Pain, blame and Wayne
7DAYS hands out prizes to those home early
So we now know which the best four teams in Europe are.
But what of the rest, already banished back from where they came? They may have fallen short of silverware in the East but, ever looking out for the ‘little’ men and not wanting everyone to leave empty handed, 7DAYS dishes out awards to those who ended up pummelled in Poland or undone in Ukraine.
‘THE IN-GER-LAND WILL WIN THE WORLD CUP AWARD’ for most deluded player - WAYNE ROONEY - The Three Lions went into the group stage without the weight of ridiculous expectation that usually travels with them to big tournaments. However, a drab draw against France, an anarchic win over a sloppy Swedish side and a very unimpressive win over Ukraine, somehow changed all that. According to Rooney (left), no one would want to play England. The gulf in class against Italy proved how wrong he was. Embarrassing.
‘THE TIME HAS STOOD STILL AWARD’ for being the same over-rated rabble - FRANCE They came into the tournament as one of the favourites and exited leaving many to scratch their heads wondering what all the fuss was about. Looked devoid of imagination with the ball and backbone without it. In fact, they seemed little different from the shower that was sent home early from South Africa two years ago and, with Samir Nasri snarling at every opportunity, seemed just as annoying and pathetic.
‘THE IT’S IN OUR PSYCHE AWARD’ for being biggest disappointment - NETHERLANDS - It’s hard to state just how disastrous the tournament went for the Dutch. They arrived as one of the hot favourites, a side packed so full of talent that 7DAYS favourite Rafael van der Vaart was left on the bench. But not only did they not win a match in Ukraine, they never looked likely to. They were by some way second best against Germany and Portugal and once again indulged in a bit of infighting to boot. ‘Total football’ never seemed so distant as it did watching the Oranje getting squashed.
‘THE LECH WALESA AWARD’ for doing your country proud - JAKUB BLASZCZYKOWSKI - The co-hosts may not have made the last-eight, but they certainly played their part in what has been a great tournament so far. And at the heart of everything good they did was their super skipper Blaszczykowski. The Dortmund midfielder was dominant throughout and led by example. He would walk into most sides and against Russia, in one of the games of the competition, he ran his heart out and scored one of the goals of the tournament. With the equally brilliant Robert Lewandowski, Blaszczykowski galvanised Poland and deserved more than a group-stage exit.
‘THE WE CANNOT BELIEVE WE’RE GIVING HIM AN AWARD AWARD’ for scoring the best goal - ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC - The Sweden striker may have a head twice the size of Stockholm, but there’s no getting away from the fact that on his day he’s a very good player (which is still only half as good as the AC Milan man thinks he is...). Against England he displayed the dire side of his game, prancing around as if he owned the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, to little or no effect. However, a game later against the feckless French he was at his brilliant acrobatic best.
Lurking on the edge of the area the captain went airborne to meet a cross before lashing the ball into the back of the net. Zlats, we salute you.
‘THE WHAT ARE YOU ON ABOUT AWARD’ for doing what you are paid to do - EVERYONE - We’re getting increasingly fed up of managers praising their players for putting in “110 per cent effort” after defeat. Only in football is working hard and giving it your all an admirable achievement rather than a pre-requisite.