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Netherlands’ Amsterdam Nightmare Continues as France Show Deep Gulf in Class

Published: October 11, 2016

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AMSTERDAM ARENA, Netherlands — Sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference. It worked for Turkey, decamping to Konya from Istanbul midway through their Euro 2016 qualification campaign and plotting an improbable course towards France. Last week, the Netherlands—the nation left (eventually vainly) clawing for scraps with Fatih Terim’s team in Group A behind Czech Republic... 

Portugal Go from Triumph to Planning Post-Cristiano Ronaldo Future

Published: September 6, 2016

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Fifty-eight days. That’s the gap between the apex of Portugal’s footballing achievement—winning the Euro 2016 final—and their next competitive match, as they start out on the road to Russia in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in Switzerland. Barely has the ticker tape floated down from the sky to the ground and Fernando Santos’ team are back grinding. That’s how it happens,... 

Cristiano Ronaldo Is Still Portugal’s Key Piece, and He Will Remain So

Published: July 12, 2016

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As he waited to be interviewed by the host broadcaster in the Stade de France tunnel after Portugal’s historic Euro 2016 win, Cristiano Ronaldo craned his neck forward and stared into the camera. “How do I look?” he asked, tightening his cheeks and exposing that famous, gleaming grin. “Shiny,” came the reply from behind the camera. Ronaldo raised his eyebrows and laughed. It... 

Barcelona New Boy Samuel Umtiti Is No Weak Link for France

Published: July 5, 2016

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Adil Rami has cut an optimistic figure for France during Euro 2016, as well he might after a whirlwind end to the 2015-16 season. From seeming like he was miles away from France manager Didier Deschamps’ set-up, via a historic Europa League win with Sevilla, all the way into Les Bleus’ XI. He even managed to get away with criticising Deschamps for originally overlooking him (as per RMC,... 

Cristiano Ronaldo Has a Golden Chance to End Portugal Trophy Drought

Published: June 28, 2016

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The concept of a one-man team has been a dominant theme of Euro 2016. Gareth Bale and Wales. Marek Hamsik and Slovakia. Not forgetting, of course, the old faithful, the original: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. So what if we’ve reached a point where Portugal have at last found a way to be more than that? While there was much to forget about the last-16 tie against Croatia (and from an aesthetic... 

Belgium Must Makes Changes or Risk Wasting Their Golden Generation

Published: June 14, 2016

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Under the teeming skies of Lyon, Belgium’s fans showed up, and they showed up in force. The sea of red spread halfway around the stands was the most arresting sight in Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Monday night as Euro 2016 kicked off for the gastronomical capital of France. After days in which the headlines have been dominated by violence and disorder, Les Diables Rouges charmed the locals in the... 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Fitness Again Concerning Portugal, 2 Years On

Published: May 31, 2016

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Much might have changed between Lisbon in 2014 and Milan two years later, but when the final blow was delivered, the symmetry was crystal clear. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to score from the penalty spot and removed his shirt to celebrate the confirmation that the Champions League trophy would return to the Bernabeu with Real Madrid, at the expense of near-neighbours Atletico. That, for Madridistas... 

Fatih Terim Draws on History to Build Turkey’s Euro 2016 Master Plan

Published: May 31, 2016

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Fatih Terim’s attention to detail is legendary. So the most striking thing when sitting down in his office at the Turkiye Futbol Federasyonu’s elegant but understated headquarters—set in a quiet corner of Istanbul’s Besiktas district—is how few clues exist to a career stuffed full of drama and accomplishment. It’s minimalist, with three sofas in a half-circle in... 

Karim Benzema Is an Asset, but France Can Get by Without Him

Published: March 29, 2016

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At the end of this international window, it will be decision time. There will be no more friendlies, no more trials or tests. The 24 coaches leading their nations into UEFA Euro 2016 will be alone with their thoughts and no further evidence other than club football, as they look towards composing their squads for the summer and announcing them in mid-May. France coach Didier Deschamps arguably has... 

Lassana Diarra Leads the Way into the Light for France

Published: November 17, 2015

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It is in the most trying and bleak of times that the human spirit can show its capacity to shine through the darkness. This weekend should have been one of great joy for Lassana Diarra, making his first start for France in his hometown of Paris—against world champions Germany—since returning to the squad last month after five long years out of the picture. As we now know, Diarra’s... 

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