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The bad times are back for 'beautiful football'


The final of Euro 2016 is upon us, and without knowing the tournament’s ultimate outcome (one game left after the 50 already played) it’s possible to draw a pretty fair conclusion: the bad times are back when it comes to beautiful football. Spain, Croatia, Germany, England…the teams who pass the ball best didn’t live up to their expectations for one reason or another. Spain, thanks to two silly mistakes by Sergio Ramos and one major collective blunder; Croatia, who were undone by a counter-attack in the 117th minute; Germany, as they were missing Gómez, Khedira and Hummels on their decisive day, and England, because they lacked any cutting edge.

Spain's defender Sergio Ramos reacts following their defeat during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Croatia and Spain
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Spain's defender Sergio Ramos reacts following their defeat during the Euro 2016 group D football match between Croatia and SpainMEHDI FEDOUACHAFP

Simeone-style football has triumphed...

Simeone-style football has triumphed this summer: cautious, intense, defensive, and somebody good up front to penalise any errors. France, speaking of the most recent example, took advantage of just two German mistakes and that was the difference. It’s been the same story elsewhere. It’s the explanation for the wonderful adventures of the competition’s surprise packages (Iceland and Wales), as football played with such industriousness brings together those who have less than those who have more. That’s certainly been seen in Spain, where Simeone has put his Atlético side next to Real Madrid and Barça. I’ll give that the merit it’s due, but I don’t really like it. I fear now that these tactics have won many fans: success spawns imitators.

Bale and Griezmann rise to the occasion

With regards to individuals, we’ve seen Bale and Griezmann rise to the biggest occasion, and Cristiano continues being Cristiano. These three names will threaten Messi’s claim to the next Balon d’Or. On the other hand, it was a disastrous Euros for Muller and Ibrahimovic – who both failed to find the net – and I dare add Sergio Ramos’ name to the same list (who I already mentioned had a lot to do with Spain’s exit). As for the other major story – where we saw a new outbreak of hooliganism – thankfully that all dissipated when the Russians, English and Croatian were sent packing. Next up: the World Cup 2018 in Russia. A worrying prospect…