The year 2020 will forever be known as the year when a once-in-a-century pandemic devastated the world. The pandemic also shut down major sporting events worldwide, including the Euro 2020 football championship. The delayed tournament is currently underway, and it has produced drama, spectacles, and flops. In this article, we will look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the tournament so far.
- Spain Steadies the Rocky Ship — After winning the group unimpressively, Spain was leading Croatia 3-1 with only 5 minutes left in the match. However, the Croats showed grit by scoring 2 goals in 7 minutes to force extra time. In extra time, Alvaro Morata produced a brilliant piece of skill when he controlled a cross with his right foot and then hit a volley past the goalkeeper with his left. Spain later added another goal for a thrilling 5-3 win.
- It’s Coming Home…Maybe — described as the home of football, England has always been a “big-name” team that has flattered to deceive. They have never won the European Championship, and their last World Cup win was at home in 1966. In the tournament, they have shown that they possess a well-drilled defense with 4 shutouts. However, in the group stage, they had a blunt attack with a scoreless draw and 2 one-goal victories. In the round of 16, they exorcised their demons against their rivals Germany with an impressive 2-0 victory. With a manageable quarterfinal tie against Ukraine up next, the cup may, in fact, be coming home.
- Moment of the tournament...Ukraine — It was the last minute of extra time with the game tied 1-1 with Sweden. Manchester city’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, who had scored the game’s first goal, produced a tremendous run and pass for Artem Dovbyk to stoop and head in the goal. The play was dramatic because it occurred in the last minute of extra time as the dreaded penalty kick loomed and sparked wild celebrations.
- Christian Erickson’s collapse — this unfortunate event became the story in the first round of matches. In the 40th minute of the Denmark vs. Finland match, Danish number 10 Christian Erickson suddenly collapsed on the field during a passage of play. The event shocked the players, the fans and delayed the game for nearly 2 hours. Thankfully, the player is making a speedy recovery, but it was not pleasant to see a player potentially dying on national TV. It also called into question whether UEFA and FIFA had packed the football schedule so much that players are starting to break down.
- Sponsor Controversy — After Portugal’s 3-0 win over Hungary, Cristiano Ronaldo went to the press conference to field questions from reporters. However, according to Sky Sports during the interview, he removed two Coca-Cola bottles and instead wanted to drink “agua” or water. The reports stated that Coca-Cola’s share price dropped from $56.10 to $55.22 almost immediately after Ronaldo’s gesture, a 1.6% dip. The market value of Coca-Cola went from $242bn to $238bn – a drop of $4billion. Although, as reported, the stock later rebounded. The next day Paul Pogba, a devote Muslim, removed a non-alcoholic version of Heineken from his interview setup. Perhaps beverage sponsors should just cut that out of their promotional strategy.
- Holland Knocked Out — After winning 3 from 3 in the group stage and scoring 8 goals; it was a surprise to see the Dutch bow out of the tournament so early in a tame effort against the Czech Republic.
- Morata Family Death Threats — In the drawn games against Sweden and Poland for Spain, Alvaro Morata missed some chances to score and should have had a better return of 1 run goal in those encounters. However, speaking to Spanish radio station CadenaCOPE, Morata said via Goal.com, “I did not sleep for nine hours after the game against Poland. I have received threats, insults to my family that they hope my children die. Issuing death threats to a player and his family is as ugly as it gets.
- Germany Exit — a loss to England was a better pill to swallow to end the reign of German Coach Joachim Low. He did win the World Cup in 2014, but subsequent Euros in 2016 and 2021 ended in the semifinal and round of sixteen. The lone world cup since his triumph in 2018 ended with a group stage exit. I know all German fans agree with this statement “Low had to go.”
- French Exit — France was every pundit’s pick to win the entire tournament. A major autopsy will be done on why the team failed. However, I think the team believed in the hype too much and was overconfident as the reigning world cup champions. In the 75th minute of their round of 16 match against Switzerland, Paul Pogba produced the goal of the tournament when he lashed a stupendous shot from outside the box to give his team a 3-1 lead. The French should have seen the game out but instead allowed the determined Swiss to equalize and force penalty kicks. The fact that superstar Kylian Mbappe’s penalty was the only one saved by either goalkeeper in the shootout sums up his disappointing show in the tournament, in which he ended without a goal.
Yes, Euro 2021 has given us many thrills, spills, and the truth is there may be plenty more still to come.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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