EURO 2016: Ten things we’ve noticed

HIGH-profile penalty misses, outstanding finishes and the odd limp bore draw - Euro 2016 has started promisingly. Our pundit Michael Upton picks his highlights so far - and a few lows:

Big stars don’t always turn up in the mood:

Ronaldo bottled it from the spot (before finally making an impressive appearance last night), and Thomas Muller has drawn a blank and Griezmann has laboured. You can be the best player around, but it’s not always easy to carry a side or settle into a team over a short spell of games. Perhaps they’re saving up for when it really counts. Bale, Payet and Rakitic, however, have altready proved a tough regular season hasn’t left them running on empty.


The refereeing:

Actually, the most notable thing about the referees is how they’ve largely stayed in the background. Aside from the odd dodgy red card (Austria’s Dragovic) and soft penalty (Spain’s, the other night), the men in the middle have let things flow and stayed clear of real howlers. Long may it continue

Jack Wilshere:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The kid isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. OK, maybe that’s a little harsh, but the Arsenal star known to some as Wheelchair was sold as the great hope before the tournament, with Roy telling us all he could do things no-one else can. Well, I’m sorry Roy but England have plenty of players capable of giving the ball away and shanking passes out of play. Maybe in the past two years of injury absence Jack has forgotten how to kick a ball. Back to the drawing board.

The format has been a failure:

Designed to ensure the big teams get through (and presumably bring in some more cash), the bloated group stages have led to too many minnows defending deep, too many dull, low-scoring games and a dearth of really exciting attacking play. Roll on the knockout stages, when surely the lesser sides left will go for the win (all right, I won’t hold my breath).

The ball:

Another winner. No moaning from goalies about it moving too much in the air, plenty of long range strikes finding the target and just the one burst ball. Doesn’t seem to be so great for those long, raking crosses, though.


Croatia have the makings of something truly special:

If, like me, you didn’t back them each way before the first match, you might well miss out. They changed five players on Tuesday night and still took the game to Spain, scoring two of the Euros’ most memorable goals in the process. If their fans hadn’t chucked on that smoke bomb during the Czech Republic game, they’d have won all three games. Thrilling to watch, they won’t fear anyone.

There’s plenty of talent among the lesser lights:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Turkey, Iceland, Hungary and Poland have all shown you can’t count on beating anyone, with only Turkey coming a cropper thanks to a mini-meltdown in the first half against Spain. If there’s a lesson from the group stages, it’s that no-one should be predicting the quarter-final line-up just yet.

France has some great-looking stadiums:

From the the wavy roof of Marseilles to the futuristic look of Lille, the aerial shots have shown off some impressive designs.

Goalkeepers remain as nuts as ever:

They’ve been deceived by free kicks, clattered into their own players, dropped crosses (Joe Hart, worryingly, twice) and gone walkabout (hello, David De Gea). Safe to say — McGovern v Germany apart — it’s not been a vintage year for the shot-stoppers.



The tournament is crying out for a superstar to stand up:

The big names have flickered or fizzled on the whole, but there’s still time for someone to stamp their image on Euro 2016.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What’s happened to Ronaldo, Zlatan, Kane, Rooney, Lewandowski, Hazard and de Bruyne?

Payet, Perisic, Lukaku (in one game), Bale and Morata have all shown up — but can any of them shine brighter than the rest? It’ll be fascinating finding out.


Related topics: