6 talking points from Euro 2016


Portugal will return home with the European Championship trophy after their 1-0 result provided a fitting bookmark to a tournament that never really caught fire.

Perhaps that was down to a bloated tournament in which it was harder to get eliminated in the group stage than go through, or maybe it was just down to Will Grigg's lack of playing time. Either way there's plenty to reflect back on as somewhere a bare-chested Cristiano Ronaldo bathes in yet more success.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo gets one up on Lionel Messi

Portugal lift the Euro 2016 trophy

Speaking of the Real Madrid man, he might not have played much of a role in Portugal's 1-0 final win over France but somehow the match was still all about him. Under the most intense spotlight of his international career, fans of irony would have enjoyed the fact a distracted moth threatened to gatecrash his moment. Ronaldo limped off in floods of tears yet still he would have the last laugh as his team-mates, until then regarded as no more than his travelling support cast, rallied to provide a defining victory in his career. Ronaldo can now claim to have done what great rival Lionel Messi has failed - win an international trophy - and his pained cry of 'Vamos' as he lifted the trophy confirmed he was pretty chuffed about it.

2. Debut nations thrived

Gareth Bale

One of the feelgood factors at the tournament was undoubtedly the number of first-timers that enjoyed extended runs at the tournament. Sure the format lent itself to that being the case, and the standard of football was in the main pretty hard to watch, but the likes of Iceland and Wales were not just a welcomed distraction to a turgid main course. They played enterprising football and the endearing relationship both shared with their fans should not go un-noticed by 'bigger' teams. Northern Ireland thoroughly enjoyed themselves on their debut, highlighted by beating Ukraine, and Albania did not miss out on the fun as they turned over Romania. The only problem is at some point in the future the novelty factor of these teams will wear off and, with only so many nations in Europe left to make their debut, then what...maybe we could do a Eurovision and invite the Aussies?

3. England's humiliation not represented in the stats

Roy Hodgson

If you ever wanted confirmation that stats don't always tell the true story then pin England's numbers up on the wall and recite these after us. England had more attempts on goal per game than any other (20.75), they were second for corners per game (8.25), they were third for time in possession (behind Spain and Germany), they had the fourth-highest pass completion rate (equal with France) and conceded the least number of corners. Perhaps even more amazing is that they beat all of the semi-finalists in the past year. Crucially, though they lost 2-1 to Iceland. And that's kind of the only stat that matters.

4. End of an era for Spain

Spain's Andres Iniesta

Vicente del Bosque stepped down as Spain coach after the holders relinquished their European crown with a defeat in the last-16 to Italy, having lost their world title with a group-stage exit in Brazil in 2014. Some of the key men from the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 triumphs were still involved in France and with the squad looking in need of considerable renovation, one wonders what the future holds at international level for the likes of Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique.

5. Crowd trouble

Russian supporters charges at England fans in the stands at the end of the Euro 2016 Group B match

The tournament was marred by ugly scenes involving English and Russian supporters in Marseille and Lille, but they were not the only offenders. A steward was almost hit by a firecracker as flares were thrown onto the pitch by Croatian supporters during the draw with the Czech Republic, and a man was tackled to the floor during the Poland v Portugal quarter-final as he apparently headed towards Cristiano Ronaldo.

6. The Viking clap

Iceland's players celebrate their victory with their supporters

There were plenty of instances of good-natured acts by supporters too though, with Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans winning plenty of friends and Belgian supporters giving their Welsh counterparts a guard of honour after the sides' quarter-final encounter in Lille. The highlight though was arguably the Viking clap favoured by Iceland supporters, a collective show of strength and solidarity which proved so popular that other sets of fans had also adopted it before the tournament had ended.