed opportunity?

 

As for the punditry, from what I've heard of Emma Hayes I don't think she offers all that much over anybody else (certainly given the amount of times she's been praised in this thread), but admittedly as she's been stuck on ITV I usually have their matches on in the background - so perhaps she's been trotting out great insight that I've missed. You haven't mentioned anybody other names, so who else is a great pundit that you feel should be getting the limelight over the current old-guard?

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1 hour ago, Gotters said:

 

What's strange ? I'm not implying Ireland are shite or anything like that but I'll spell it out for avoidance of doubt.

 

Rice who IIRC had repped Ireland at a junior level and in a couple of senior friendlies decided to change to England after discussions with the FA and Southgate, but at that time was not in any way considered an automatic choice or guaranteed a long or successful England career. There was always a lot of competition for midfield spots and whilst I imagine Southgate spelled out his blueprint for how he wanted the team to play I doubt very much Rice was promised anything, other than being told by Southgate he was in contention and well considered. 

 

In the space of only 2-3y he established himself at West Ham and now as a starter in every match at the Euros and is a key part to England's solidity.

 

I'd be thinking of sliding doors moments and how I'd made a good decision there with how things are turning out for him. 


For a sliding doors moment I’d think looking at Zaha whose career is a host of bad decisions, one of them being deciding not to have the patience to wait and earn his way into the England set up. 

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2 minutes ago, Oh Danny Boy said:


For a sliding doors moment I’d think looking at Zaha whose career is a host of bad decisions, one of them being deciding not having the patience to wait and earn his way into the England set up. 

 

agreed, Rice decided on the harder route and backed himself which is now paying off for him.

 

people look at their own careers all the time and think they made good or bad decisions/moves at times of highs/lows - why I don't think its anything controversial to say Rice must be quite happy with his relatively recent decision and how its turning out. 

 

having said all that he'll miss a pen on Weds and be advertising pizzas in a year or two. 

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4 minutes ago, Gotters said:

 

agreed, Rice decided on the harder route and backed himself which is now paying off for him.

 

people look at their own careers all the time and think they made good or bad decisions/moves at times of highs/lows - why I don't think its anything controversial to say Rice must be quite happy with his relatively recent decision and how its turning out. 

 

having said all that he'll miss a pen on Weds and be advertising pizzas in a year or two. 

As well as winding up managing the England team in a few years.

 

Whisper it, but I don’t mind who wins between England and Denmark.  Would prefer England, but would be pleased for obvious reasons for Denmark.

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1 hour ago, Gotters said:

 

What's strange ? I'm not implying Ireland are shite or anything like that but I'll spell it out for avoidance of doubt.

 

Rice who IIRC had repped Ireland at a junior level and in a couple of senior friendlies decided to change to England after discussions with the FA and Southgate, but at that time was not in any way considered an automatic choice or guaranteed a long or successful England career. There was always a lot of competition for midfield spots and whilst I imagine Southgate spelled out his blueprint for how he wanted the team to play I doubt very much Rice was promised anything, other than being told by Southgate he was in contention and well considered. 

 

In the space of only 2-3y he established himself at West Ham and now as a starter in every match at the Euros and is a key part to England's solidity.

 

I'd be thinking of sliding doors moments and how I'd made a good decision there with how things are turning out for him. 

 

Fair enough. I don't think I thought it was a dig, I was just wondering about the relevance. 

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2 hours ago, Waggo said:

  I remember David James once saying after he had let in a howler, that he had been up until 3 the night before the match playing PlayStation games!!!!!  For even being dumb enough to come out with such a statement he should never have played for England again.

 

Pedantic correction: at the time James made a howler he ascribed to late nights playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider, he hadn’t yet made his England debut. 

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On 04/07/2021 at 16:04, Waggo said:

Instead what we had for the previous 25 years was massaging of ego’s, shoehorning players into the team as they were too big to be dropped, cliques between players from rival league teams, gambling dens excessive drinking and god knows what else.  I remember David James once saying after he had let in a howler, that he had been up until 3 the night before the match playing PlayStation games!!!!!  For even being dumb enough to come out with such a statement he should never have played for England again.

 

David James was, and still is, an easy target. Goalkeepers are.

 

If you think that's enough for him to never play again, then how does poster boy Grealish get near the squad?

 

Remember when he told people to stay home. Then footage showed him exiting a party and somehow driving really badly and smashing into some parked cars. Parked cars.

The guy was drunk or high.

 

Then he kept driving and was tailed by Police.

He was convicted of 2 driving offences 2 didn't stick due to lack of evidence.

 

If he was drunk or high when leaving that first party and driving off he could have killed someone. Easily could have run over a kid if he didn't even see TWO cars properly.

 

How about the Birthday party attended by Chillwell and Sancho?

 

Much worse than some playstation games. By your reckoning they should be out.

 

There will always be leeway if you're good enough. Even now.

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3 hours ago, artz said:

I'm having flashbacks to the "Olé"s last night. Reckon Spain will beat Italy, we best Denmark, then the Spanish spank us in the final for taking the piss.

 

Olé!

 

I found it hilarious that half of the passes didn't reach their intended recipients at first, resulting in extra long oooooooooooole's while they chased after the ball. 

.

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10 hours ago, feltmonkey said:

 

Hang on a minute, I'm not sure it's fair to categorise either player's decision to play for England as a "career move".  While it's a bit strange for Gotters to bring up the fact that they chose to play for England over Ireland, both players were born and grew up in England.  They have a single Irish grandparent each.  Neither have ever lived in Ireland to the best of my googling knowledge. The chances are that they were England supporters, consider themselves English, and chose to play for England on that basis.  In fact they've both said as much.

 

I think this is largely correct. Generally we're honoured so many retain a connection and chose to play for us. Also the FAI is a shambles and we should be developing talent at home. 

 

However, Rice cried when the Irish anthem was played and made a show of it, so he can piss right off. Can't abide that. If he visits Ireland, everyone should just collectively agree to turn the rebel music up everywhere he goes. 

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Athletic study of Italy's shithousery against Belgium the other day - this stuff winds me up way more than the ref blowing up early when the match is clearly over. This is cheating pure and simple and definitely impacts the potential result

 

Spoiler

“Brilliant effort from the Italy team,” Gary Lineker said on BBC One shortly after Roberto Mancini’s team beat Belgium to reach the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

“They can be frustrating at the end, rolling around and all those antics,” Lineker continued. “But they know how to see a game out when they’re ahead.”

They certainly do. The clock was just about to tick into the 76th minute when Leonardo Spinazzola signalled to the Italian bench that he was unable to continue with what would later be confirmed as a ruptured achilles tendon.

It was 21 minutes and three seconds later when the Slovakian referee Slavko Vincic blew the final whistle. Five minutes of added time got extended to seven. Belgium, in other words, had plenty of time to score an equaliser — almost a quarter of a game. At least, that is how it appeared. But what if we told you that the ball was only in play for nine of those 21 minutes?

Italy thoroughly deserved their 2-1 win over Belgium and produced some outstanding football earlier in the evening, including a goal of the tournament contender from Lorenzo Insigne. But they also put on a masterclass of a different kind during the final chapter of Friday’s game in Munich: how to close down a football match.

There were lessons in the lost art of defending, both individually and collectively, and some classic tricks of the trade when it comes to running out the clock and disrupting any kind of rhythm in their opponent’s play.

Six of Italy’s 13 fouls in the match were committed from the 80th minute onwards, not to mention a substitution that was somehow shoehorned in-between a free kick that had to be retaken and the fourth official holding the board up to signify how many minutes of added time should be played.

Last and by no means least — and this certainly takes in some of the above — there were examples of what is probably best described as shithousery — and not just any old shithousery; this was shithousery of the highest order.

According to the Collins’ online dictionary, the “approval status” for the word “shithousery” is “pending investigation”. It is unclear how that process works, but the footage of Ciro Immobile rolling around on the floor before Italy scored their first goal, then swiftly hopping to his feet and joining in with the celebrations after realising they had taken the lead, wouldn’t be a bad place for their study to start.

As the reaction in the BBC studio to that Immobile incident showed, some people find that kind of thing a lot funnier than others.

“I don’t even want to laugh at that because that’s pathetic,” said Alan Shearer, one of the BBC pundits.

The way that Italy finished the game divided opinion too, judging by the reaction on social media. Some football supporters felt those final 20 minutes or so took the shine off Italy’s performance. Words such as ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing’ were being bandied around on Friday night. ‘Cheating’, too.

Others were not just revelling in the play-acting and blatant time-wasting (shithousery has quite a fan club out there), but expressing a mixture of admiration and respect for it, especially in the context of what was at stake with the game being on a knife-edge and, perhaps more than anything, the realisation that those tactics worked.

If France had done something similar when they were leading 3-1 against Switzerland with nine minutes remaining, they may well be in the semi-finals themselves. Whether they would want to do that or feel that it should be necessary to protect a lead is another point altogether.

Rewatching and breaking down that period after Spinazzola leaves the pitch is fascinating.

There are 22 periods when the ball is dead — free kicks, goal kicks, throw-ins, substitutions etc — and it is remarkable how the seconds, or minutes in some cases, tick by during those moments.

Starting with the hold-up that followed the serious injury to Spinazzola, a chronological log of the time lost (in seconds) during those 22 periods when the ball is not in play reads like this: 195, 18, four, 29, 14, 10, 34, 12, 10, seven, 32, seven, 61, 77, 102, 39, five, 10, five, eight, 15, 26.

Italy, quite simply, never allowed Belgium to build any kind of momentum. In fact, the only thing that built inside the Belgians during that final 20 minutes or so was frustration, and that seemed to exacerbate the problem for Roberto Martinez’s side as the quality of their play deteriorated on the few occasions when they could attack.

Indeed, there was only one period after Spinazzola was carried off when the ball was in play for longer than a minute, and that ended with Domenico Berardi bringing down Kevin De Bruyne about 30 yards from goal. What followed would form another excellent shithousery case study.

The clock shows 88:24 when De Bruyne is fouled. A full minute passes before referee Vincic blows the whistle to signal De Bruyne can take the free kick. Strangely, Vincic had started to mark out 10 yards beforehand but then chose not to continue, giving Berardi some considerable leeway.

De Bruyne wins the initial free kick…

Already close to De Bruyne, Berardi moves towards the Belgian as soon as he starts his run-up and turns his back in an attempt to block the cross. By the time the ball hits Berardi, he is no more than four or five yards from De Bruyne.

After a slight delay, the referee brings play back and shows Berardi, who has a wry smile on his face, a yellow card. The free kick is set up again and Vincic makes his way to the right-hand side of the penalty area and blows his whistle for it to be retaken — but not quite yet though.

…which Berardi blocks illegally

Play is halted again because Italy are now making a substitution, bringing on Rafael Toloi for Federico Chiesa. “This is all good gamesmanship from Mancini,” Martin Keown, the BBC co-commentator, chips in.

In fact, almost two and a half minutes slip by from the moment De Bruyne is fouled to the free kick being retaken. In purely football terms, nothing happens during that period, other than De Bruyne kicking the ball against Berardi’s back.

When the free kick is finally delivered into the penalty area, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma falls to the ground after challenging for a high ball with his centre-half Giorgio Chiellini and Belgium’s Axel Witsel. Witsel’s arm is high but it is Chiellini’s elbow that makes contact with Donnarumma.

De Bruyne takes the free kick for the second time before play is soon halted again

Vincic awards a free kick against Belgium and Donnarumma lies prone. He turns onto his side. Then rolls onto his back again. Donnarumma briefly sits up, and then lies back down with his hands covering his face. “I’m not sure how badly injured he is,” Keown adds. “Again, it’s this gamesmanship. We were brought up on this. I remember watching this as a young kid. This is what the Italians will do.”

The medical team are now on the pitch and Donnarumma has removed one of his gloves. Water is poured onto his left hand and some sort of spray used.

By the time the game resumes, the clock is showing 92:40.

More than four minutes have been eaten up since De Bruyne was first fouled and in that time three players have touched the ball: De Bruyne, Berardi and Donnarumma.

The ball is then back in play for 18 whole seconds before another stoppage. Chiellini slices a clearance and Giovanni Di Lorenzo somehow buys a foul after making a clumsy challenge on Jeremy Doku. De Bruyne had his hands in the air appealing for a Belgian free kick before the whistle was blown. “It’s gone Italy’s way,” says the BBC’s commentator Steve Bower, sounding surprised.

After 18 seconds, the game stops again with two more Italians down and frustrated Belgium players up in arms

Just before that free kick is awarded, Jan Vertonghen challenges for the ball with Nicolo Barella. Vertonghen reacts angrily when Barella drops to the floor. Di Lorenzo, meanwhile, is lying on his back with his feet in the air in a rather strange position, holding the referee’s leg with his left hand and patting his own stomach with his right.

Di Lorenzo’s strange position, clutching the referee’s leg

Vertonghen is now involved in an argument with Toloi, Jorginho and Barella, and walks off muttering under his breath. In the centre of the pitch, Doku is telling Di Lorenzo to hurry up. Italy substitute Bryan Cristante offers Di Lorenzo his hand and the full-back eventually gets to his feet.

Belgium’s players and touchline staff look infuriated. In the last five minutes of actual time, the ball has been in play for less than 30 seconds — and that includes the six seconds that passed between De Bruyne taking his first free kick and the referee penalising Berardi for encroaching.

Shortly after play restarts following the foul on Di Lorenzo, the Italian brings down Doku. Then, Andrea Belotti cynically trips Vertonghen deep inside the Belgium half. Although the ball was in play for 51 seconds in between those two fouls, that statistic is a little misleading — Donnarumma held the ball in his hands for exactly a third of that time after comfortably catching De Bruyne’s wayward floated through-ball and dropping to his knees.

Goalkeepers are not allowed to hold onto the ball for “more than six seconds before releasing it”, according to the letter of the law. But is there a more pointless rule in football, bearing in mind how rarely that it is applied? To penalise Donnarumma in that situation would have been ridiculous, given all the other goalkeepers who get away with it every game.

Donnarumma clutches onto the ball for three times the permitted amount of time

Finally, with the match in its 97th minute, Belgium manage to create something by working an overload on the right. That Chiellini is in the right place at the right time to head Thorgan Hazard’s cross behind is no surprise. When Witsel escaped on the same flank in the 89th minute, Leonardo Bonucci came across to block. The two Italian centre-backs were imperious.

The only other time that Belgium got into a threatening position in those final 21 minutes was when Doku, cutting in from the left and gliding past three Italian players, thumped a ferocious shot over the angle of crossbar and post.

That apart, the team at the top of FIFA’s world rankings created next to nothing. Italy’s superb defensive positioning played a part in that — they never conceded any space in the centre of the pitch — as did Belgium’s lack of craft and guile when it mattered. The other aspect, of course, is the 12 minutes when the ball was not in play. Bit tricky for any team to score in those circumstances.

It is hard to know what, if anything, can be done about this kind of thing.

Four years ago, it emerged that football’s rulemaker IFAB was considering introducing two halves of 30 minutes with the clock stopping whenever the ball went out of play.

“Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time — ie, when the ball is in play,” IFAB said in a document. “The strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ‘speed up’ the game.”

Nothing ever materialised and, in truth, there is probably not much appetite for those working in the game to make changes in that way. So, what are the possible solutions?

Looking back at the footage of the Belgium-Italy game, referee Vincic certainly could have done more, whether that was his decision-making around fouls, including the way he dealt with that De Bruyne free kick and left the vanishing spray in his pocket, or the fact he allowed Mancini’s players to waste so much time.

That said, it feels slightly back to front to be putting all the blame on a referee for the way some of the Italian players behaved. Players have to take responsibility for their actions too and, on that note, let’s not be one-eyed about this — this kind of thing has been going on all over the world, in England and beyond, for years. Indeed, so much so that you get the feeling that football would rather turn a blind eye to it.

For supporters, it has probably long reached a stage whereby the default setting when a player goes down after a challenge is to assume they are exaggerating the extent of the contact or, in many cases, feigning injury completely. The problem with that approach is, now and again, somebody is seriously hurt.

Several Belgium players were frustrated that Spinazzola, who was standing only a couple of yards from the touchline when he first pulled up, could not hobble off the pitch, and those protests continued after the medical staff arrived.

In fact, Thibaut Courtois’s sister felt the need to publicly apologise after the game, because she had initially accused Spinazzola of “tricks of the trade” on the Belgium goalkeeper’s Instagram page. It is not easy at times to avoid jumping to the wrong conclusion, especially when there is emotion involved.

For now, all that we can say for sure is that Italy found a way to squeeze the life out of the final stages of an exhilarating game on Friday night and make it feel like a trick of the mind that Belgium had plenty of time to score an equaliser.

Some will call that brilliant game-management on the part of the Italians, others will find all their antics highly amusing. There will be another group of people who call it cheating and say that it ruined a fantastic spectacle.

What nobody can argue with is that it worked and that Italy are a damn good team, too.

 

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2 hours ago, Gotters said:

Athletic study of Italy's shithousery against Belgium the other day - this stuff winds me up way more than the ref blowing up early when the match is clearly over. This is cheating pure and simple and definitely impacts the potential result

 

  Reveal hidden contents

“Brilliant effort from the Italy team,” Gary Lineker said on BBC One shortly after Roberto Mancini’s team beat Belgium to reach the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

“They can be frustrating at the end, rolling around and all those antics,” Lineker continued. “But they know how to see a game out when they’re ahead.”

They certainly do. The clock was just about to tick into the 76th minute when Leonardo Spinazzola signalled to the Italian bench that he was unable to continue with what would later be confirmed as a ruptured achilles tendon.

It was 21 minutes and three seconds later when the Slovakian referee Slavko Vincic blew the final whistle. Five minutes of added time got extended to seven. Belgium, in other words, had plenty of time to score an equaliser — almost a quarter of a game. At least, that is how it appeared. But what if we told you that the ball was only in play for nine of those 21 minutes?

Italy thoroughly deserved their 2-1 win over Belgium and produced some outstanding football earlier in the evening, including a goal of the tournament contender from Lorenzo Insigne. But they also put on a masterclass of a different kind during the final chapter of Friday’s game in Munich: how to close down a football match.

There were lessons in the lost art of defending, both individually and collectively, and some classic tricks of the trade when it comes to running out the clock and disrupting any kind of rhythm in their opponent’s play.

Six of Italy’s 13 fouls in the match were committed from the 80th minute onwards, not to mention a substitution that was somehow shoehorned in-between a free kick that had to be retaken and the fourth official holding the board up to signify how many minutes of added time should be played.

Last and by no means least — and this certainly takes in some of the above — there were examples of what is probably best described as shithousery — and not just any old shithousery; this was shithousery of the highest order.

According to the Collins’ online dictionary, the “approval status” for the word “shithousery” is “pending investigation”. It is unclear how that process works, but the footage of Ciro Immobile rolling around on the floor before Italy scored their first goal, then swiftly hopping to his feet and joining in with the celebrations after realising they had taken the lead, wouldn’t be a bad place for their study to start.

As the reaction in the BBC studio to that Immobile incident showed, some people find that kind of thing a lot funnier than others.

“I don’t even want to laugh at that because that’s pathetic,” said Alan Shearer, one of the BBC pundits.

The way that Italy finished the game divided opinion too, judging by the reaction on social media. Some football supporters felt those final 20 minutes or so took the shine off Italy’s performance. Words such as ‘shameful’ and ‘embarrassing’ were being bandied around on Friday night. ‘Cheating’, too.

Others were not just revelling in the play-acting and blatant time-wasting (shithousery has quite a fan club out there), but expressing a mixture of admiration and respect for it, especially in the context of what was at stake with the game being on a knife-edge and, perhaps more than anything, the realisation that those tactics worked.

If France had done something similar when they were leading 3-1 against Switzerland with nine minutes remaining, they may well be in the semi-finals themselves. Whether they would want to do that or feel that it should be necessary to protect a lead is another point altogether.

Rewatching and breaking down that period after Spinazzola leaves the pitch is fascinating.

There are 22 periods when the ball is dead — free kicks, goal kicks, throw-ins, substitutions etc — and it is remarkable how the seconds, or minutes in some cases, tick by during those moments.

Starting with the hold-up that followed the serious injury to Spinazzola, a chronological log of the time lost (in seconds) during those 22 periods when the ball is not in play reads like this: 195, 18, four, 29, 14, 10, 34, 12, 10, seven, 32, seven, 61, 77, 102, 39, five, 10, five, eight, 15, 26.

Italy, quite simply, never allowed Belgium to build any kind of momentum. In fact, the only thing that built inside the Belgians during that final 20 minutes or so was frustration, and that seemed to exacerbate the problem for Roberto Martinez’s side as the quality of their play deteriorated on the few occasions when they could attack.

Indeed, there was only one period after Spinazzola was carried off when the ball was in play for longer than a minute, and that ended with Domenico Berardi bringing down Kevin De Bruyne about 30 yards from goal. What followed would form another excellent shithousery case study.

The clock shows 88:24 when De Bruyne is fouled. A full minute passes before referee Vincic blows the whistle to signal De Bruyne can take the free kick. Strangely, Vincic had started to mark out 10 yards beforehand but then chose not to continue, giving Berardi some considerable leeway.

De Bruyne wins the initial free kick…

Already close to De Bruyne, Berardi moves towards the Belgian as soon as he starts his run-up and turns his back in an attempt to block the cross. By the time the ball hits Berardi, he is no more than four or five yards from De Bruyne.

After a slight delay, the referee brings play back and shows Berardi, who has a wry smile on his face, a yellow card. The free kick is set up again and Vincic makes his way to the right-hand side of the penalty area and blows his whistle for it to be retaken — but not quite yet though.

…which Berardi blocks illegally

Play is halted again because Italy are now making a substitution, bringing on Rafael Toloi for Federico Chiesa. “This is all good gamesmanship from Mancini,” Martin Keown, the BBC co-commentator, chips in.

In fact, almost two and a half minutes slip by from the moment De Bruyne is fouled to the free kick being retaken. In purely football terms, nothing happens during that period, other than De Bruyne kicking the ball against Berardi’s back.

When the free kick is finally delivered into the penalty area, Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma falls to the ground after challenging for a high ball with his centre-half Giorgio Chiellini and Belgium’s Axel Witsel. Witsel’s arm is high but it is Chiellini’s elbow that makes contact with Donnarumma.

De Bruyne takes the free kick for the second time before play is soon halted again

Vincic awards a free kick against Belgium and Donnarumma lies prone. He turns onto his side. Then rolls onto his back again. Donnarumma briefly sits up, and then lies back down with his hands covering his face. “I’m not sure how badly injured he is,” Keown adds. “Again, it’s this gamesmanship. We were brought up on this. I remember watching this as a young kid. This is what the Italians will do.”

The medical team are now on the pitch and Donnarumma has removed one of his gloves. Water is poured onto his left hand and some sort of spray used.

By the time the game resumes, the clock is showing 92:40.

More than four minutes have been eaten up since De Bruyne was first fouled and in that time three players have touched the ball: De Bruyne, Berardi and Donnarumma.

The ball is then back in play for 18 whole seconds before another stoppage. Chiellini slices a clearance and Giovanni Di Lorenzo somehow buys a foul after making a clumsy challenge on Jeremy Doku. De Bruyne had his hands in the air appealing for a Belgian free kick before the whistle was blown. “It’s gone Italy’s way,” says the BBC’s commentator Steve Bower, sounding surprised.

After 18 seconds, the game stops again with two more Italians down and frustrated Belgium players up in arms

Just before that free kick is awarded, Jan Vertonghen challenges for the ball with Nicolo Barella. Vertonghen reacts angrily when Barella drops to the floor. Di Lorenzo, meanwhile, is lying on his back with his feet in the air in a rather strange position, holding the referee’s leg with his left hand and patting his own stomach with his right.

Di Lorenzo’s strange position, clutching the referee’s leg

Vertonghen is now involved in an argument with Toloi, Jorginho and Barella, and walks off muttering under his breath. In the centre of the pitch, Doku is telling Di Lorenzo to hurry up. Italy substitute Bryan Cristante offers Di Lorenzo his hand and the full-back eventually gets to his feet.

Belgium’s players and touchline staff look infuriated. In the last five minutes of actual time, the ball has been in play for less than 30 seconds — and that includes the six seconds that passed between De Bruyne taking his first free kick and the referee penalising Berardi for encroaching.

Shortly after play restarts following the foul on Di Lorenzo, the Italian brings down Doku. Then, Andrea Belotti cynically trips Vertonghen deep inside the Belgium half. Although the ball was in play for 51 seconds in between those two fouls, that statistic is a little misleading — Donnarumma held the ball in his hands for exactly a third of that time after comfortably catching De Bruyne’s wayward floated through-ball and dropping to his knees.

Goalkeepers are not allowed to hold onto the ball for “more than six seconds before releasing it”, according to the letter of the law. But is there a more pointless rule in football, bearing in mind how rarely that it is applied? To penalise Donnarumma in that situation would have been ridiculous, given all the other goalkeepers who get away with it every game.

Donnarumma clutches onto the ball for three times the permitted amount of time

Finally, with the match in its 97th minute, Belgium manage to create something by working an overload on the right. That Chiellini is in the right place at the right time to head Thorgan Hazard’s cross behind is no surprise. When Witsel escaped on the same flank in the 89th minute, Leonardo Bonucci came across to block. The two Italian centre-backs were imperious.

The only other time that Belgium got into a threatening position in those final 21 minutes was when Doku, cutting in from the left and gliding past three Italian players, thumped a ferocious shot over the angle of crossbar and post.

That apart, the team at the top of FIFA’s world rankings created next to nothing. Italy’s superb defensive positioning played a part in that — they never conceded any space in the centre of the pitch — as did Belgium’s lack of craft and guile when it mattered. The other aspect, of course, is the 12 minutes when the ball was not in play. Bit tricky for any team to score in those circumstances.

It is hard to know what, if anything, can be done about this kind of thing.

Four years ago, it emerged that football’s rulemaker IFAB was considering introducing two halves of 30 minutes with the clock stopping whenever the ball went out of play.

“Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time — ie, when the ball is in play,” IFAB said in a document. “The strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ‘speed up’ the game.”

Nothing ever materialised and, in truth, there is probably not much appetite for those working in the game to make changes in that way. So, what are the possible solutions?

Looking back at the footage of the Belgium-Italy game, referee Vincic certainly could have done more, whether that was his decision-making around fouls, including the way he dealt with that De Bruyne free kick and left the vanishing spray in his pocket, or the fact he allowed Mancini’s players to waste so much time.

That said, it feels slightly back to front to be putting all the blame on a referee for the way some of the Italian players behaved. Players have to take responsibility for their actions too and, on that note, let’s not be one-eyed about this — this kind of thing has been going on all over the world, in England and beyond, for years. Indeed, so much so that you get the feeling that football would rather turn a blind eye to it.

For supporters, it has probably long reached a stage whereby the default setting when a player goes down after a challenge is to assume they are exaggerating the extent of the contact or, in many cases, feigning injury completely. The problem with that approach is, now and again, somebody is seriously hurt.

Several Belgium players were frustrated that Spinazzola, who was standing only a couple of yards from the touchline when he first pulled up, could not hobble off the pitch, and those protests continued after the medical staff arrived.

In fact, Thibaut Courtois’s sister felt the need to publicly apologise after the game, because she had initially accused Spinazzola of “tricks of the trade” on the Belgium goalkeeper’s Instagram page. It is not easy at times to avoid jumping to the wrong conclusion, especially when there is emotion involved.

For now, all that we can say for sure is that Italy found a way to squeeze the life out of the final stages of an exhilarating game on Friday night and make it feel like a trick of the mind that Belgium had plenty of time to score an equaliser.

Some will call that brilliant game-management on the part of the Italians, others will find all their antics highly amusing. There will be another group of people who call it cheating and say that it ruined a fantastic spectacle.

What nobody can argue with is that it worked and that Italy are a damn good team, too.

 

 

Thankfully, it's not an either/or. Both are examples of officials failing to do their jobs right.

 

Tournament Italy have always reverted to this type - I don't think I'm being insensitive in saying that. A few were being fooled by their more-expansive football through the tournament, but niggling shithousery is at the heart of the national side does, when push comes to shove.

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It'll be a very interesting game on Wednesday.

 

If you look back at Denmark's results over the last while, since their back to back defeats to Poland and Montenegro in October 2016, they've only lost five matches to three different teams - Belgium beat them three times, Slovakia beat a team of second tier and futsal players due to a payment dispute, and Finland won earlier in the tournament in the aftermath of Eriksen's collapse.

 

They're a very difficult team to beat. I don't think you can read too much, however, into the two Nations League games last year, played as they were in empty stadiums in a tournament that's practically the international equivalent of the League Cup. In front of 60,000 hopefully instrument-free fans in a major semi-final, it's altogether something else.

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1 hour ago, GamesGamesGames said:

 

Thankfully, it's not an either/or. Both are examples of officials failing to do their jobs right.

 

Tournament Italy have always reverted to this type - I don't think I'm being insensitive in saying that. A few were being fooled by their more-expansive football through the tournament, but niggling shithousery is at the heart of the national side does, when push comes to shove.

 

I don't think it's stereotyping or insensitive to fully expect all the dark arts to be on display from both italy and spain tomorrow, like you say it's engrained in their approach and if either team has a lead to hold onto expect the same stuff from either of them.

 

England have got 'better' at it but not on the same level, we have plenty of players to fall over and draw fouls to break up play - but not on this level.

 

We've had a pretty ideal tournament so far just hope the same level of preparation, sticking to the plan and performance can be executed against the Danes - they are a solid enough team but this really is an opportunity now to get to a final, it's a dream to get a draw like this in the semi and tournament football doesn't come round often, the World Cup was building and a nice surprise, this needs to be a win in the semi.

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I think that you could put a case for any of the final four being decent winners.  It feels like Italy, England, Denmark, Spain in that order.  I mean, you can just imagine Chiellini smiling and sharpening his studs at the prospect of taking on England. OTOH, everyone was worried about the England defence before the tournament and they've kept five clean sheets in a row.

 

If they can stop presenting the opposition strikers with a clear run on goal from the halfway line, that would be nice.

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17 minutes ago, Gotters said:

I don't think it's stereotyping or insensitive to fully expect all the dark arts to be on display from both italy and spain tomorrow,

 

Not at all. It's one thing to assume a football team will play according to expectations (whether well-founded or otherwise), it's another entirely to extrapolate it to an entire nation as was done by a certain person earlier in the thread.

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2 hours ago, GamesGamesGames said:

 

Thankfully, it's not an either/or. Both are examples of officials failing to do their jobs right.

 

Tournament Italy have always reverted to this type - I don't think I'm being insensitive in saying that. A few were being fooled by their more-expansive football through the tournament, but niggling shithousery is at the heart of the national side does, when push comes to shove.

 

Italy's shithousery was the most entertaining part of the Belgium game, and there were some decent goals. 

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2 minutes ago, kensei said:

 

Italy's shithousery was the most entertaining part of the Belgium game, and there were some decent goals. 

 

At the end of the England game where we passed along the back four, for which seemed about two hours, was so Italian.

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