It’s certainly been an eventful summer for football.
Observer excitement for the sport has gradually been restored amidst the coronavirus fears, as fans in stadium attendance at the European Championships have been able to freely celebrate every kick of the ball into the back of the net.
Today’s Euro 2020 review article – written by our guest columnist Samuel Waihenya who owns his football blog – will briefly dissect the main highlights of the summer tournament so far by looking at has gone right and wrong for some of the international teams involved.
So, let’s begin with a bang!
1. France dressing room culture still in tatters
The controversial events that have transpired within the French camp recently have been quite disconcerting, to say the least.
For starters, a reputable French investigative journalist called Romain Molina revealed in a past YouTube live stream event that Antoine Griezmann has been a dislikeable figure in the French team for a long while, with tensions between him and other squad members existing since the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Molina is widely regarded as a reputable journalistic figure, with the New York times recently publishing his story on the sexual abuse of minors within the Malian Basketball federation.
He also went on to say that the 30-year-old Barcelona forward was unhappy at the public relations team for propping up Karim Benzema as the key talisman for France in the media graphics due to his unexpected return after a period of prolonged absence.
And the drama doesn’t even end there, as the likes of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe have come under great press and pundit scrutiny for their lacklustre defensive performance in the Round of 16 against beaten quarter-finalists Switzerland.
One pivotal figure who has seen everything unfold in the French camp over the last decade is team captain Hugo Lloris.
With all that’s happened, there is a strong case for him to hand over his goalkeeper gloves as a first choice starter to the person next in line, as well as pass on the overall leadership mantle to someone with better dispute resolution skills.
2. Italy and their tactical superiority
Italy has dazzled us all with their tactical nous and innate ability to close out games efficiently.
The experienced Chiellini-Bonucci backline and the industry of the likes of Jorginho and the now-injured Leonardo Spinazzola have seen the Italians stride forward to the latter stages of the competition.
As an avid observer, you tend to get the sense that Italian players over the years rarely if ever get flustered by the significance of the occasion.
They’re able to go out on the field and exploit the opposition in all manner of ways, whether it means ball playing calmly out from the back or initiating quick transitions through a more direct offensive style.
Ultimately, Roberto Mancini is doing a stellar job with this group of lads and can be largely applauded for his work.
3. Portugal’s Santos should pass on the managerial mantle
Despite their previous Euro 2016 win, Portugal supporters will feel like their latest “golden generation” of talent has been scuppered by poor management.
Let’s quickly look at their attacking talent…
To begin with, they’ve got Cristiano Ronaldo who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
Then there’s a very strong supporting cast of Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Diego Jota, Renato Sanches and André Silva who banged in 28 goals in 32 Bundesliga matches this past 2020/2021 season.
So how have they not managed to advance to the quarter-finals at a minimum?
Well, they narrowly lost out to a talented Belgium side who are more or less an equal match talent for Portugal when it comes to squad talent.
Beyond that, however it’s reasonable enough to apportion a chunk of the blame at the head coach.
Fernando Santos failed to get Portugal to attack with potency, as he favoured his previously successful counter-attacking approach that draws on pragmatism and using the best options at his disposal to hit teams on the break when they’ve overcommitted.
And when he did finally settle on playing Renato Sanches and João Palhinha in midfield as part of a more proactive and offensive style, it was too late.
4. The Czech Republic and Patrick Schick surprised us all
To get to the quarter-finals of the European Championships and bow out to Denmark is a feat that the Czech Republic can be immensely proud of.
Additionally, their top goalscorer Patrick Schick managed a seriously impressive 5 goals in 404 minutes played, which at the time of writing is only second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo who found the back of the net an equal amount of times but with fewer minutes under his belt.
The Bayer Leverkusen man should have plenty of interested suitors during this summer transfer window.
5. England carry the heavy burden of fan expectation
A football nation that lives and breathes for the game is bound to have a fanbase full of hopes and aspirations for their country.
This is what England is.
So far they’ve played most of their games at a 25 per cent minimum capacity Wembley Stadium, but those figures are set to be bumped up further as the ground will be allowed to host up to 60,000 fans for England’s clash with Denmark.
Fingernails will be bitten religiously as the team have had a relatively straightforward path to the final, as it’s usually taken one momentary lapse for the dreams of many English fans to crumble at past tournaments.
Let’s hope they can make it all the way this time, not only for their sake but also on behalf of fans from other countries who have to bear with the noisy media furore whenever England capitulates.
So, there you have it.
That’s my Euro 2020 review on how the tournament has played out at the moment and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this short read!