Expansion failure – Euro 2016

So Euro 2016 is done and dusted and Portugal are the European Champions having beaten France in extra time. UEFA and Portugal fans will naturally be happy, but those of a classic footballing mind will no doubt be in despair at the result. Some may ask and wonder why I feel the expansion to 24 nations has been a failure and I shall tell you why.

The expansion meant that not only did the top two of each group qualify but you had the top four best third placed nations reaching the knock out stage. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to see Northern Ireland make the knockout stages but they had lost two out of the three games and in any other tournament that would hardly have been a route into the next round of a competition.

With the expansion it meant more games being played, so you would think that more goals would be on the cards. There were more goals but then there was at the same time more games. The goal per game average was lower than Euro 2012. In Euro 2012 there were 76 goals in 31 games, this was an average of 2.45. In Euro 2016 there 108 goals in 51 games  which equalled 2.12 goals per game. This was one of the lowest averages for sometime. Many games were 0-0 at half time and to be honest, sitting through the first 45 minutes in a game with no goals and little action is not the best way of enjoying a tournament. Fans want to be excited and to be honest the fans seemed to have more passion than some of the players.

Before the tournament I had been quite excited about the expanded tournament, but sadly that excitement dwindled with only a few standout games. Despite concerns, it seems UEFA are not going to budge from the 24 team set up at Euro 2020, where it will  be hosted across the European continent.

If no change comes and the tournament football still disappoints, there are two options that UEFA should take. That is either revert back to 16 or increase to 32 and have top two only. The increase to 32 would make the current qualification process more tricky, something that the governing body may not wish to look into.

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