Here are some things we learnt throughout the tournament:
1. Football, despite all its delay, might come home pretty soon.
England have a formidable talent-filled squad, young and full of energy and the World Cup is next year. So who says it can’t come home in 2022? Some may say Gareth Southgate, others say racism but we can only see.
2. Goalkeeping can make all the difference in a tournament.
In this tournament, we saw a lot of the games go to extra time and several goalkeepers stepping up to keep their teams in the running. Individual brilliance from keepers like Donnarumma who won the best player of the tournament for his outstanding performance, Sommer, Schmeichel and Pickford saw their teams advance to the next round during penalty shootouts or keep them in the game during ET to take them to the shoutouts, which was a very key factor in this tournament.
3. Older players should be included in tournament squads.
More and more recently, we’ve seen the exclusion of older players in tournament squads due to the emergence of new, more exciting players. If this tournament taught us anything, it’s that experience trumps youth. If they still have the ability to do the job, they should be included in the squad. Look at 34-year old Leonardo Bonucci who scored the equaliser against England to take them to ET, and his counterpart, Giorgio Chiellini, 36, who was extraordinary the whole tournament.
4. Coaching makes all the difference.
Individual brilliance was a staple in the tournament, with most teams being quite star studded but again, we saw that individual brilliance can take you places but not very far. A strong example will be the German NT, which has quite the stars but a coach that was, inarguably, holding them back in Joachim Low. The Italians on the other hand, whose effective coaching by Roberto Mancini turned a group of footballers, not so much stars as they were talented, to European champions and one of the best teams in the world.
5. Club form does not always translate to international level and vice-versa.
Playing for different teams gets different results from individuals; some are better for their club, others better at international level. An example would be Bruno Fernandes, the main man at Manchester United but not quite as good for Portugal, having little to minimal impact on the Portuguese squad and their progression.
6. The tournament rose way above our expectations.
Some say that this was one of the most exciting tournaments in recent memory, and they are probably right. With the announcement of the tournament taking place in several locations across Europe, many expected it to be very predictable and boring but it turned out very differently. Most of the favourites were knocked out by the Round of 16 or QFs, leaving quite the disarray in the fans’ camp as to who would lift the cup. It turned out to be just as unpredictable till the very end, with fans torn on who would lift the cup till the very last minute of the game