5 Things We Learned From Euro 2016
Other than that, it was a blast!
International soccer is always tricky. Players devote a majority of the year to their club team, where squads have ample time to gel into cohesive units through endless amounts of training sessions. International sides, on the other hand, are thrown together in a jiffy during club soccer's offseason, forcing managers to tinker with formations and starting lineups on the fly while players are hamstrung by a lack of practice time.
For the first time, the tourney expanded to include 24 teams, which likely played a role in the watered-down product. Instead of all the group-stage matches truly mattering and the knockout rounds featuring eight of the world's top teams, both of which were usually the case in the old format, many of the group fixtures were fairly meaningless and the early knockout rounds were a far cry from world-class soccer.
Soccer analyst Alan Shearer complained of boredom at halftime of the final, and he wasn't alone.
Don't always agree with Alan Shearer but spot on "this game sums up tournament for me if I'm honest pretty dull & pretty boring" #Euro2016
— The Famous Aberdeen (@TheFamousReds) July 10, 2016
There were 2.12 goals per game in Euro 2016, down from 2.45 in 2012. A high-scoring match isn't necessarily a better quality of soccer than a 1-0 fixture, but goals are certainly entertaining.
On the bright side, there were plenty of upsets.
Portugal, the unexpected champ, reigned supreme while Wales and Iceland also made deep runs. Those underdog storylines helped offset what was a fairly defensive-minded tournament where several teams -- including Portugal -- took a very conservative approach, which added to the overall dullness of the event.
Still, it was one of two major international tournaments, along with the World Cup, so let's take a look at five things we learned from Euro 2016.