Matchday 10 – Wednesday, 19th June 1996 – Group C

Welcome back. Tonight, we have the last round of group matches where we determined the last two places in the Quarter-Finals. Group C is our focus, and two cracking matches lie ahead.

Here’s how the group looks like before start of play:

Pos GROUP C P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Germany 2 2 0 0 5 0 5 6
2 Italy 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3
3 Czech Republic 2 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3
4 Russia 2 0 0 2 1 5 -4 0

 

Germany have already qualified. They’re odds-on to win the group, too. The tiebreaker scenario UEFA has dreamt up for this tournament could make things really tricky tonight.

Here are the tiebreaker rules:

  1. The higher number of points obtained in matches played between the teams in question.
  2. Superior goal difference resulting from the matches played between the teams in question (if more than two teams finish on the same points).
  3. The higher number of goals scored in the matches played between the teams in question (if more than two teams finish equal on points).

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Therefore, if Italy and the Czech Republic finish on the same points, the Czech Republic’s 2-1 win puts them ahead. If the Czech Republic and Germany finish on the same points then Germany’s 2-0 win gives them the advantage. If all three teams finish on six points then they will all have won one and lost one against the other two teams. At the moment, Germany’s goal difference is superior, and they would need to lose by two goals tonight for Italy to move ahead of them. Confused? You betcha! Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Germany take on Italy at Old Trafford. The Italians beat Russia in their first game but were well beaten by the Czechs at Anfield. They’re now staring elimination in the face. Not great for such a proud footballing nation who also missed out on Euro ’92. The big question is who is Sacchi going to play up front. He almost has an embarrassment of riches, yet he and the media back home don’t seem to be able to agree on his best partnership. Germany have been scintillating so far and you really fear for the Italians.

A draw is enough for Italy if the Czechs lose. The Czechs are up against Russia at Anfield. The Russians do have a chance of going through, but only if Italy lose. If they win tonight by two clear goals this gives them an advantage in the tiebreaker scenario over the other two sides. At least I think that’s how it works.

Anyway, here’s the team news:

ITA v GER

Arrigo Sacchi shuffles his pack once again. There’s been all sorts of fuss in the press back home about who should play up front. Sacchi’s reverted to his choice from the first game. Chiesa, Ravenelli and Roberto Baggio are back on the bench. He’s replaced them with Zola, Casiraghi, and Di Matteo. They all played the first match against Russia but Zola and Casiraghi were subs against the Czechs. In defence, Apollini is dropped and Amedeo Carboni comes in.

Berti Vogts has made three changes for this match. Thomas Strunz, who’s been a sub in both matches so far, gets his first start at the expense of Stefan Reuter. Steffen Freund comes in for Markus Babbel. And up front Fredi Bobic replaces Oliver Bierhoff.

 

RUS v CZE

Czech coach, Dusan Uhrin, makes just one change from the side who beat Italy on Friday. Lubos Kubik comes in at the back for Miroslov Kadlec, and also picks up the captain’s armband.

Oleg Ramantsev has made five changes for the Russians. Cherchesov comes back in, in goal for Kharine. In defence, he’s brought in Sergei Gorlukovich and Igor Yanovski for Onopko and Bushmanov. Igor Simuntenkov gets his first start after coming on as a sub against Germany. Valeri Karpin is back in, as captain, after playing as a sub on Sunday.

Let’s get straight into the action.

CHANCE: ITA v GER

A chance for Italy in the first five minutes. A ball from left to right was pounced on by Fuser and his volley went just wide of the post. Italy seem up for this already.

GOAL!! RUS v CZE (5 mins)

There’s been a goal at Anfield, and it’s gone to the Czech Republic. Kubik took a free-kick from outside the area which Cherchesov punched out for a corner. The resulting set-piece was headed in brilliantly by Suchoparek. That’s bad news for Italy and the Czechs are going mad. Rus 0-1 Cze

PENALTY! ITA v GER

Almost simultaneously as the Czechs take the lead, we have a penalty at Old Trafford. Where have you heard that before? It’s gone to Italy. Casiraghi was sent through clear of Sammer. As he took the ball around Kopke he tripped over the ‘keeper’s legs and the ref made no hesitation. What drama. Stay with us to see who takes it and how they do. A crucial moment in this group.

SAVED!! ITA v GER

Parma’s Gianfranco Zola stepped up to take it, but it was a tame penalty and Kopke easily got down to save it. What a chance for Italy, but they couldn’t take it. Now with the Czechs winning, Italy are in third. They must keep pushing for a goal.

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

Fierce, dipping shot from Nikiforov from about 30 yards out. But it didn’t come down enough and grazed the bar as it went over. Danger from the Russians who are clearly keen to compete here. Czechs still lead.

GOAL!! RUS v CZE (19 mins)

Another goal at Anfield, and it’s another one for the Czech Republic. A long ball forward from Nemec and Kuka managed to get his head to it first, as the ‘keeper came out. It looped up and just went in under the bar. Astonishing judgement from the Czech striker and he’s doubled their lead. The Czechs are looking good here, and more bad news for Italy. Rus 0-2 Cze

CHANCE: ITA v GER

The Italians are really testing Germany here. They’ve had three half-chances in the last minute. Donadoni’s cross from the left looked as if it would find Casiraghi at the far post, but Kopke just got his fist to the ball in time. Almost immediately, Casiraghi played the ball across the goalmouth but there was no one there to turn it in. Then Fuser again had a long shot, but again it just went wide. You can’t the Italians for effort here, they just cannot find the net

CHANCE: ITA v GER

A chance at the other end this time, and a reminder for the Italians to keep it tight at the back. Moller’s ball in was headed just wide by Klinsmann. But it’s fair to say he didn’t really come under too much pressure. Still goalless.

CHANCE: ITA v GER

Another chance for Italy. Donadoni had time to turn, on the left of the area. His long shot was again punched away by Kopke. He likes a punch this ‘keeper and he’s had more of them than Mike Tyson. Still no goals.

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

The Czechs almost get a third. A corner from the right found its way to the far edge of the area. Michal Hornak thumped his shot against the bar and when it came out it was safe for the Russians. Russia have played pretty well here, but the Czechs just seem to keep creating chances.

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

The Czechs have hit the bar again. Would you believe it? Poborsky down the right, twisted and turned then made space for the cross. The ball hit the top of the bar and bounced out for a throw-in on the other side.

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

Right at the end of the half, they’ve done it again. They’ve hit the woodwork. A free-kick about 25 yards out taken by Patrik Berger. His shot thundered against the post. On replay, you can see Cherchesov actually got a touch to push it against the post. They could’ve been about five goals up by the break. But as it is they’re sitting pretty with a two-goal lead and heading for the Quarters.

HALF TIME; RUS 0-2 CZE; ITA 0-0 GER

What a dramatic first half in the matches tonight. The Czechs took an early lead with a wonderful header from Suchoparek. Then Kuka’s header made it 2-0. They haven’t sat back on that either. They’ve hit the woodwork at least three times. Russia haven’t played badly, they’ve just been overrun by a confident side.

At Old Trafford, Italy have been desperate to try and find a goal. With the Czechs winning, Italy have to win. They’ve kept going but it’s all a little too flustered and desperate. Germany appear quite happy to just take it. Italy need to be careful they’re not picked off at the back. We’re in for a fascinating second half.

 

GOAL!! RUS v CZE (49 mins)

The Russians made two changes at half time. One of those subs, Mostovoi has just scored. He came on for Kolyvanov, and the ball in from the left by Khokhlov was headed in by Mostovoi. He was completely unmarked. Rus 1-2 Cze

CHANCE: ITA v GER

Danger again for the Italians. Germany had a free-kick about 25 yards out. Andreas Moller took it and his shot only just went over the bar. A warning for Italy perhaps?

GOAL!! RUS v CZE (54 mins)

Russia look a completely different team in this second period. Much more purposeful. Tetredze stormed forward with the ball from the back. He got it back after it came off a Czech player, and kept his run into the area. He laid it off to his right for Radimov. He was about to pull the trigger and was tackled by Nemec. The ball ran back to Tetradze and he fired it into the roof of the net. It’s his first goal for his country and what a time to get it. Less than ten minutes after half time and they’re level. This brings the Italians back into it now, too. Rus 2-2 Cze

RED CARD! ITA v GER

A lifeline for Italy, maybe? Germany are down to ten men. Thomas Strunz has just received his second yellow card for a foul on Donadoni. Italy felt they should’ve been playing against ten men when Kopke brought down Casiraghi in the first half. Now they have their wish. What will that do to the game? With the Czechs now level, a win for Italy sees them through.

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

Would you believe it? They’ve hit the woodwork again. Poborsky, this time. Picked the ball up in midfield, made room for the shot and when he hit it, the ‘keeper was well beaten but the post wasn’t. The Czechs still dangerous.

GOAL!! RUS v CZE (84 mins)

What a moment this is! Moving into the final five minutes and Vladimir Beschastnykh has just hit a stonker into the top corner. The Czechs stood off him and let him run at them. Then he unleashed a powerful drive from outside the area and now everything has changed. That’s both subs brought on at half time have now scored. Oh, what a finish we’re in for now. Italy are now in the Quarters if it stays like this. Czechs were two goals up and now they could be on their way out. Rus 3-2 Cze

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

Russia almost increased their lead. What’s happened to the Czechs? Karpin, the captain, brought the ball forward with the Russians outnumbered the Czechs. Mostovoi was in with a chance in the area but the ball seemed to get stuck under his feet. Eventually, Radimov had the shot but it went just wide. Real drama.

CHANCE: RUS v CZE

The Czech Republic must get back into this otherwise they’re out. Kubik had a long shot which Cherchesov just got down to save.

This is fascinatingly poised. Will there be another goal? At the moment Italy are going through with Germany. If the Czechs can snatch an equaliser then they will be going through. The Italians could really do with a goal to give them some insurance. But what if the Germans score? It’s almost too much to bear.

GOAL!! RUS v CZE (88 mins)

And there’s been a goal at Anfield. Incredible. A ball forward and substitute Vladimir Smicer ran onto it and has scored right in the corner. What a moment for his first international goal. Unbelievable, Jeff. That’s the Czechs right back in the Quarters and Italy have little time to score. But score they must or they’re going out. Rus 3-3 Cze

CHANCE: ITA v GER

They’re going crazy at Old Trafford. Suddenly the Italians realise they’ve left it too late. They’re throwing everyone forward. Can they get a late goal? They have a corner. Oh, it’s so desperate here. Germany defend it. And it’s all over. The final whistle has blown and what drama, the Italians are out.

Well, there you have it. Amazing drama. Unbelievable, in fact. At half time, the Czech Republic looked to be cruising into the next round. Then within ten minutes of the re-start, they were back level. Then with six minutes to go, they were going out. The Italians were then back in the game. But then the Czechs drew level with a dramatic late goal from Smicer, and the Italians were out. They played for half an hour with a man advantage and they were awarded a penalty but they still couldn’t score.

 

GROUP C, Old Trafford, 53,740

ITALY   (0)   0

GERMANY   (0)   0  

ITALY: Peruzzi; Mussi, Costacurta, Maldini, Carboni (Torricelli); Di Matteo (Chiesa), Fuser (Di Livio), Donadoni, Albertini; Casiraghi, Zola

GERMANY: Kopke; Strunz, Freund, Sammer, Helmer, Ziege; Hassler, Moller, Eilts; Klinsmann (Bode), Bobic

 

GROUP C, Anfield, 21,128

RUSSIA   (0)   3   (Mostovoi 49, Tetradze 54, Beschastnykh 85)

CZECH REPUBLIC   (2)   3   (Suchoparek 5, Kuka 19, Smicer 88)      

RUSSIA: Cherchesov; Tetradze, Nikiforov, Gorlukovich, Yanovsky; Radimov, Karpin, Khokhlov, Tsymbalar (Shalimov); Kolyvanov (Mostovoi), Simutenkov (Beschastnykh)

CZECH REPUBLIC: Kouba; Hornak, Kubik, Suchoparek; Latal, Bejbl, Nemec, Nedved; Poborksy, Berger (Nemecek); Kuka (Smicer)

After all that excitement, here’s the final table:

Pos GROUP C P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Germany 3 2 1 0 5 0 5 7
2 Czech Republic 3 1 1 1 5 6 -1 4
3 Italy 3 1 1 1 3 3 0 4
4 Russia 3 0 1 2 4 8 -4 1

 

We now have the full line-up for the Quarter-Finals:

22nd June 1996, Wembley

England v Spain,

22nd June 1996, Anfield

France v the Netherlands,

23rd June 1996, Villa Park

Croatia v Germany,

23rd June 1996, Old Trafford

Portugal v Czech Republic

Join us next when we bring you the first day of Quarter-Final ties.