Another hard-core weekend of sporting delight in the Birch household - starting yesterday with England's stunning efforts in the Rugby series against Australia. That, in truth was probably the best entertainment of the day.
Switzerland vs Poland had the look of a group game at best, and was a battle of 2 poor sides, which astoundingly Poland came out on top of. They looked very poor; yet I suppose are now dreaming of "doing a Greece" [winning a major tournament whilst being widely regarded as utter toilet]. And even then it was only really settled by a penalty miss that will see Jason Puncheon quietly smirking to himself.
Wales and Northern Ireland then played out a League One-esque affair with the own goal settling it. Nothing additional to say about that match.
And in the evening game, the most attractive of the three, there was something of a shock as Portugal ousted widely fancied Croatia. Certainly Portugal have the look of a team growing into the tournament. Ronaldo even relinquished a free-kick, letting one of his team mates instead take the set-piece [albeit under clear instructions not to shoot but to swing it in for Ronaldo's head]. They looked quite slick going forward, and more robust at the back than they had. Luca Modric, whilst looking alarmingly similar to Jay from The Inbetweeners failed to get a proper grip on the match and so that is that for Croatia.
Today's games are significantly more attractive. The early game saw Republic of Ireland taking a dramatic lead against France, only to be pegged back and easily overcome in the end. Griezmann doing the damage with two quick strikes ("Griezed lightening" as the headline tomorrow anyone?). It would have been more than just 2-1 if (a) Giroud wasn't just an awful striker, 1 in 5 chances at best and (b) Gignac wasn't just a carbon copy of Giroud in terms of mobility, ability to finish and so forth.
I'm settled now watching Germany coming to life. It is literally as if someone has just reminded them that this is the knockout phase of a major tournament, and suddenly therefore they become formidable.
Later I am fully expecting Hungary to be torn into complete ribbons bye a Belgium team rampant and eying a virtual bye to the final...