Andy is here with part 3 of his Golden Generation challenge. It’s time for the tournament, will the young lions become…men lions? Old Lions? Animals aren’t a strong point for me. You can catch up with part two here. You can also download the players database here
Bonjour and welcome back to “The Golden Generation”. We’ve managed to squeeze past Italy and qualify automatically for France 98, have been given a fairly positive group stage, and have managed some very indifferent friendly results in between then and now. I think, the reality is, the potty training is over, and its time for these bairns to show what they are made of.
Here is the confirmed squad for the finals;
We land in France ahead of the Tournament; as it stands I am worried that the bairns are now of legal drinking age in mainland Europe.
Here is a reminder of the group we need to navigate to try and reach the knockout stages;
We must take on the Nigerians (who if they win are donating their winnings to bring back their stranded astronaut who has been stuck in space since 1990), as per real life – Valderrama’s Colombia and end with a commonwealth derby against the Aussies.
It might be all over already for Ashley, a typical, teenage lads’ injury. Dyer will need to step up for the meantime.
Oh…lets hope these two in juries are unrelated…
So it’s Nigel or David “Flappy-Panic” James for the groups…
First Stop: Felix Bollaert, Nord
The opposition actually boast some fantastic players (Kanu, Ikpeba, Finidi and West to name a few) and we are without our young 16-year-old talisman, Joe Cole who is suspended for the first game.
Here are the line-ups:
Five minutes in, Carrick roles it through for Owen, who rounds Rufai and makes no mistake from six yards. 1-0! Seventeen minutes, a mix up in the box see’s the ball fall to Owen who again makes no mistake. 2-0. Rufai saves a double chance from Owen, Lampard taps it in, but, without the modern day support of VAR, its ruled out for “offside” with a linesman making an independent decision…We reach half-time two goals to the good and looking confident.
Kanu gives us some nerves, picking up on a re-bound from Martyn’s save, 2-1. Another chance in succession from a corner, but Terry is there to clear it. Sixty-six minutes and Owen blasts one past Rufai for his hattrick, 3-1. We make some key subs and see the game out. We should have had a lot more from our 20 shots.
A good start;
Gary Neville stubbed his toe in the celebrations and is now out for a couple of weeks, so we’ll have limited options at wing-back for the foreseeable. Joe Cole is back, he’ll have to settle for the bench after Carrick’s performance.
Next Stop: La Beajoire, Bretagne
“The holy place” otherwise known as Stade la Beajoire. We face off against the Colombians, champions of big hair and moustaches. Thankfully, Merson isn’t anywhere near our squad.
Here are the line-ups:
We make our first impression as Owen forces Higuita into a smart stop after 9 minutes. Terry nods the resulting delivery of Beckhams corner over the bar. It’s a drab and quiet affair, but, 27 minutes and Colombia take the lead; John Harold Lozano receives a lay-off from the big man (Santa) and it’s an absolute gift. 0-1.
41 minutes and Higuita foils Owen again, and history repeats as Terry puts the header at the back post wide. We reach half-time and it’s 0-1; we have it all to do.
Scholes is tired, so Joe Cole makes a return to the team following his suspension.
62 mins and a mix up in the box sees Mendoza tap in an unguarded net. 0-2 and we are fading. A double sub sees us bring on Hargreaves and Fowler. We’re straight up the other end but Higuita continues to be the equal of everything we throw at him. We push all the way, but in the 90th Lampard misses an open goal and Colombia counter quickly, Freddy Leon scores at the death. Full Time, 0-3.
All of a sudden, we have it all to do…
Next Stop: Stade de France, Paris
We face a final showdown with the Aussies, everything at stake, pride and a place in the next round. Here’s how we line-up, with an enforced change. Solid Campbell picked up his second yellow and will miss the killer group game, fortunately, Gary Neville has returned.
We dominate the first 9 minutes, but Carl Veart skins Terry and it’s 0-1. We pick back up and on 31 minutes Lampard feeds in Owen who slots home….whooooooooo have that you cricket shagging egg-chasers!!! Get-in. 39 minutes and Lampard has it in the net but it’s disallowed. No problem, a minute later Owen feeds Lampard and it’s 2-1!!! We make it to half-time alive.
A nervy second half see’s Owen go close twice but Schwarzer is equal to it. The Aussies make some attacking changes, but we hold out and that’s it! We’re into the knockout stages, get that juice on ice!
We even top the group!
Our patchy form continues, and we can’t afford the massive slip-ups we seem to be capable of now the 90 minutes are all that count. Gulp…
This is a massive blow, who will take our corners now? So, we’ve made it to the last 16; from here on in we cannot afford any more rogue performances, everything has to be golden.
That’s all for now, join us again in the last 16 and see if we’re still going for gold or pissing it up the wall.