The 2016 European Championship hasn’t exactly set the footballing world ablaze, in terms of entertainment value. We have yet to see an absolutely thrilling match nor have we seen any true outstanding players nor have we seen the players, who were being touted as the probable standouts of the tournament, really deliver; they have all went missing. The big teams have all had a torrid time with only one team- Spain- really consistently delivering outstanding performances so far.
And yesterday’s match between Portugal and Austria was just another reminder of how incredibly, disappointing the competition has been to watch, with the only real animation up until now, the constant tumult of fan violence in and around the stadiums.
Talk about a let down! Portugal heads this list and so does their superstar, Ronaldo. Fresh off a third Champion’s League triumph, his second with Real Madrid, the Portuguese was expected to take the competition by storm, while helping his team to qualify for the next round but he hasn’t been in form and his morbid attitude isn’t helping much.
Why does he feel the need to try and do it all on his own? It’s understandable that Portugal depends on him and he feels compelled to deliver but there are ten other players out there with him, all of whom are very competent, but instead of playing with them he tries to carry the entire weight of his country on his shoulders and it has so far paid no dividends. As the leader of a team, he’s expected to incite an atmosphere of resilience even in the face of disappointment and not become dejected or complain when things don’t go as planned. His inability at times to do that transmits to his teammates and reflects itself in the team’s performance; yesterday was no different and Portugal could only come away with a mere draw. They are now levelled on points with Iceland.
Realistically, the Portuguese have a chance of qualifying if they beat Hungary in the final match and of that much they are capable.
A lot of people would love to see the Portuguese qualify and Ronaldo finally turn in an impressive performance for them at a major tournament but truth be told at this level he’s been incredibly disappointing for them despite being their biggest, most decorated and most talented player.
Austria, after having an impressive, undefeated run in the qualifiers with nine wins and one draw and conceding a mere five goals to their 22 goals scored have been anything but thrilling. They look vapid and frankly well out of their depth in the competition. Their star player, Alaba has struggled to contribute anything of substance to his side’s endeavours, though much of that boils down to the positions Koller has chosen to deploy him. Defensively, they are fine but it’s in their attack that banality really lies and it’s a pity we didn’t get to see much of the spark we saw in their qualification campaign.
They were expected to be a real force in this group, with qualification for the round of 16 a given but based on their opening games they look unlikely to do so and will come up against debutants Iceland, who’ve not only played well but scored more goals and collected more points; they will prove tough opponents for the Austrians in the final group game. Any chance of even having at shot at qualification to the next round looks beyond reach.
Much more was expected of the Turkish team for this competition, considering they have some gifted players the likes of: Calhanoglu, Turan, Sahin and Burak Yilmaz. They have failed to make a mark at the competition, haven’t scored a goal and looks utterly hopeless. This is the same team that managed to defeat Netherlands 3-0 at home and drew 1-1 in Holland along their way to qualifying for the championship but they have looked trite in attack and the defence has huge, gaping holes. The two players, Turan and Calhanoglu, who were expected to have an impact have both turned in lacklustre performances, with captain Turan going as far as apologising to his country for his and his team’s awful display against Croatia. They still have a chance of making it to the next round via a third place finish but they must defeat the Czech Republic and hope other results go their way. An advance into the next round would however be unfair as they have done nothing to deserve it.