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The Sports Hub

A lot of football and a bit of everything else.

Month

July 2016

Griezmann, Pepe and the Team of Euro 2016

 

Euro 2016 came to an end on Sunday at the Stade de France as Portugal clinched a hard fought game in the dying moments with a superb strike from Eder. I made my Worst Team of the Tournament last week. Now it’s time to look at the best players of the tournament. There maybe a few surprise inclusions and exclusions. But I believe that I have done justice with my team selection. Here’s a look at the best XI at Euro 2016.

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Euro 2016 – Worst XI of the Tournament

Euro 2016 has reached its final stage as hosts France are set to face Portugal at the Stade de France in a couple of days time. The tournament has been filled with brilliant goals, comebacks, upsets and fairy-tale runs. Many stars have stepped up to do their best for their teams. However, a few failed to step up at the big stage despite coming into the tournament with a lot of promise. These aren’t necessarily the worst players in the tournament. But they all have the potential to be big and they failed miserably. Here’s a look at the Worst XI of the tournament.

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Germany 0-2 France: Brilliant Griezmann takes France to the finals

Antoine Griezmann was at his very best as two goals from the forward secured a spot in the finals for the hosts, France. It wasn’t the easiest of games though as Germany were perhaps the better side for much of the match. It took a series of last ditch defending and some magnificent saves from Hugo Lloris to keep their clean sheet intact. With this victory, France are set to face Portugal in the finals of Euro 2016 at Stade de France on Sunday.

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Portugal 2-0 Wales: Cometh the hour, Cometh Cristiano

In 2012, Portugal needed a win against the Dutch to qualify from the group and fell behind quite early to a Van Der Vaart strike. Ronaldo stepped up with two quality goals as he bossed the then world cup runners-up to guide his team through. in 2014, when Portugal needed to beat Sweden to book a place in Brazil, he scored 4 times over the two legs including a memorable hat-trick in the second which eventually won him the Ballon D’Or that year. This year, in the do-or-die match against Hungary, he pulled his side from behind thrice, with two goals and an assist in the 3-3 thriller. Whenever his side need him the most, he delivers and he does so in style. Against Wales, he delivered the goods yet again. After a dull first half, Ronaldo opened the scoring with a thumping header that was reminiscent of his header against Manchester United in the Champions League in 2013. Two minutes later, he turned provider, albeit inadvertently, as his scuffed shot was diverted in by Nani. Suddenly, it was all Portugal and their captain was at the heart of everything good. His free kick soared just high of the crossbar and his calm play in the final minutes halted the Welsh team from gathering momentum as Portugal saw the game out comfortably. Bale tried his best to conjure up something but the night belonged to his Real Madrid teammate who had risen to the occasion yet again.

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Germany vs France Preview – Battle of the Pre-Tournament Favourites

The world champions, Germany, entered Euro 2016 as one of the favourites, just as they have been for the last 10 years in all major tournaments. The tag is justified considering that they’ve entered the semi finals in each of their previous 6 competitions. France on the other hand have never really hit the heights of the Zidane era. This is the first time they have reached the semi final stage after winning the competition back in 2000. Both teams will strongly believe that the winner of this match will head into the finals with an upper hand over the winner of the other semi-final, irrespective of the result in that.

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Portugal vs Wales Preview – More than ‘Ronaldo vs Bale’

Preview: 

One team bossed the group stage and finished on top. They have scored 10 goals in their 5 games so far, playing with a never-say-never attitude. On the other hand, the other team barely scraped through the group stages (they were helped by the new ‘Best 3rd place finish’ rule). With only 5 goals so far this campaign, they have somehow managed to book a spot in the semis without even winning a single game after 90 minutes. If someone had predicted this scenario a month back, most of us would have said that the first side mentioned was Portugal and the latter being Wales. Forward to the present and here the two teams have switched places.

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France Peak at the Perfect Time

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Two years back, France hammered Switzerland 5-2 in their final group stage match of the World Cup in Brazil. It was a complete performance from Didier Deschamps’ side and the message was clear – France had come to win. Fans were highly optimistic about their chances. I remember being in Paris around that time for my summer break and everyone had face paintings of the national flag as they paraded across the roads to show their support for the team.

In the quarterfinals, they faced a strong German side. Much was expected from Benzema and co and they disappointed. The team was a shadow of its former self and was caught napping as Hummels headed in the winner. France fell short and were guilty of something that probably wasn’t even their fault – peaking too soon.

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Belgium must part ways with Wilmots

In modern-day football, a coach is as instrumental as his players to the success of the team. Matches are played well before the kickoff time as coaches spend hours to choose the tactics that not only suit the team but can help them beat the opposition as well. Some coaches can come up with brilliant strategies that can help the team beat anyone. Some coaches though rely on the brilliance of their players to make up for their own tactical inflexibility. Unfortunately for Belgium, Marc Wilmots belongs to the second category. The Red Devils entered Euro 2016 as the highest ranked European side according to FIFA rankings. On paper, they were the best side in the tournament. On the field however, things were just not working out. Sure, injuries robbed the team of its key players, but majority of the blame must fall on the coach for his own inability to get the best of his talented squad. Here are some decisions that the Belgian coach got horribly wrong at the Euros.

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