Monday saw the penultimate day of the pool play rounds of the tournament and with everything to play for with all teams pushing for the top two spots in their group which will take them through to the fabled finals, the fans were treated to some huge displays and big performances across the day.
Ireland opened the day up in style, racking up a 17-5 win against Denmark with Switzerland quickly following suit on the opposing pitch with a 15-5 rout against Belgium. Israel kept a clean sheet in a 12-0 win against Slovenia while Scotland continued with their 100% win record with a dominant 16-1 defeat of Austria. England kicked the afternoon games off in blistering fashion, rocketing to a 27-1 mauling of tournament hosts Hungary with Finland also keeping their opposition down to 1 goal with a 21-1 victory against Russia. Despite a brave Spanish rally with La Furia Roja scoring 6 in a row, Sweden had the strength to keep them at bay in a 12-8 win courtesy of 5 goals from Kevin Powers meanwhile the defences reigned supreme in the Poland – Netherlands match with the Dutch scoring in every quarter to seal a 4-2 victory. Slovakia finished the day off in the perfect fashion, beating France by 11-2 to seal their first win of the tournament.
Game of the day was undoubtedly the clash between Latvia and Germany at 16:00 on Field 4 in a game which could have massive implications on the final standings. With both Germany and Latvia having fallen to the English sword already in the group play, this was a game which neither side could afford to lose if they want to progress to the finals. With Latvia having impressed throughout the tournament and only narrowly losing to the hot tournament favourites England who demolished the German challenge, they went into this tie as arguably the favourites to make second place in the group and book themselves into the quarter finals spot against the winners of Group C. However, if the European Championships have taught us anything over the years, it is that you can never write off Germany and they set out to prove they were still very much a major player in this competition, scoring twice within the first 5 minutes to open up a lead against their opponents before Latvia reduced the deficit to 2-1 at first quarter time. The second quarter started slowly but it was again the Germans who struck first with a Wolfgang Grießl brace to take a 4-1 lead into half-time. The second half continued in the same vein of German dominance with Jannik Fooken increasing the lead to 4 before Mason Gorman responded for Team Latvia. Grießl then bagged himself his hat-trick goal to reinstate the 4-goal cushion before Phillip Broz added another to the tally to take a 7-2 lead going into the final 20 minutes. Latvia struck first after the break with Ilajs Lasda scoring his second of the day but Marc Brandenberger closed out the scoring (after opening the day’s scoresheet also) to finish off a well-deserved victory and throw the pool play wide open.
Going into Tuesday we see the final day of the Pool Play where the results will impact upon each team’s group standing (and therefore who they will face in the finals and placement games). Switzerland will be looking to continue with their fine form with a win against Spain to see them into the top two of Pool C and England will be hoping to continue with a confidence-boosting victory against Italy to maintain their perfect record going into the quarter-finals. Sweden face a must-win contest against undefeated Israel which will be one to keep an eye out for while Germany will be hoping to see their way past Czech Republic to secure their second-place in Pool A. Poland face Slovakia in a game which promises to be a close one and Ireland will be hoping they can see out a tough challenge from Norway in a group where Wales will be hoping to end fellow home nation Scotland’s undefeated run. With 4 teams in the mix for a top 2 position, these group games will be amongst the most hard-fought in the pool play. Netherlands will play Finland in a game where both teams are protecting a 100% win record – certainly one for the fans to enjoy while France will face-off against Russia in their bid to register their first win of the competition, as will Slovenia who face Belgium in the final game of the day to close out the pool play sessions.
With literally everything to play for, Tuesday will be a treat for all of the fans and it will be a day of equal parts joy and heartbreak as the final pool standings are established and the quarter-finalists are booked in. Check back tomorrow to see if the below predictions are anyway near to being correct!
Switzerland 14 – 6 Spain
England 23 – 2 Italy
Sweden 7 – 12 Israel
Germany 14 – 6 Czech Republic
Slovakia 5 – 7 Poland
Norway 9 – 10 Ireland
Scotland 9 – 7 Wales
Netherlands 9 – 13 Finland
Russia 9 – 6 France
Slovenia 8 – 7 Belgium