France: Not the perfect host!

Can we in all fairness say that France has had a great Euro 2016 tournament? Be the judge of that, because in my opinion they have fallen well short of the standards we expect of hosts of a major tournament.

They are not alone. In recent memory, only one country has hosted a tournament and performed to the level expected of the hosts of a tournament. That country was Germany, back in 2006. In that competition, they made it to the semifinals, and eventually finished third. Since then, every other host of a major competition has just about managed to play and go home. To find hostnations who have played like host nations, we have to go as far back as Netherlands (2000) and Portugal (2004). Ironically, Netherlands failed to even qualify for this year’s edition of the Euros. Who knows, they might have taught France a thing or two.

So far, the most outstanding player for the French side has been Dmitri Payet, with flashes of brilliance from Antoine Griezmann and N’Golo Kante. Meanwhile, the person that was touted to lead the French team to glory, Paul Pogba, has been on and off, and the “off” part seems to be predominant. So much for being world-class, in fact a lot of players considered to be world class have been largely anonymous in the tournament as a whole; just look at Lewandowski. Not all of them, though; Gareth Bale has been absolutely world-class. So was Luka Modric before Croatia got knocked out of the tournament. And even though I would not exactly call the England squad world-class, I certainly expected more from them than getting eliminated at the hands of Iceland of all people. The rest of the teams that have ben knocked out deserved to be out, period.

France have not had the best of tournaments, but compared to others that have hosted major competitions in the last ten years, they have been better than average. Just ask South Africa.


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