Ok, so now the group stage is concluded it’s time for the second edition of our “random Euro 2016 thoughts” posts. Personally, I like this Euro tournament. True, I would have liked it more if we had some more goals scored: the average now is only 1.917 goals per match, even way lower than the all-time World Cup low, 2.212 goals per game in Italy 1990. But I like the drama and the small teams and most of the matches are great to watch.
Anyway, here be thoughts:
- I can’t put my finger on the exact moment in time when it happened, but at some point in the past few years footballers stopped playing with their shirts tucked in their shorts. And it really upset me. Ever since I started watching football as a kid, players had their shirts tucked in, and the only ones who didn’t do it were the so-called “bad boys”. But in recent times you had to really try hard to find players who still tucked in their shirts. If my memory is not deceiving me, some of the last players who I remember still tucking shirts in their shorts while almost everyone else stopped doing it were John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Phillip Lahm. All fabulous defenders and guardians of the old times.
But this Euro was the first time when I couldn’t find a single player who played with his shirt tucked in. What a tragedy! Until I saw Italy play and save the day. My eternal favorites, the squadra azzurra! Now, not all of Italy’s players played with their shirts tucked in, in fact I remember only Barzagli and Giaccherini doing that although I’m pretty sure there was another player or two – but still! A single ray of light in all of the darkness that surrounds footballer’s appearance nowadays…
- The Irish fans. Wow. What can I add more to what has already been said? Best fans in the world. I was ok with Italy losing to Ireland in their final group match only because it meant that we will get to see a bit more of them in France. I mean, Just watch:
- And also the Northern-Irish fans, with THE BEST song of the tournament: “Will Grigg’s On Fire”. Is the Irish island the best island in the world?
P.S. I hope Will Grigg actually gets to play in the Euro, I do want to hear this song live!
- And speaking of Switzerland, after the whole shirts fiasco in the Switzerland-France match, Xherdan Shaquiri provided the best quote of the tournament so far, and the best that ever will be. All the other players can quit trying to outdo him.
“I hope Puma does not produce condoms” – X. Shaquiri, 2016
- Joe Ledley of Wales is Dan Bilzerian’s brother from another mother.
- Did Vedran Corluka of Croatia use his country’s water polo caps to keep his head safe?
- And since this is a blog ostensibly devoted to sport statistics, I will mention the fact that we might see the all-time Euro goalscoring record get broken this year. Michel Platini is still the all-time leader, with his 9 goals which were all scored in the same tournament (1984) – a feat unlikely to be matched anytime soon. But Cristiano just scored a couple of goals against Hungary to bring his total to 8 (and also to become the first player to score in 4 different European Championships). So a good game from Cristiano against Croatia in the 1/8 final and he might just do it. I don’t reckon he’ll get any more chance in this tournament – I’m betting on the Croatians to beat Portugal.
As for the other possible candidates for the coveted record – Zlatan ended his international career with 6 Euro goals and so he’s out of contention. The only other active player with 5 Euro goals or more is Wayne Rooney, who has 5 (4 of them coming in his first tournament, that glorious 2004 campaign when he was 18 years old). However, since he plays more in a midfield role now I don’t think he can threaten Platini’s record. And may I be wrong!