It’s the international break!
If you support a national team, odds are they’re playing a couple of meaningless friendlies that you may or may not care about. Unless your team is slogging through Euro qualifiers, in which case you… still may or may not care, depending on how likely they are to get out of their qualifying group.
If your team is on the bubble for Euro qualification, the international break can get pretty intense. Which explains the feeling of uncertainty and tension that filled the air of the Parc des Princes on a cool autumn evening in September 2007. France was hosting Scotland in the return fixture in Euro 2008 Qualifying Group B. Scotland had won the game on their ground 1-0, and were looking to do a double over Les Bleus to inch closer to a place in the Euros the following summer. The Scots knew they had their work cut out for them, as they hadn’t beaten France on French soil since 1950. With qualification on the line, it was a must-win for both teams.
The game plodded through the first hour or so with neither team finding a breakthrough. Franck Ribery and Nicolas Anelka had a couple looks at goal, but Scottish keeper Craig Gordon (no relation to me, sadly) was having none of it.
In the 64th minute, Gordon sent a goal kick deep upfield. Midfielder James McFadden, who played for Everton at the time, collected the ball about 30 yards from goal. And then this happened.
Scotland held on to their slim lead for dear life and closed out the game at 1-0, securing all three points, the top spot (temporarily) in Group B, and their first win in France in 57 years. It remains one of the greatest moments in the history of Scottish football.
Scotland went on to drop their last two games in the qualifiers, a 2-0 loss away at Georgia and a 2-1 loss at home to eventual group winners Italy. They finished third in their group, two points behind France for the second qualifying spot.
International weeks can be pretty dull, but sometimes you get games like this. If you had planned on taking a soccer break this weekend, take a look at the list of match-ups before you make up your mind. You might end up seeing something amazing.