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France, Spain, the draw and the 'ultras'


Albania vs Spain live

We’re already at the final round of games in the group stages, with ‘A’ being the first to finish – France top, Switzerland second, Albania third, and Romania out. Albania will have to await their fate, with only four of the best third placed teams making their way through to the knockout stages. In any case, Albania have achieved a lot just by getting to France, and to actually win a game is an even greater feat. And nobody will forget just how close they came to holding the host and favourites France to a 0-0 draw. For a country that has suffered in the past and continues to suffer today (a large chunk of its population has emigrated all over Europe), yesterday was a very happy day. Football doesn’t give solutions, but it does give happiness to those who follow it.

Spain on track for 'easier' passage

What matters to Spain though is that France finished top. If Spain win their group, they won’t be able to meet the hosts until the final. Joining France on the other side of the draw (again, presuming they win their groups) will be Italy and Germany – a scenario which Spain will be rubbing their hands at. The biggest team potentially standing in the way of La Roja’s route to the final will be England (once more, if they end up as group winners). I’ve enjoyed watching England, hooligans aside. In conclusion then, all Spain need to do is draw with Croatia to guarantee their passage through to the supposed calmer and less crowded waters of the knock-out rounds.

Hooligans take football back to dark ages

Returning to the theme of hooliganism, it’s been an ugly face of this tournament and a most unwelcome surprise. It started with the English alongside the Russians (who were even worse culprits) in Marseille, and there have been others too. The Croatians, for example, resorted to bad behaviour as a way of protesting against their national football association – something which we’ve not seen others do. The Hungarians, too, have been guilty of throwing flares on the pitch – an incredible security oversight that’s been defended by claiming that the flares in question were snuck up people’s backsides. It’s a shame really, as this kind of conduct has made football take a big step back again.