Friday 19 January 2018 / 06:43 PM


Ever since France kicked off that first game of Euro 2016 against Romania, Europe has gone football crazy, with numerous matches in numerous cities, fantastic goals, tense moments – pretty much everything we love about the beautiful game. Here are five of the most interesting things we’ve learnt in Euro 2016 week one:

There’s no clear favourite 

Forget what the bookies say, these could be one of the most open European Championships for many years. In 2008 and 2012, Spain were the team to beat, but with the gloss knocked off their tiki-taka game in the 2014 World Cup, the Spaniards no longer look imperious, while world champions Germany have looked unconvincing in their two games so far.

Despite the Italian team looking like the worst side to march out of Rome for some time, they’ve looked impressive so far, as have hosts France. Meanwhile, hotly tipped Belgium haven’t set the world alight, despite their win against the Republic of Ireland. As a wild card, England’s victory against Wales has transformed their prospects, and as we enter the second week, it’d take a brave man to predict the team that’ll triumph on July 10 with any authority.

Hooliganism is alive and well 

Sad but true. Despicable behaviour from England and Russia fans has made one thing clear: we haven’t managed to rid our game of the dreaded, thuggish behaviour of the football hooligans. With Russia receiving a ‘suspended’ ban, and Croatia and England both warned about their fans’ behaviour, this has been the one black mark over what has been a sterling tournament so far.

Ronaldo isn’t going to do it on the international stage. 

As the most high-profile player in the tournament, and at the age of 31, Portugal’s linchpin Cristiano Ronaldo will no doubt be hoping that Euro 2016 is the tournament where he finally stamps his mark on the international scene. But with a couple of poor performances so far, a hissy-fit following a draw with Iceland, and a missed penalty, it looks very much like the Real Madrid superstar will have to wait for another chance at an international trophy, if he ever gets one.

Germany are curiously inefficient 

The world champions are the team we were all expecting to see performing at a high level, but so far, they’ve disappointed. Whether it’s because a few of their key players are getting on or have retired, or another reason entirely, the Germans just don’t look a cut above the rest, which is exactly how they looked in the World Cup.

It’s a low-scoring one 

We had to wait a week for the first game in which a team scored more than two goals – Spain thumping Turkey 3-0 – and the question is: why is it such a low-scoring tournament? Do the tactics in 2016 lend themselves to a lower-scoring game?  France, Spain, England and Belgium (among others) all appear to be playing an attacking brand of football, but for some reason this approach doesn’t seem to be reflected in the scoresheets.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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