Euro 2016 ended yesterday, July 10 with Portugal beating the host nation France to win the tournament. Check out below the Best and Worst – the tactics, the the pundits and the tat of the tournament according to The Guardian.
Man of the summer
Cristiano Ronaldo – ran the tournament from the start. Among his best moments: hoying a microphone into a lake; gamely posing for a selfie with a pitch-invader; a golden header in the semi-final against Wales; a tear-jerker of a penalty miss against Austria; a press conference where the press were banned from asking questions; a classic tantrum; some spite about Iceland’s “small mentality”; and one brilliant photograph (above) that kept Photoshoppers busy for days. Oh, and the ability to spit out a fully-formed Euro 2016 graphic was special too.
Best breakthrough act
Everything about Iceland made sense. A solid, upbeat team backed by 8% of the nation in person and a 99.8% share of its domestic TV audience; the summer’s best chant; a viral South American-style commentator; and the tournament’s best live in-play tweets, from Reykjavík Grapevine @rvkgrapevine. Among them: “Ódinn’s breath propelled our heroic goalie to swat away that weak-ass header”; “Deep in the bowels of the earth, an ancient power stirs. Eidur is warming up”, and: “GOALIE LIKE THE CLIFF FACE AT DYRHÓLAEY. THE ONLY THING THAT WILL DESTROY HIM IS CENTURIES OF COASTAL EROSION.”
Russia were lamentable but England’s collapse was more comic. Summing it up better than anything else, this Roy Hodgson moment as Iceland cruised to victory.
Wales, Italy and Germany made 3-5-2 the summer’s tactic of choice. All three revived the 80s-throwback back-three system, and it worked. The tournament’s other big technical lessons: team spirit really does matter; grinding out a 0-0 works but wins few friends; dancing like a pony before taking a penalty can make you look foolish – more on that later; and England’s bold experiment of playing without any tactics failed to pay off.
Best individual moments
Hal Robson-Kanu against Belgium – “I grew up trying to recreate great goals I’d watched so it’s an amazing feeling when parents and teachers tell me youngsters are recreating that goal already” – and Simone Zaza from the spot against Germany. His tiptoe then blooter over the bar, having been brought on especially for the shootout, became the internet’s single biggest non-Ronaldo meme. Take your pick from Zaza as a seagull, stamping for worms; Zaza queuing for the toilet; Zaza desperate to be taken for a walk; and the Iceland commentary remix. Zaza: “I did send Manuel Neuer the wrong way but unfortunately the ball went too high. It will be with me for the rest of my life.”
Uefa get a bad press – what with their pre-tournament police raid, suspended president, confused fines policy and refusing a minute’s silence for victims of the Turkey terrorist attacks on the basis that Turkey had been eliminated in the group stage – but expanding the finals to 24 teams made for an eclectic group stage. The negatives: it was easier to qualify than get knocked out, meaning too many low-key, safety-first performances. The positives: Wales and Iceland.
The 95 law changes, debuting at the tournament following the International Football Association Board’s 12,000 word, 18-month-long review of the rules in January. The only change anyone noticed was the ball going backwards from kick-offs. They are subtle though. Next season, watch out for players being booked for standing under two metres away from throw-ins with intent to impede, and logos on corner flags.
Miss of the summer
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – toe-poking over from half a yard out against Italy, only saved by an offside flag. His pre-tournament self-billing: “The legend can still deliver.”
Best touchline operator
Alan Pardew set the bar low for technical area entertainment at the FA Cup final. In France, Joachim Löw lowered it further. But Antonio Conte impressed on the sidelines with three weeks spent raging. He was caught on camera in week one motivating his defence by shouting at them: “I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you.” Coming to a Premier League dugout near you next season.
Turkey’s Ozan Tufan – feeling upset with media criticism after he was caught on camera doing his hair as Croatia’s Luka Modric shaped up to score in front of him. “I don’t get how a single moment in which I do my hair is deemed a mistake. It damages my confidence.”
Uefa were set on beating all forms of ambush marketing to ensure they controlled the integrity and quality of Euro 2016 officially-sanctioned products. And it worked. No one tried to rip off their Official Uefa Euro 2016 Shower Gel gift pack.
Joe Hart. Badly timed dives and badly timed adverts. His script for the Nike ad released moments after the Iceland defeat: “I can stop anything, I will dominate my area. The only person who can beat me is me.”
Most discussed pundits
Slaven Bilic stood on a table, Thierry Henry tried his lip-twitch party piece a few times too many – but still no one matched Roy Keane for on-screen presence. When Ireland were out, Keane arrived on ITV, laid into Wales and then simmered. Captivating TV.
Sound of the summer
Joe Ledley dance tracks and Will Grigg’s On Fire couldn’t wash out the memory ofDavid Guetta and Will.i.am’s pre-tournament concert to 83,000 fans in Paris. Local media reviews of Le Grand Show included: “Le désastre”, “Le grand flop” and “La prestation calamiteuse”. Guetta called it “incredible”.
Best grasp of current affairs
Among the footballers reacting to Brexit in week three: Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini: “The main concern is a domino effect. But I don’t think the simple UK exit can change the equilibrium of the whole European economy – I don’t think the discontent should lead to disintegration.” Spain’s Nolito: “What is Brexit? I think it’s a dance. I may be wrong.” And England’s Harry Kane: “I’ve not really thought about it. I don’t think any of us have.”
After Russia’s humiliation, forward Aleksandr Kokorin and midfielder Pavel Mamaev went to a Monte Carlo nightclub and spent €250,000 on champagne, alleged the Russian press. The players denied it; Vladimir Putin’s spokesman attacked “a shameless display of conceit”.
And the best confusion
Among the summer’s best cases of mistaken online identity: innocent bystander and non-goalkeeper @JoeHart getting it in the neck from England fans;@IcelandFoods tweeting: “Everyone should be passing on their congratulations to @footballiceland. They are the football team. We are the UK frozen food specialists”; and Californian Facebook user Petra Fyde, asking her friends: “At the risk of sounding stupid … Does anyone know why there are a bunch of strange men in my fb inbox with messages saying WILL GRIGGS ON FIRE, YOUR DEFENSE IS PETRA FYDE?????? … What the hell is going on?”
Source: The Guardian