Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My Euro 2016 Predictions vs Actual Euro 2016

So many surprises. So many big names not performing, new names announcing themselves on the big stage. Yes, I am paving the way for the comparison of the Euro 2016 predictions I made pre-tournament with what's actually happened.

Poland v Spain
Russia v Sweden
Germany v Belgium
France v England

Poland v Portugal
Wales v Belgium
Germany v Italy
France v Iceland

A 50% success rate, then.
I make no excuses for not seeing Wales' and Iceland's amazing run coming.
Russia and Sweden both flopped.
The Italians met the Spanish earlier than expected, so one had to fall.
Enough excuses, the team I tipped to win it are still in it...

They Finished 9th: ENGLAND

Every single player, bar Rashford had a stinker against Iceland. A real stinker.

Nothing good to say about any of them. They deserve to be going home, shame the trip is a short one. They won’t have to reflect long on being the team that delivered the most embarrassing performance in Three Lions history.

And Hodgson flopped too, his tactics non-existent, lacking the ability to calm and carve a team that were strong favourites to win v Iceland into a team able to win v Iceland. Players being played out of position. Injured players preferred to those who’d proved themselves.

When England went 2-1 down, not one of them wanted the ball. It was as if they knew if they got it and made a mistake they’d be slated. Shows a lack of ability and confidence. Yes, England dominated possession in every game of the tournament, but that counts for nothing.

No one expected you to win England. No pressure. Though most expected you to beat Iceland. Failing that, at least put in a performance, go out with heads held high.

But there’ll be none of that. Oh, and even the kit was shit. Light blue sleeves? Don’t want to see them again

They Finished 10th: SPAIN

Three was not to be.
Three was beyond them.

The Champions of 2008 and 2012 are going home after the round of 16, despite looking like they might go all the way.

Their first two group games gave them hope. The lack of a big name striker to devastate opponents in the final third didn’t seem to matter. They still had enough class elsewhere to make up for that.
But that loss to Croatia in the third game shattered them, made them realise they were vulnerable.

And the Italians exploited that.

Spain, your reign is over. But what a reign it was.

Euro2016 RO16: England 1-2 Iceland

The slating of England can wait for another post. 

Let’s give Iceland and their fans the credit they deserve. On the pitch they were majestic, totally organised, defensively solid, a team of players not prima donnas. I even think they were unlucky to concede the penalty. Sure, there was contact with Sterling, but the ball was beyond him, the chance gone.

To equalise so soon afterwards, and then take the lead, shows spirit. And what about their fans, outsinging England’s, and that loud one note chant/clap. Awesome. Just awesome. Every team should have their own sound like that, but remember where they heard it first.

While much of the coverage will bemoan England’s lamentable losers, let’s not forget Iceland had to win this against massive odds, which they did with incredible ease. Their squad is already legendary, England’s the exact opposite – though there isn’t a word to describe that.

Got to be many people out there who want Iceland to win Euro2016. I do.

Euro2016 RO16: Spain 0-2 Italy

Didn’t see this one coming, although perhaps I should have.

Italy have confounded critics all tournament long. Sure, they might have no stars in their ranks, but they a team and a coach who knows tactics, and knows how to get the best out of his players.

Only saw highlights of this one as it was on during that awkward 5pm to 7pm slot, but it looked like De Gea’s saves kept Spain in it. Yes, he spilled the free kick for their first, but without him the Italians would have been out of sight.

As it is, Spain are out of Euro 2016, and Italy face Germany next in another biggie. Might be able to watch all of that one…

They Finished 11th: HUNGARY

There is only one Gabor Kiraly. But hopefully the great man between the sticks has more than one pair of his trademark grey trackies, as he was required to pull off a series of saves to keep his side in the Championships. Imagine the green stains, the muddy patches. Nightmare without a high temperature wash.

And he was called into action frequently against Belgium, his saves keeping the scoreline down to four. 

But Hungary had overachieved just to reach the knockouts, and were unlucky that winning their group meant playing Belgium, who finished second to Italy in their group.

Hungary were unbeaten, and exciting to watch, especially during their classic 3-3 draw with Portugal which is still the best game of the tournament so far.

So welcome back to major championships, Hungary, and it was great to see Gabor again.

They Finished 12th: SLOVAKIA

To come up against the Germans in the knockout phase is something no nation wants.

Slovakia were the unlucky ones this time, but finishing third in your group usually means home time, though this time it meant Germany - which isn't far off the same thing.

Hamsik was the highlight, his hair as eye-catching as his performances. They were unlucky to lose to Wales - dominating much of the second half, did well to hold England, but beating Russia was their highlight.

Given anyone bar Germany they might have had a chance, but they leave with heads held high and funky haircuts in tact.