June 15, 2016

What have we learned from Euro 2016 so far?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

We knew there would be a threat of violence in France after the terrorist attacks in Paris last year, but we never figured it would be from football fans.

The hooliganism and senseless violence that has so far plagued Euro 2016 is sickening. Why people feel the need to assault other fans unprovoked makes no sense.

It really makes you wonder how safe fans will feel in Russia for the 2018 World Cup. If their fans are committing these crimes abroad, what will they do on home turf?

As for the action on the field, here are some quick thoughts after the first round of games.


The hosts didn’t disappoint in the thrilling opener and can be much better going forward. Dimitri Payet looks like one of the best players out there and that is one deep midfield the French have … Romania is going to defend and it will play scrappy. Against less-talented sides, it should be a handful, even if the side lacks quality … The Swiss will need to do better if they want to make noise. A 1-0 win over 10-man Albania is nothing to write home about with some of the stars Switzerland has … Albania is going to have to defend and counter to survive, but we don’t see it happening, especially with its captain Lorik Cana suspended for a stupid red card.


England was the better team and deserved three points against Russia, but that’s typical England for you. There are some weak spots in the side, especially Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, that will need to be addressed and it has to defend better while under pressure. Expect some squad rotation for the second game … Wales’ story is a heartwarming one. While it was a thrilling win, let’s not forget that this side isn’t THAT strong. There were some definite moments of weakness despite picking up three points … Slovakia played a decent game, but aren’t anything more than average … Russia showed its fight late to score the equalizer and earn a point from nothing. Its injuries in midfield showed and we wonder if this older squad will handle this tight group well.


Germany looked like the World champion it is in the opener, but did need Manuel Neuer to be at his best a couple of teams. Having him to clean up mistakes underscores how good of a team this is … Ukraine did have its shots and really could’ve had a goal or two. Against lesser competition, it could easily grab a win … Poland is a team to watch out for. There’s quality all over the pitch and one of the best striker pairings in the tournament with Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik … Northern Ireland doesn’t look like it has much of a shot to do anything in France. With some luck, it may grab a draw if Germany rests its players in its third game, but that’s about it.


Spain is one of the best teams here and dominated the game. It needs to finish its chances though as it should have won by more than one against Czechs … Croatia shouldn’t have trouble getting out of this group. Then the real challenge begins, but this side could make some noise … How much could you really learn from the Czechs against Spain. They were pinned in their own third for far too much of the game … Turkey has some talented players, but certainly look like the odd man out in this group.


Belgium’s defence looked terrible. Playing four CBs isn’t feasible and it showed on the first goal especially. Starting a guy that didn’t even play in qualifying and comes from the Montreal Impact, Laurent Ciman, was a risk that didn’t pay off. The Belgians need better fullbacks if they want to live up to their potential, or change their system … Italy impresses with defence, which is pretty typical. Rolling with three defenders and Gianluigi Buffon from Juventus is a smart move by Alberto Conte as familiarity breeds success in defence … The only question is if it can really attack against a better defensive side … Ireland has the best fans at Euro, but can that spirit lift them to the knockout phase? … Sweden will need a lot more from Zlatan Ibrahimovic if it wants to advance, but even so, that might not be enough.


Portugal had their chances – a lot of them – but couldn’t finish. Cristiano Ronaldo was contained and him calling Iceland small-minded after the game showed just how frustrated he was with the outcome … Iceland had some chances too and could score an upset to advance, but I wouldn’t bet too heavily on it … Pardon the pun, but Hungary was hungry for it against Austria. This is one underdog that could certainly make some noise after being overlooked by many heading into Euro … Speaking of the Austrians, they didn’t look like one of the top qualifiers and didn’t really have much in the way of chances except for David Alaba’s first-minute post.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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