Football is a sport where anything can happen
The European Championships held in France last month was an excellent tournament and provided us with some brilliant footballing action, from the Iceland fans to Portugal beating hosts France in the final. The Euro 2016 France was truly an amazing experience for the viewers. For the first time in history, the European Championship had 24 national teams instead of 16. These eight additional places made a huge difference in the qualifying cycle, but almost nobody expected that we would have as many as five debutants in the championship! Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and Wales all qualified directly and surprised the football world. The Euro 16 was much more than just football, a lot of teams at the tournament gave out a message to the world by showcasing their abilities and talents. THE DEBUTANTS Out of the five debutants Iceland and Wales shocked the world at the Euro after what they achieved, they not only surprised but also inspired the world. Both the country’s achievements were monumental considering the high nature of the competition at the Euro. ICELAND Iceland who were in group “F” finished second behind group leaders and also debutants Hungary. But it was the Icelanders who went on to show their magic by beating England 2-1 in the “Round of 16” to enter the Quarterfinals of the tournament for the very first time. They bowed out of the tournament to a 5-2 loss against a star-studded French side. WALES The Welsh won group “B” ahead of mighty England, Russia, and debutants Slovakia. Out of all the debutantes it was the Welsh who performed the best as they went a step ahead by beating a strong-sided Belgium to reach the Semi-finals of the tournament where their run was ended by Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. THE FANS Fans play a very important role in a game and also in defining a team, even though they may be restricted to their seats they surely have a role to play when it comes to uplifting their team’s efforts on the pitch and we saw a live example of this phenomenon with the Iceland fans at the Euro. The Iceland fans won the hearts and minds of the world with their consistent and cohesive, orchestra-like support to their team throughout the Euro 2016. It was one of the most inspiring and iconic scenes witnessed at Euro. Their togetherness and cohesiveness were truly reflected in their team’s performance and beating the mighty England was the best result for a nation with just 330,000 people. WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN A EURO
Being a host doesn’t mean assured advantage or clear advantage but it is the spirit of team and having hunger is key to ensure success
NOT A GAME OF POSSESSION It was back in 2008 and 2012 when Spain dominated the European championship with its “Tiki-Taka” football and won the cup back to back including a FIFA World Cup in 2010. But the Euro 16 was all about strategy and attacking style of play and the Tiki-Taka was nowhere to be seen throughout the tournament as the Spanish went crashing out of the tournament against Italy who were brilliant defensively and on the counter-attack. Having higher possession doesn’t mean a sure win but the team that takes its chances and remains organized throughout the game, most likely be the winner. A coach with superior tactical acumen and players who stay disciplined, and implement strategy and tactics explained which are well practiced by the team and players will always yield positive results. THE PORTUGUESE LESSON Portugal definitely did not look like a side who would go on to win the Euro with the finish they had in the group stage. Narrowly advancing to the knockout phase by finishing third in the group, behind underdogs Iceland and Hungary. The Portuguese did not play exciting football but were excellent defensively. The Euro 2016 final match threw up a great example that football is a team game and not a one-man army. Portugal created history by winning the Euro for the first time without its talismanic superstar Cristiano Ronaldo truly exemplified football as a team sport and the results are the result of team performance, a cohesive unit, and not having a one-star power performer. WHAT THE EURO COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT France were excellent hosts and that the fans were able to enjoy the Euro in a secure environment was a fabulous achievement. However, Euro 2016 also displayed hooliganism and an ugly part of the football world still exists this menace has to be tackled with greater vigor and resources to eliminate it. INDIA’S PASSION THROUGH NUMBERS India also saw how popular the Euro was, the media was putting the Euro as their number one coverage point and the television numbers were also looking encouraging even when most matches were late at night. The European Championship only second in popularity to the FIFA World Cup garnered a total Indian TV audience of 50.1 million viewers for the group matches in the first two weeks of the tournament. West Bengal being the hub of Indian football had the highest share of 17.8% of the total TV audience for the championship telecast. Indian channels like Sony Six and Sony Kix which aired the live telecast of the Uefa Euro 2016 experienced a drastic rise in their TV viewership. The channel airing in English experienced a 4.8x rise and the channel airing in Hindi saw a rise of 1.8x. Euro also showcased the beauty of football from goals to moves, celebrations, etc, Antoine Griezmann was the star of Euro 16 and Shaqiri’s goal will always stay fresh in the mind and of course, Portugal lifted the trophy for the very first time will stay in the memory for a long time to come.
Portugal’s achievement should inspire the world how a team should be developed which can beat the best.