Euro 2016 is becoming the tournament of frustrated star strikers

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Thomas Muller, remember him? The guy who scored 36 goals in 59 appearances in the Bundesliga last season.

What about Cristiano Ronaldo, he used to be impressive. 35 goals in 36 games in La Liga, wasn't it?

And Lewandowski, with all those records he broke last September. It can't have been five goals in nine minutes, can it?


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That's without mentioning Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who battled it out for the Premier League's golden boot all last season.

These are all players who have been scoring for fun all season and yet not one of them has managed anything near his best during Euro 2016. What is it about the international stage that messes with their prolific strike records? Here are four reasons that could go some way to explaining this Euro 2016 mystery.

Standard of teammates

The big guns at Euro 2016 all play for top clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, where they bask in the luxury of being surrounded by players of a similar standard. Internationally, however, you can't buy your players. You get what you're given. Yet this doesn't seem to be a problem for Gareth Bale.

Want it too much

For some players, an international medal is all that is missing from their trophy cabinet. When their last chance for glory goes begging, you see breakdowns in the manner of Lionel Messi after the Copa America final and those emotive tears of Gianluigi Buffon last night.

It's common knowledge that sometimes a desire for a medal can dominate your thoughts and affect your performance negatively rather than positively.

Players begin to think too much instead of relying on instinct and everything falls apart from there.


Linked to thinking too much is the players' mentality; the fear factor has been present in so many strikers this tournament, making them miss shots they would ordinarily have slotted home.

The expectation of the millions of people back home (thousands in Iceland's case) have made the players visibly shrink, instead of spurring them on to bring home the silverware.


It is the worst excuse going but has been tacked on half-heartedly by pundits to explain England and Spain's parallel demise. There is no winter break in the Premier League as there is with other European leagues, and many of Spain's players were still in cup competitions right through to the end of May.

For professionals though, it seems no excuse at all. They still work fewer weeks a year than in your average job.

As the heat is turned up now Ronaldo, Bale and Muller are all through to the semi-finals, we'll begin to see whether or not they can handle the pressure. If it goes down to penalties in the final, this trophy really could belong to anyone.

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Gareth Bale
Robert Lewandowski
Cristiano Ronaldo
Euro 2016
Thomas Muller

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