Group B also revealed its winners and losers. In this group, things went much more interesting and there have been a number of surprising events, unexpected high quality football and total disappointments. While the Foggy Albion celebrates two of their team’s deserved proceeding to the last 16 and Slovakia waits for the results, Russia tries to reconsider the major mistakes. Let’s first look at the group table’s final look.
These two teams have been the favorites of the group, however, no one would expect Wales to head the table. But they did! Having lost only against their main competitor England, Wales have celebrated two impressive wins (especially against Russia) and have shown a high quality football, despite only a few world stars present in the squad. However, exactly their star Gareth Bale is unarguably the Player of the Group! He won the battle against English superstars and is fairly praised to be the best!
Bale not only scored two awesome free kick goals, but also constructed his team’s game alongside with Aaron Ramsey. Bale also is the top scorer of the tournament (3 goals) at the moment. To put it simple; Bale pulled Wales up to the head of the table and is planning to push the team further. World Class Player!
England also had plenty of players who were the candidates for my fictional Player of the Group award. Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy. This was the attacking line many would dream of. However it did not show its best in a constant manner. During the first one and a half of matches, Kane and Sterling were fronting England’s attacking line. Sterling played fast and with good in-move dribbling, however, his selfish game was obvious and it spoiled the whole impression. Harry Kane, in turn, has played one and a half of his worst games becoming the Disappointment of the Group.
Kane was obviously not fitting in the Hodgson’s system, often seen to lose his position in the attack. Moreover, he has lost a couple of good chances to finish it against Russia. And if they won that game, they would head the group and would not beware Portugal as a possible opponent in the round of 16… But these are just considerations. Vardy and Sturridge, on contrast, scored in the first game they played and continued with positive trends. They are expected to be Hodgon’s first choice in the play-offs.
After group stage’s first round ended, the football world agreed on one point; Slovakia was the best team from the ones who lost their opening games. They played against Wales, they fought and deserved a draw… but not every team can resist Bale’s genius. Then they won against Russia, being stronger in almost all of the statistical measures. In the last round they resisted England and this time they earned the deserved draw. Slovakia will most probably qualify, but that’s only in case we approximate… the team should still wait for the other group results.
Russian football have had a comparatively recent success in Euro-2008, when they reached the semi-finals. After that Russians struggle to find the clue to success in the major international competitions, yet with no proceeding. The current team opened Euro-2016 with a real battle against England (1-1), where they have shown concentrated defesive football and succeed football.
After that, they lost two games, being obviously weaker than their opponents. They have shown major tactical problems and lack of motivation in one-on-one battles. In general, they have shown low quality football. This was not their year! Hope they get better before World Cup-2018 they are hosting.