Three Reasons Why Euro 2016 Has Been Great (Look Away England Fans)

In some respects, Euro 2016 has polarised opinion among fans and pundits alike. While some have heralded the rise of the underdog and the unpredictable nature of the tournament, for example, others believe that the 24-team format has diluted the quality of football on offer and led to a paucity of attacking, risk-laden football.

In some respects, Euro 2016 has polarised opinion among fans and pundits alike. While some have heralded the rise of the underdog and the unpredictable nature of the tournament, for example, others believe that the 24-team format has diluted the quality of football on offer and led to a paucity of attacking, risk-laden football.

Many of these criticisms were exposed during the the final round of round-robin fixtures, however, particularly those in Group F. Hungary and Portugal played out a stunning 3-3 draw, for example, while Iceland overcame Austria with a last-minute goal in a see-saw game.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the reasons why Euro 2016 has been a great tournament so far…

The rise of the Underdog

 

When historians look back on 2016, it will be remembered as the year of the underdog. From the Brexit vote to Leicester winning the underdog, this year has been an exercise in small and diminished forces rising up against the might of the establishment.

Euro 2016 is no exception to this rule, with the new, expanded format having offered smaller teams the opportunity to shine on the biggest of stages. With Iceland having made the knockout stages at the first attempt – and dispatching England – and Wales and Poland guaranteed a Quarter Final place, we could be set for one of the most amazing  conclusions to a major finals in history.

Late, Late Goals

While the 2016 tournament has not been as goal-laden as others in recent memory, the ratio of dramatic, late strikes has caught the eye. 60% of the goals in the group stages were scored after the 80 minute mark, with spirit, endurance and quality on display right until the end of games.

There is a science to late goals, from the impact of positive substitutions to physical and mental fatigue. Regardless of the reasons, however, they are contributing to a dramatic and enjoyable tournament that is keeping us on the edge of our seats.

The Presence Of The Home Nations

From a British perspective, the presence of the Home Nations is also making this tournament one to remember. While Wales and Northern Ireland will face off in the second round, their progress has been incredible while England will have high hopes of beating Iceland and reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 2004.

With the Republic of Ireland also having reached the knockout stages following an historic 1-0 win over Italy, British and Irish fans have more reasons than most to be enjoying the spectacle of Euro 2016.

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