My review of Euro 2016

Euro 2016 has finished, with Portugal lifting the trophy after beating France 1-0 with a goal from Eder in stoppage time.

My predicted winners were France, who reached the final. They played some good football at times, although did rely on late goals, particularly during the group stage. There were questions about their defence, but they answered those questions with their semi-final victory over Germany, who dominated possession for long periods of time, but created little of real note. They seemed to struggle to get going in the final and Portugal were able to capitalise, with their gameplan being a success.

I predicted Poland to be the tournament dark horses and they reached the quarter-final before being knocked out by Portugal on penalties. They qualified comfortably from their group, but seemed to struggle in the knockout games, playing well at times, whilst struggling at others in the same match. They got off to an excellent start against Portugal, but once Portugal got a foothold in the game, they seemed to struggle to kick on, resulting in their eventual defeat on penalties.

I predicted England would reach the quarter final, but they were knocked out in the Last 16 by Iceland following a disappointing performance. England started well with a very encouraging performance against Russia, but only managed a draw following a last gasp goal. They didn’t seem to recover from this setback, with performances getting worse, culminating in the loss to Iceland. Unsurprisingly, Hodgson resigned and the search is now on for a new manager, with Sam Allardyce and Jurgen Klinsmann seemingly the favourites.

The tournament was an average one, with few memorable matches. France V Germany in the semi-final was probably the best match of the tournament. There were too many games with teams looking to defend and pinch something from a set-piece or on a counter-attack. I think that this was linked to the change in format and the increase in teams – 4 out of the 6 teams who finished 3rd qualified for the Last 16, meaning there was less necessity to push for victories. There has been criticism that Portugal won the tournament despite only winning one game in 90 minutes (their semi-final against Wales). However, it was known before the tournament that something like this could happen and if England had won playing the same way, I’m sure there would not be the same criticism in the country.

Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts about the tournament.


Who will win Euro 2016?

Vote on who you think will win the final of Euro 2016:

Euro 2016 Semi-Finals

Match 1: Portugal V Wales

The battle of the Galacticos as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal take on Gareth Bale’s Wales. At least, that’s how the game is being billed in the media. However, there is more to both teams than their star players as has been shown. Ronaldo has had an average tournament, missing a penalty in one match and only scoring a couple of goals, both in the same game. Portugal have drawn all their matches over 90 minutes. Bale has had quite a good tournament, but was not involved in any of the three goals when Wales beat Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-final. They kept Belgium’s chances to a minimum and were incisive when attacking. The loss of Aaron Ramsey to suspension is a big one for Wales and I don’t think they will be able to replace his quality in midfield.

Predicted winner: Portugal

Match 2: Germany V France

The world champions take on the hosts in the second semi-final. Both teams have played well at times and looked very dangerous; they have also struggled at times and looked vulnerable when attacked. Germany had a quarter-final victory like this over Italy, looking excellent around the time they got their goal and then struggling when Italy started to control the game towards the end of the 90 minutes. France dominated the first half of their quarter-final against Iceland, but in the second half showed that they remain vulnerable when the ball is crossed into the area. If France get their quick, incisive passing working, they will create plenty of problems, but Germany’s ability to cross well into the box could go a long way to deciding this match.

Predicted winner: France

Euro 2016 Quarter Finals

Match 1: Poland V Portugal

The first quarter final sees Poland take on Portugal. Poland have played well at times, but struggled at other times. Portugal have been quite subdued and qualified from their group with 3 draws and required a goal deep in stoppage time to win their Last 16 match against Croatia. This is a difficult match to call, as both attacks could cause problems for the other defence, but I think Poland have a more rounded attack, whilst Portugal appear to rely on Portugal

Winner: Poland

Match 2: Wales V Belgium

This appears to be a bit of a mis-match, but the two countries played in qualifying and Wales took 4 points from their games against Belgium. Wales have defended well and Gareth Bale has been a potent weapon for them in attack. Belgium struggled in their opening game against Italy, but have been improving since then and recorded a convincing 4-0 victory over Hungary in the last 16. The Belgium V Hungary game was open and it is difficult to imagine Wales playing an open game against such a strong Belgium attack.

Winner: Belgium

Match 3: Germany V Italy

Germany have looked excellent at times, but struggled in others, especially when pressure has been put on them (Ukraine attacked with purpose for the final 15 minutes of the first half in their group game and Germany seemed to struggle). In contrast, Italy have played well in all their matches (with the possible exception of their final group game against Republic of Ireland when they had already qualified and made plenty of changes) and qualified top from the ‘Group of Death’ (and with a game to spare) and were convincing winners against Spain in the Last 16 – quite an achievement for the worst Italian side ever! This is a difficult match to call and it could go all the way to penalties. The winners of this match will also arguably become favourites for the tournament.

Winner: Italy

Match 4: France V Iceland

Iceland surpassed all expectations in qualifying from their group, never mind beating a lacklustre England in the Last 16 to reach the quarter-finals at their first international tournament. France have impressed at times, particularly against Republic of Ireland in the Last 16 in the second half, where they looked dangerous every time they attacked. The strengths in the French midfield and attack will put a lot of pressure on Iceland’s defence, which has generally played well.

Winner: France

Predicted semi-finals:

Poland V Belgium
Italy V France

England 1-2 Iceland

England exited Euro 2016 at the Last 16 with a loss against Iceland. England got off to an excellent start with Rooney scoring from the penalty spot after Sterling had been brought down. The lead lasted two minutes before Sigurdsson poked home from close range after a long throw was flicked on. Iceland’s winner came in the 18th minute when a shot from Sigthorsson slipped under Hart’s arm and rolled gently in. England had shots as they looked to get back into the game, but most of them were from range and not good chances; the best chance fell to Kane, but he headed straight at the goalkeeper. Whilst Iceland had little of the ball and few further chances, Hart was required to make two good saves in the second half to keep England in the game. The best team on the night deservedly won and Iceland will now play France in the quarter final.

Following the result, Hodgson stepped down as England manager. The performance against Iceland was poor and there didn’t seem to be a gameplan for how to get back into or win the game. As time wore on, England made more mistakes, often without being under any pressure as passes were mis-placed and poor touches saw the ball running away. Sterling had another poor game; he is quick, but there rarely seems to be a final ball. Kane also struggled and his set-piece delivery remained poor, with it either being too short or too long and no direct free kick threatened the goal.

England’s best performance of the tournament came in their opening game against Russia, where they were cruelly denied a victory by a stoppage time goal. The performance in the game against Russia suggested that England could have a good tournament, but they never seemed to recover from Russia rescuing a point in stoppage time.

Euro 2016: Last 16

With the European Championships having expanded to 24 teams, there is a round of 16 teams.

Game 1: Switzerland V Poland

Switzerland take on Poland in the first knockout game of the tournament. I tipped Poland to be dark horses before the tournament and from what I’ve seen so far, I think Poland will have enough to beat Switzerland and take their place in the quarter finals.

Winner: Poland

Game 2: Wales V Northern Ireland

A local derby in Last 16 is the second knockout match of the tournament. This match is quite a surprise as Wales topped their group (whilst I thought they had a good chance of qualifying, I was surprised that they topped the group) and Northern Ireland qualified from a tough group that included world champions Germany. Both teams seem to have an abundance of team spirit, but I think that the class of Gareth Bale will be enough to separate two quite similar sides.

Winner: Wales

Game 3: Croatia V Portugal

Another surprising match as a result of Croatia beating Spain and topping Group D, whilst Portugal could only manage three draws and finish third in what looked like a reasonably easy group to win. Portugal have an outstanding talent in Cristiano Ronaldo, but he has largely been frustrated in the tournament so far. In contrast, Croatia have an outstanding midfield that can boast Modric and Rakitic and they also have a player who has been one of the best in the tournament so far in my opinion – Perisic. This has the potential to be a close game and I would not be surprised if it went to extra time and possibly even penalties.

Winner: Croatia

Game 4: France V Republic of Ireland

France topped their group as expected, although they required late goals to record their two wins of the tournament so far. Republic of Ireland qualified from ‘The Group of Death’ as one of the best third placed teams following a late goal against Italy. If France do have a weakness, it is their defending of set pieces and if Ireland are to have a chance of progressing, they will need excellent delivery from Brady. Even with excellent set piece delivery, I don’t think it will be enough.

Winner: France

Game 5: Germany V Slovakia

An easy Last 16 tie for Germany? In a Euro 2016 warm-up game, Slovakia beat Germany (in Germany) 3-1 and Germany have only looked good in patches. The German team that will play this match is likely to be stronger than the one fielded in the friendly (Neuer will surely start), but Slovakia have shown they are tough to break down and possess danger when breaking with Hamsik in the side. However, Germany nearly always find a way to progress and I would expect them to do so again.

Winner: Germany

Game 6: Hungary V Belgium

Hungary’s group appeared to be a relatively weak one, but Portugal were expected to top it with Austria in second place, leaving Hungary battling it out with Iceland for third place. However, Hungary were having none of it and not only qualified, but topped the group. This match looks as though it will be a united team in Hungary that is better than the sum of its parts against a team of excellent individual players in Belgium who don’t quite seem to gel as a group. I think a moment of individual brilliance from one of the Belgian forwards will be just enough to see them through.

Winner: Belgium

Game 7: Italy V Spain

The worst Italian team ever (as they were branded before the start of the tournament) qualified top of the ‘Group of Death’ after two games and their reward? Spain, who surprisingly came second in their group after losing their final group game against Croatia. This is a repeat of the Euro 2012 final, which Spain won convincingly (4-0). This Spanish team is not as good as that Spanish team, but they will still have plenty of the ball. However, if there is one team who will not be concerned by this, it is Italy and I think that the Italians will use all of their guile in a game when they will play a counter-attacking style. It will be a tight game, but the Spanish defence has looked weak at times and I think Italy will exploit this with incisive counter attacks.

Winner: Italy

Group 8: England V Iceland

Two surprising runners-up meet in the final knockout match as England surprisingly only came second of their group (despite being unbeaten), whilst Iceland surprisingly qualified automatically from their group (remaining unbeaten in the process). Iceland’s game plan has involved defending resolutely with plenty of men behind the ball, which England have found difficult to play against (as evidenced in the 0-0 draw with Slovakia). England’s pressure is likely to tell in the end, but they will have to ensure that they don’t get careless at the back.

Winner: England

Predicted quarter-finals:

Poland V Croatia
Wales V Belgium
Germany V Italy
France V England