This week’s football review: Euro 2016 Qualifying
Despite many complaining that the newly-expanded tournament (growing from 16 to 24 teams) would dilute the quality of the European Championship finals the first set of qualifiers threw up some fascinating results and matches. The 25 games were spread out over three days meaning that fans could get to see even more football – football that included lots of shocks and surprises. Northern Ireland won away from home for the past time in four years, while Albania shocked Portugal, Cyprus won in Bosnia, Iceland demolished Turkey and even minnows Andorra almost sprang a surprise over Wales. Early days yet but maybe UEFA’s decision will prove to be a good one.
It was not so good for many of Europe’s World Cup representatives as Switzerland, Greece, Bosnia and Portugal all lost at home, while the Netherlands (remember, they finished in third place in Brazil) were beaten by a last-minute Czech Republic goal.
Winning ugly is a phrase not usually associated with Germany, newly-crowned World Champions Germany, but that’s the phrase their keeper Manuel Neuer used after their 2-1 home victory over Scotland in the first game of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. The World Champions struggled against a well-organised away side and lacked some of the fluency and spark that helped them to win the World Cup back in June. Still, a win is a win.
the newly-expanded tournament: The finals of the European Championship in France will have 8 more participants than previous tournaments
would dilute the quality: To dilute means to water down or weaken
threw up: To produce
Albania shocked Portugal: Albania beat/defeated Portugal though they were not expected to
demolished: Thrashed, heavily defeated
sprang a surprise: To cause an upset
Winning ugly: Despite not playing well the team still wins (A win is a win)
lacked some of the fluency and spark: They did not play so well; not such an entertaining style