Euro 2016 is guaranteed to get better

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Football News

Typically, knock-out football is much more exciting than cagey and tactical group stage games.

Euro 2016 blew that theory out of the water with one of the most boring first days of knockout football ever on Saturday, whereby only three goals were scored over three matches in normal time.

Instead of throwing everything forward for the win, teams instead chose to play it safe, keep possession and concentrate on spoiling the chances of the other team instead of looking to do anything positive themselves.


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The final game of the evening, Portugal vs. Croatia, should have been the second tastiest draw of the last 16, but ended up being the worst game of the tournament with no efforts on target until the 115th minute.

So was it unrealistic to expect the tournament to catch light straight after the group stage? Was it almost guaranteed to get cagier with the trophy in sight?

Or could it be that teams have still only played four competitive games together, and are therefore still trying to gel? It can be seen in any sporting tournament; Andy Murray's first few games at Grand Slams are never his best, as he isn't stretched by his opponent and is yet to find comfortable form.

It's the same with international teams, it sometimes takes them a few games to settle in, get to know one another and grow an understanding with their international teammates.

International teams play so few competitive matches between tournaments, and new players come in and out of teams so often that finding a regular 11 who are used to one another is one of the challenges of international football.

Which is why it didn't help when Roy Hodgson rotated the England squad so much in the first three group games.

Euro 2016 is anyone's to win, and this will spur the last eight on to more attacking football and less emphasis on structure and defence, making it more exciting for its devoted audience.

Practice does make perfect. Now all teams have had four games together we should begin to see more teamwork, more confidence going forward and fewer frustratingly dull results.

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