Monday, 11 July 2016

That Was Euro2016 That Was

All a bit grumpy, really. The sun barely shone over the stadia, stars barely shone on the pitch, and fans fought from first to last, in the group stages in Marseille and at the Fan Zone on the day of the final.

In between were heartwarming moments, shared via social media, chiefly Irish and Welsh fans serenading locals. And the extended format – 24 teams instead of the usual 16, gave us underdog heroics, especially from Wales and Iceland, the former giving us the goal of the tournament from Robson-Kanu, the latter giving us the Viking Clap that you will see and hear in a football stadium near you this season and beyond.

But there were few goals and only one really thrilling game – Hungary drawing 3-3 with eventual winners Portugal. Yet, without the expanded format, Portugal would not have emerged from their group. Finishing third as they did used to mean home time. Not so now. They won this thing despite only winning one game in 90 mins. But hey, the format ain’t their fault.

The shadow of the threat of terrorism hung over the event before the start, but the real risk and fear seemed to be on the football field. Oh, for the days of two strikers. Still there were stories, not least when Albania and Iceland registered their first wins in their first big international tournament, and Bale’s Wales nearly went all the way.

But this will forever be the year Portugal won a major tournament for the first time, and when Cristiano Ronaldo sealed his place among the ultra elite of world football.

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