I don’t think it’s possible to be a football supporter and not be affected by the 2016 European Championships.
We’ve witnessed some courageous football, some unbelievable football, some tragic football and some pathetic football. I’ve compiled a list of 5 teams I think should’ve done more, achieved more.
Somewhat regretfully I have to add Italy to this list of disappointments. In the opening group game they showed more desire than Belgium. They were clinical in possession. They played with heart, they played for Italy. My expectations grew. Against Sweden I thought they just did enough, back into the old trap of Italian football. Score, then defend with 11. Against Ireland Conte rested key players but there was no desire. I hoped they would rekindle the ambition from the match against Belgium but it just wasn’t there with qualification already guaranteed.
I thought they were brilliant against Spain. I loved how they defended with every man, chased down every ball and gave it their all to earn a fantastic win against the more fancied opponent. I started to believe that Buffon and his charges were the real deal but in the match against Germany the Italians did very little to inspire me. The only shot on goal in the 90 was the penalty to take the game into extra time. That’s just not good enough, even if you play counter-attacking football. The penalty shoot-out was catastrophic in footballing terms but losing when Germany try to gift it to you, that’s tragic. Simone Zaza will never live this miss down.
There seems to be a distinct lack of desire among the team. The attitude seems to be one of ” that will do”, rather than “the best I can do”. Ronaldo is flapping his arms about while Nani and co wrestle imaginary opponents on the turf in the hope of securing a penalty. I’m just disappointed with the whole show. I wanted more from the former United players. I expected more from Portugal. 5 matches have yielded one win, a narrow one at that over Croatia, who ironically were the better team in qualifying but then capitulated in this match. There is still time for Ronnie and co to make me regret adding them to this list but I doubt Wales will be left wishing they had put more effort into their semi-final match. It’s now or never for Portugal and I’m not ordering prego rolls from the caterers for the final.
Amazing to think Spain only conceded 2 against Italy.
The highlight for Spain will be the fact that Morata has developed into a complete centre forward during his stint in Italy. His movement and finishing hold a lot of promise for the Spanish team who haven’t enjoyed the luxury of a proper striker for some time now. Another highlight will be Nolito coming to the fore as a quality player capable of beating his marker and finding a pass. No doubt City will be hoping he can replicate this in the EPL. The fans may grow tired of tiki-taka, which seems to relied more on the insane talents of Iniesta and Xavi, especially now as they’ve entered the twilight years of their respective careers.
The Belgians will wonder what went wrong at this tournament. A loss to Italy in the opening group match was quickly offset by a three-zip demolition against Ireland. In the next match we anticipated fireworks against Sweden but instead they delivered a tame boring one-nil. A win is a win though, right? The team qualified from a tough group into the top half of the draw with all the big names in the bottom half. You couldn’t ask for a better draw with debutants Wales and Portugal the only real threat to making the final.
In the round of 16 against a small hurdle called Hungary, the Belgians put on their finest performance, they played with pace and precision and thrashed the hapless Eastern Europeans. Expectations grew. Next up, new comers Wales, a team playing on hope and a prayer. And Belgium started well. And yet that wasn’t enough as they succumbed to Aaron Ramsay, Robson-Kanu and 9 other Welsh bandits who robbed them on the road to the Semi-Finals. (I couldn’t resist, Wales was the better team on the day. Much better.)
Belgium might have high expectations but in reality they have a bunch of highly gifted individuals who are yet to function as a team. Brilliant at times and dismal at others, the team is essentially a young one and may develop into a better unit as the 2018 World Cup rolls around, and again in 2020 for the next Euro’s when the likes of Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku are in their mid 20’s.
That was the worst performance I have ever seen from an England team. Ever!
Blessed with untold riches, even after #Brexit, the English leagues are home to some of the most exciting talents that grace a football field anywhere in the world and yet the national team continues to struggle. Some will argue that the riches bring all the talent from around the globe to the UK and English players don’t get their fair shake at playing like they might if they were German, French or, dare I say it, Icelandic?
No friends, money is not the reason England is hopeless at every major tournament. It may contribute to overpaid, self-indulgent primadonnas but it is not the reason that English national football is still in the doldrums, 50 years after their only success on the biggest stage.
Hart, Cahill, Wilshire, Sterling, Rooney and Kane can all be summed up as poor. Roy Hodgson hasn’t learnt a damn thing since Brazil 2014 and I think the FA should shoulder some of the responsibility for not sacking the clown after the last calamitous outing.
No plan, no back-up plan, that’s Roy. As the manager you need to manage Roy, you can’t be best friends with all the players and pick lads who haven’t played all season to come rescue England when the chips are down. You also can’t be loyal to players who are out of form and playing poorly.
A win snatched against Wales in the final seconds is the highlight of their summer while failing to beat Russia, Slovakia and Iceland will be the nightmares they can never wake from. The only glimmer of hope was Marcus Rashford’s 4 minute cameo against the Icelandic Volcano dwellers. These 3 former players give an in-depth view of how things went wrong for England without the expletives I would use.
That’s my top 5 biggest disappointments for the Euro’s. Who are yours? Leave me a reply below or engage with me on Twitter.