The 2016 European Championships has thrown up some exciting moments, but has not been electrifying as a tournament. That is understandable, given that most tournaments come alive at the knock out stages. Despite this, we have seen enough to draw some conclusions…
Belgium will not be champions, unless…The Red Devils are the top rated team of the tournament, courtesy of their position in the FIFA rankings. However, the 3-0 defeat of Ireland on Saturday did not disguise the fact that the collection of brilliant players have not fully morphed into a team.The likes of De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku must replicate what they did against the Irish, or they’ll end up empty handed.
Italy and Germany will be threats. Maybe this is not even up for discussion, these two teams seem to peak during tournaments, and at the latter stages too. The Italians are already through to the next stage, the Germans will likely follow, and that is bad news for the ambitious hosts, France. The French are also through to the next round, but the question is: Can Giroud score enough goals to gift them the title, or will the French also suffer the “Arsenal curse"?
This tournament has reaffirmed that football is still a 90 minute game, despite the highly tactical, low scoring games we’ve seen recently, 13 of the goals scored so far have come after the 85th minute: lose focus and be punished. It’s not over until the fat lady sings.
The English are still noisy, and still ordinary. Years of following English football; first in print and then on television, has made me an England supporter. And it’s always painful to go into each tournament with the hype of both the Press and Premiership form ringing in your head, only to be hit by the harsh reality of English mediocrity. They are on course for an awakening. Again.
The Portuguese team that had Luis Figo as their leader were labelled ‘The Golden Generation’ and were expected to dominate Europe. They didn’t. This present generation have no labels, but the roster quietly projects a confidence that they can win, but on the strength of what we’ve seen so far, it won’t happen. What a waste(d generation).
Photo Courtesy: Squawka football