The Euro 2016 was a spectacular event held all over France.
The competition level was notched up as the competitors were increased from 16 to 24 teams. After the recent attacks in France in 2015, the Euro was seen as a solidarity and supportive event by the European nations and the world as a whole for the French people.
The tournament had everything one would want from an international event of this calibre; suspense, underdogs, upsets, fans, fights and everything in between. Without doubt the surprise of the tournament was the minnow nation Iceland who through sheer will power qualified for the tournament finals in the first place. There was upsets in store by them when they held tournament favourites Portugal, led by their world renowned captain Cristiano Ronaldo to a draw. They ended up doing more damage with their energetic display and fearlessness by dismantling England, the founders of football 2-1 in the round of 16 after going one goal down to come back and win 2-1. They were ultimately defeated in the quarters by the host, but not before giving the world of football an inspirational performance that many will be talking about and learning from in the years to come.
Germany, the reigning world champions have never defeated their rivals, the Italians in an international competition. When the two met in the quarters, the atmosphere surrounding the match was similar to the final match of the tournament. Boasting a total of 8 world cups between them, the Germans triumphed for the first time in their history versus Italy, in a nail biting penalty shootout. However, in a dramatic turn of events, France, who in turn had never beaten the Germans in a tournament, ended up defeating the world champions 2-0 to go the finals.
On the other side of the tournament, Portugal by the skin of their teeth managed to grasp the final qualifying spot in their group. They had not won a game in the first three games played, drawing all of them to minnows Iceland, Hungary and Austria. The round of 16 saw them somehow score past the Croatians in extra time, and they went on to beat the brave Polish team on penalties in the next round. In the semi, Wales led by the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale lost to Portugal 2-0.
This was Portugal’s first win in the tournament in normal time despite playing 5 matches previously. The final showdown, hosted in the Stade de France, Paris saw the lucky Portuguese face off the hosts France. The match began with both teams being careful not to concede early on and be pressurized.
In a sad turn of events, Ronaldo, who lost the final in 2004, was stretchered off in the first half in tears, dampening the atmosphere and leading to hopefulness among the Portuguese fans. The Portuguese fought bravely and took the game to extra time.
In the 117th minute, Eder, a player who scored only 3 times for Portugal scored a dramatic winner giving Portugal their first international trophy, and the French a loss on home soil. Ronaldo lifting the trophy became one of the most memorable moments that will be in the minds of many people for a long time to come.
“The Euro 2016 was a wonderful tournament that could not have been better”