Tuesday, July 12, 2016

European Football Championship Finally Over

Dutch Team at 1974 World Cup
Last Sunday night, Portugal beat host nation France 1-0 in the European Football Championship finals. A dramatic game, as Portuguese star striker, Christiano Ronaldo, had to leave the game injured after just 20 
minutes. The match then seemed France's to lose. They deserved to win this championship as they had played reasonably well (but not much better than that) during this tournament and had a golden striker in Antoine Griezmann. 

Also, the French deserved a shot in the arm after last year's terrorist strikes and an economic malaise in the country. It didn't happen: the tough defending Portuguese surprisingly managed to score in overtime and that was that. This was Portugal's first European championship, a great achievement for them and for Ronaldo, their leader on the sideline. 

However, there is not much more good news to report after 51 games in this tournament which for the first time had 24 countries participating instead of the usual 16. Iceland was refreshing and surprising in reaching the quarter finals. Wales was even more surprising in reaching the semi-finals. But most games were

incredibly boring for objective viewers like myself - after a dismal qualifying round the Dutch failed to qualify for this European Football Championship for the first time since 1984. Without the stress of having my favorites compete, I was hopeful to enjoy some beautiful matches by the top European countries. What I saw was strong defense, athletic players, some beautiful goals, but I was deeply disappointed by mostly defensive games without much speed or excitement.

I decided then to go back in history and look at the Dutch during the 1974 World Cup, when they showed the world how to play offensively in offense but also in defense. Have a look at the following clip and decide for yourself whether the Dutch in 1974 played faster or slower than the teams at this European Cup.

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