WHAT A DAY!
The 2016 European Championships opened with a bang today – unfortunately for the players the bang came from the thunder and lightning brought into town in the form of a huge storm which massively affected the opening day’s battles across the board. Thankfully, the organisers were on hand working hard to get the tournament back on track and after shifting the games around and switching pitches, all of the games were played and as expected, there was some HUGE results from all corners of Europe.
Starting with our predicted game of the day, England set about sending a message to the rest of the competition that they were here and that they meant business and despite taking their foot of the gas in the second half, racked up a statement result with a 16-6 drubbing of old rivals and tournament challengers Germany. This was a timely reminder of just how strong England are in the European lacrosse scene and serves as a reminder to all of the talent and ability they possess. Whilst England will take absolutely nothing for granted in this tournament, they will take confidence and rhythm into tomorrow’s clash against the up and coming Latvian team.
Elsewhere, Netherlands went a goal down to France before responding with an incredible 21 goal streak to emerge as huge 21-1 winners, only outdone in the scoring stakes by Norway who dispatched the Danish Vikings by a unbelievable 24-2 scoreline. Latvia, as expected, showed themselves in strong fashion against the Czech Republic, winning 11-6 and Sweden made light work of Belgium, winning by a comfortable 14-4. margin. Wales also started their tournament with a bang with Austria being on the receiving end of a 16-3 hammering and Hungary had the strength and guile to see off a plucky Italian challenge 11-8. Finland came flying out of the blocks with a 19-2 win over Slovakia and Israel made swift passage against the Swiss, winning by 9 goals to just 2 responses.
The thriller of the day though has to go to the Battle of The Celts where Scotland saw off Ireland 10-8 in a game whose scoreline continually see-sawed and one which either side could easily have emerged as victors. Ireland started the brighter of the teams and opened up a 2-0 lead before the Scots bagged 3 on the bounce to take the score to 3-2 in Scottish favour at 1st quarter time. Ireland then rallied to score the next 3 to take them into the second half with a 5-3 lead. Scotland then reduced the deficit on a man down and equalised to take the game into the final quarter with the score tied at 5-5. After the break it was again Scotland who drew first blood but Ireland pegged them back before the Scots could again nudge themselves in front with two on the trot to re-establish their 2-goal cushion. Ireland were not giving up that easily though and for the third time in the game, brought the scored even with a matter of minutes remaining on the clock. With everything to play for, the remaining few minutes were a war of attrition which pushed the combatants both physically and mentally before Scotland managed to score an unanswered brace of goals to see the game of as 10-8 champions. Congratulations to Scotland and commiserations to Ireland – this was a game which showcased the calibre and competitive nature of both of these sides.
In terms of our predictions, we give ourselves a B+ for correctly calling every result apart from the Scotland – Ireland game although it’s fair to say if we were being judged on our score predictions, we may have failed this particular class! Surprises for us were the ruthless nature of the Netherlands, Norwegian and Finnish teams and how relatively close the Israel-Switzerland game was. A case of Israel easing themselves into the tournament or have we underestimated the strength of the Swiss?
Friday again sees a jam-packed schedule with a number of games catching the eye for those streaming the games online. With both Wales and Norway flying out of the blocks and riding high on confidence after huge opening results, their meeting could prove to be a fascinating encounter which should promise some fine goals throughout. Germany will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to England by exerting their prowess onto a physical and solid Hungary team who will be no walkover for anyone at this tournament and Russia and Poland make their entrances into the tournament against the big scorers from day one in games against Netherlands and Finland respectively.
England will be looking to carry their fine opening day form into their game against the highly-hyped Latvia team who will see this as a golden opportunity to stake their claim for glory and Ireland will be hoping they can turn their battling spirit and endeavours into a winning performance against Austria.
Our predictions for tomorrow are as follows:-
Wales 10 – 13 Norway
Italy 7 -9 Czech Republic
Poland 4 – 14 Finland
Slovenia 5 – 13 Sweden
Ireland 14 – 5 Austria
Germany 12 – 6 Hungary
Russia 3 – 17 Netherlands
Latvia 7 – 12 England
Israel 15 – 4 Spain
Denmark 3 – 14 Scotland
We’ve gone big on a few teams here so feel free to tell us you think we’re crazy!
On a side note – our sympathies go out to the Spanish guys who have unfortunately been at the wrong end of a colossal mess-up with Iberia Airways who have lost one of the team kitbags holding their poles. Having worked this hard to come this far to represent your country only to have to borrow other players kit to see you through the tournament, this would affect anyone and any team and as a lacrosse community, I’m sure we all stand behind them in hoping they get a swift response to a mistake made by a third (professional) party. Vamos España!!!
Stay tuned to see how our predictions fare tomorrow and keep an eye out for interviews with a number of player currently out there repping their nations in Budapest.