Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 2nd 2016 Contents LONDON---For some, just reach-
ing the European Championship
is enough. However, from the
players to coaches and referees
to administrators, many have
something to prove in France.
There s a lot riding on Euro 2016
for the tournament organisers.
Purists reacted badly to UEFA
adding another eight teams to
make it a 24-team tournament for
the first time. But this tournament
has regularly evolved, since only
four teams contested the finals
A spate of drab first-round
games in France could see calls for
the expanded tournament format
to be reassessed, especially with
most third-place teams advancing
from the four-team groups to the
new round of 16.
But qualifying was more capti-
vating than UEFA s critics predict-
ed, with a format designed to help
smaller teams reach the finals still
rigorous enough to see the Nether-
lands, World Cup semifinalists in
2014, miss out.
UEFA could always pin the
blame on Michel Platini. Expansion
was the brainchild of UEFA s
banned, outgoing president who
pandered to smaller nations in the
now 55-nation confederation.
With Platini out of the picture,
one of the first things UEFA did
was approve the use of goal-line
technology for the first time at one
of its tournaments.
Yet, UEFA is persisting with
deploying Platini s five officials,
with an extra assistant to the ref-
erees behind each goal. Since they
are no longer relied on to judge if
the ball crossed the line, the AARs
(as few beyond administrators call
these additional assistant referees)
will have to prove they still have
a role to play in soccer by spotting
any misdemeanors in the penalty
In the Euro 2016 shop window,
eye-catching performances can
secure a big-money transfer for
players or ensure a pay increase
from their clubs.
But for veteran players it s a
chance to prove they can cut it at
the top level or finally win a title
with their national teams.
Take Wayne Rooney and Cris-
tiano Ronaldo, former Manchester
United teammates who are already
the wrong side of 30. They have
already established themselves as
the all-time leading scorer for each
of their countries. Winners medals
are still missing.
Rooney s last England goals at
a European Championship came
12 years ago. He s only managed
one goal at a World Cup since then.
While Rooney faces stiff com-
petition to retain his place in Eng-
land s starting lineup, Ronaldo
remains the mainstay of Portugal.
When Ronaldo struggles, so
does Portugal. Across 13 games at
three World Cups, the Ballon D Or
holder has only scored three goals.
After another grueling season with
Real Madrid, as was evident in the
Champions League final, Ronaldo
may struggle to carry his national
Tournaments are a series of
judgment days for coaches. Many
won t survive to lead their coun-
tries into World Cup qualifying
in September. Some won t be
lamented by fans if they do
Take Vladimir Petkovic, who
doesn t get the acclaim he feels he
deserves in Switzerland.
Petkovic s more popular and
illustrious predecessor, Ottmar
Hitzfeld, was paid much more and
was more in demand with spon-
That rankled with the Bosnian-
Croat coach who also dislikes reg-
ular public debate---including by
his own players---about the Swiss-
ness and identity of a squad that
draws players from diverse family
backgrounds, especially the former
Leading Switzerland into the
quarterfinals of a major competi-
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 2, 2016
Something to prove for all in France
SALZBURG---Forwards Manuel "Nolito" Agudo
and Alvaro Morata each scored twice as Spain routed
South Korea 6-1 in a warmup match yesterday
ahead of the European Championship.
David Silva and Cesc Fabregas also found the net
and the defending champions had two more goals
disallowed for offside as they showed remarkable
efficiency in attack after being held 0-0 for the open-
ing half hour.
Nolito has now scored four times in eight matches
for Spain, while Morata repaid the faith of coach
Vicente Del Bosque, who overlooked Chelsea forward
Diego Costa for his Euro 2016 squad in favor of the
Spain dominated possession from the start but
struggled to create danger, and its sloppy passing in
midfield even gave South Korea the first chance.
Midfielder Son Heung-min appeared alone in front
of Iker Casillas but his overhasty attempt went wide.
Andres Iniesta had his 20-meter effort saved by
keeper Kim Jin-hyeon, who also blocked a low diag-
onal shot by Hector Bellerin.
Silva broke the deadlock with a stunning 25-metre
free kick in the 30th, and Fabregas doubled the lead
just two minutes later after Kim failed to catch the
ball in what appeared to be a harmless situation.
Nolito made it 3-0 in the 38th after wrongfooting
the defense with a disguised move and directing the
ball through Kim s legs.
Morata scored from a corner taken by Thiago early
in the second half, heading in just before Kim could
punch the ball away. Nolito s second put Spain 5-
0 up after 54 minutes.
South Korea midfielder Ju Se-jong sent a deflected
shot in the 83rd past debutant goalkeeper Sergio
Rico, who replaced Casillas in the second half, before
Morata netted again in the final minutes.
The game was played in Austria, where both teams
were having a training camp.
Spain plays Georgia in Getafe on Tuesday in its
final friendly before traveling to the tournament in
France, where it is in Group D with Czech Republic,
Turkey and Croatia. Following its first match since
March, South Korea has another friendly against a
Euro 2016 contender coming up, taking on Czech
Republic in Prague on Sunday. (AP)
Nolito, Morata double as
Spain crushes South Korea
tion for the first time since 1954 might
change Swiss perceptions about
In the Northern Ireland camp,
Michael O Neill doesn t so much have
something to prove but a lot more to
be gained from a successful tourna-
Despite previous managerial expe-
rience being limited to modest lower-
league Brechin City in Scotland and
Shamrock Rovers in Ireland, O Neill
was handed the Northern Irish job in
2011. The way O Neill has modernized
the team setup and raised standards
has impressed far beyond the country
with a population of less than 2 mil-
A strong showing in France could
see O Neill in demand for bigger league
jobs in football, having already stunned
Europe by not just leading Northern
Ireland into its first European Cham-
pionship but as group winners. (AP)
In this December 12, 2015 file photo, the coaches of teams drawn in group C, from left: Ukraine's assistant coach
Volodymyr Onyshchenko, Poland's coach Adam Nawalka, Northern Ireland coach Michael O'Neill and Joachim Loew,
the coach of Germany pose for a photo after the Euro 2016 soccer championships draw in Paris. For some just reaching
the European Championship is enough. However, from the players to coaches and referees to administrators, many
have something to prove in France. AP PHOTO
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