What a ridiculous day.
Even the most fanciful of script-writers couldn’t have come up with this.
You couldn’t help but laugh at it all.
CROATIA 3-5 SPAIN (After Extra Time).
FRANCE 3 - 3 SWITZERLAND (4-5 on PENALTIES).
What on earth happened? Where had the defences disappeared to? Why did a rather conservative Euros suddenly go all laissez-faire on us?
There was something in the waters on Monday.
It wasn’t our place to question it though – our job was just to be present and to revel in it all.
Firstly, I should express my sympathy for the goalkeepers in both of today’s matches.
Between Unai Simón, Dominik Livaković, Hugo Lloris and Yann Sommer, there was an incredible amount of quality that did not deserve their blatant misfortune.
Simón will be the most adamant of those to express that sentiment; he was the victim of the day’s first goal, an aberration in which he was beaten by a backpass from his teammate Pedri.
The Athletic Bilbao shot-stopper more than atoned for his blushes there, with crucial saves in the second half and in extra time to prevent Croatia from going through.
Livaković, meanwhile, was simply overrun by attacking quality from the Spanish and lethargy from his teammates after a great comeback.
Having inherited their positions from truly great goalkeepers, credit is due to both these men for their stern spirit.
Meanwhile, in Bucharest, we saw two goalkeepers who were simply outclassed by the craziness of the occasion.
Lloris was beaten twice by close-range Haris Seferović headers, and then by a 90th-minute equaliser from Mario Gavranović that defied all laws of probability to take advantage of a chaotic French defence.
Sommer will face no inquests for Paul Pogba’s absolute wondergoal in the second half, while Karim Benzema’s quick-fire double was predatory, feasting on the scraps of Ricardo Rodríguez’s missed penalty.
To be a defender is perhaps no easier, but at least you have company.
None of these sides took advantage of that offer; they were open whenever possible, easy to pass through, ceding space and time to create.
When attacking talent of the calibre of Pogba, Benzema, Kylian Mbappé, Ferran Torres and, *ahem*, Alvaro Morata is present, that proves to be quite foolish.
Even when you do something right in either of these positions, though, there’s always the chance to make a far greater error.
Lloris saved from Rodríguez’s penalty to set up the French treble – which looked like sealing victory – but was powerless to resist the Swiss in an actual shoot-out.
Sommer, meanwhile, was absolutely heroic – by complete fine margins – in extra time and on penalties too.
He crucially denied Olivier Giroud to earn that shoot-out, and when the final of ten obligatory kicks came his way, denied Mbappé not with a fingertip, but with a whole right hand.
The French were out, inconceivably; shattering their image of indestructibility.
Pogba, for one, was shocked. The arrogance which made him look like a champion all game was shattered; he looked lost, without purpose.
That typified the French, and by having their entire psychology checked here, who knows where they will go next.
The Swiss face the Spanish in the Quarter Finals though, and this Euros had a day that broke the entire concept of what we expected.
Boy, oh boy, to be a player in this competition tomorrow.
Performance of the Day: I really can’t pick one today. Honestly. I think Simón was superb after his early setback, Sommer will obviously be the headline-grabber for his single save and, of the great number of forwards to score today, Benzema was top-notch. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba led Spain brilliantly, while Granit Xhaka should also take great credit as a player who is so often criticised at club level.
Up Next: You might’ve already heard about this, but there’s an England v Germany game tomorrow. Wembley, 5pm, so the papers say. Two young teams in search of their full identity, plenty of talent and confusion, plenty of flaws. It will be so interesting to find out what happens.
Sweden v Ukraine follows to decide who takes on the winner from London’s game; it could be an underwhelming second part to the double-bill, but the English won’t care if they get the right result tomorrow.
Sleep well, everyone…
Author - Will Hugall
Now a BA Journalism student at Nottingham Trent University, I divide my time between my base in Radford and back home in East Sussex while watching as much football as I can!