The group stages are over, and now begins the march to the final. Beginning at 5pm on the 26th of June we finally get into the knockout stages. Wales vs Denmark kick us off in what should be a very competitive, which could spring a few surprises. We are, however getting ahead of ourselves as we dive into the biggest surprises of the Euro 2021 group stages.
Italy Rising to the Occasion
Many a fan had written off Italy as a team without much of a chance of making an impact at this tournament. Many including myself felt they were an aging team who needed a bad tournament to get rid of some of the deadwood. We called this team old, but the Italians responded by showing that it was actually just experience. Back to back 3-0 victories to open the tournament saw Italy instantly become everyone’s favourite for the whole thing. The hard fought 1-0 win over Wales though says more than those other victories. In 3 games, Italy showed they could do it the easy way or the hard way, the Azzurri could win it all.
Turkeys Very Public Failure
While the Italian team rose to the occasion, it seems the lights and sounds of Euro 2021 may have been just a little too much for the Turkey. Many a pick for the dark horse of the Tournament, and with a potential three qualifying places up for grabs, the knockout stages had to be the goal. Well, Turkey left the tournament with a whimper. Conceding 8 goals and only scoring 1 is just not good enough, and to be honest, the players looked overmatched. Perception changes quickly and although the young Turkish side will be back, this tournament showed they are a long way off.
Kane lack of support
Now it is no secret that I have a soft spot for Harry Kane, I believe he is the best current Centre Forward in the world. If then you have one of the best pure goal scorer out there up front, why is he coming into Midfield to pick up the ball? Kane has been disappointing, but pinning it on him at this tournament I think is looking at the wrong man. For anyone outside of the FA, who it seems announced Southgate will get a new contract regardless of England’s performance, we have had a considerable amount of disdain towards our managers tactics so far. The World cup in 2018 showed that making Kane the centre piece of the attack works, so Southgate needs to edit his approach or we will be out of the competition at the hands of Germany…. AGAIN.
Two sides of the same Spain
Opening their Euro 2021 campaign with a listless 0-0 draw with Sweden, followed by a distinctly average 1-1 with Poland, the world was looking at the potential of Spain going home. Showing nothing of the old Spain, the commentary stated that this Spain is different, more direct, well you could have fooled me. Going into the final match with Slovakia, questions were being asked of the once mighty champions and boy did they answer them. Obliterating their opposition 5-0 and putting the whole tournament on notice. The surprising part is these looked like two different teams, question is which Spain will Croatia face?
Well, we all knew this one was coming didn’t we, and do I really need to say anything that has not already been said. The angle that the ball flies at almost defies physics and it is without a doubt the best goal of its kind ever scored. Oh and he did pretty good against Croatia too.
Who were your surprises of the group stages, this is by no means an exhaustive list, however these just stuck out to me. If you are looking for your daily Euros fix, head over to our site, just click here.