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Road to Euro 2016 - Story of the Blueshirts.


Eton Blue at the Chelsea Megastore

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I have covered one football match in a thread here before, a world cup qualifying match between Estonia and Netherlands that Estonia nearly won if it wasn't for a last minute penalty by Van Persie.

 

It came out quite well, and with the Euro qualifying stage about to begin.. I decided to put my journalism skills to the ultimate test and bring to you the road to Euro 2016 for my home country - Estonia.

 

Coming off the Annus Mirabilis of Estonian Football in our last Euro qualifying campaign, which took us all they way to the play-offs in which we were drawn against Ireland only to have all chances taken away by one of the most blasphemous refereeing performances I have witnessed. Going into this qualifying stage with probably the best national side since our reindependence in 1991.

 

With players such as a MLS veteran in Joel Lindpere, a cornerstone central-defender for Bundesliga side Augsburg in Ragnar Klavan, the golden boy of the generation in Konstantin Vassiljev who is capable of the most incredible, and the best young talent we have seen in 17-year old Frank Liivak who is currently playing for Napoli.

 

Estonia has never qualified for the Euros nor the World Cup, with it's only international tournament being the 1924 Olympic Games. And with the 2016 Euros being the first tournament to sport 24 teams instead of 16, the chances to make our first ever international tournament are quite high.

 

Estonia play in a qualifying group alongside San Marino, Lithuania, Slovenia, Switzerland and England. With the first match taking place a bit more than week from now on September 8th in Tallinn.

 

I look to bring to you the road to Euro 2016 all the way till the end of the qualifying tournament, and hopefully during the tournament itself.

Edited by Soulo
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  • 2 weeks later...


Today was the start of the qualifying tournament to Euro 2016, and with the world cup out of the way it feels good to bask into a qualifying series in which my own team has a chance to prove itself.

 

We faced Sweden on Wednesday in Stockholm in our final test before tonight's game, where we fell victim to a majestic performance by non other then Zlatan Ibrahimovic who scored both goals in a 0-2 defeat, goals which raised him to be Sweden's all-time top scorer. In that game we showed surprisingly energetic offense and created numerous chances but felt just short on converting them, sometimes simply down to bad luck, but our defensive performance was much more worrying as at times it seemed the Swedish offensive players had nobody marking them at all.

 

Tonight we faced Slovenia at home at the A.Le.Coq Arena and sported the exact same starting XI as we did 4 days earlier in Stockholm, the first official test for new manager Magnus Pehrsson, who took the reigns in December 2013.

 

We started the game off with a rather scary sight as our defender who was clearing the ball nearly scored on for the other side, but afterwards were able to recouperate. Possession was equally balanced during the first half with ourselves trying to play at a slow tempo starting every offensive set off with short passes on our own side of the pitch, meanwhile whilst Slovenia had the possession they tried moving forward quickly, playing with 1-2 passes and looking to cross in from the sides. Despite an energetic game overall, there were not many shots that ended up on target, but loads that went right by the post.

 

The biggest worry form the first half were unfortunate losses of possession which on most turns ended up with a Slovenian running towards the goal with most of the defensive line behind him, only to force our Captain and central-defender Klavan to put in a last ditch-tackle to save ourselves from a 1on1 shot on goal.

 

The half ended 0-0 on nearly equally shared possession.

 

The second half we ironed out the errors, but as far as chances went it stayed pretty much the same. In the 78th minute our pivotal midfield star Lindpere got off to a run on goal when a Slovenian who had earned a yellow card for a brutal tackle earlier held onto his shirt and earned his marching orders. With 12 minutes + added time to go, we amped up the pressure and clearly fed off the the energy which came with the Slovenian sending off. In the 85th minute Ats Purje - a player who had been left out of the national side in the latter stage of our last head coaches tenure, and was not favoured by our new one, and had finally proved himself and earned a call-up to the national side was introduced to the game, it took him less then 2 minutes to score past a bewildered Samir Handanovic after a numerous shots beforehand. 1-0!

 

We held on until the end and didn't allow the Slovenian's to get back into the game.

 

A CRUCIAL victory to start off our qualifying campaign on the right foot. In a group in which England and Switzerland are the favourites to take the top 2 spots, Slovenia are THE team that will rival us for that 3rd spot that will grant play-offs, and to start off with 3 points against them at home is absolutely fantastic.

 

Onwards and upwards, I hope this is the start to a qualifying campaign that will see us going to our first ever Euro's!

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  • 1 month later...

2 days and a long friday night later.. I'm ready to accept the utter disappointment that took place thursday night in Vilnius..

 

Besides San Marino on paper the easiest game, albeit away, coming off that victory against Slovenia, the hopes were high. We had pretty much a full side only still missing our midfield maestro Vassiljev who was on the bench due to injury problems.

 

Similarly to the Slovenia game the opponents got an early one-on-one chance but screwed it up. For the rest of the first half it was a pretty much back-and-forth sparring match with not many clear cut chances on either side, though Lithuania getting the better of shots on target.

 

0-0 at half-time.

 

2nd half we were clearly more motivated and went after it, not clear domination but had the better of possession and were the better team, then around the 78th minute, a long shot from outside the box which our keeper Pareiko parried, TWO defenders were too lazy to bother to kick away the ball that went rogue in the box and finally a Lithuanian player whipped in a cross which was headed in by another.

 

f**king bollocks, did they deserve to score that goal? Probably not. Did we deserve to concede that goal? Probably yes. But that's football, right?

 

Then right after Vassiljev was brought on and oh my oh my, the game livened up right away, his very first touch of the ball was a phenomenal through pass between two lithuanian defenders to set our striker one-on-one with but he couldn't capitalize.

 

Then Purje - the match-winner against Slovenia came on, around the 85th minute, he overplayed 4 Lithuanian players in one touch to set himself one-on-one and then hit the ball more wide than Torres ever could.. similar situation a minute later.

 

Then one of the must blasphemous red cards I've witnessed, our full-back Kallaste was battling for the ball against a Lithuanian winger, there was no tackle, a bit of back-and-forth pushing, and then out of nothing the ref whistles and shows him a red.

 

Surely enough the game ended 1-0 to the home side.

 

Oh well.. onwards and upwards - Tomorrow it's England in Tallinn - a game to which I have tickets to so can't wait. Hope we'll be motivated and put up a good fight.

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Just got back from Tallinn -

 

3rd game of the qualifying campaign and one of the most difficult. Arrived at the stadium about 2 hours earlier and the atmosphere was fantastic, about 2000 english fans at the arena aswell which surprised me, full-house ofcourse, a little over 10 000 supporters, had great seats right beneath the Football Hospital which in english jargon means Ultras.

 

Had a good chance very early on which was sent sky high and after that as expected fell under pressure from England, for most of the half we kept chasing them and didn't get many touches of the ball, even if we did get an interception a long and inaccurate ball was hit upfield in hopes that someone could get it. But, it's England so I guess it's kind of expected.

 

Rooney had some great chances in the first half and messed them all up haha he was total sh*te, at least that was good in the first half from my point of view. Despite not creating many offensive chances we were solid in defense.

 

Going into the second half we were more active and agressive and created much more offensive chances for ourselves, English offense kept on finding that last pass, which never seemed to come.

 

Then about 60th minute or so it might've been, I lose all sense of timing when I'm at the game, our captain and centre-back picked up a 2nd yellow and received his marching orders, the foul was committed so can't really say whether it was deserved or not, but he did block the man with the ball so perhaps it was.

 

Despite this the game didn't change much, didn't look like Roy trusted his offense much as he brought on Chamberlain and Sterling in for Henderson and Delph in quick succession. The first of which, now officially a complete c**t, fell over after a slight breeze of Estonian autumn wind touched his tiny head and the ref awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the box. This compiled with the sending-off earlier, made for some great chants upon ourselves in the ultras section, some of more family-friendy ones were 'The ref is c**t, oooh the ref is a c**t, the ref is a c**t'

 

Rooney converted the free-kick in the 74th minute and the game went the old way until the final whistle.

 

0-1, I'm sure if we had won or at least salvaged a point from Vilnius on thursday I'd be quite satisfied with this result as we did play very well in defense, adding that disappointment to tonight's game, I'm feeling a bit down because we're now 1-0-2 in the qualifying tournament.

 

But I like to focus on the positives, because we played as equal opposition to England, and the decider being a set piece, I'm quite certain we'd have salvaged a draw had our captain not been sent off, but that's football and you have to live and learn. We have England out of the way now and it's easier from here on with San Marino being our next opponent I believe.

 

Onwards and upwards!

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  • 1 month later...

I did not catch the game myself, thus the shorter than usual game report, but our main issue this campaign has been a lack of goalscoring threat. We have performed well on the defensive end proved by our performances against Slovenia and England, but the fact we sometimes can't even make a shot on goal in a half is the reason we have lost must-win games such as the 0-1 away loss to Lithuania and the most recent goalless draw against San Marino, the very first points in San Marino's qualifying history may I add, not a stat I'd be proud to be a part of.

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