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Eine Kleine Dantmusik - Euro 2024 Day 6 20/6/24

There are always a few downsides to being away from home for an extended period. Mostly missing your partner in my case. But even though my social media is full of election posts and threads, I’m kind of glad that I’m not being bombarded with it like I would be back in Blighty. I should be back in time to vote though. That will be enough involvement for me.

Public transport is free to use for those with Euro 2024 media accreditation, and so, having deduced that an Uber would take nearly an hour to collect us from our hotel, me Darren and Izzy elected to take the tram which stopped right outside our place and would necessitate just one quick change of line en route to get us right to the Stuttgart Arena for Germany v Hungary.

Seemed simple enough, but when we got to our station to change lines, engineering works scuppered our cunning plan. A chat with a (friendly) gun-toting policeman nearby revealed that the ground was a simple 20 minute walk from where we were. Frankly, I needed to walk the buffet breakfast off and we were all in agreement to use foot power. And sure enough, the stadium soon loomed into view ahead of us, meaning we got into the media hub only 5 minutes or so later than anticipated had we just used trams instead.

I posted a picture here a couple of days ago of the rucksack we’ve all been given as UEFA swag when we first got here. There are now so many of us sporting these burgundy and green backpacks in the media centre, it’s now got the feel of the movie “What’s Up Doc?” on steroids. You’ve never seen that film? It’s a genius screwball farcical comedy from 1972 with a tour de force performance by Barbera Streisand - it’s a film where 5 different folk in a San Francisco hotel have the same carry case but each case contains VERY different things! Cue hilarity…

I think most folk here in Germany with these backpacks are keeping mostly the same things as me; notes, pens, more pens, a few more pens and…oh, go on then, a ruler. Maybe just another pen for good measure then…

More friendly UK broadcasting folk were there who I’ve not seen out here before today. Vicki Sparkes and Steve Wilson were there on BBC radio and TV duty respectively and it’s always lovely to see both those guys. Also, it only seems like I bump into the legendary writer and broadcaster Gab Marcotti at major tournaments.

Gab is such a great guy and incredibly knowledgeable and opinionated about the game we all love. I used to do evening shows with him on talkSPORT and quickly worked out that I would need to prep our discussion topics even harder than usual as Gab would invariably know 10 times more than me and would challenge my knowledge regularly- it was an utter education to work with him. He probably knows 10 times more than me about Blues for Gawd sake! He’d probably deny that, but that man sharpened up my debating skills more than he realises. Check out his podcasts with Julien Laurens-very enlightening indeed.

Before taking our trip up to the commentary box we sat and watched Croatia’s midfield creak its way to what seemed like a vital comeback 2-1 win after deservedly being a goal down, before Albania sparked wild scenes by equalising with almost the last action of the game. That midfield axis of Modric/Kovacic/Brozovic might have been deployed one tournament too many, but they’re still in the hunt to qualify, albeit needing to beat the Italians next to stand a chance of staying on.

Based on what we subsequently saw in Stuttgart, Hungary looked like they have blown their chances of qualifying by producing another flip-flop performance against the hosts. The clues were frankly there when they came out 2 hours before kick off to survey the pitch wearing matching outfits that were some unholy cross between a village cricket team and the Cream suits the Liverpool “Spice Boys” wore at Wembley ahead of the cup against Cantona and Man Utd…and that turned out well that day for the Red Men, didn’t it??? LOL

Whereas against the Swiss the Hungarians were poor first half and improved in the second, Szoboszlai and co. looked much better from the get go against Germany, only to find Manuel Neuer in inspired goalkeeping form and then suffering from one lax bit of defending to allow
Musiala to muscle in and fire Die Mannschaft in front. Neuer had little to do after the restart - although Vargas had a belting chance to head in an equaliser which he fluffed - and once Gundogan had drilled in a second it was game over. And now Hungary must beat Scotland and then see what happens elsewhere…and based on that performance and Scotland’s terrific point earned later on against Switzerland, the Tartan Army shouldn’t give up the ghost just yet.

Benty really is settling in nicely to co-commentary work. In my experience, you don’t even need to look at the ex-pro alongside you to know at times that they have spotted something they want to impart to the listener. In this case, Darren seemed agitated by something and I threw to him as soon as I could - he’d spotted Rudiger’s decision to let his midfielder Andrich try and win headers against Vargas rather than him, meaning Rudiger was better placed to clean up 2nd balls and stuff without anyone running in behind for Hungary. That sort of thing isn’t always readily apparent to me when I’m commentating kick by kick, so that sort of insight is invaluable and really paints a picture for the listener.

Which is what we’re here for. Anyway, on to Berlin!!

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