The biggest football spectacle in Europe kicked on June 10 in France. The 15th edition of UEFA Euros 2016 has expanded to feature 24 teams from the usual 16 teams. It will be a month long extravaganza, the final is scheduled on July 10, 2016. The tournament has not even completed 1 week but we have already witnessed 12 matches each of the 24 teams having played one match each. So we try and look back at the things we learned from the first round matches, how far are the pre-tournament predictions on track, the upsets, the surprise packages and can anything be said certainly about the next round of fixtures.
12 matches, 5 days, 5 things learned
The big names are missing
The Euros feature a long list of prolific goal scorers, who came into the tournament with a bag full of goals. As things stand they are yet to register themselves on the goal sheet.
Harry Kane, Robert Lewandoski, Thomas Muller, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Griezmann all have failed to get on the scoring sheet
One can only hope that these are early days and as the tournament progresses we will see them coming out all guns blazing for their countries as they have been doing for their respective clubs.
There has been no goal fest
12 games done but one has hardly seen a single high scoring match. Only 22 goals have been scored as yet, with no individual player having scored more than 1. The biggest margin of win has been 2-0 in 3 cases. However the good part is that not even a single match has been goalless. No match has ended in a frustrating 0-0 draw.
Lack of goals has also to do with how Euros or the world football has evolved with a defensive approach dominating football. Teams have started to focus of saving their goals and score if an opportunity, rather than go for the kill. The success of Greece in 2004 was based on this. Closer home Atletico Madrid road to the final of Champions league final of 2016 was pretty similar a compact defense and goals on counter. If seems that low scoring matches will remain the norm of the day as the tournament progresses.
The tournament has failed to spring any surprises as such
England despite all the hype is still a disappointment, Belgium can have the best players but in a tournament as big as this experience counts, you just don’t count Italy out,
the dark horses are good on paper but have not taken the tournament by storm in the first round of matches
There was nothing shocking or upsetting to write home after the first round matches. The only exception was the Hungary v/s Austria match where Austria were favorites given their qualifying form but things turned out to be contrary.
Refereeing gets a big thumbs up
It was a refereeing error in the Copa America few days back which cost Brazil a chance to progress to the quarter finals
In the Euros there have not been any major errors which could have impacted the outcome of the match. Two deserving red cards and a lone penalty is what the referees have given out in the 12 matches not a bad return one can say.
Russia Big Brother image is prevalent in Football too and there are sanctions against it here too
While Russia did frustrate England by a 1-1 draw it was more the theatrics of Russian fans which remained in news more than football for the entire week. The clashes between English and Russian fans both inside the stadiums and in various parts of France has attracted wide spread criticism. The UEFA has fined Russia Football Federation of 150,000 Euros as well have handed them a suspended disqualification.
If fans were not to mend their ways and were to repeat any of this again in any of the stadiums Russia will be disqualified from the tournament.
The French authorities too have come down heavy and there is news of deporting 50 Russian “Ultras” from France.
As we move into the second round of matches there will be more of a clear picture of where the tournament is going and will there be changes from the first round or it will only consolidate. One also hopes that football dominates the headlines for the right reasons.