Monday, June 11, 2012

The first round of Euro 2012

We have now had the opportunity to watch every team play in the Euro 2012, and if I have to say anything, it is disappointment.  this start of Euro 2012 has been marked by a Europe in crisis: off the pitch we have had match-fixing, racism and politics, and we have already seen the first hooliganism. This seems to be what Europe is all about... Welcome to it Poland and Ukraine!
And on the pitch it has not been much better. While a tournament usually starts with a bit of nerve and fear (not to say the outward cowardice showed by teams such as England and France),I cannot help but compare what I have seen until now with the World Cup qualifers in South America I have been following lately, as I live in Venezuela.
In South America there is no doubt, that in spite of all of the problems, passion and creativity still dominate the matches on the pitch. Be sure that all teams will fight for the last point, and will use their utmost skills and creativity to score goals. Teams like Uruguay and Argentina are fully at the standard of the best in Europe, while Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and Ecuador surely have the quality to defeat almost any team in this year's Euro after the first round, and they are much more entertaining to watch.

In spite of me being delighted for Denmark, as football enthusiast I must admit that the Dutch lost to a clearly poorer Danish side, and that they had nothing to show when faced with adversity. Russia was good, in spite of playing a lousy Czech side, while Germany and Italy get acceptable marks for their performances, rising as the favourites of the tournament. Finally, that the best team in Europe, the world champions, chooses to play without a striker, is telling of a team that just wants to be playing a passing-catennaccio, instead of actually scoring goals. We are seeing too much defensive, careful football, with too few shots on goal, too many dives and cry-outs (sadly, I have started to think that players should keep playing when a player is lying crying on the pitch; they are usually up 20 seconds after the referee has stopped the play!!!! I would love to say they are like girls, but girls are more rough than the porcelain cry-babies we are seeing in this tournament!), as well as an apparent lack of pace (has it been a too long season for many players, then UEFA must do something about it) and generally poor technique.

I expect it to improve, but considering these things, I find it appalling that the next Euro 2016 is set to be with 24 teams. Pressure, quality and performance can only become worse by making a tournament which is just at its right size (if not too big). This may be the advantage of South America, where only 10 teams play all against all in the most competitive national team tournament in the world, with highst concentration of talented teams. In Europe, we are diluting the power of our football, and this is perhaps only a symptom of a Europe being diluted in general.

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