The UEFA European Championship is undoubtedly a hotly-contested tournament, possibly surpassed in its appeal only by the FIFA World Cup. Showcasing some technically astound and eye-catching football, the Euros are a treat for the eyes with its fair share of drama, unbelievable goals, and a wide array of footballing superstars. EURO 2016 has so far lived up to its hype, and in this article, we look at some noteworthy things that have been witnessed so far.
1. England vs Russia
No, not the teams, the fans. Yes, you read that right! In what has been a shocking show of hooliganism, the English and the Russian fans have been at blows with each other, taking the shine out of their respective teams, and displaying the ugly side of football. The fans first had a go at each other, as well as the French police on Thursday and Friday, and the 3-day skirmish culminated on Saturday when the Russian fans hurled themselves at the English when the full-time whistle went off at the Stade Velodrome. Appalling behavior to say the least, and with UEFA having warned both teams of disqualification should further violence ensue, hopefully the tournament will be more peaceful with the focus firmly on football.
2. Euro 2016 has been more of a defensive show
With all the 24 teams having played their opening matches, we haven’t witnessed a goal-fest so far. On an average, there have only been 1.83 goals per game, which is a LOT lesser than previous Championships, as we can see here:
Euro 2012 – 2.45 goals per game
Euro 2008 – 2.48 goals per game
Euro 2004 – 2.48 goals per game
Euro 2000 – 2.74 goals per game
Defense clearly trumping attack.
3. Best goals so far
Dmitri Payet made his indelible mark on the tournament when he scored an absolute stunner against Romania from 20 yards out to set the ball rolling in the opening game. Gareth Bale got his goal for Wales; a beautiful swerving free-kick from 30 yards out that left the Slovakian goalkeeper with absolutely no chance. In the Croatia-Turkey match, Luka Modric displayed his class when he boldly volleyed Selcuk Inan’s clearance from 30 yards out past Volkan Babacan who could just watch helplessly as the ball sailed past him into the back of the net.
4. Italy cannot be underestimated
Touted as the worst Italian team in 50 years due to the absence of star players including Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio, Italy more than underlined their championship credentials after dismantling Belgium 2-0. Playing clinically in every aspect especially defence, the Azzurri neutralised Belgium’s attacking threat, and subdued the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard without much difficulty. Led by an astute and shrewd coach in Antonio Conte, Italy are much stronger than they are made out to be.
5. The important players are still in first gear
At a tournament as important as the Euros, it is highly vital for the superstars of football to raise their game by more than a notch. However so far, players like Antoine Griezmann, Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Christiano Ronaldo have yet to make their mark on the tournament. Considering the fact that the hopes of their respective nations rest on their shoulders, they need to fire fast. Pressure much?
6. Joachim Low does it AGAIN!
NOTE: The above video is NSFW
Having won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany, no one can doubt Joachim Low’s credentials as a cup winning manager. But apart from winning, the Germany boss has a filthy penchant, a fetish almost, of engaging in some hands-down (pun wholly intended) unhygienic behavior. During the 2010 World Cup, Low was caught picking his nose and then, god almighty, eating his boogers. In the last World Cup, he was caught on camera picking his nose and then shaking Christiano Ronaldo’s hand. In the current European Championship, Low took his vomit-inducing antics to a whole new level when he put his hands in his pants and then sniffed them, completely oblivious (or maybe not?!) to the camera’s presence. Someone really needs to warn him about his public actions before we end up seeing something worse that might scar everyone for life! Not kidding!
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