Sean O'Conor

Surviving a dry summer

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Summers in these off-years are hard to get through for football fans like me.

By off-years I mean those ending in odd numbers which have neither the World Cup nor European Championships to get excited about.

July is the dryest of dry seasons in years like this, with the daily mash of transfer gossip a poor substitute for the meat of real football news.

Yesterday in brief

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  • Serbia's highly-strung Euro 2016 clash with Albania lasted 41 minutes after an Albanian drone (!) flying the nation's flag entered the stadium. Serbian defender Stefan Markovic grabbed the flag precipitating a brawl involving players and supporters. The two nations remain in dispute over Kosovo, a historically Serbian territory now populated by people of largely Albanian origin.

Where are they now?

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What happened to the stars of Euro 2009?

Two years ago at the UEFA U-21 Championship in Sweden, I made a list of the players to watch out for in the future - those young guns who looked set to make the next step to the big time.

Spain are the U21 kings of Europe

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UEFA U21 Championship Final, Aarhus, Denmark

Spain 2:0 Switzerland
Herrera 41', Thiago 81'
Att: 16,110

Spanish football wrote another chapter in its golden age as its Under-21s b
agged the European Championship in Denmark this evening with a convincing 2:0 win over Switzerland.

FIFA should move to Denmark

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Shakespeare was wrong:
There is nothing rotten in the state of Denmark.

At least that is my impression from traveling around the country at the UEFA U21 Championship these past two weeks.

Half-way between Germany and Sweden both geographically and culturally, close enough to London and the continent, yet far enough away to dance to its own Viking beat, this seems as close as it gets to a model country.

Spanish and Swiss advance to U21 final

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UEFA U21 Championship 2011 Semi-Finals

Belarus 1:3 Spain
Czech Republic 0:1 Switzerland

Spain will play Switzerland in the European Under-21 final on Saturday after both semi-finals went to extra-time in Denmark.

Belarus almost pulled off a shock by leading Spain in Viborg until the 89th minute through Andrei Voronkov's bicycle kick, until Adrian Lopez equalised then added a second at the end of the first period of extra-time.

UEFA U21 Championship 2011: England v Czech Republic team news

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Stuart Pearce has rung the changes for England U21's do-or-die clash with the Czech Republic here in Viborg.

The much-criticised Michael Mancienne makes way at defensive midfield for the more muscular Fabrice Muamba, while Jack Rodwell and Danny Rose, who both disappointed against Ukraine, are on the bench, replaced by Tom Cleverley and Scott Sinclair in a 4-2-4 formation with Danny Welbeck and Sturridge the twin points of attack.

How Kierkegaard could help Psycho tonight

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UEFA U21 Championship Group B:
England v Czech Republic
2045 Viborg

"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards'"
- Soren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855

No one wore his heart on his sleeve qu
ite like he did as a player.

Danish dream frozen out by Iceland

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UEFA U21 Championship - Denmark 1:3 Iceland

"No jocund health that Denmark drinks today" - Hamlet I.ii

'The History of Danish Dreams' was the 1988
novel which launched Copenhagen's Peter Høeg onto the world's literary stage, but tonight in Aalborg dreams of making history became nightmares as Denmark's U21 team was eliminated as host nation after a demoralising 3-1 defeat to Iceland.

UEFA U21 - Great Danes spread a little happiness

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The 2-1 comeback win for Denmark against Belarus in Aarhus underlined the importance of the host nation progressing in a tournament.

While it might be too big a leap of faith to credit Danish Football Association chief Allan Hansen's claim that the UEFA U21 tournament "has caught the imagination of the Danish public," - too many of them were enjoying the Pentecost weekend holiday to watch their Under-21s lose to Switzerland - the Denmark v Belarus clash was an 18,000 sell-out, double the crowd of any other game so far.

UEFA U21 England 0:0 Ukraine HT

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Honours even at the break here in Herning with both teams hungry for a win following disappointing opening games. A fast-paced opening duly arrived and it was the yellow jerseys of the Ukraine, backed by a noisy support drawn from the ranks of Jutland's expat agricultural workers, who bared their teeth first.

UEFA U21 Championship 2011: England v Ukraine

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Group B - England v Ukraine 20:45 MCH Arena, Herning, Denmark

Both teams enter tonight's clash in Herning in need of points.

Ukraine lost their opening clash 2-1 to the Czech Republic, while England scraped a 1-1 draw with Spain with Danny Welbeck's late leveller.

England coach Stuart Pearce insisted his side had been more skilful in training than they were against Spain, but must have been worried by the lack of guile in midfield.

Danish save their bacon

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UEFA U21 Championship
Denmark 2:1 Belarus
Switzerland 2:0 Iceland

Nicolai Jørgensen kept the host nation in the competition tonight with a 71st minute winner after Christian Eriksen's penalty had equalised Dmiti Baga's opener for Belarus.

A sell-out crowd in Aarhus revelled in the Bayer Leverkusen winger's moment of magic which leaves the Danes in joint second in Group A with one game to play.

Tackling a cultural deficit

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UEFA European U21 Championship -
English shortcomings come to the fore again

The England v Spain U21 clash had been billed as the match of the tournament.

The two largest football nations on show had also j
ust met in club form in the Champions League final.

UEFA U21 Championship 2011: England v Spain

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Herning, Denmark, 20:45 CET

Starting Lineups:

ENGLAND (4-2-3-1) - Frank Fielding, Michael Mancienne, Ryan Bertrand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Kyle Walker, Thomas Cleverley, Danny Rose

SPAIN (4-1-2-2-1) - David de Gea, Alvaro Dominguez, Javi Martinez, Jeffren, Adrian, Juan Mata, Martin Montoya, Didac Vila Rosello, Ander Herrera, Thiago Alcantara, Alberto Botia


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Ukraine U21 vs England U21 Highlights 2011 Video

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Ukraine U21 vs England U21 Final score:- Ukraine vs England U21 0-0 European U-21 Championship, 15th June, 2011 England draw for the second game running at the UEFA U21 Football Championship as they draw 0-0 with Ukraine. The best chance of the game went to Danny Welbeck, who had scored the equaliser for England against [.

Spain U21 vs England U21 Highlights 2011 1-1 Euro Video

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Spain U21 vs England U21 Final score:- Spain U21 v England U21 1-1 ( A.Herrera/ D.Welbeck) 2011 Euro U-21 Football Championship @ Denmark- Group B 12/6/2011- Herning Stadium Danny Welbeck's late equaliser gives England U21 a draw against Spain U21 in the 2011 UEFA U21 European Championship after Ander Herrera's controversial opener had put the [.

The Rest

Ireland U21 squad named for crucial Turkey qualifier

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Ireland Under-21 manager Noel King today announced his squad for the crucial UEFA U21 Championships Group Seven qualifying round match against Turkey.

The Irish will host the Turks in Sligo on August 14th.

King has a number of players available to him that were unable to feature in the 2-2 draw with Italy in June while several of the squad moved to new clubs in the close season.

A Quintuple-header of Matches Today: Euro U21 & Gold Cup Semis, Copa Libertadores Final

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Anyone up for watching five matches today?

We're nearing the end of the lull between the end of the European club season and the start of the major international tourney of this summer (Copa America, which starts a week from Friday) but the three remaining competitions we've been tracking converge today, yielding up five matches to watch: the semifinal matches in both the UEFA U21 European Champions and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the 2nd leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Santos and Peñarol.