WELCOME to the continuing ”ª#JoySports”¬ buildup ahead of UEFA EURO 2016, which kicks off on June 10 in France. The series started on May 10, and lasts until kickoff. Get ready for blasts from past Euro tournaments! Our coverage is brought to you by Pepsi.The thing about groups of ‘death’ is that the stakes are often so high that the games everyone looks forward to turn out to be massive disappointments; dour affairs with both sides desperate not to end up on the losing side.And so it was with a mix of surprise and utter delight that the 30,000 or so lucky enough to be inside the Estadio Municipal in Aveiro on June 19th 2004 watched the great battle between the Netherlands and Czech Republic unfold before them.Perhaps Germany screwing up a couple of hours earlier against the Latvians up the road in Porto had relieved a little of the pressure but both sides came out with all guns blazing and what followed was one of the most enthralling contests in the history of the competition.The Czechs threatened to score twice in the opening couple of minutes but it was Wilfred Bouma who actually got the game’s opening goal after four and the Dutch were two up after 19 thanks to Ruud van Nistelrooy. At that stage, it briefly seemed that they were on the way to a memorable victory. Jan Koller got one back for Karel Brueckner’s side, though, after which the coach decided make a bold intervention with Vladimir Smicer introduced for right-back Zdenek Grygera as the tactics were changed and the team went to 3-5-2.The switch gave Pavel Nedved the freedom he needed in order to excel in the centre of the pitch and van Nistelrooy would later admit that the move, just 25 minutes in, had proven decisive: “That was it. We weren’t able to adapt and it cost us the game.”It wasn’t, to be fair, for the want of trying. Edgar Davids and Arjen Robben were superb for the Dutch and Dick Advocaat did his share of tinkering in what turned into an intriguing game of tactical cat and mouse.The problem for the Dutch coach was that none of his changes paid off in quite the way that every one of Brueckner’s did and the decision, in particular, to replace Robben with Paul Bosvelt in the second half was, how can we put this, hotly debated in the post match press conference. Both sides continued to create chances – there were more than 20 shots on target in a high energy, end to end game, but Nedved was the defining influence. The midfielder caused endless problems for his markers and Johnny Heitinga was eventually sent off for what was reckoned to be a second bookable on him. He had a hand too in a couple of the goals, the last of which werescored by Milan Baros and, two minutes from time, Smicer.Baros’s was a cracker with Nedved’s cross turned quite brilliantly by Koller into the path of the striker who put it away emphatically. The chopping and changing continued from the benches and a shot from another substitute, Marek Heinz ultimately led to the winner.“It was a fantastic game,” acknowledged Nedved afterwards, “and we deserved to win. “We slept at the start but after we awoke we showed great energy.”Both sides seemed to have enough artistry in their ranks to go on and win the tournament and, after that game, the Czechs appeared to have the momentum required too. As it turned out though, it wasn’t artistry’s year. Step forward Greece. VIDEOREAD THESE IN OUR SERIES:When Portugal crashed England’s golden generation in 2004Euro ’88: Van Basten’s injury to glorious superstardom storyWhen Denmark stunned the world to win Euro 1992 When Zidane led France to edge Figo’s Portugal at Euro 2000 When Germany broke English hearts at Euro ’96When Bierhoff checked Czechs at Euro ‘9619-year old Ronaldo leads Portuguese to beat HollandPirlo’s outrageous panenka in 2012* The #JoySports Euro buildup series is brought you by Pepsi, Still 1 Ghana cedi pε! –
He has said he does not even know when the pair will be back although while Pogba remains in Florida for rehabilitation, veteran Ibrahimovic is now back with United’s medical staff in Manchester and has posted social media pictures of his recovery.That has led Mourinho to predict a return for the cult hero striker some time in December after what will be eight months out with knee ligament injury that was sustained in April and required surgery.“Paul is not here. I don’t know when he comes back, when he’s available, I’ve no idea,” said Mourinho.“Zlatan is here, he’s working here, under our control, he’s working so, so, so, so hard but he’s not to be back in the next week or couple of weeks. Let him take his time and be back when everyone feels is the right moment.“Do I think he will be back in 2017? Yes I do. But it is just a feeling.”Mourinho’s position on injuries has been at the centre of attention this week after he insisted that he does not “cry” over absent players while accusing rival managers of doing precisely that.That was interpreted as a thinly veiled criticism of rival Antonio Conte, at his former club Chelsea, and provoked an angry response from the Italian.– Injuries –By the end of the week, however, Mourinho was more conciliatory in explaining his position at his weekly press conference at United’s training ground.“Everybody knows every manager wants to have all the players available, it’s just then a question of the way you position yourself in relation to that, the best way you think is to do it,” he said.“The way we try to do it is always to speak about opportunities for others,” he added. “Doesn’t mean I don’t miss the players. I would like them to be here for us.”This season Mourinho has also been without defender Marcos Rojo, while midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are currently out injured.But Mourinho refused to reveal whether the fitness problems will prompt him Into dramatic action in the January transfer window.“Yes, is true I wanted four players in the summer and I think clearly everybody knows the position, maybe you know the player, didn’t happen but we adapt to it and try the best we can,” he said.“But what I expect from a normal season is Zlatan will be back and Marcos will be back, and Pogba and Fellaini will be back and someone will get injured,” he added.“I don’t want to speak about signings yet, or the market or January. We are in October, we have November, December and half of October to play, so why should I speak about the market?”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic embraces team manager Jose Mourinho after their victory in the English League Cup final match against Southampton, at Wembley stadium in London, on February 26, 2017MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Oct 20 – Jose Mourinho said on Friday that he expects Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be ready to return to action from his career-threatening knee ligament injury before the end of the year.The Manchester United manager has stubbornly refused to put a timeline on the absences of long-term injury victims Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba, who suffered a hamstring tear in mid-September.