Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thor's Army

Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in St-Etienne is usually known as a hell's entrance disguised as a football ground. When the local team of AS St-Etienne plays there, it is also known as the "green cauldron" or as our german friends would probably call it - the green hell. After events last night, we should ask ourselves whether the blue fairies of Iceland changed this.

Icelands's travelling support turned up in vast numbers, making people wonder whether anyone has stayed at home. Quite unusual for a football team's tournament support, families and children were out in style. It seemed as if an entire huge village community went on holiday together, all proudly wearing their blue shirts. And then they all celebrated their anthem, which unlike the Portuguese counterpart is a never-ending chant just about the beauty of a country and not a blood-filled rousing war cry.

The storyline continued on the green pitch of Geoffroy-Guichard, where the men in blue were initially outplayed, conceded a goal to one of those Portuguese Hollywood actors and to add insult to injury, they were discarded by some TV reporters as a bunch of woodpeckers. Fair enough, their tackling style may be agricultural at times, but then again, some of the much hyped sides from South America tend to play the beautiful game just as beautiful.

Portugal being their usual mercurial self, they went off the boil in the second half and Iceland did not take not to capitalize. Birkir Bjarnason, a born hero (he plays for Basel, that's why!), latched onto a cross and put it past the Portuguese keeper for the equalizing goal. And as hard as Portugal, helped by their Turkish friend in the referee's jersey, tried, they did not manage another goal. It may have been a draw, but it felt as if Thor's cast had just beaten Hollywood to the Oscar.

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