After the celebration / commiseration beers down at the beach with Caledonia, we headed to a couple of pubs before retiring for a relatively early night in preparation for the knock-out tournament the following day, starting with last year’s runner-up Munich.
Quarter Final vs Munich
Having qualified for the European Championship, Scotland were rewarded with a later kick-off, meaning we were able to watch Caledonia play their opening game against Reading, arguably the strongest team not in the top tournament. They played well, much better than they had in the group stages, and progressed to the semi-final of the Europa Vase!
For our own game, we set up positively against a Munich side that by now we were fairly well-accustomed to playing against. However, the bigger pitch favoured the pacey Germans, so our defence had a lot of work to do. We kept our shape well though, and reduced Munich to nothing but a few long distance shots in the first half. We went in at half-time goalless, but playing well and confident we could get a result from the game. We created a few half-chances in the second half in what was a pretty even game, until about two minutes from time when a miscommunication between our defence and goalkeeper led to a lucky richochet off the German striker, agonisingly trickling over the line. One-nil down, we barely had time to carve out another chance before the final whistle blew. Quite a disheartening way to go out, particularly given how strong we played as a unit. A hard defeat to pick our heads up from.
Scotland 0 - 1 Munich
Munich progress to the semi-final
Lower Semi Final vs France
Having fallen to Munich in a reverse scoreline of last year’s final, we headed over to watch our Caledonia counterparts in their semi-final against the Netherlands. Again, they were probably the underdogs, but played incredibly well against the Dutch side and saw themselves through to the final!
Back in the Championship, our loss against Munich set us up against another seeded team, France, after their quarter-final loss to the Scottish Government. We were reduced down to just two substitutes, and there was an air of dejection as we set up our formation, looking to get back into our winning ways. The French side had a lot of pace and technical ability in their wingers and strikers, and we were almost immediately under a lot of pressure. The French scored an early opener, managing to push a through ball into the path of their right winger at the back post who tucked it away cleanly. This woke up our attack, and we managed to score an equaliser through a fantastic solo effort from our central midfielder. France continued with wave after wave of attacks, and eventually managed to score a second goal, pulling our central defence apart leaving space in the middle for their attackers to run into. We again managed to pull another equaliser back just before half time, but we were running into the wind, with few players at their best.
In the second half, we were immediately under pressure from the French attack who could sense our tiredness. Yet another inch-perfect pass set their left winger through on goal, only to be brought down by a last-ditch tackle from our own winger running back to cover. No choice in making the challenge, but also no choice for the referee who showed a straight red card. Down to 10 men, we defended the free kick, but were really struggling to hold on to a level scoreline. We regrouped to attempt to take the game to extra time, but around this point my plantar fasciitis was really starting to ache, and I was losing a lot of pace. I substituted myself off, and shortly afterward France managed to fire in a third. Painful to watch from the sidelines, but I wouldn’t have been able to do anything to stop it.
We pushed up for an all out attack in the dying minutes, but unable to produce a final product, the referee’s whistle blew for time, confirming our second defeat of the day.
Scotland 2 - 3 France
7/8th Place Play-off vs Wales
Our final game of the tournament was against a Welsh side who had also lost their opening two knockout games, after having a good Saturday group stage. Both sides were fatigued and carrying injuries - during lunch before kick-off, we only half-jokingly suggested just going straight to penalties or tossing a coin to decide the winner. There wasn’t exactly a lot at stake other than pride anyway; we were already guaranteed to drop in the rankings regardless of this result.
We kicked off, and played the game at a very leisurely pace, barely breaking into more than a light jog. We knew a few of the Welsh players personally from previous tournaments, so the match played out with the atmosphere of an exhibition game. Our left winger gave us the lead in the first half, and managed to slot away a second for his brace in the first few minutes of the second half. Wales created few chances, barely mustering the energy for long range shots.
The referee took pity on the broken players around him and blew for time early (sealing our first clean sheet of the tournament), allowing us to head over to the other pitch where Caledonia were kicking off their final against Portugal. Our counterparts played brilliantly, defending as a unit and utilising their pace in attack, and ran out 4-0 winners! Another trophy for the Scottish cabinet.
Scotland 2 - 0 Wales
Scotland finish in 7th place
Caledonia 4 - 0 Portugal
Caledonia wins the Europa Vase
|CGI European Championship||CGI Europa Vase|
Despite our disappointing finishing position, I felt we played well as a team throughout the tournament (with the exception of the France game), and actually improved on our goal difference compared with Lisbon; in Lisbon we finished with an overall goal difference of -1 (6 scored, 7 conceded), and in St. Andrews we finished on +5 (12 scored, 7 conceded). Considering our strong defensive reputation we had in Lisbon, keeping our conceded level and doubling our goals scored is a real positive to take away with us.
There hasn’t been any word on the location of the 2018 tournament, although rumour has it as either the Netherlands, Germany, or France. Whichever it is, no doubt Scotland will be there to attempt to reclaim the Championship trophy.
This post is part 2 of 2 of a trip I took in June 2017.
Part 1 covers the Saturday group stages.