Before the semi-finals of Euro 2016, I did an article about my thoughts on the tournament up to that point. Now that the tournament is over, I wanted to quickly revisit this by adding a few more thoughts. some of these may be an expansion on my original 6 thoughts, but some will be entirely new.
First of all, congratulations to Portugal on winning the European Championship. They may not have been playing pretty football (more on that below) but hey have now done something that the golden generation of Pauleta, Luis Figo and Rui Costa never managed, winning the country’s first ever major international tournament. What makes this even more impressive is that they have done so by beating the host nation, who were clear favourites, having lost their star player – and captain no less – within the first half hour.
That said, many people have questioned whether they deserved to be in the final in the first place. Throughout the tournament, they only won a single game within 90 minutes (the semi-final against Wales) and finished their group with 3 draws, qualifying 3rd behind Hungary and Iceland.
I made it clear in my last article that I didn’t agree with the way the tournament was set up to allow many of the 3rd placed teams to qualify as it didn’t encourage positive play and going for the win. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say Portugal don’t deserve to be champions – by the rules of the tournament they did what was necessary and won fair and square – I hope that this encourages UEFA to review the format ahead of Euro 2020.
This may be a historic tournament for a number of teams (1st appearance in a major tournament for a number of teams, 1st major tournament victory for Portugal) but for many, it’s not a tournament that will live long in the memory. Over the course of 51 matches, there were just 108 goals (2.12 per match). Euro 2012 averaged 2.45 per match (76 from 31 games), Euro 2008 managed 2.48 per match (77 from 31) and even Euro 2004 – when defensively minded Greece won the tournament – managed 77 goals from 31 matches. 22 matches were goalless at halfway and not many of those were particularly thrilling.
20 goals (18.5%) were scored from the 85th minute onward, clearly the teams were capable of playing attractive attacking football, but it seems that many of them chose to sit back and defend. Portugal’s solid, defensive approach is certainly impressive (they are unbeaten in 14 competitive games under Fernando Santos), but it won’t be winning them many fans.
I am firmly of the opinion that this was due to the ability of teams to qualify for the knockouts by being one of the best 3rd place finishers. 3 points gave a good chance of qualification, 4 points (1 win and 1 draw) guaranteed it. Hopefully if this is changed going forward, we will see more goals and much more exciting games in the next tournament.
Stop the hating
Now, unfortunately, it’s time for a little rant.
As much as I agree with having the right to voice your opinion, I did get sick of seeing all the hate going round online during the tournament. I understand that Cristiano Ronaldo is not the most popular of players, but the levels of hate I saw towards him, even after his injury, was ridiculous!
And it wasn’t even all directed at certain teams and players, but even the sport as a whole. I consider myself first and foremost a rugby union fan, but I do love a number of other sports and will willingly watch – and enjoy – even more sports. Though I still try to watch on a regular basis, I will admit that I have been somewhat put off of football in recent years due to the ridiculous wages and the actions of the players on the pitch, such as simulation and attempting to influence the referee (thankfully there has been very little of this in this tournament). However I still don’t feel that there is any need for all the “my sport is amazing, your sport is ****” posts that have been going around during the tournament. Everybody loves a bit of inter-sport banter, but a number of people took this too far. As a fan, you are representing your sport as much, if not more, than the players. I’m sorry to say that I’ve seen a fair few rugby fans moaning about everyone talking about football and it being all over the TV. I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate football fans acting like that when the 6 Nations or the Rugby World Cup comes around.
Treat others how you would want to be treated. If you’re not interested in the tournament, then just change the channel, it’s as simple as that!
So what are your thoughts? Do you think I’ve missed anything, or do you think the complete opposite? Let me know, I love to hear other people’s opinions!