Guns have been holstered in the Euro 2016. Swords have been sheathed… temporarily. The men are taking a well-deserved break, before moving on, after being seperated from the boys.
A break before moving on to the next round of battles for glory.
The group stages of any football competition is usually the most boring part of that competition. Have you noticed?
This is so true that, if you think it’s not, just cast your mind back to the UEFA Champions League group games you’ve seen.
Even the Copa America (Centenary edition), on-going in the U.S.A, has lived up to this expectation. Several boring games up until… erm, the final? (Chile thrashing Mexico 7-0 in the quarter-final and Argentina whooping USA by four unreplied goals in the semis don’t exactly count as exciting).
The dilemna of the group stages of football competitions.
But the case has been an entirely different one in this year’s European Championship.
It’s been breath-taking! Catching up with the fanciest of goals and the most-surprising of results has been quite the job.
And as far as I can remember, the games have just begun. Imagine what will happen in the Knockout round… (let your imagination run wild for a minute…)
So you see… the party in France hasn’t even started. There will be more last-minute, heart-breaking goals. There’ll be even more surprises, heart-aches and games tighter than before.
I know you can’t wait. I can’t too!
But, while we’re waiting, let’s look back at what happened in the Third Round of the Euro 2016, shall we?
So far, so good:
– The “Extra Four” Made This Euro Even More Exciting!
The Euro 2016 had a twist to it: The “Extra Four.” You can also call them the “Best Losers” or the “Lucky Ones.” (ironic right?)
Four countries, from the six groups, “survived” and qualified for the knockout stages along with the 12 that got automatic qualification.
Teams like Slovakia, Northern Ireland and even Ronaldo’s Portugal could only manage to qualify as best losers.
But before, during and after the third round, calculations and permutations were going on all over the place. Who would qualify?
For teams like Italy and Spain, it was more of the case of topping the group as they had already qualified. But C. Ronaldo and the gang were calculating. “What if’s” became the order of the day.
Of course this made the third round of group games a delight to watch as players like Cristiano Ronaldo finally came alive, one team stepped up to beat Spain and Iceland pulled a rabbit of their hat in the last-minute.
– That Awkward Moment When…
… teams like Hungary, Croatia, Wales top their respective groups after the three rounds of games. Who would have thought?
Of course it wasn’t strange to see England finish second in their group. That’s just English football’s way. With the way Portugal played, it was more awkward than surprising to see Hungary finish as the group leaders.
Though the Russians failed to qualify and, expectedly, with their fans gone back to Moscow or St. Petersburg, there were still more fan troubles. Some fans even got arrested.
Of course the fan troubles part wasn’t awkward. I mean, fan troubles has been part of the tournament before it even began right?
– Ronaldo ALONE Cannot Save Portugal
Some might argue that this is me trying to beef up my short article with another story of CR7’s performance at the Euros so far.
But since everyone’s talking about him (and criticizing too), I’d rather talk about how Ronaldo ‘s teammates are more of a burden than a blessing to the legend.
Portugal, as a team, could only manage three draws in the group stages. It wasn’t because C. Ronaldo did not step up to the plate. It was because players like Quaresma were busy scattering while Ronaldo and Moutinho were gathering.
Even when they needed to win against Hungary and they finally scored three goals… they still MANAGED TO CONCEDE THREE!
It’s more than obvious that Ronaldo is NOT the only solution to the problems of the Portugese national team. What more can a player do for a team if, after scoring two, his team-mates go on to successfully concede not two, but three goals?
With the way they’ve played, the Portugese team are not expected to go far in this tournament. But if their going far is one of the surprises the Euro 2016 has in store for us the fans, we obviously don’t mind right?
The Portugese national team had better stop overly relying on Ronaldo and start supporting him by being better team players before it’s too late.
– Amazing Knockout Matches: A Fan’s Delight!
Like I said earlier, the men have been seperated from the boys. Now it’s go big or go home!
For a tournament that has already amazed fans well enough, the football gods have put some icing on the Euro 2016 cake: even more mouth-watering fixtures!
Hard-running, counter-attacking Croatia will take on Portugal while host-nation France will be more-than-ready to take on Ireland. I’m half-heartedly expecting a battle when Germany take on Slovakia and I literally can’t wait for the Italy vs Spain game (Forza Azzurri!)
England faces Iceland (easy one there mate?) while there’s a tasty clash in the works between Hungary and Belgium (both teams to score maybe?) Bale(s) and Wales take on Northern Ireland (some more UK drama. Leave or Remain? In or Out?) while Switzerland and Poland will slug it out.
It’s interesting to note that no team won all of its group games. The closest any team got to nine points was two wins and a draw. That’s how competitive Euro 2016 has been so far.
It’s also note-worthy (nose-worthy?) to pay tribute to Swedish legend, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played his last international match for Sweden against Ireland. Much much love Ibra… I won’t forget that in-the-air, over-head goal against England in a hurry (you remember it?).
Of course don’t forget to share your thoughts with me and other readers in the comments section.
So far, so good, who do you think will win Euro 2016? What have you noticed in the tournament so far? Which team will fail to make it past the second round?
Iceland? But did you really mean Iceland or England?
Let me know what you think.
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Images credit: Mirror
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn
Author: Rotimi “Papi the Great” Daramola
Rotimi Daramola aka Papi the Great is the owner of ForTheGoal.
A freelance sports writer who focuses on football, Rotimi is also a freelance writer, a copywriter and a football analyst who regularly appears on radio and television to talk football. You can follow him on twitter @papi_thegreat to keep up with his writings, engage him and also find out about how you can secure his writing services.