Euro 2016 is over and as with every major tournament will leave a lasting legacy. Portugal claimed their first ever major international trophy with victory at the Stade de France on Sunday night.
Their victory wasn’t without turmoil. They lost captain and football icon Cristiano Ronaldo to injury in the opening stages of the final against France. The loss did little to dissuade the Portuguese who have been the antithesis of their normally flashy selves during the tournament.
Even Nani, who is known for his inconsistent and often lackadaisical performances, dug his heels in for his country throughout the tournament and indeed the final itself.
The French couldn’t get the job done on home soil and many will argue a lot of that is down to manager Didier Deschamps. His insistence on playing Paul Pogba in a deep defensive role instead of further forward, as well as bringing on André-Pierre Gignac instead of Anthony Martial earlier was particularly perplexing.
They huffed and puffed for large spells of the 120 minutes of play but rarely looked to hold the key to unlock a defence led by public enemy number 1 Pepe. Gignac did hit the post late in the 90 minutes and golden boot winner Antoine Griezmann also came close with a header.
As the game entered extra-time the feeling grew that this wasn’t going to be France’s night and so it proved. Substitute Eder doing excellently to hold off Laurent Koscielny before powering a shot past Hugo Lloris in the French goal. The unlikeliest of heroes!
Maybe it summed up a tournament that has divided opinion far and wide.
It was the 15th edition of the European championships and the first to see 24 teams compete. Many believe the new format has diluted the quality and at times it has been hard to argue.
It has come in for even more criticism now seeing as the winners of the tournament Portugal won none of their group stage games but still made the last 16 due to being one of the best 3rd placed teams. They went on to win just one game in 90 minutes but is that not the sign of a good tournament team?
They did everything they needed to do to win the competition. Should they be criticised for other teams failure to beat them? That’s the aim of tournament football! Make yourselves hard to beat and anything can happen.
At the end of the day the Portuguese did exactly that and are deserved winners as a result! Now what to do until the middle of August?