What we’ve learned from Euros so far
What we have learnt so far in France
We’re nearly halfway through what has been an intriguing couple of weeks of football at Euro 2016. From the passion on the pitch to supporters fighting off it, there’s certainly been plenty to talk about the group stages in France. We look back and pick out the key findings so far...
1. DON’T REWARD MEDIOCRITY
Giving more nations a chance to make the big stage may tick UEFA’s CSR boxes but the format of letting third-place teams through to the knockout stages is merely rewarding mediocrity.
The four best performing thirdplace teams out of the six groups qualify. So, Northern Ireland, with one win, two loses and just two goals, are through. Northern Ireland may have earned their place in the enlarged championships, but they haven’t earned the right to advance.
The group winners the third place teams will face virtually get a bye in the last 16 as there is little chance of a shock result given the teams are so woeful. UEFA needs to go back to a 16-team format. That will mean some nations don’t make the cut.
But this isn’t a school sports day where everyone’s a winner just for taking part, the goal is to find the best team in Europe.
2. LOTS OF FIGHTING TALK
You can commend the passion on the pitch by many teams, but in the stands and away from the stadiums, the dark days have returned to European football. The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) were the latest association in hot water at Euro 2016 after they were fined €65,000 following trouble after the draw with Iceland. Other nations also fined so far include Croatia (€100,000) and Russia (€150,000), while UEFA has ongoing investigations into fans from Romania, Albania, Portugal, Belgium and Turkey. The behaviour by some Russian fans is not the greatest advert for a country that will host the next World Cup.
3. DARK HORSES?
Before the start of the tournament everyone was raving about Germany and France, but the one team that have impressed almost everyone at 7DAYS Towers are Croatia. Boasting perhaps one of the strongest midfield pairings in the world in Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, these two have orchestrated some great moments. No doubt Rakitic and Modric are world-class players, but it has been Ivan Perisic who has been the Croat’s star player. The Inter midfielder scored a superb winner against Spain to secure top spot for Croatia in Group D and opponents must be wary of the trio in the knockout stages.
4. TALE OF TWO CHAMPIONS
Two-time defending champions Spain were virtually written off before the Euros with many saying the team was too old, not good enough... etc.
The Spaniards, however, have shown some of their old form, but as they proved against Croatia, they are beatable. Also when you have players like David Silva and Andres Iniesta on the pitch, why did Sergio Ramos step up to take a penalty? Had he scored maybe Spain would not have to now face the Italians in the last 16.
Ramos’ penalty miss could really come back to haunt them.
World champions Germany progressed to the last 16 with two wins and a draw from their three group games. What is quite scary for the rest of the nations is they have not hit anywhere near top gear. And can you believe that Thomas Muller has still never scored at a Euros? Surely, that will change this year, won’t it?
5. SO, WHO IS GOING TO WIN?
The team here at 7DAYS had a mixed bag of predictions in the run-up to Euro 2016. One went for Germany, one for Belgium and two said France.
Following the group stage it seems that we are none the wiser on who will win the tournament.
With Italy and Croatia added to the mix, one thing that is obvious is how open this tournament really is - which bodes well for the next few weeks.
HAVE YOUR SAY
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