Portugal – Deserved European Champions

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Portugal has been the worst team in the Euros tournament; they have only won 1 game in the regulation 90 mins and have gone on to lift the cup. They drew all their group stage games, beat Croatia in the round of 16 in extra time and overcame Poland in the quarter-finals on penalties. Their win against Wales in the semis was impressive and well deserved considering that they had done little to show that they deserved to be where they stood.

Tails:

Portugal is the only team to have not lost a single game in this year’s Euros. 3 draws in the group stages, qualified as one of the 4 best 3rd placed teams (through no fault of their own, you can blame this on UEFA and their shitfaced shambolic organizing). Barring the 6 goal Hungary thriller, their defence game has been brilliant and their manager has got his formations and tactics spot on. They have played to their strengths and quite simply put, if you don’t lose in a knockout tournament, you’re more likely to kind of sort of end up as the winner, no?

These are 2 sides to the same coin that Portugal is. Boring? Slow? Monotonous? Who cares?

If you could park the bus and win titles, I’m sorry to say but there isn’t a fan or a manager in the world that would pass up that chance. You don’t look back on the dribbles or the attempted rabonas or the one touch passing or the nutmegs, you live for the moment you get your hands on the glorified prize and the ecstasy of being on the stage in front of the world getting to enjoy a hot passionate make out with the trophy. It’s the end result that counts and it ended with Cristiano lifting his first major trophy with his homeland.

Playing all the beautiful football in the world but not putting the ball in the back of the net and you expecting to win a trophy is like expecting a baby after experiencing the most wildest foreplay you’ve ever had. Germany/France and even Wales have all done the foreplay; Portugal is the only side to have rammed it home. Having lost Ronaldo in the 25th minute and having had a bazillion moth memes and tweets by the 26th minute, it seemed like a case of holding out for penalties. And then along came a certain gentleman named Eder (not related in any way to Haider) on as a second half substitute in what was a pretty bold move by manager Fernando Santos.

They had a system, an organization where they invited pressure from France and their resolute defence held tight. With goalkeeper Rui Patricio pulling off some courageous saves and defenders Pepe, who in all these years looked like a footballer more than a rugged street fighter for the very first (and probably the last) time and Jose Fonte held firm. They frustrated France who looked like getting the winner any minute but just ran out of ideas and creativity in the end. Taking off Giroud for Gignac is like pulling Hrithik Roshan from your star-cast movie to replace him with Harman Baweja and that is exactly what Deschamps did.

Even though he hit the post later on, it meant Griezmann was effectively rendered useless without the support of Giroud. Up until the 80th minute, the game was so boring that you’d have preferred to watch Bipasha Basu’s horror movies but then it sparked into life with each team hitting the post once a piece. 5 mins into the second half of stoppage time, Eder brilliantly held off 2 challenges before firing a low powerful drive that Lloris couldn’t get his hands to and that was that.

France came into the tournaments as big favourites with a huge wave of emotion and support behind them. They fell just short in the end but it’s been a magnificent effort that’s united the whole country and how badly it was needed, especially after the Paris attacks.

You could argue that it was the poorly structured tournament and fallacies in its roots that led to such a haphazard situation where aplenty matches worthy of being the final ended up being round of 16 clashes or quarterfinals.

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Cristiano Ronaldo spent the last 10 mins of the second half of stoppage time being the player manager that you read about in FIFA video games constantly yelling instructions from the touchline and motivating his players to go the extra mile. Portugal is the European Champion and as India did for Sachin in 2012, Portugal certainly did their Sachin proud in every sense of the word last night. It was just as scintillatingly beautiful to watch a man who has carried the weight of a country on his shoulders, inch ever closer to the finish line and add the piece of silver missing from his personal collection.

The sheer intensity of the moment could be felt while you were curled up in your bed half asleep, hoping this didn’t go to penalties. No matter how big a Messi/Barca fan you are, you can’t falter to acknowledge the greatness of CR7. He’s had his haters, his fanatics, people who worship him, idolize him and are happily modeling their life based on his and last night was just another master-class into the brilliance and class of the man they call Cristiano Ronaldo.

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