Euro 2016 is just three matches away from culmination and it has been a massive success so far. Well at least for the four teams that remain! With its fair share of goals and upsets, Euro has had all the ingredients of an entertaining tournament this year. At the beginning of the tournament I made a prediction about the seven teams that could run for Euro 16, and out of the seven, three remain.
Today I am here to dissect what went wrong with the teams that were shown the door.
Spain had a pretty decent team to begin with. Although not at par with the one in 2012, this one still had the caliber to see them through. So, what went wrong?
After outclassing Czech Republic and Turkey in the group stages, Spain took the complacency to head and lost the final group stage match. This resulted in them finishing next to Croatia in the group and a date with Italy in the first round of the knockouts. If the Spanish had been a little less slack, I believe they could have easily topped their group and faced Portugal. Now, Portugal are no pushovers either but their story of the tournament suggest that Spain would have happily swapped cards, had it been on the table. A consistent performance before they met France, Germany or Italy in the knockouts could have done wonders for their mental peace.
England, like always, had a star studded roster at their disposal. So, it was expected of them to easily qualify for the quarter finals. However, fate was writing an entirely new chapter. In probably the biggest upset of the year, England were defeated by Iceland! Yes, you read it right, Iceland! So what really went wrong with England?
To be honest, England at the hands of Roy Hodgson was nothing more than a ticking time bomb. Its hard to imagine why FA decided to hand over a talented bunch to a manager whose biggest achievement is finishing second in Europa League. And that too for 4 years! Hodgson should never have been appointed in the first place let alone allowed to manage England through 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016. A manager better than Hodgson could have worked miracles with this squad in Euro 16.
Italy had been one of the top dogs of the tournaments and rightly so. They dominated their group despite losing out their final game. They beat one of the favorites, Spain. They even were the first team to break the German defense in Euro 16. Equal to the Germans in all respects yet they couldn’t manage to get the better of them in the end. All they had to do was probably hold their nerves better than their opponents during the penalty shootout.
Belgium is currently in the golden period of their football history. The quality that they possess in all the areas of the pitch can make teams like Germany and France jealous. This is probably the prime reason the fans had high hopes from them. Fans would have spared them had they lost out to one of the other footballing giants. Unfortunately, it was Wales that decided to derail them from their track. So what went wrong for Belgium?
A talented bunch of individuals trying to outshine each other does not make a team. Infact it’s a recipe of disaster. Belgium in Euro 16 tried to replicate what they did in World Cup 2014. Now, if something didn’t work out well in the world cup how can it work in the Euro? Somebody needs to explain this to Marc Wilmots. As good he is, Wilmots has not done a very good job of keeping the youngsters from coherent. In fact it is not just the squad but also the manager that is inexperienced to handle such kind of talent.
Poland started off with a quality team bereft of squad depth. In fact they were one of the stronger sides in the tournament but not really title contenders by all means. They managed to convince the masses to consider them a title threat when they emerged one of the four teams in group stages not to lose a match. Not only that, they even managed to keep the world champions quiet when their game ended at 0-0.
Unfortunately for them, their striker lost his fourth at the wrong time otherwise they could have progressed much further than the position they departed from.
Like Poland, Croatia were also punching above their weight in the tournament. Similar to Poland, they were undefeated in the group stage but went a step further by defeating the defending champions Spain. Croatia was taken care off by Portugal in the early stages of the knockouts. Not that they were in any way inferior to Portugal, Croatia was just not on the receiving end of lady luck.