Underdogs’ days still exist
France 2016 reaffirmed a long held view that it is possible for an average team to top a seven game tournament. Just like Greece in 2014, Portugal were not even among the four best teams, but they went on a seven-game unbeaten run that propelled them to the title.
Change of heart
It is foolhardy to judge a player’s quality on the basis of a tourney like Euro. The only attribute that shines through over seven games is temperament. You can conclude that a player can thrive on a big occasion from his performance in tournament football. Uefa should thus reassign the 2006 Ballon D’Or from Fabio Cannavaro to Ronaldinho and the 2000 award from Zinedine Zidane to Luis Figo.
Battle for Ballon D’Or
Interrelated with the aforementioned point is this year’s Ballon D’Or. Barcelona and Uruguay forward Luis Suarez played scintillating football for eight months but pundits are falling over themselves to allege Cristiano Ronaldo should win Ballon D’Or because he won the Champions League and Euro 2016. Pepe did the same. Give 2016 award to the best player this year and that’s Suarez.
Brawn matching brains
Tactics and organisation super cede talent in tournament football. Graft equaled craft as there were exactly the same number of hard working teams as talented sides in the last eight. Does anyone of you remember any outstanding player from Iceland? At least Wales had Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey whereas Emmanuel Giaccherini was Italy’s most outstanding player. Talk about brawn matching brains.
Innovation is everything
Fernando Santos was able to walk away with top honours because he constantly chopped and changed both his line up and formation. Jose Fonte was a dominant influence once he replaced Ricky Carvalho, whereas wonderkid Renato Sanchez (pictured inset) stole the midfield show from Joao Moutinho, William Carvalho shoved Danilo and Raphael replaced Eliseu.
Super Eight holds future
To prevent a repeat of a scenario whereby a team wins only one out of seven games, and yet emerges champion, European football governing body Uefa should seriously consider starting a Super Eight mini league for the top eight teams from qualifying. That way a team like Germany, who were strongest in France will not feel shortchanged by Portugal’s success.
Club coaches crucial
Who was the best passer at the Euro finals? In my book, it was Jerome Boateng. He was among the top three for passing accuracy and passes completed, yet he made the most number of long cross-field passes at the tournament. Pep Guardiola’s good work was stamped all over Boateng. National team coaches must therefore constantly liaise with club managers about player development.