Near-tragedies, rainbow rows & evergreen Ronaldo: What we’ve learned from Euro 2020
The postponed edition of the European Championships have not failed to deliver. With unlikely semi-finalists, shock exits, near-tragedies and a heated political backdrop, here are five things we learned from the tournament so far.
1. Disturbing Eriksen drama shows more to be done with monitoring players - and people were quick to move on
There is a good argument to be made for this Euros having not been played at all. Since June last year, many players have not stopped in finishing the 2019/2020 season through a hot summer with barely little rest before the next one rolled in and saw games played every three days domestically and on the continent.
After this tournament has wrapped up next Sunday, many stars will get just a couple of weeks' rest if that before starting preseason with their clubs for the next campaign, with a November-December 2022 World Cup not far from the horizon.
Forever chasing the dollar for television, advertising and box office revenue, it seems that football's governing bodies pay little mind to athletes' well-being.
Someone almost did of course, in Denmark's Christian Eriksen during their opening match with Finland.
Saved by his captain Simon Kjaer when suffering a cardiac arrest, he thankfully lived to tell the tale. But television channels and producers were rightly blasted for a lack of class when showing his distraught partner and Eriksen lying there on the Parken Arena turf lifeless.
The Danes deserve praise for rallying back from this near-tragedy to reach the semi-finals, but the manner in which everyone has swiftly moved on from the incident is unsettling. And more must be done to monitor players and their safety.Also on rt.com ‘Sorry, that is not OK’: Fans enraged as TV broadcasters refuse to cut away from Christian Eriksen as he received CPR on pitch
2. UEFA needs delicate balancing act with LGBT issues
As the 'keep football out of politics', or keep 'politicians out of football' debates rage, UEFA has scored own goals tournament-long with its handling of delicate issues.
The taking of the knee wasn't as big a sticking point as expected, and took a backseat to rows surrounding LGBTQ flags and rainbow colors.
While the concept of the continent-wide tournament has passed off more successfully than many had expected, supporters and organizers alike need to remember that beliefs – as well as legal contexts – still differ across Europe.Also on rt.com Rainbow row: UEFA investigating claims of pride flag being confiscated from fan during Denmark-Czech Euro 2020 match in Baku
UEFA has left itself open to attack with constant flip-flopping and prohibitions, confiscations and opened-then-closed investigations into issues such as the wearing of a rainbow armband by Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Perhaps this won't be an issue in Germany three years from now, but a lesson needs to be learned from many involved in the discussion.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo is as hungry as ever
In impeccable shape for his age, putting a bet on CR7 battling on at Euro 2024 competition seems like easy money.
With both he and Patrik Schick on five goals, but with Ronaldo ahead in the assist rankings, the Portugal icon looks set to win the Golden Boot as England's Harry Kane is given a tall order to net three in the semi-final and a possible final to surpass him.Also on rt.com The Devils you know: Belgium dump Ronaldo & Portugal OUT of Euro 2020 after Thorgan Hazard stunner – but lose De Bruyne to injury
Surpassing Michel Platini's all-time Euros tally and equaling all-time international goalscorer Ali Daei, Ronaldo is hungrier than ever and deserved to go further in the tournament than a limp last 16 exit to Belgium.
Portugal's failure to defend their 2016 title was mainly down to Fernando Santos' own in not being able to get the best out of a talented attack also featuring Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Joao Felix.
With a bit of luck, he might not be in the dugout in Qatar next year.
4. No clear European favorites for next year's World Cup
Speaking of which, this tournament has failed to shine a light on a clear frontrunner representing the Old Continent at next year's World Cup in the Middle East.
A strength in-depth France were expected to cruise this, or at least get to the final. But they have fallen into old habits, just like at the turn of the Millennium and most of the 2000s and 2010s, save for reaching the World Cup final in 2006.
Failing to get out of the group and score a single goal in 2002, a similar limp defense of their Russia 2018 crown looks likely if they cannot resolve the same in-fighting and clash of egos which plagued them and paved the way for a shootout loss to the Swiss in their first knockout match.Also on rt.com Kylian Mbappe ‘will NOT renew deal at PSG’ as details emerge of ‘fight in stands between moms’ in France Euro 2020 failure (VIDEO)
Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands were all seen off far earlier than expected. And of the semi-finalists, Italy and Denmark are just good teams with no real superstars. Spain are an awkward mix of youth and veterans without a single Real Madrid squad member plus a weak back line. And England are, well, England.
5. New Three Lions generation are changing perceptions of the team
Perhaps that was a little unfair. With two semi-finals in three years - three in three years if counting the Nations League too - it is difficult to tar this group with the same brush as their underperforming forefathers.
This is a squad that does not carry the emotional baggage of past failures on the biggest of stages, with its members either not alive yet or old enough to remember most of them.
Manager Gareth Southgate has said that defeat against Denmark tomorrow won't be good enough for his men, as perhaps the loss to Croatia in Russia in the last four was considering it was a major tournament best showing in 22-28 years.
But with the one of the youngest average outfits of the competition at 24.8 years, this is a team on the up with many promises such as Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Jaden Sancho still in or barely out of their teens.
Furthermore, they are socially-conscious without the need to overdo it, refuse to let club allegiances get in the way of the united project, and have demonstrated a kindness and humility that provide an antidote to the selfish, money-hungry prima donnas of yesteryear.