Let it serve as a reminder to never cross a man in a beard; but also, a reminder that the task is not yet done. England got out of jail against Sweden, but there can be no room for error against Ukraine or they are out.
I leave you in the capable hands of Jonathan Liew, who is building up to the game >over here.
He doesn't possess a beard, but he's still a fine man. Join him for all the action as England attempt to get Roy Hodgson a knighthood against Ukraine.
Thanks for reading, drive safely. Come on you beards.
17.50 A bit of balance to the Milner debate from Andrew Goodare: "Milner contributes nothing of importance. Not international class. England will go nowhere with the likes of him. Barry is the same way. He's not fast enough, he's always off balance. No ball skill. No place in my team."
Football - a cracking game of opinions. Less of the Barry-bashing though. Football needs more Gareth Barry.
17.44 A different beardy perspective from Peter Hall: "Well I am living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and all the men have beards . . but the football is not good . . . so beards do not equal good play! Clearly!"
Down with the anti-beard infidels! Philistines. And do you not remember this?
Okay, so he didn't have a beard. But he did metaphorically. A beard for all of Saudi Arabia.
17.40 Eyes down, eyes down - it's time for
Rooney Bingo. The return of Wayne Rooney will have ITV's commentators and co-commentators flexing their vocal chords in anticipation; their words, no doubt, will have a nation cringing. >Here's the ones to look out for tonight.
>Here's the ones to look out for tonight.
If it is Clive Tyldsley, expect something about that balmy night in Barcelona, even if there's no direct relevance to the action on the pitch.
If it's Peter Drury, expect a joke about the Eurozone crisis - it's all he's done over the past 10 days.
17.22 Do you agree with that assessment? Milner has come in for flak recently but he is a player managers like - there's a reason so many have picked him down the years. He is disciplined, hard-working and intelligent with and without the ball. You cannot have 11 Maradonas, Iniestas or Steven Fletchers on the pitch. Colour me a Milner fan.
17.20 The Telegraph's Paul Hayward on England's team selection tonight: "The belief here in Donetsk is that Milner has beaten Walcott to the starting place at outside right and Welbeck has been picked ahead of Carroll at centre-forward. Milner will help Johnson, who was shaky against Sweden, as well as Gerrard and Parker, who are at risk of being outnumbered in the centre. Walcott, who tweaked a hamstring on Sunday, is available as an impact sub. Young needs to assert himself more on the left. Rooney promises to pace himself and will work with Welbeck, his daily work-mate at Manchester United. A sound starting XI, with weapons on the bench (Carroll, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain)."
17.15 He's a very clever lad, Vinny. Switched on more than a giant lightbulb. You can't argue with what he's saying, can you? >We have compiled a list of Uefa's fines down the years for your (uneasy) reading (dis)pleasure.
>We have compiled a list of Uefa's fines down the years for your (uneasy) reading (dis)pleasure.
17.04 The beards question is a good one: do England lack beards? Rooney's stubble is poor. Andy Carroll's was just plain weird. I don't think Theo Walcott has ever needed to shave. Maybe this is how they can win Euro 2012. Well, that, or better technique and better players.
I think I prefer the beard theory.
17.00 Loving the Italy love-in, quite frankly. I started today with love for Iniesta and now with love for Italy. It's all about the Is today, it seems; is the third eye going to be Ing-ur-lund this evening? We'll find out at 10pm tonight. If not, let's all have a disco watching Iniesta take on Italy at the final.
16.42 This might be my favourite email ever from fellow beard-lover Mark Haynes: "I noticed your post regarding the duel of beards at this years tournament - I was thinking that this morning before leaving for work. Looking at the mirror with a 4-dayer on my face, i noticed that so far, it feels like the majority of players have taken to growing beards.
"On a squad front, the Czech team have recently opted not to shave until they are out of the tournament, whilst the Greeks seem to be displaying a dirty protest against austerity by not one of them shaving to begin with. Either that, or trying to emulate '300'.
"As such, i shall be sporting my optimistic beard tonight and should we go all the way, a chin of Brian Blessed proportions shall be my reward."
16.39 While we're on the subject of facial hair,
Vicente Del Bosque has a magnificent moustache, doesn't he? He is also a marvellous football manager, and he's had some choice words for a few of the Spain nay-sayers.
"We have gone from a poor man to a rich man very quickly and now we don't value anything. We don't value what we have.
"I think we are fallible and we have to transmit that to the players but we have passed through to the quarter-finals and we haven't seen any congratulations of that. I think we have qualified superbly and will continue in the same manner. The future is in our hands and we will see where we end up but I hope it is the final."
Those Spaniards, eh? Lovely weather, incredible women and the world's best football team - yet they're still not happy. Good on you, Vicente; good on you and that growth on your upper lip.
16.27 A prediction all the way from the windy city Chicago from Derek Hartle: "Here's my 50 cents worth...England up 2-0 inside 20 minutes and defending for the remaining 70...England through and one happy Englishman in Chicago...Good luck guys!!!"
Get those predictions into me, everyone.
16.24 I have to agree on the beard front. In fact, this might be the greatest duel between beards in the history of football - possibly even the world. Some more great shouts on Twitter about this Italian squad: Marchisio, Montolivo, Giovinco. Of course, the two ultimate cool dudes,
Paulo Maldini and
Alessandro Del Piero, are the only pieces of the puzzle missing.
16.13 Not since the days of Marco Tardelli running freely screaming his own name have
Italy been so trendy. Football hipsters everywhere salivate over Balotelli, Maggio, Pirlo, Chiellini, Cassano and Di Natale - and now their manager is going on 14-mile walks at 3am to a monestary. Shame about the alleged match-fixing scandal tarnishing the league.
16.05 Strong, strong suggestions that this will be the England team to play Ukraine tonight:
Hart; Johnson, Terry, Lescott, Cole; Milner, Gerrard, Parker, Young; Rooney, Welbeck
Just as predicted in today's paper, too. Good work everyone. Carroll can count himself unfortunate to be left out, but it would appear that is circumstance more than anything. Welbeck and Rooney are familiar with each other from club level and also provides slightly more pace on the break.
Does anyone really expect to see an attacking England performance tonight? More importantly, should anyone expect anything other?
15.58 Some more Uefa fine news; this time it is the Croatian Football Federation who have been hit after racist chanting, racist symbols and other improper conduct, which includes setting off and throwing flares. The sum? Just over £64,000. Thank goodness none of those racist chants also promoted a betting company - they would be looking at a least an extra 80 grand on top.
15.54 God save our gracious Hodge, long live our gracious Hodge, God save the Hodge. Can you imagine that ringing around Wembley next year after the national anthem is changed by public demand? Move over Lizzie, it's Roy's time to shine.
That might be a bit unlikely, granted; but there's no denying the impact Hodgey has had on the England squad. The expectations and number of England fans out there may have lowered, but belief in the Hodge have never been higher.
The image of Roy Hodgson gleefully skipping away like a St Trinian's schoolgirl in a Scooby Doo mask is one that will live with England fans throughout the summer - especially if he does the unthinkable and brings home the bacon, sausage and egg of Euro 2012.
He insists England will take the initiative this evening against Ukraine in a game they must not lose.
“You could be tempted to shut up shop to drop deeper and deeper and clinging on to the result, only to find in the very last minute of the game your opponents get a lucky goal, get given a penalty or a wide free-kick gets deflected into your goal. The dangers are if you sit back you give the initiative to the opposition and you can’t be surprised when sometimes they take it. Our aim will be to try to take the initiative.”
Do we believe him? Get in touch with me and we'll chew the fat over whether that's true. He did also say Brazil were likely World Cup 2010 winners, Paulo Da Silva was a great buy for Sunderland and Christian Poulsen was one to watch in South Africa. So I wouldn't get too carried away just yet.
15.37 I don't think it was an advert, more the colloquial use of the word. If you're after blatant, however, get yourself down to www.bestcarpetsever.com for the best carpets in the whole of Victoria.
See what I did there? And no, the site does not exist. Yet.
15.33 That being said, if you wished to smash plates over
Kyriakos Papadopoulos' head, you would have to be careful about mistaken identity. The 20-year-old multisyllabic-surnamed stopper, who >The Telegraph's Luke Edwards described as "strong, quick and brave, three of the vital ingredients for a modern centre-back"
>The Telegraph's Luke Edwards described as "strong, quick and brave, three of the vital ingredients for a modern centre-back", is a dead ringer for new golfing sensation Beau Hossler.
Imagine being on the end of that golf swing. Crikey.
15.18 This is
Giorgios Samaras looking horrified and perhaps slightly scared.
And this is the best description of Giorgios Samaras you will ever read: "two forwards chosen for their ability to forage and bustle and knock into people; seven defenders/midfielders to clog and harass and stymie; and the mascot, Samaras, an unwatered spider-plant of a footballer."
>Andrew Thomas >The Anfield Wrap >he celebrates the manner in which Greece conduct their business on the football field.
>Andrew Thomashas written a fantastic piece on Greece for
>The Anfield Wrap, where
>he celebrates the manner in which Greece conduct their business on the football field.
Are you pro-Greece or anti-Greece? Is Greece the word or do you wish to smash plates over Kyriakos Papadopoulos the head with your mother's crockery? Let me know via email or Twitter.
15.08 It is an action that goes by many names. On the playgrounds of Liverpool, it is known as kecked. In Buckinghamshire, it's known as childish and immature. Is this some sort of post-modern expression of how low morale is in the Dutch camp? Did the prank almost go horribly wrong given Wesley Sneijder's William Hill y-fronts beneath? Or did Rafael van der Vaart just simply want to see big Wes' tush?
14.56 It would appear
Cesare Prandelli is a secret lover of Fantasy Football. When speaking of who he wants to face in the quarter-finals, he said:
"The 4-2-3-1 that France play is very interesting and dangerous. They're a modern attacking team who don't give you a point of reference.
"Ukraine have good team spirit and they play good football.
"England are finding the right equilibrium. We all know the English character, they never hold anything back but they also have some good fantasy players."
Not that good, Cesare. >Gerrard and Walcott are the only two in double figures so far with 10 points each.
>Gerrard and Walcott are the only two in double figures so far with 10 points each.I imagine the Italian is also annoyed at not selecting goalscoring Antonio Cassano as his captain as well.
14.49 If England go through this evening to play Spain in the quarter-final, should they have as much to fear as everyone expects?
The magnificent Zonal Marking has >produced an analysis on Spain's narrow win over Croatia.
>produced an analysis on Spain's narrow win over Croatia.Some of the key points:
- A left-sided player who can come into central midfield to help with the pressing.
- A central midfielder with composure to pick a pass, the ability to retain possession and trickery to get past Spain's initial press.
- Three in the middle is important.
... That's England in trouble, then.
14.40 Aside from his fancy for picking his nose and eating it (which, if nothing else, the bravery to do so with the world watching should be praised), Joachim Low is a cracking bloke. He's speaking more sense ahead of
Germany's quarter-final clash with
"You know that we have a very good relationship with Angela Merkel and we have an agreement that she will not dictate the team to me and I will not make any political statements," said Low.
"For us, it is a totally normal quarter-final against Greece and we are focusing on the sport."
Good. Now can someone please send Jon Champion the memo before we endure a thousand poorly-constructed financial puns about the Euro?
14.23 A good question.
Pavlyuchenko's was a fine strike but suffers from the fact the Czech defence were knackered thanks to the running of Kerzhakov.
Kuba's was a fine strike with his chocolate right leg, while
Fernando Torres' and
Cesc Fabregas' were pure finishes. I'm going for
Balotelli, though, for the simple fact he makes it look so, well, simple. You would be forgiven for thinking he was about to have a little lie down as he guided it into the back of the net. Bellissimo.
Get in touch and tell me your favourite goals - and moments - of the tournament so far.
14.19 I should really just post Andres Iniesta pictures all afternoon. I know what the people want. But there's also a little bit of news, too; by news, I mean a shameless publicity stunt.
Paddy Power have offered to pay
Nicklas Bendtner's £80,000 fine for show their logo on his underpants. There's no such thing as free publicity, after all.
A spokesperson from Paddy Power said: “We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and what we heard loud and clear yesterday was that Nicklas Bendtner should not suffer as a result of Uefa’s double standards. We don’t believe that Nicklas should be penalised for nothing more serious than wearing his lucky underpants which in fairness was only a bit of fun."
Hark at the noble Paddy Power, listening to their customers and saving poor Nicklas Bendtner. Hark at those purveyors of justice, paying the fine of a Premier League footballer with money generated from average working people dropping money on silly trebles and fourfolds.
If there's one thing worse than Uefa's foolish fines, it's cheap publicity stunts.
14.14 A-ha! An email! And it comes from Ollie Tritton: "Thought I'd seen that somewhere before..."
Sadly what you can't see in my version, as I don't have access to it, is two other Italian players to Iniesta's 12 o'clock and 3 o'clock. Simply magical. He's almost bordering on underrated.
14.05 Here is the picture of >Maradona from 1982, complete with some words from website Ghost Goal.
>Maradona from 1982, complete with some words from website Ghost Goal.
Here's an interesting 'did you know?' however. That iconic picture is, apparently, a trick of the camera. The five Belgians had actually just been a part of the wall defending a free-kick. You can tell by the positions of the central three, if you look close enough. So, actually, one of football's most iconic photographs is actually a bit of a falsehood.
Coming next week, kids: why Santa Claus isn't real and how Stuart Pearce, >after scoring a penalty past Spain at Euro '96
>after scoring a penalty past Spain at Euro '96, merely stubbed his toe.
13.56 Look at it. Just look at it, will you? The photograph to define a generation.
Andres Iniesta was captured doing his best Diego Maradona circa 1982 impression against Croatia last night. What a photograph.
As he glides away from five - count them - Croatians and approaches the sixth, the beauty of Iniesta is summed up perfectly. Look at Domagoj Vida exasperated; look at Ognjen Vukojevic grimacing. Look at Schildenfeld and Corluka struggling as Rakitic stands back and admires. Look at Luka Modric. Just look at Luka Modric.
And there's Iniesta in the middle; there's Spain in the middle. Somehow finding a way out, finding a way to please supporters and tease opposition. Catch them if you can.
An incredible photograph. Without doubt the best of the tournament. Is it one of the best of the past few years? Get in touch. But first, print out that picture and stick it on the wall. You might want to laminate it first, mind.
13.43 Thanks Lucy, although I'm not too sure how entertaining I can be. Perhaps, much like >England
, I can entertain by being slightly inept and caring not a jot about what my bosses say. Entertaining in a so good its bad way. The Joey Barton way, as I like to call it. But there will be no Edgar Allan Poe quotations, fear not.
13.35 Thanks for your company, I am handing over to
Kristian Walsh who will entertain you in the lead up to tonight's matches
13.25 Netherlands players are backing coach Bert van Marwijk after the Netherlands' worst performance at a major tournament. Said Wesley Sneijder:
We can't blame the coach for this, he did a great job for us in the last four years. But there are some issues in the squad that have to be solved first, like the player who is leaking to the press about our tactical plans before matches.
13.15 Now here is something totally baffling that has just emerged on Twitter
Sands End pub in London is offering fans scotch eggs as they watch the match tonight. How delightfully quaint
13.05 Lots of interesting predictions starting to emerge on Twitter
12.55 There is a distinct lack of dreams coming true in my inbox. Have people stopped dreaming? Roy Hodgson won't be pleased
12.50 This is interesting. Will fans be happy with just a draw? Especially since next up we have to face Spain or Italy
12.40 If you like to torture yourself with 'what ifs', here are all the possible outcomes for tonight's games
12:30 A bit of info about Sweden's squad for their match against France tonight.
12.20 We have taken a look at England's showing in past final Euro group games ahead of tonight.
12.15 This just in from
Mark Ogden, our man in Poznan
Poznan Station is the witness to a mass green exodus this lunchtime, but the big news appears to be the live broadcast of a Polish Euro 2012 post-mortem by FA president Grzegorz Lato. Polish fans are stood glued to the big screens. None appear very happy.
12.10 A Brighton radio station has just upped the ante on predictive animals. They have a Llama.
12.05 And here they encourage a man to ask his colleague on a date. It is a pity they couldn't apply the same teamwork to their Euro2012 campaign
12.00 A couple of videos courtesy of our reporter
Jonathan Liew who spotted them. Here the Ireland squad persuade a child to eat his greens
11.50 An Irish football fan has gone missing in Poland after watching games in the northern city of Bydgoszcz. James Nolan has been missing since Sunday morning
11.45 Croatian midfielder
Ivan Rakitic has told reporters he will have "several sleepless nights" after Croatia exited the competition yesterday.
11.30 Get your questions in now for a live 1pm webchat with
Henry Winter ahead of tonight's game
11.20 The match tonight is a talking point stateside too; the
Edward McKeon has sent in his dream come true, and it is football related!
The idea of seeing an absolute thrashing of the Germans, as they have always been England’s Kryptonite (especially when the match is decided by penalties), is any England fan’s dream but little did I know that whilst sitting in my living room on 1st September 2001 at the age of 14 I would see a Michael Owen hat-trick and a 5-1 win in their own back yard! Needless to say I was ecstatic to say the least.
10.55 Keeping with the animal theme, here is Benson the cat predicting an England win. Eventually. After lots of persuasion. And trying to run away.
10.45 Everybody knows that the tortoise is always right
10.40 This tortoise seems to be predicting a draw. It correctly predicted an England win against Sweden.
10.25 Meanwhile Spanish midfielder Juan Mata has been given permission by Chelsea to play for Spain in the London Olympics
10.15 There are rumours flying around that Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin has told Ukrainian news outlets that
Andriy Shevchenko will not play tonight against England. Shevchenko has been battling a knee problem.
09.55 Mario Balotelli's team-mate Leonardo Bonucci has spoken about his quick thinking move to quieten Balotelli during the Ireland-Italy match last night. Bonucci clamped his hand over Balotelli's mouth in a 'celebratory' hug to avoid him lashing out in anger after a stunning goal. Why he was so angry after only his second goal in 11 international appearances is still a mystery.
I put my hand in front because Mario is instinctive and that's also his strength. We'd spoken with him before the game and he knew how he should behave.
09.45 This is an interesting statistic, here is hoping Rooney's addition to the squad will help rather than hinder England's chances
09.35 Here is Henry Winter commenting on tonight's game
After all the nightmares England fans have endured in recent times, Roy Hodgson wants to give the nation “something to dream about” on Tuesday night, exciting them and giving them pride in those who wear the Three Lions. He wants to give them a place in the quarter-finals of these epic Euros. He knows the nation is watching and wants to turn their reverie into reality. England need only a point in the splendid Donbass Arena to qualify for the last eight while Ukraine must win. Pressure intensifies on both sides. “We have got a cup final,’’ observed Hodgson. All quiet on the Eastern front? No chance.
09.30 Morning all and welcome to day 11 of the >European Championships
Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/euro-2012/9343568/Euro-2012-day-12-as-it-happened.html