When friends new to soccer ask me how to best learn about soccer, I tell them to watch the games. Revelatory, I know. But that point has been driven home to me this morning as I read about yesterday's U-19 match. The Young Lions faced off against France in the quarter finals, and with Nathan Delfouneso playing for the squad, Villans have a vested interest in the competition. After all, we're hoping our young striker manages to find a few first-team minutes this year.
But as I'm in the middle of moving house and signing lease papers and driving back and forth between states, I didn't have a chance to watch the match. Considering I couldn't even find someone's internet to steal (although someone living nearby whose internet is listed as 'soccer 1'; I will be making friends with this person) I wasn't able to follow along as it progressed. Instead, I've been trying to determine how well Delf played by reading post-match reports. This is not going well.
According to Sky Sports, Delfouneso wasted two chances yesterday. According to BBC Sport, his first strike 'drew an impressive save'. Other reports also mention 'spurned chances' and the like. So what was it? Did anyone watch? Did Delfouneso miss sitters or was the French keep impressive? Or one of each?
In the end, and I mean in the very end, as it was Matthew Phillips who leveled the game in injury time, England scraped a draw and go on to face Spain in the semi-finals, which take place on Tuesday. France also made it through, taking the top of Group A and meeting Croatia.
Villa would love to have their young striker back in preseason play, particularly for the Guadiana Cup, which begins next Saturday against Feyenoord, with the Villa taking on Benfica the next day. With two games in two days, the team could use as many players as possible, so the selfish part of me wants the Young Lions to bow out on Tuesday. On the other hand, a kid with as much ambition and talent as Delfouneso deserves to have opportunities to shine. He's determined to impress both Martin O'Neill and Fabio Capello--and why not show off the skill of our youngsters?