Connect in the back of the net

The article below is the fourth installment of a column related to everything Euro 2016 titled “Euro Vision” by respected South African sports journalist and ANN7 Prime Sports Anchor, Peter Stemmet.

It has been an eventful start to the 2016 European Championships. Host nation France kicked it all off on Friday night with a tough 2-1 win over Romania. It was not the best performance from Les Bleus but the Romanians are tough competitors and it might actually have been the perfect opponent to begin against.

Dimitri Payet was simply sublime and is fully deserving of the plaudits that have come his way.

All the games have been close so far, as to be expected in the opening round of fixtures in a major tournament. There are often several draws, usually 0-0, and they’re all cagey affairs. That is not entirely true of Euro 2016.

While all the Euro 2016 ncounters have been close to date, they have been entertaining.

It appears that most teams are looking to play some good football along the way. No one team has been totally outplayed just yet and that is good for the tournament but also speaks volumes for the strength in depth of the sport in Europe, where virtually half of the continent’s countries are present and after one round of matches the biggest win is only 2-0.

Germany, Italy and the Hungarians are the teams boasting that record. Two of the usual suspects and then a surprise of note. The Magical Magyars were one of the powerhouses of world football in the 1950s (think Ferenc Puskas and the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland) but have been an also-ran for the last three decades. It is great to see them back and doing so well here at Euro 2016.

Austria and Belgium have several questions to answer after failing badly first up. It is too early to tell who the contenders are going to be but for now let me say that my pre-tournament pick of France, Germany, Spain and Italy for the final four still seems relatively safe.

Mind you, I made that call on the basis of the Belgians finishing ahead of the Azzurri in Group E, so a rethink could be in order in the next week or so.

 

Written by Peter Stemmet

Follow Peter on Twitter @super_pete

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