Cynicism for international football, which I have plenty of, did not survive the festival we were treated to yesterday. Switzerland scoring three before eliminating World Champions on penalties is a feat for the ages. That it fell to the game’s most prodigious prodigy, Kylian Mbappe, to miss the decisive penalty and turn France Miserables, could have been scripted by Victor Hugo himself.
Croatia’s miracle ran out of steam in extra time against Spain, Europe’s other footballing giant of recent times. They were no less enthralling than the Swiss. The difficult side of the draw lived up to its reputation.
Football is the game we love because of the drama and excitement good competition generates. League rosters everywhere are full of fixtures with little consequence. Lose and you have a chance to recover. Celtic’s quadruple treble raised the excitement bar in Scottish football. For aspiring teams, every League Cup game was a must-win as it presented a viable chance to win silverware.
Great champions raise the stakes for everyone. When they lose, the sense of achievement the likes of Ross County, who were first to eliminate Celtic from a competition, and Switzerland last night, achieve what was thought barely possible. We need to get back to the top of the pile.