Expectations for the 2016 Euro Cup in France are high, and they are not being met by the players on the field. This is especially true of the two favorites before the start of the tournament: France and our very own Mannschaft. And it is troubling that the hooligans are putting more passion into the game than the players themselves…
Oh la la! Qu’est-ce qui se passe?!
France is not only a World Cup winning team and the host of this prestigious football tournament, but I would say that it’s the team with the richest individual quality out of the 24 teams that qualified for the Euro Cup. It won its first two games with late strikes (very beautiful goals at that!!), but after showing a weak performance for the first 90 minutes. What is more worrying is that Le Bleu was handed down a relatively easy group (accompanied by Romania, Switzerland, and Albania).
I would also say that the French coach, Didier Deschamps, made a poor substitution decision in the game against Albania by benching Kingsley Coman – the attacking wingman who was among the best players in the pitch. France will need to make use of its fast and creative players, such as Coman, if the team is to dazzle the home crowd and stand a chance to remain a favorite for the Euro Cup.
For the east side of the Rhine, things are not looking good.
Germany comes into the Euro Cup as a leading favorite for having won the 2014 World Cup, and for having several world class players. However, it has so far not lived up to expectations. In its first game against Ukraine, Die Mannschaft played well against a well-organized opponent, but without showing its best quality.
The second game against Poland showed a solid German defense, which kept wunderkind Robert Lewangoalski dry. However, the German offense was simply horrible during the first half; late in the second half, things improved when attacking midfielder Julian Draxler left the pitch (somebody needs to give that kid some strong coffee to wake up!!!), and when Mario Gomez took Götze’s position as center forward. But the changes came in too late to make a difference.
Jogi Löw needs to tell his players to stop going forward with the Spanish-style tiki-taka and go back to playing the fast-paced and long-pass attacks that the German side showed in previous tournaments.
Nonetheless, I am not going to take credit away from Poland. Their defense remained extremely well-organized for the entire 90 minutes of the game, and their offensive pressure forced the German center-backs to show their top skills. We should keep an eye on the Polish side – our friends at Poniatowski certainly will – as they could surprise one or two big teams in the knock-out rounds…
Why can’t the hooligans stay home?!
On a very sad note, English and Russian hooligans made headlines by clashing in Lille, France when both national football teams played each other in what was the first game of the tournament for both of them. The game ended with a 1-1 tie, but many so-called fans fought each other and were arrested or dispersed by French police. UEFA, the European football authority, handed a suspended disqualification sentence to the Russian Football Federation for bringing “ultra” fans (hardcore supporters with plenty of experience in violent engagements with other fans and riot police) to France. The decision says that in the event of further violence by the “ultras,” the entire Russian team will be sent home.
Violence from any side is completely unacceptable. It must not overshadow the purpose of celebrating the beautiful game that is football. However, the players of all national teams should step up their game and give commentators beautiful goals and plays to talk about instead of the actions of some drunken violence freaks.