2016 has been a great year for soccer, but unlike the Copa America, the Euro tournament showed why everybody just loves soccer. The American tournament was good, but it was the show of the star players, and Messi’s resign from the Argentinian team tainted the celebration. In contrast, European teams like Iceland and Wales proved teamwork is more important than the individual game.
The whole world knows Portugal was the victor of the competition, and they had to earn it on the field against France which was a dominant force throughout the tournament. In fact, Portugal’s eleven had to cope without its biggest star, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rammed by Dimitri Payet early in the game. It was a bittersweet moment as almost every fan in the stadium, regardless of their nationality, applauded the Portuguese star on his way out. Even though Payet later said it had not been intentional, the injury was nasty and ended the Euro for Ronaldo. Nonetheless, his team managed to snatch the coup.
Even in defeat, France seemed to be the most dominant team on the field, and they are sure going to be an overwhelming force on the next FIFA World Cup. The fans were disappointed at the loss, but the French were very aggressive and did their best. If there is someone to blame, that would be Rui Patricio. The Portuguese goalkeeper was a concrete wall keeping his team in the game. He blocked so many shots that the French offensive started to get frustrated.
The Euro gave the little teams a chance to shine
A lot of people was surprised when they saw Hungary and Slovakia on the rooster. They had to earn their place in difficult groups, and anything else would have been a bonus. In spite of being eliminated in the round 16, their mere presence highlights the growth of these teams. England was also in the spotlight, but not for the good reasons. One of the all-time favorites, the British team, had a horrible Euro that ended when Iceland eliminated them. The British selection cannot be ashamed of losing against the Icelanders, as they surprised everybody except France that obliterated them at quarterfinals.
The French bulldozer also eliminated the Germans in the semifinals. Wales is one of those teams that saw the opportunity and grabbed a hold on to it. The Welsh made their fans have dreams of a Euro Cup, but they had to face a very inspired Cristiano Ronaldo and a full selection who was backing him up. Portugal earned its place in the finals after defeating Wales 2–0.
24 teams, 51 games, 108 goals.
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) July 10, 2016
Despite some classic problems between fans outside the stadiums, the Euro 2016 was a win for everybody. Fans saw the rise and fall of titans and underdogs alike. The competition also shows a very grim World Cup scenario for the other selections around the world. The European competition was full of highly organized teams with very effective playstyles, a rare sight at the Copa America.