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These Are The Bangers Fox Is Hiding From You

Nicolae Stanciu of Romania scores his team's first goal past Andriy Lunin of Ukraine during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Romania and Ukraine at Munich Football Arena on June 17, 2024 in Munich, Germany.
Florencia Tan Jun - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

I have a bone to pick with television executives. Thanks to the proliferation of streaming services, it has become harder and harder to simply watch a major sporting event in one place. As an example, I sat down earlier this month to watch the French Open, but first I had to figure out whether a match I wanted to watch would be on Peacock, the Tennis Channel, or over-the-air NBC. I didn't quite expect to have this issue with the Euros, though. While it was unfortunate that Fox had the rights to the tournament here in the United States in the first place—soccer fans have to steel themselves for a month of Alexi Lalas's bullshit whenever Fox is involved—I figured I'd be able to watch every game on the network's various channels.

Silly me! Fox has managed to fuck even that up. Five matches in the group stage will be relegated to Fubo Sports Live, a channel that only exists on Fubo, a subscription service that serves as a cable replacement, a la YouTube TV. By putting these games on a streaming service that is a full-price $70 a month, Fox is holding these matches ransom behind the Fubo paywall, just to juice a bit of extra money from the second-biggest international tournament in the world. (For those who either understand Spanish or are okay with Spanish commentary, Univision's niche streaming service Vix, which costs $7 a month, is also showing these games.)

If there was one silver lining in this horrid, fan-unfriendly agreement, it is that, on paper, the five matches shunted off to Fubo are all relatively low-profile. The outrage over this decision—and there has been plenty—would be tenfold if Fox had put, say, an England match on Fubo. That's no excuse, though, because all tournament soccer is worth watching. Luckily, I already had a Fubo subscription, so I'm one of the rare people who's been able to enjoy what everyone else should have too.

The first Fubo-exclusive game of the tournament was Switzerland vs. Hungary, a back-and-forth 3-1 thriller that ended in favor of the Swiss. It was bad enough that Fox had that on a much smaller, more expensive platform, and doubly so given the shoddy production of that game; somehow, Fubo Sports Live forgot that people want a scoreboard with the current score and time while watching a soccer game.

If putting that game on Fubo was negligent, then throwing Ukraine-Romania on there was malpractice. Again, on paper, this seemed to be one of the most anonymous matches of the group stage, featuring two fun teams who nonetheless have little name recognition with a casual fan. However, Romania punished Fox's greed by scoring some of the best goals the tournament has seen so far in an action-packed 3-0 win over its fellow blue-and-yellow-clad opponents. In its own way, despite the lopsided scoreline, this was just the type of game that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible, without having to pony up for a random streaming service.

The bangers started early. After Ukraine held most of the possession in the opening half hour, a mistake in distribution from Real Madrid keeper Andriy Lunin eventually set up Romanian captain Nicolae Stanciu with a golden opportunity. The 31-year-old midfielder took advantage of it, blasting a right-footed curler that curved past Lunin, immediately punishing the keeper for his mistake with an unstoppable shot that, for my money, is the best goal of the Euros so far.

Shortly after halftime, Romania was at it again, and Lunin was once again victimized. A Romania counter-attack was stopped briefly by Ukraine, but the ball squirted out into the path of Razvan Marin, who, like Stanciu before him, hit a first-touch laser, this time closer to the ground. Lunin probably could have done better to keep it out, but there's no mistaking that this was a nigh-unstoppable bullet of a goal that doubled Romania's lead:

Though it wasn't quite a banger on its own, Romania's third goal, just four minutes after Marin's strike, was exciting in its own way, as the supposed underdogs took a quick corner, navigated it into the box, and Dennis Man's cutback pass found Denis Dragus for a wide open for a tap-in. There was a VAR check for offside, though replays showed that Dragus took enough of a step back before the pass to stay millimeters onside:

Again, this is the exact type of game that makes tournaments like the Euros so fun. Even with two teams of little surface appeal to non-diehards, the action was storming, the goals were incredible, and the atmosphere in Munich from the jubilant Romanian fans was unmatched by anyone save for the German hosts' opening match. This is where soccer is at its best, and it's a damn shame that the combination of a 9 a.m. Eastern start time and the Fubo of it all robbed so many people of watching Romania arrive on the world stage after two post–Gheorghe Hagi decades in the wilderness. (A fun side note: Hagi's son, Ianis, is in this Romania squad and subbed on in the second half.)

There are three more matches that won't be on any of Fox's channels during the rest of the group stage—Turkey-Georgia on June 18, Slovakia-Ukraine on June 21, and Georgia-Czech Republic on June 22 (it is a crime that Georgian superstar Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will be relegated to Fubo for two of his three matches; he's one of the most exciting players in the whole field!)—and though none of those scream must-watch, Romania proved that any team at this tournament, at any time, can turn in a performance worthy of being broadcast widely. Fuck Fox for trading that for a few dollars.

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