Lessons from the Euros
Posted Saturday, July 14 2012 at 17:06
What did the Euros teach us about players, managers and teams?
Let’s start with Cristiano, he is the real deal as he had his best tournament for Portugal at the Euros.
The team needed a leader, not just a superstar and he delivered. There was a lot of pressure on Ronaldo, the critics were on his back but by the end of the tournament, I believe there was no critic standing. Ronaldo is the leader of a new golden Portuguese generation with Nani, Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Fabio Coentrao and Pepe. This is a team to watch ladies and gentlemen.
Naturally you cannot mention Ronaldo without talking about Messi. The Argentine forward had his best game international game ever right before the Euros when he scored a hat trick against Brazil. It was the Messi of Barcelona in Argentina colours but that was just one game. By delivering at a major event, Ronaldo has stolen the hype on Messi, the little magician needs to catch up.
Balotelli is also the real deal
When Euro 2012 started, people did not know what Balotelli would bring to tournament; tantrums and yellow or red cards or moments of magic and pure genius. The Italian thankfully let his football do the talking and it was a delight to watch.
Those two goals against Germany were brilliant particularly the second; I can still visualise the roof of Neuer’s net shaking. It was a strike of confidence and arrogance, the work of a man who was sure of his place in the world and of his ability. It was the coming of age of Mario Balotelli.
Pirlo is as good as Xavi
Few people had anticipated the kind of tournament Italy had at Euro 2012 especially since they lost their final warm up game. I am certain no one imagined the form Andrea Pirlo would find at the Euros. It was a beautiful thing to watch; like a conductor at the orchestra or a director yelling “cut”, Pirlo was imperious, everything good the Italians did went through him.
The game against England in particular ought to be made required viewing for all aspiring play makers and central midfielders - that is how you dictate a game of football.
Over the past few years, we have been so in awe of Xavi we forgot about the grand master and he chose to remind us of what exactly he can do and I look forward to seeing him in action in the Champions League with Juventus and woe unto Europe if Van Persie joins Juve - the combination of those two is murder, plain and simple.
France are a bunch of babies
It’s unfair to label the whole team thus but for the second successive major tournament France left in shame due to player misconduct. The tragedy of it is, this is a remarkably talented side; this is a side that wins major tournaments but not with drama queen shenanigans.
Holland is not worth the hype
Van Persie, Sneidjer, Robben combination is an attack that can and should scare opposing teams; this time round they did not even come close. Robben and Van Persie contributed the least and have to raise their standards or they will also get the next coach fired.
Modric, Dzagoez, Yarmolenko and Lewandoski are the future
These men made or enhanced their reputations at Euro 2012. Dzagoev and Lewandoski in front of goal, Yarmolenko on the left and Modric in midfield. I expect them to make transfer headlines.
Team of the tournament 4-3-3 formation: Casillas, Jordi Alba, Pepe, Chielleni, Coentrao, Moutinho, Xavi, Pirlo, Ronaldo, Iniesta and Balotelli.