To say that the 4-day old France-held European Championships has been exciting will be a great understatement. Ahead of a new club football season, we’ve been made to experience the thrills and frills of the round-leather game that country football can offer, at its finest. And of course, some talking points have emerged, few of which are:
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME STILL HAS SO MANY UGLY FANS
England, Russia and France fans have been able to paint a bad picture of the other side of football many have always been afraid of – hooliganism. The England – Russia game was marred with fans trouble before and after the match, and both countries risk being eliminated from the tournament if their fans repeat their troubles. On the streets of France, pictures of English fans facing off with the locals and rival fans are trending on the internet, and they just remind us that the beautiful game has its ugly supporters. A Portsmouth fan is said to be battling for his life after being attacked by Russians, and so many others were injured in the unrest.
EXPERIENCE WILL ALWAYS COUNT
On the pitch, the likes of France, Germany, and Italy have shown that experience could be the saving grace at times. Their fixtures against Romania, Ukraine and Belgium respectively are testament to that, with the winning/decisive goal coming at some moments of “experience” playing. Italy particularly highlighted this against Belgium. Despite the wide difference in FIFA Ranking and individual talent, the Red Devils still had to succumb to a very experienced Azzurri side.
ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY HAS THAT KEY PLAYER
Despite the array of talents a handful of the teams possess, the need for a key player that is capable of producing a match-winning moment hasn’t been overemphasized. It has been Payet for France, Iniesta for Spain, Zlatan for Sweden and Xhaka for Switzerland. Though plays are not being built around a singular player, except in Sweden’s case, but individual moments and performances will be what many countries will need to win some games, and that could also be the deciding factor in the next rounds crucial matches.
GOAL-LINE TECHNOLOGY IS (STILL) WAY TO GO
On the other side of the planet, Brazil recently got eliminated from the Copa America after losing to Peru. The Samba boys are rightly claiming that the only goal of the match was a handball. A point was all they needed in order to advance. However, that wouldn’t have been the case if Ecuador didn’t have a goal wrongly ruled out when they faced Brazil. With goal-line technology not in place, the Valencia-captained side was denied of a victory, handing Brazil an undeserved 1 point as a result. Such confusion was almost happening in France during the Germany – Ukraine game. Boateng made a timely goal-line clearance that might have been counted as goal, or got the Ukrainians claiming the ball went in had it been the technology wasn’t in place.
NO CLEAR FAVORITES
Only Germany and Italy have decisively won their games out of all 10 games played, and it only points to the fact that there aren’t minnows and clear favorites any longer. Although no upset has been seen just yet, but we would likely get to see them soon as the tournament proceeds.