Euro 2012 concluded last night with Spain creating history by becoming the only team to retain the European Championship trophy and have now won three major competitions in a row. Italians were not able to handle Spain’s top quality passing and were never in the game. The competition provided action packed drama and produced entertaining football for three weeks. Here is list of what we have learned from this fantastic competition.
1. Spain Are Still The Best
Boring, what boring? As Spain keep on creating history and entertain the world. This legendary Spanish side has broken records after records for fun and if there were any doubts about their supremacy then they have absolutely blown it all away by thrashing Italians in Euro final. Tired Italy side had no answers to Spain’s brilliant play and lost in all departments on the field. La Furia Roja have now become the first side ever to win three consecutive major tournaments and have equaled Germany’s record of winning three European Championships.
2. Italians Have Restored Pride
Having lost 3-0 to Russia before the championships, no one backed Italy to reach the final but Azzurri passed each hurdle and raised the hopes of their nation. Although they were dismantled in the final by the best team in the world, still the competition was by no means a failure for them. Italians might still miss the legends like Del Piero and Totti but the players showed the determination that has restored Italy’s status as one of football’s superpowers. The world needs no reminder but I would still mention that Azzurri have won four World Cups, most by a European team.
3. Germans Are Brilliant, but Chokers
Before the competition started, Germany were considered strong favorites not only to reach the final but to win it all. However, like every time, yet again the Germans choked in the later stage of the tournament. Smashed England and Argentina in World Cup 2010 but turned off against Spain. Even when they were drawn in the group of death, the expectation was that they can win all the games and they did.
Entering into semi finals Germany were favorites against Italy but completely switched off in the first half and eventually lost. Take nothing away from the German style of football that every football fan loves to see but to win it all, you have to beat them all. Sadly, for Germany, losing concentration in a single match seems to always cost them. Having said that, Germany are still brilliant and will enter every competition as one of the favorites to win. Top young players like Reus, Schurrle and Gotze will be hoping to impress in 2014 World Cup. Whether Germans will learn from mistakes and overcome the dilemma of choking, only time will tell.
4. Blame English Players, Not Manager
Roy Hodgson was appointed few weeks before the European Championships started and has not lost a single game in normal time. To no surprise, the standard of football was not high still England topped the group against all odds and Hodgson got all the praise. After losing to Italy in the quarters, all of a sudden Hodgson was slated. He raised the expectations by topping the group but surely no one expected England to make the last four so why all the fuss. England have not played good football, specifically in major tournaments after Eriksson. Three managers hired afterwards and the quality remains low.
The fact remains, the performance and quality of the players, are the main obstacles. One cannot expect England to pass the ball well and dominate possession when they do not have players who are calm on the ball and pass accurately. Only captain Gerrard fits the bill and all others are below par. There so called best striker Rooney has never played well in major tournaments after Euro 2004 but is always preferred over other strikers hoping against hope that he will replicate his club form for the nation. Having appointed three managers in six years, England have showed no signs of progress and yet players remain over rated in the media and managers are considered flops.
5. Portugal Average Without Ronaldo
Ronaldo might have had a poor start to the tournament but displayed his true qualities as he single handedly outclassed Netherlands by scoring a brace. Moreover, he scored the vital goal in the quarterfinal against Czech and ensured Portugal’s progression to the last four. Looking at their attack, Postiga and Almeida are by no means top strikers. However, one may say that, Nani, Meireles, Veloso and Moutinho make a quality midfield lineup, still when their talisman is not on fire, Portugal look nothing more than an average side. It will be fair to say that Portugal would have not reached semifinals if Ronaldo did not turn up.
6. Football Needs Goal Line Technology
The tournament has again brought up goal line technology debate. The assistant referee wrongly disallowed Devic’s goal against England but human errors are common. Although he was standing close watching the incident but when the referees are not sure, they always disallow the goal. UEFA president Platini still feels that the game does not need any goal line technology but these decisions can change the outcome and ruin the entire taste of the game. All this adds weight in the argument that the technology must be introduced.
7. World Cup Still Better Than Euros
The quality of football at European Championships might be better than World Cup and without a doubt Euro 2012 produced better football than what we witnessed in World Cup 2010. However, the most renowned event in the sporting world remains the best. World Cup might consist of many smaller teams but the sheer volume of football, its longevity, and the fact that the entire world is watching makes it better. The feeling with Euros is like, it started few days back, and the final was played yesterday. Also without the presence of other World Cup winners Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the excitement is not at the optimum level. Fans also want to see Spain playing Brazil or even USA playing Iran like in 1998. The World Cup just cannot be surpassed by any other tournament and that goes for all the sporting events, not just football.