Northern Ireland will warm up for their Ero 2020 qualifier against Germany with a friendly against Luxembourg in Belfast four days earlier. Michael O’Neill’s side will play Luxembourg at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Thursday 5 September 2019 before facing Germany on Monday 9th in what will be their fifth qualifying game of the campaign. In the past Luxembourg were seen as an easy touch, however they have improved considerably under current boss Luc Holtz, especially in the defensive third.They famously held eventual World Cup winners France to a 0-0 draw in Toulouse in September 2017; it was the first time France had failed to defeat them since 1914. And a couple of months later they had a fine win over Hungary in a friendly.The night after the Northern Ireland v Luxembourg game in Belfast the big two of Group C, Germany and Netherlands, will be squaring up to each other in Germany.Northern Ireland’s last three games in the group will see them … [Read more...] about Northern Ireland face Luxembourg before Germany clash
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England will meet the Netherlands for a place in the inaugural Nations League final with hosts Portugal facing Switzerland in the other semi-final after Monday's draw in Dublin. Portugal and Switzerland will meet in Porto on June 5 with England and the Netherlands clashing in Guimaraes on June 6. The third-place playoff and final will take place on June 9, with the latter game being staged in Porto. All four sides qualified for UEFA's new competition -- designed to replace meaningless friendly matches with competitive internationals -- by winning their three-team groups in the top tier of the Nations League. England came from behind to late on to beat Croatia 2-1 at Wembley last month and leap from bottom of a group also including Spain to the top. The Netherlands also needed a late show to edge out world champions France by scoring twice in the final five minutes in a 2-2 draw away to Germany. However, Switzerland arguably produced the most stunning comeback in overturning a 2-0 … [Read more...] about England to face Netherlands, Portugal v Switzerland in Nations League semis
Sometimes, as a football fan, we can easily get wrapped up in the emotion and culture of ‘our’ team whilst ignoring the good in others. Passions run high and ideas are formed based on the colours of our shirt, or the motives and history of our tribe. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it is what makes football so great. After all, what is football without supporters, the one thing that matters most, but who are neglected and treated the worst? As a sports writer, the opportunity to watch games purely as a neutral are few and far between. Even a journalist with no attachment to a particular club can become entrenched in the story of the club they report on, wanting them to fare well, and so, a soft spot can easily develop if you cover them for any period of time. Last week, I had the fortune of being a neutral (or so I thought) as I headed to France. I treated my boat-obsessed six-year-old son to a trip to a cross-Channel ferry and took the opportunity of an … [Read more...] about Could football learn from France or are fan concerns the same?
Prior to the performance of Henry V at Durham Cathedral on Tuesday, the audience was reminded that the impressive Norman structure pre-dates the events depicted in Shakespeare’s famous play by some 300 years. It gave brief pause for thought at the start of an evening that provided much to ponder. Durham is the latest stop on the Cathedral tour of the play by the travelling company Antic Disposition, and what a setting it proved. Performed in the nave, the audience flanked the actors and were within touching distance of them. The play’s famous lines echoed hauntingly around the centuries-old stone work and thanks to its natural acoustics, the volume level of the pre-Agincourt speech by Henry V (played by Nathan Hamilton) was turned up to 11. The movement of the actors cast ghostly shadows on the ancient stone; it was all very atmospheric. It wasn’t the standard production, more a play within a play with a very effective First World War twist. The version, conceived … [Read more...] about Why powerful performance of Henry V at Durham Cathedral evokes WW1 memories
The Republic of Ireland welcome Denmark to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday evening determined to gain revenge for their World Cup heartache. Eleven months ago, the Danes made the same journey knowing Ireland held the upper hand in the the race to Russia after a 0-0 play-off, first leg draw in Copenhagen, but left with a thumping 5-1 victory and a ticket to this summer's finals firmly in their grasp. Here, we take a look at the Republic's Nations League rivals.... Form Denmark made it to the second round at the World Cup finals courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Peru and draws with Australia and eventual winners France in the group stage. However, their involvement thereafter was short-lived as Croatia, who would also go on to make the final, beat them 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Nizhny Novgorod. A dispute over commercial rights saw the Danes field a team comprising largely of third division and futsal players in a 3-0 friendly defeat by Slovakia last month, but the big … [Read more...] about Soccer: Republic of Ireland v Denmark: The Danes in focus