UEFA Euro 2016 Update

Monday, June 20, 2016

The 2016 UEFA European Championship has been underway for ten days now. The tournament has been low-scoring and slow to develop thus far. The offensive quality of play has not been what we are accustomed to seeing, but there have been many close games with exciting finishes and late goals. With group play now wrapping up and elimination play getting ready to start, it is time to analyze the field of 32.

Group A: France, the host nation, used late game heroics to win each of their first two games. They will need to play a more complete style moving forward. Switzerland has used impressive defensive play to advance to the round of 16. Albania earned their first ever win an international tournament but are likely to be eliminated. Romania rounds out the group and has already been eliminated.

Group B: Wales has been the surprise team of the tournament, led by tournament leading scorer Gareth Bale and a supporting cast that has been better than expected. The Welsh have won the group over England. England will advance but have underperformed thus far and do not appear to be true contenders. Slovakia has been solid and is likely to advance, while Russia had a horrific showing and have already been eliminated.

Group C: Germany and Poland are tied atop group C after the two sides played to a scoreless draw. Germany will be contenders while Poland could surprise some people. Northern Ireland has been better than expected and have a chance to advance but have a tough challenge ahead, facing Germany in their final match of group play. Ukraine has been eliminated.

Group D: Spain has been dominant so far and looks like the best team in the tournament. Croatia has been solid and could be a tough out. A late collapse against Czech Republic led to a draw, but the Croatia-Spain matchup should be a good one. The Czech Republic and Turkey are both in do-or-die mode and badly need wins for any hope of advancing. They play each other in the final match.

Group E: Italy has played smart soccer so far and has outperformed their expectations. They look like contenders despite a lack of star talent by using a very calculated style of play. Belgium flopped against Italy but dominated Ireland—the team has loads of talent but it is still a mystery to see if they can put it all together. Sweden, led by superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has been a huge disappointment so far by failing to generate anything on offense. Ireland is also in a deep hole and would likely need an upset against Italy to advance.

Group F: The most perplexing group so far. Hungary has been a pleasant surprise and stands in first place but most soccer fans have serious doubts that they can continue their fast start. Iceland is the wonderful Cinderella story of the tournament and has tied its first two matches. They were moments away from beating Hungary but gave up a late goal. Portugal has been extremely disappointing—even Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty kick. They are extremely talented but have underperformed. Austria is another group that has underachieved. They have considerable talent but have yet to score a goal and will need a win over Iceland.

Here are my takeaways from the tournament so far:




Player of the tournament:
Gareth Bale, Wales
Dimitri Payet, France
Gigi Buffon, Italy


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