Euro 2016 – The Teams So Far
The European Championship is about ten days old by now and so far, so so-so. There has been a lot of reason for optimism, a little reason to despair and questions to be answered for the teams and the organisers as a whole. In the following articles we’ll discuss different areas of the tournament, starting here with the teams and how well they’ve been doing.
With most teams having played twice and only one group completed it is fair to say that only one performance has really stood out with any clarity. France, one of the tournament favourites have yet to find their most settled team. Deschamps seems confused about who goes in to his best eleven and it’s little surprise that with Pogba reinstated, they looked a whole lot more competent, despite unfortunately hitting the bar three times and failing to score against a capable Swiss team. It could be argued that Switzerland represented the first serious test of the tournament and on that evidence one might be forgiven their misgivings on how far this team can really go. In Payet they have one of the standout performers but will it be enough? Not on this form.
Spain outplayed a poor Turkey team with such high speed, accuracy and skill that they are clearly reaching a level that the other favourites have yet to match. They sit pretty at the top of Group D and are looking comfortable in a group that could have provided a potential slip up. If they can continue this rise, with the players at their disposal, even against a nimble and tidy Croatia team, I can’t see them having too many problems in progressing to the semi-finals and probably a final berth at this rate.
Another pre-tournament favourite, Germany have failed to illuminate to any level that they reached in Brazil, or even South Africa and although it would be foolish to count against them at this rate, a lacklustre showing against Poland, who rightfully should have won the game with the chances they created, Germany need to do a hell of a lot better for their finger-sniffing coach Joachim Löw. The mood is one of quiet optimism but there are still cracks that need to be filled. Boateng and Kroos aside, the rest of the team need to look at themselves in the wing mirrors of their powerful Mercedes motors and pull their literal socks up.
It wouldn’t be right of me not to include my own bias opinion here, but England have been playing some great football when compared against the other pre-June favourites. Rooney has been dominant against two very average teams admittedly, although if left out against Slovakia it will be nice to see what else the squad players have to offer Hodgson. England need a strong result against the Slovaks to assure us of our optimism, and that we deserved a flattering score line against Russia. We’ve had the chances, now we need to show we have the concentration to finish the job. A favourable draw awaits the winners of Group B, missing out on Germany and Spain until the final, if as expected they also win their respective groups. With Sturridge or Vardy, or both, starting against Slovakia it will be interesting how versatile England can be and how they can overcome different systems and opponents in the rest of the tournament.