Six Euro 2016 talking points

11 July 2016 08:48

Euro 2016 is finally over, with Portugal securing a first senior international trophy with victory over hosts France in Sunday's final.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the major talking points from the tournament.

CRISTIANO RONALDO FINALLY TASTES INTERNATIONAL GLORY

Some football observers say a player cannot be truly considered great unless he has enjoyed success at international level, and by that logic Portugal's win over France certainly gives Ronaldo the edge over the man considered his rival for the title of greatest player on the planet right now, Lionel Messi. The Argentinian retired from international football after another Copa America disappointment earlier this summer and a runners-up finish in the 2014 World Cup. It looked like being a similar tale of heartbreak for Ronaldo when injury forced him off in the first half of the Euro 2016 final, but his team-mates rallied in his absence and the night ended with the Real Madrid superstar holding aloft the Henri Delaunay trophy.

DEBUT NATIONS THRIVE

Plenty of teams made a major impact in their first European Championship finals campaigns as the competition was expanded to 24 teams for the first time. Wales made the semi-finals and Iceland the last eight after beating England in the first knock-out round. Fellow debutants Northern Ireland and Slovakia both made the last 16, while Albania came third in their group after beating Romania, narrowly missing out on the knock-out phase.

END OF AN ERA FOR SPAIN

Vicente del Bosque stepped down as Spain coach after the holders relinquished their European crown with a defeat in the last 16 to Italy, having lost their world title with a group-stage exit in Brazil in 2014. Some of the key men from the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 triumphs were still involved in France and with the squad looking in need of considerable renovation, one wonders what the future holds at international level for the likes of Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.

ENGLAND'S HUMILIATION

Spain's troubles look trivial at the side of England's. Their fans were left wondering if their national team had ever suffered a lower moment than the last-16 elimination at the hands of Iceland. Roy Hodgson's resignation was almost instant and the postmortem is now well under way as to how such a talented group of players had yet again crumbled in tournament football.

CROWD TROUBLE

The tournament was marred by ugly scenes involving English and Russian supporters in Marseille and Lille, but they were not the only offenders. A steward was almost hit by a firecracker as flares were thrown onto the pitch by Croatian supporters during the draw with the Czech Republic, and a man was tackled to the floor during the Poland v Portugal quarter-final as he apparently headed towards Cristiano Ronaldo.

THE VIKING CLAP

There were plenty of instances of good-natured acts by supporters too though, with Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans winning plenty of friends and Belgian supporters giving their Welsh counterparts a guard of honour after the sides' quarter-final encounter in Lille. The highlight though was arguably the Viking clap favoured by Iceland supporters, a collective show of strength and solidarity which proved so popular that other sets of fans had also adopted it before the tournament had ended.

Source: PA-WIRE


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