The final of the Euros wrapped up with Portugal coming out on top against host France, through Eder’s delightful goal in the 109th minute. The match embodied the general tone the tournament had set from the first whistle in Stade de France- drab. Both teams were anything but impressive throughout the championship but they did enough to make it into the final and there was very little to talk about during, except the invasion of the moths and of course Ronaldo’s unfortunate injury which led to him being stretchered off in the 26th minute.
As unexceptional as the tournament was, there are a few conclusions I drew from it. Here they are:
Portugal are a lucky team
The fact Portugal was able to lift the European Championship trophy speaks to the quality of the tournament we’ve seen this year. They did nothing in this championship that warranted them to reach the final- though the ridiculous formatting for the knockout round certainly made it easier for them to get to there.
In the group stages, the Portuguese failed to win a single game against lowly Iceland, Hungary and a very disappointing Austria, finished third but still qualified for the round of 16, where they needed extra time to beat group D champions Croatia, while in the quarter-finals they needed a penalty shootout against Poland to take them to the semi-finals, where they defeated the surprise of the tournament, debutants Wales 2-0 in regular time. For the final, despite losing Ronaldo in the 26th minute, they dragged the game on for extra time and delivered the K.O. to the French in the 109th minute.
Paul Pogba is not worth €120 million
Pogba, like Bale or any other player for that matter, isn’t worth such a ludicrous sum of money. Pogba is without a doubt an exceptional player but sometimes fails to live up to his potential, as was evident in his performance at this tournament. Any team willing to cough up that much money would be foolish.
It’s shocking Real Madrid pulled out of the race to sign him but it makes sense financially and from a sporting perspective, since they’d have to sell at least three players to raise enough money (about €100 million) to sign him. Where’s the sense in giving up three to gain one?
UEFA should immediately address the logic, or lack thereof, Platini used to draw teams against each other for the knockout rounds, as it was confusing and illogical. Also, the brackets ended up being too easy for some teams and difficult for others.
Sweden needs a new generation
It must be said: this Swedish team were a terrible bunch. They were unable to win, let alone score a goal at the tournament. A few years back they were always considered a menacing team but those days are long gone and they need a new generation of Larssons, Ljungbergs, etc.
Moussa Sissoko needs a new club
Sissoko wasn’t a starter for France in their group games or the first knockout round but
when Kante got suspended, he was brought into the team ahead of Cabaye and what a difference he made for the French. He brought more energy, pace and power to their midfield. He was key in keeping Germany at bay in the semi-final and led much of the counter-attacks against them; while in the final he was a source of headache for the Portuguese with quite a few powerful and dangerous runs with the ball into the box, one of which culminated in a wicked turn against Cedric on the right of the box to drive a shot towards goal, which Rui Patricio was able to parry.
Given his delightful display in the knockout stages and Newcastle being relegated, a move is almost certain and he should jump at the chance if he wishes to continue in the French team.
Germany is in need of strikers
The Germans lacked precision and ruthlessness in front of goal, which contributed to them being knocked out in the semi-final against an insipid French team. However, while it costed them specifically in that game, they were already having trouble throughout the tournament and only managed to score more than one goal in two games from their six- against Ukraine in the group stage and Slovakia in the round of 16. They created chances but they rarely had someone with the deftness of Klose and suffered.
CR VS Messi: A new debate
Ronaldo was crowned 2016 Euro champion with Portugal in his second ever final with the national team, while his counterpart Messi has led his Argentina to four finals in recent years and won none- his latest loss prompting him to retire from the national setup.
The win for Ronaldo will no doubt spark a new debate about which of the two is better. But what’s the point? Both players have their admirers and haters. We’ve also been unable to settle the Pele vs Maradona debate for generations now and we’ll probably be unable to settle this one. What is true, however, is they are both immensely talented players, who have done exceptionally well for both club and country.
Impressive tournament debutants
Newcomers Wales, Iceland and Albania all went went above and beyond in this championship. Albania was a menacing opponent in group A and caused their competitors a lot of headaches. They almost won a point against France and Switzerland and defeated Romania in their final group game but unfortunately missed out on the next round because eventual champions Portugal placed better in the table for third-placed teams.
Iceland managed to finish second in their group with a win (coming against Austria) and two draws, which meant they qualified for the knockout stages. They met and defeated group B runners up England but were then pummelled by France in the quarter-final.
Wales was certainly the most successful of the bunch, by virtue of winning their group, which included neighbours England, knocking out Northern Ireland in the round of 16, overturning a one-goal deficit against Belgium to win 3-1 in the quarter-final before losing to ultimate champions, Portugal in the semi-finals.
All three teams punched above their weight and were certainly a part of the [rare] positive moments in the tournament.
Renato Sanches and Raphael Guerriero
Renato Sanches could turn out to be a steal for Bayern at €35 million. His display for Portugal at the Euros was probably the best part of watching Portugal in this tournament. An absolutely powerful player, who can strike the ball with both feet, runs all game from box to box and is comfortable playing anywhere in midfield his coach tells him.
Guerriero, who will also be playing in the Bundesliga this coming season, gave Dortmund fans a preview of what they can expect from him: energetic runs down the flank, vicious crosses into the box and powerful and dangerous free kicks.
Both players will be a great addition to the Bundesliga.
The tournament is now over and though disappointing, it ensured that football fans all over didn’t suffer withdrawal syndrome after the club season ended.