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The Fiver | England usually schedule this sort of farce for the end of the tournament


THE FINALS COUNTDOWN

We’re nearly there. At the end of the week, the space-time-continuum-bothering festival of football that is Euro Not 2020 kicks off in [checks notes] Rome. It’s definitely going to happen this time, it’ll get completed for sure, nothing to worry about at all, the Spanish squad has been forced into isolation after Sergio Busquets tested positive for coronavirus and can’t play their final warm-up game as a result. No, nothing to see here, nothing to worry your pretty little head about, roll up, roll up for Uefa Euro Not 2020, Live It, For Real(TM), step right this way.

With a faint yet still potent whiff of impending fiasco enveloping the entire continent, it’s perhaps no bad thing that the English seem to be going out of their way to acclimatise themselves in the prevailing wind. Sunday at the Riverside, after the now obligatory pantomime back-and-forth over 19th-century German economic theory – The Fiver is taking the keep-politics-aht-of-it crowd at their word and assume them to be debating the control of the means of production in good faith – England unveiled a novel way to make fools of themselves from 12 yards, which took some going given the way they’ve carried on over the years.

With a few minutes to go and England already leading against a dismal Romania, Jordan Henderson, 59 caps to the good, saw the chance of that elusive first international goal when the hosts were awarded a penalty. He snatched the ball from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, only to showcase a technique that could barely have been worse had he incorporated a pirouette, two roly-polys and his trophy-lifting soft-shoe shuffle. On the touchline, Gareth Southgate fumed quietly, as Henderson wisely did his level best to avoid making eye contact with anyone. England usually schedule this sort of farce for the end of the tournament, so hats off for thinking outside the box if nothing else.

Perhaps noticing that the mood music surrounding England should be a little sweeter than it currently is, especially as they’re one of the favourites for the Euros, captain Harry Kane stepped up and belted out a rallying cry, sort of. “I feel like we’re in a good place,” was the best he could muster, before admitting “we just don’t turn up and win the tournament”, which was generous of him. Spirits in the camp may also have been boosted by one prominent social media disgrace blowhard going on live radio to congratulate two English players for not taking the knee yesterday, failing to realise it was Romania playing in white and therefore their players standing up. Oh dear. Best leave football out of Marxist theory, eh lads?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I will be clear, Mbappé is going to stay in Paris. We will never sell him and he will never leave on a free … where can he go? What club, in terms of ambition, can compete with PSG today?” – Qatar FC chief suit Nasser Al-Khelaifi reckons aspiration, not trophies, is where it’s at these days.

Looking absolutely delighted to win another individual Uber Eats trophy.
Looking absolutely delighted to win another individual Uber Eats trophy. Photograph: DPPI/Jean Catuffe/LiveMedia/Shutterstock

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Speaking of which, tickets are available now for Football Weekly Live’s Euro Not 2020 preview special on 10 June. Get them while they’re hot.

FIVER LETTERS

“Is Jesse Lingard hanging around after the squad has been announced without him in it not just some fine nominative determinism at play?” – Michael Hunt.

“I was delighted to win Thursday’s letter o’ the day, even though my Ravanelli-style celebration resulted in a painful case of knee-gah when, shirt over head, I collided with the coffee-table. My pleasure and pain were both increased by Steve Allen winning Friday’s prize for offering ‘Tin-pot Pot’ as an improvement on my suggestion. My first thought was ‘nah, too many pots’. But therein, of course, lies the genius of Mr Allen’s proposal. Too many ‘pots’ in the name of the pot-too-many! Brilliant! Big Cup, Big Vase, and Tin-pot Pot. Yup, that’s your set” – Paul Southgate.

“Regarding Steve Allen’s suggestion of the Tin-pot Pot nickname for the new Euro thingy, there’s an opportunity there for a title sponsorship from The Fiver’s favourite tipple. Have the Purple Tin bods been on the blower to Uefa yet?” – Graeme Thorn.

“Re Steve Allen’s suggestion, if the Europa Conference was to have a beer sponsor, that would be Tin-pot Pot Tin!” – Paul Clerkin.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Michael Hunt.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Ben White got the England call in place of thigh gah’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, as Gareth Southgate set off a month of yearning for James Ward-Prowse by selecting the Brighton defender as cover for Harry Maguire/Jordan Henderson/Tyrone Mings.

Russia has kicked off after Ukraine released a kit with a map of the country emblazoned on the shirt that includes Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. “[It’s] political provocation,” yelped a Russia foreign ministry suit.

Aston Villa continue to stockpile jinkin’ midfielders, having agreed a fee of around £30m plus add-ons for Emi Buendía.

Leicester have signed Boubakary Soumaré from Lille for €23m and have their sights set on goal-guzzling Queen’s Celtic striker Odsonne Édouard.

Chelsea’s Fran Kirby won the women’s PFA player of the year award while Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne made off with the men’s gong for the second season in a row. Meanwhile, De Bruyne will be fit for Euro Not 2020 but is likely to sit out Belgium’s first game.

Winners!
Winners! Composite: Getty/PA

Neco Williams has revealed that extra-curricular mega-runs outside of Liverpool training sessions helped earn him a spot in the Wales squad. “You can’t just rely on your club to try and gain your fitness,” puffed the Liverpool right-back.

Ange Postecoglou is this close to being named Queen’s Celtic boss.

And Captain America Christian Pulisic scored the winner as USA! USA!! USA!!! won the Concacaf Nations league final by beating Mexico 3-2 in extra-time.

STILL WANT MORE?

Pretending that booing England is about ‘keeping politics out’ is cowardly, writes Barney Ronay.

Your England guide for Euro Not 2020, with a profile of John Stones, redemption man to boot. And here’s your Scotland guide, with midfield dynamo John McGinn getting the profile treatment over Shortbread McFiver.

Beware, Steve Clarke, as “Tomas Soucek, Alex Kral, Patrik Schick, Michael Krmencik, Zdenek Ondrasek and Antonin Barak are all good in the air”, writes Jan Podrouzek in our Czech Republic guide.

Jonathan Wilson doesn’t Löw what he sees in Germany’s squad.

Expect some hard bike racing from Germany at the Euros.
Expect some hard bike racing from Germany at the Euros. Photograph: Action Press/Shutterstock

Ben Fisher looks back on Wales’ Euro 2016 memories, including a lads’ holiday as they ran to the semis.

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