Nice, France: When UEFA motionless 8 years ago to enhance a European Championship from 16 to 24 teams, a afterwards boss Michel Platini betrothed a customary of a contest would not drop.
“I’m certain that it will not change a technical level,” a Frenchman said. “In further to a 16 qualifiers, there are 8 other teams usually as good.”
Two-thirds of a proceed by a organization stage, European soccer’s ruling physique might feel they have drift to explain that, on a face of it, Platini was right.
At, Euro 2016, Iceland have reason Portugal and Hungary, Albania took France to within mins of a 0-0 draw, Northern Ireland kick Ukraine and nobody has done fools of themselves. As a aged cliche goes, there are no diseased teams in football anymore.
But Platini’s evidence rather misses a point, and could be used to clear an even bigger tournament.
UEFA has 55 members with France, Spain and Germany widely regarded as a cut above a rest, followed by 3 or 4 others such as Italy, England and Belgium. Below them are about 30 teams all of a sincerely identical standard.
Teams such as Denmark, Netherlands and Greece — all former winners — Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Israel, Cyprus, Belarus, Scotland, Finland, Montenegro and Norway unsuccessful to make France though would also no doubt have been means to reason their possess if they had qualified.
With so many teams of a identical standard, a doubt is where to pull a line and many critics still feel 16 was a ideal place.
The growth of a competition and training methods means that roughly any nation with a well-structured association can put on a important display during general level.
Albania have done swell by scouting Europe for players with roots in a nation and signing them adult while Iceland have softened interjection to an desirous growth programme that has concerned investment in coaches and building indoor pitches to face a oppressive winter.
UEFA’s problem is that when middle-ranking teams face tip sides, they tend to container their counterclaim and use spoiling tactics.
“There are teams personification ultra-defensively. But they do that well. The smaller nations like Albania or Wales are defensively really good schooled. They see their possibility in that,” pronounced Germany manager Joachim Loew.
Portugal manager Fernando Santos pronounced Iceland’s players spent a whole of their compare inspiring Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, and that a team’s dais assimilated in.
“It was unsportsmanlike behaviour,” he said, adding that after Iceland scored their idea they “put their 10 players in a final third of a field.”
On a other hand, when middle-ranking teams face any other, a proceed can resemble a decent English Championship match.
A bigger contest has meant augmenting a series of ordinary, unused matches to a indicate where they roughly seem to combine into any other.
Sweden constructed to go by their initial dual matches though mustering a shot on target, their usually measure being supposing by Ireland defender Ciaran Clark’s possess goal.
Poland also unsuccessful to force Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to make a save in their goalless draw, Hungary dominated possession opposite Iceland though hardly managed a shot and even France had to wait until a 90th notation opposite Albania before mustering an on-target effort, that happened to be a goal.
UEFA’s competitions executive Martin Kallen pronounced his organization was happy with a early matches, however.
“There’s some-more excitement, new entrance to fans for these countries so football gets some-more renouned there, that is what we were anticipating for,” he said.
“It’s a apex of football any 4 years and if these arrange of teams validate as well, it will have an change on a children to play football.”
But another waste is that, with a 24-team format, a tip dual teams in any of a 6 groups go by and a 4 best third-placed sides.
Not usually does this meant teams can utterly presumably validate by sketch 3 games, it also creates a final organization games an practice in arithmetic as most as football.
“The 16 teams was ideal. It done for good matches from day one,” pronounced Loew.
“Teams with one indicate from dual matches still have a possibility for a turn of 16. That is not really satisfactory though it is what it is. So we usually have to accept it and use a time we have to ready for any opponent.”