Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who are the European Soccer Powerhouses

In the last 20 years, we saw five nations, the Netherland, Denmark, Germany, France and Greece winning the European Cup titles. However if we look at World Cup results, only three countries have managed to get into the finals in the last 5 finals. Germany, Italy and France.

Do European Cup winners really represent European best?

Base on 2004 tournament final alone, I have no doubt the European Cup is loosing it's status and the most prestigious cup after World Cup. Yes, there is no shortage of fans who travel across borders to support their team, even if they couldn't get ticket to watch the game in the stadiums. There is country and you know which one that was devastated become they did not qualified. But even if the strongest team and the most talented players were to participate in the tournament this year, there is no guarantee they will even reach the semi-final.

Today the second tournament "favorite" the Netherlands exited the competition after loosing to a true underdog Russia. Not many would bet for Russia to even get out of their group, let alone beat Netherlands such convincingly. And who would have thought that Germany would came out of their group second, and ended up playing Portugal in the quarter final? Of course, one of them had to go, and Germany deserved to win.

It seems a bit cruel to see Netherlands go out today, after their superb displays in the group stage. They didn't just play beautiful football, but they totally trashed the World Cup champion and runner up. How is it that a team like this not getting a second chance to get to the final?

If Italy were to beat Spain tomorrow, then it would really make the Dutch and their fans heart broken.

Perhaps there is a flaw in these modern tournament. All of these nations played in the qualifying matches for almost two years, and played each opponents twice. It takes a lot of hard work to get here, and then one poor game at the wrong stage, everything is over.

Perhaps there should be a rotation of some sort where one country has to play most of the other countries, and whoever get the higher point get the trophy. If the 16 teams are split into 2 big groups of 8. then each teams will get to play 7 games. And then the top team from each group get to play in a one match final. It's kind of like the World Cup qualifying group for South America. Even though Argentina and Brazil slipped once a while, they usually end up qualified since they are so much better then the rests.

It's a pitty we don't get to see the likes of Christiano Ronaldo (though he is not my favorite), van Nistelrooy, Aryen Roben, Ricardo Quaresma, and many more play more games.

Who knows, the way things are going, it might be a Turkey - Russia final. If they do get to the final, they certainly deserve it. But they are no way the best teams in Europe.

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