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Soccer

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Tokyo Olympics Quick Hits

July 27, 2021
Source: Janine Beckie/Twitter
Source: Janine Beckie/Twitter

⚽️Soccer: It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough. In their final game of group play earlier today, the USWNT battled to a 0–0 draw with Australia, squeaking into a spot in Friday’s quarter-finals. USWNT will face the Netherlands at 7 a.m. ET, a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final. LFG

🏀Basketball: Team USA women’s 5x5 basketball notched a milestone 50th straight Olympic win with a 81–72 victory over Nigeria. While we would've loved to see WNBA stars Nneka Ogwumike (pronounced NEH-kuh oh-gwoo-MIH-kay) and Elizabeth Williams suit up for Nigeria, it was so fun watching reigning WNBA MVP, Team USA’s A’ja Wilson, net a double-double in her Olympic debut. 

  • Meanwhile, after going 6-1 in pool play to lock up the top seed, Team USA women’s 3x3 is on to the semifinals tomorrow at 4 a.m. ET. It’s go time. 

🥇First medals: Bermuda is now the smallest country (by population) to ever win a gold medal, after triathlete Flora Duffy won the country’s first gold yesterday, finishing her race in 1:55:36. Small but oh so mighty.

  • Meanwhile, the Philippines are still celebrating their first-ever Olympic gold, after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won in the 55kg category on Monday. And as the cherry on top, Diaz also set an Olympic record, lifting a combined weight of 224kg. 

UEFA European Championship goes to Italy

July 12, 2021
Source: UEFA Euro 2020/Twitter
Source: UEFA Euro 2020/Twitter

The big game: It was supposed to be the perfect setup for an England win. At home in front of 60,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, the English team opened with a Luke Shaw dagger in the second minute, the quickest goal in Euro final history

  • England held up for a while, but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be. Italy came back strong, scoring in the 67th minute and forcing extra time. After a scoreless 30 minutes of overtime, it all came down to the absolute worst way to win a game: penalty kicks.
  • Italy’s three penalty goals to England’s two tied a bow on Italy’s perfect redemption story. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the “Azzurri” are now undefeated through 34 matches, and their Euro win has propelled them back into soccer’s highest tier.

The aftermath: Back to those English fans. We previously talked about them booing their own team for taking a knee before matches, but things got worse yesterday when Black players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted in online racial attacks after they missed their penalty kicks. Disgusting. 

  • The English team quickly condemned the attacks, and Rashford’s home club Manchester United and Saka’s Arsenal sent out messages of support. 

Up next: With the Euros over and Copa America won handily by Argentina on Saturday, it’s time for the Concacaf Gold Cup, North America’s continental tournament, all in preparation for next year’s 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Of course, we can’t forget about the next biggest soccer event: the Olympic soccer tournament, starting July 21st. The U23 teams will compete on the men’s side, but it’s the women’s tournament we’re especially psyched for. Get excited. 

Euro trip

July 11, 2021
SOURCE: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE/GIPHY
SOURCE: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE/GIPHY

HAPPY SUNDAY!

Welcome to The GIST’s Sunday Scroll, where we dive deep into one timely sports topic.

After one month of tournament action, the stage is set for the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship. Italy will take on England in today’s final at 3 p.m. ET, so order a pizza, grab a pint and get “the gist” of the biggest match in European soccer.

⚽️ The background

SOURCE: UEFA

How did we get here? Back in June, 24 national teams kicked off the UEFA European Football Championship — or the Euros, as they’re more commonly known. Teams were split into six groups of four and each played in a three-game round-robin group stage.

  • The top two teams from each group, along with the four best third-place teams, advanced to the knockout stage, which included a round of 16, quarter-finals and semifinals, all leading up to today’s final.

Similar to the FIFA World Cup, the Euros take place every four years. The most successful teams in the Euro’s 63-year history are Germany and Spain, who have three titles each.

  • France has two titles while the Soviet Union (now Russia), Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, Portugal and Italy all have one each.

In over a century of international play, the Italian and English national teams have met 27 times: Italy won 11 times to England’s eight, with the remaining eight matches ending in a draw. That said, the two haven’t played a competitive match since 2014.

🏟 The location

SOURCE: BBC.COM

Typically, one or two countries host the entire Euro tournament, but due to COVID-19, 11 countries across Europe hosted this year's group stage competition and the first two knockout rounds. Of the 11 cities, London hosted both semifinal matches and plays host again for today’s final at the iconic Wembley Stadium.

  • Of the 10 nations to have won the Euro final, only Spain, Italy and France did it on home soil: in 1964, 1968 and 1984, respectively. If they’re successful, England will be number four.

While the original Wembley was demolished in 2002, the updated venue, which opened in 2007, is the second-largest soccer stadium in Europe, boasting a capacity of 90,000. Similar to the semis, today’s match will welcome more than 60,000 fans — the most at any sporting event in the U.K. since March 2020.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 The home team

SOURCE: SKYSPORTS.COM

Today marks England’s first appearance in a major men’s final since they won the World Cup in 1966. The Three Lions are on the hunt for their first-ever Euro title, and on home turf, no less. With 55 years of high expectations, let downs and an infamously rowdy fanbase, England’s under pressure to bring it home today.

England entered the tournament as the overall favorite in Group D, going undefeated in group play before securing a 2–0 victory over Germany in the round of 16, and a big 4–0 win against Ukraine in the quarters.

  • Until Wednesday’s semifinal contest, England hadn’t allowed a single goal throughout the competition, but Denmark broke that streak with a free-kick late in the first half. Dane Simon Kjær’s own goal in the 39th minute then tied things up 1–1.
  • The second half was scoreless, sending the match into extra time, when a questionablepenalty went England’s way and captain Harry Kane capitalized on his own rebound to win the match 2–1 for the home team.

The squad played all but one game in their home stadium, and with their fans (who we don’t always agree with) there to cheer them on, the energy should be on their side today.

🇮🇹 The visitors

SOURCE: CARL RECINE/REUTERS

Italy, or the Azzurri, enter today’s final riding a 33-game undefeated streak, having not lost a match since September 2018. With a Euro title already under their belt and four FIFA World Cups, the away squad is not to be underestimated.

Also the favorites in Group A, the Italians cruised past Turkey, Switzerland and Wales at home in Rome before earning a close 2–1 win in extra time over Austria in the round of 16, then another 2–1 victory against Belgium in the quarter-final matchup.

  • Their semifinal against Spain had us on the edge of our seats. The first half was scoreless, but Italy’s Federico Chiesa scored in the 60th minute, putting them up 1–0 before Spain answered in the 80th minute and pushed it to extra time.
  • Both teams failed to score in the extra minutes though, resulting in a dramatic penalty shootout. Ultimately, it was Italy’s Jorginho who scored the winning penalty shot and sent the squad to their fourth Euro Championship finals appearance. The drama.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1958, the Italian squad has certainly turned things around in recent years. A victory today would not only add a second title to the nation’s Euro tally, but it would also solidify their epic comeback. *chef’s kiss*

🏆 Eyes on the prize

SOURCE: UEFA/TWITTER

While both teams are competing for continental glory and a shiny new trophy,UEFA set aside a nice chunk of change for the champions, too. Due to a financial setback caused by the pandemic, the initial budget for the tournament was reduced from €370 million ($438 million) to €330 million ($391 million). A drop in the bucket.

  • As with most tournaments, teams are rewarded based on performance, and the further they go, the more they cash in. All knockout-stage teams took home some cheddar, including the semifinals squads who took home €4 million ($4.7 million).
  • Having made the final, the Italian and English teams will receive €5 million ($5.9 million) regardless of the outcome, and the winner will cash in an extra €3 million ($3.5 million) bonus. All in a month’s work.

Although great, these figures are just a fraction of the FIFA World Cup prize pool.France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup win earned them a whopping $38 million reward.

  • And what can the winners of next July’s Women’s Euro 2022 championship expect in comparison? Disappointment.

📺 How to watch

SOURCE: UEFA

Whether you’re rooting for England or Italy, you can catch all the action today at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN and Univision in the U.S. and on TSN and TVA Sports in Canada. And, if you can’t stream the match, download the UEFA EURO 2020 app for live updates. Sound gouda?

🏀🏈

Sports Quick Hits: July 8th, 2021

July 08, 2021
Source: Steve Kingsman/Canada Soccer
Source: Steve Kingsman/Canada Soccer

⚽️Soccer: As Team Canada gets ready to say hello to Tokyo, living legend Diana Matheson is saying goodbye. After 18 years and 206 international games, the three-time Olympian, best known for her bronze medal–winning goal during the London 2012 Games, announced her retirement yesterday. So long, Diana, and thank you.

🏀Basketball: Although Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YAHN-iss ah-dedo-KOON-bo) miraculously returned from injury for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Phoenix Suns led the way. 

  • Phoenix set an NBA Finals record with 25 consecutive made free throws and Chris Paul became the first player since Michael Jordan to notch 30 points and eight assists in a finals debut. Decent company.

🏈CFL: False alarm, folks. After scaring diehard fans with talks of a possible merger with the Dwayne Johnson–led XFL, the CFL has announced they’ve scrapped collaboration efforts. It’s cool, we were kind of confused by it anyway. Onwards and upwards: after a year off, the new season starts August 5th. 

Recapping the Exciting Round of 16 Euro Matches

June 28, 2021
Source: John Bazemore/AP
Source: John Bazemore/AP

The upsets: Yesterday’s matches were full of surprises...

Netherlands vs. Czech Republic: After center back and very key player Matthijs de Ligt was given a red card in the first half, the Dutch were forced to play with 10 men for the remainder of the game, and, shocker, it did not go well. The underdog Czech capitalized, scoring twice to eliminate the Oranje and move on to the quarters.

Belgium vs. Portugal: While Belgium’s 1–0 win shouldn’t be shocking, the young soccer powerhouse eliminated reigning champs Portugal and their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo. Sorry, not sorry. 

As expected: Denmark moved on after Saturday’s 4–0 win over Wales, and tournament favorite Italy survived a scare from Austria with a 2–1 win in extra time.

Up next: The final round of 16 games continue today at noon ET. Matchups include Spain vs. Croatia and France vs. Switzerland, then England vs. Germany and Sweden vs. Ukraine on Tuesday. Quarter-finals begin Friday at noon ET. Check out the scores and schedule here