FC Daily: Germany take on Poland, U.S. to face Ecuador in Copa
It's Thursday, June 16, and Euro 2016 rolls on and the Copa America group stage has been completed. FC Daily takes a look at the big stories and what you need to know.
Matches of the day
- England vs. Wales (3 p.m. CEST/9 a.m. ET on ESPN): The match that many have been waiting for is here and national pride and bragging rights aside, the stakes are very high for both teams. England desperately need three points after a late letdown vs. Russia sees Roy Hodgson's men on just one point. Any result for Wales will be viewed with a kind eye, but make no doubt about it: Gareth Bale and Co. want the win. ESPN FC writer Chris Jones explains why he'll be pulling for Wales, and Nick Miller answers five burning questions ahead of the match.
- Ukraine vs. N. Ireland (6 p.m. CEST/noon ET on ESPN): The second of three matches on Thursday features two other teams that need to right the ship after opening their Euro campaigns with losses. Kyle Lafferty has vowed that fans will see the real Northern Ireland against Ukraine, after being outplayed by Poland in their first match. But Michael O'Neill's men will have their hands full with a Ukraine team that gave defending World Cup champions Germany an admirable first match test.
- Germany vs. Poland (9 p.m. CEST/3 p.m. ET on ESPN): While England-Wales might be the most anticipated Euro match on Thursday, this one might feature the heavier hitters. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski will see a number of familiar faces when the two teams take the field at the Stade de France. Both Poland and Germany have opening match wins to their credit, which means if either team can take all three points, they'll be atop Group C and virtually assured passage to the round of 16.
- United States vs. Ecuador (9:30 p.m. ET on FS1): After stumbling out of the gates against Colombia, the U.S. went on to win Group A in the Copa America, which earned them a trip to Seattle's CenturyLink Field for a quarterfinal date with Group B runners up Ecuador. Nick Dorrington breaks down what the Americans can expect from the speedy Ecuadorians, and Doug McIntyre marvels at another of Jurgen Klinsmann's escape acts in leading the U.S. to the top of a challenging group.
Three key points
1. Didier Deschamps made a big choice to drop Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann for France's last-gasp 2-0 victory over Albania. But he also made a big decision to bring them both on at 0-0. "Neither he [Griezmann] nor Pogba is happy," he revealed after the match. "Often players who come off the bench can make the difference. That was the case in the opening match and again here.'' Once again, though, Les Bleus didn't give up. Once again, they showed incredible mental strength and character. Once again they won the game in the dying seconds.
2. Slovakia coach Jan Kozak said Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik showed he "deserves a bigger club" after his performance in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Russia. The Italian side won't be overly happy with that, but the midfielder did put in quite the show. Meanwhile, Russian fans looks set to avoid having their side kicked out of the tournament despite letting off a flare.
3. Brazil may be out of the Copa but they are still making waves. Corinthians president Roberto de Andrade has announced Tite has agreed to succeed Dunga as the country's manager, although the Brazilian federation says no accord has been struck with any coach. Klinsmann, the U.S. coach, has but one message for his side as they prepare for a quarterfinal clash with Ecuador: "We tell them tomorrow, be courageous, go at them. It's a 90-minute battle."
Player of the day
There's really only one person to go with Thursday, and it's Gareth Bale. Mainly because we are comparing the Welsh maestro to very famous poet, writer and broadcaster from the same country: Dylan Thomas. Well, Dylan's granddaughter is.
In her own words: "What Dylan did have, and Bale also has, is a drive, a desire to be the best. Dylan could spend days, weeks, even years on one poem. It had to be perfect."
Stat of the day
Tweet of the day
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