The first round of matches of the Euro 2016 have ended and with that here are a few things we got from the opening week of the competition.
IS THIS THE YEAR OF THE UNDERDOG.
After Leicester City’s triumph in the Premier League smaller teams have a reason to believe. In the year 1992, Denmark surprised the world over by winning the European tournament as the least favorites. 12 years later in 2004 Greece repeated the same feat with a good defensive display and counter attacking brand of football. Another 12 years then to 2016 and it feels like the same thing could be set to happen. Only 3 teams won by a goal margin of one goal with 3 draws and the rest being one goal margin wins. Could there be any tighter margins? Well one thing is for sure and that is that most teams are well organized and prepared in this tournament. There are not going to be any pushovers and with the 12 year hoodoo on the cards, the supposed minnows might fancy their chances.
BELGIUM ON THE VERGE OF BEING THE BIGGEST UNDERACHIEVERS EVER.
When you can boast of the wealth of talent Belgium have, it’s quite astonishing then how they performed in their opener against the Italians. Not to take anything away from an impressive display from the Azzurri but they were aided by a lethargic showing from their opponents. Felliani continued his abysmal club form here, making more backward passes than forward ones. Romelu Lukaku was not sharp and service was poor to him. Kevin De Bryune was uncharacteristically ineffective, Hazard flattered to deceive and the ever dependable duo of Toby Alderweirald and Jan Vertonghen were also poor. The whole team had an off and need to recover fast in time for the next game or face the prospect of being the biggest under achievers ever.
PAYET THE MAIN MAN FOR FRANCE
“Whoa what a shot, Brilliant, Typically brilliant!” Those were the words of Martin Tyler when Payet scored the winner for France and it was difficult to argue with that. The Hammers man has been in fine form all season for his club and showed that on the biggest of all stages for his country. He was the creative spark for the French team – linking up play brilliantly and creating chances for his teammates. He deservedly got the winner and looks to be the main man for France in this tournament if they are to realize their dream of winning the tournament.
UNSUNG MADRID PLAYERS SHOWING THEIR WORTH
Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos showed their worth when they took center stage for their countries. Often overshadowed at club level by other teammates it was their time to shine. Modric scored with a thunderbolt of a shot to give his country all 3 points whilst Gareth Bale scored a wonderful free kick to help his country to win their match 2-1. Toni Kroos was the orchestrator for Germany, picking out teammates and creating chances. He provided the assist for the first goal and all round was integral to another German dominant display. Maybe after the tournament they might not be unsung heroes anymore.
THE SECOND ROUND OF MATCHES WILL BE MORE OPEN.
With the tournament being expanded to 24 teams it has given teams the added incentive of qualification even if they should come third in their group. That in mind most teams approached their first matches with a cautious approach with the aim of not losing. Now the teams who suffered losses will have to gain the 3 vital points that will secure qualification for them and this will provide for even more expansive open entertaining encounters in the next round of fixtures.