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EURO 2024: Review of the Eliminated Teams: Germany and Portugal

EURO 2024: Review of the Eliminated Teams: Germany and Portugal

Kai Iliev Kai Iliev

History only remembers the winners. This sentiment, though often repeated, seems far from the truth. How often do we remember teams that never clinched a title, like Ajax under Erik Ten Hag or Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp, despite often conceding to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City?

The same applies to international teams. While the spotlight moves on, this piece highlights the importance of recognizing teams that deserve respect, even if they didn’t make it to the next round.

Germany’s Promising Yet Unfulfilled EURO 2024 Journey

Germany’s potential was immense and they showed it. Alongside Spain, they were the side to collect the most points, winning twice (5-1 v Scotland, 2-1 v Hungary) and only drawing against Switzerland (1-1). One could argue they never kept a clean sheet, but when did that matter in the world of football? 

No argument can be made against Julian Nagelsmann, who took a team that was a shadow of its former self and turned it into one of the best on the continent. This is the first tournament since 2016 where Germany looked threatening on the tactics board.

The fact that they hosted the tournament only added more to their storylines, as home support proved to be a decisive factor.

Germany’s squad was one of the most exciting on paper, as it welcomed back Toni Kroos for one last dance.

Many believe it would be the right move, as the German midfield maestro proved he could still play at the top level despite struggling in the last games. Nonetheless, everything felt right for the comeback of the Kaiser, who was accompanied by another seasoned pro, Ilkay Gündogan.

The reason why Germany felt like one of the favourites to me was mix of young and veteran players. 

While Gündogan and Kroos have achieved a lot throughout their careers, their teammates were just getting started. Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala represented this youthful exuberance, while confirmed players like Andrich, Sané or even Joshua Kimmich showed that Germany’s age range was impressively balanced.

It should be remembered that this is the most impressive Germany has been. Critics can point out that they did not fare well against Denmark (2-0), despite the victory. 

But nobody can take away the fact that Germany-Spain felt like a final – and this was indeed the mood from the Spanish camp. This alone highlights Germany’s quality, who despite all its stars, struggled to contain sixteen-year-old Lamine Yamal, a player who is difficult to defend against by all means.

It’s easy to forget that Germany did not look like half of the team that it proved to be throughout the tournament.

Their exit might sadden many football fans, but there is little doubt that the future is bright. While the lack of depth on the bench was telling, the team now has clarity, something it hadn’t had in almost a decade. 

They are on the right path, and with Florian Wirtz as well as Jamal Musiala, their offensive creativity is unlikely to be a problem for the next ten years. They have true gems, now is the time to create a legacy upon them.

Portugal: Unmet Expectations and Ronaldo’s Last Stand

Predictably, Portugal was one of the big teams that became the most disappointing in the tournament. Against all human logic, 39-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo started every game, even when qualification was already secured after the third match.

Still, he felt like a hindrance, and it remains a mystery what positive impact he was expected to bring. Once again, there was drama surrounding his behavior.

From the first match (1-1), Portugal struggled against teams that could play cohesive football, while the Portuguese squad failed to impress. They appeared sluggish, unable to replicate the dynamism of their players at club level.

This is the case of Bernardo Silva and Rafael Leao, both usually top guns for their clubs, who seemed relatively toothless in the national setup.

Portugal’s tournament performance is easily forgettable. The 0-0 draw after 120 minutes against Slovenia already signaled that Ronaldo’s troops couldn’t rely on luck alone. Against France, it became obvious that their luck had run out. 

With the depth of talent in their squad, Portugal was expected to produce more. Joao Felix’s missed penalty was the final nail in the coffin. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

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