Finland 2 Belgium 0

Eagle owl attending soccer game pt. 2

This picture was taken by smela, and arrived here via the Finnish football pool on flickr

Alright, it was a long time ago, but I’m playing with the photo feature here and this is a great picture. Roman Eremenko was immense in this match, by all accounts (I was in Tallinn covering the Estonia-England game), and this incident seemed to relax him and the rest of the team.

It was the Wednesday after a disastrous 2-0 loss to Serbia, and the pressure was on. Failure to dispose of the Belgians would have eliminated Finland, and given that the match before they played Serbia was a 1-0 loss to Azerbaijan, you can safely assume there would have been major changes.

It was at this point that I began to doubt the strategy. Eremenko played without a care in the world, with the fearless freedom of someone who knows he has many more chances to do what needs to be done. Jari Litmanen had come on against Serbia with 15 minutes to go and looked tense, tired and only just fit to play. Finland need to have more faith in their young players if they’re going to progress, and hopefully that’s what the next manager will do.

Speculation suggests that Stuart Baxter is being considered, but it would be foolish to bet against Litmanen having a role somewhere. Whoever it is will need to build a team around the younger players, who will hopefully show the same kind of confidence as Eremenko did against Belgium.

I am currently writing a season review, by the way, but it’s way too long and rambling at the moment. The plan was to leave it as the top post for a couple of months over the winter, but I’m enjoying these summery, sunshiny pictures too much to stop posting them. If you want to have a look at some more sunny football pics from Finland, go here.

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