WHAT WE LEARNED:
-We could very well be witnessing the greatest team in football history…and Spain can make that official, without a doubt, with a win at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
-Ronaldo can carry Portugal by himself (the non-penalty take will only make him stronger)
-Teams that have the talent, but also mental blockage, that prevent them from getting to the next level. Croatia: (With the exception of Euro 2008, the Vatreni cannot get through the group stage. Germany: (Zie Germans are proverbial semi-finalists, or better. What do they need to do differently to lift their next cup? Because it’s coming sooner than later.) England: Will they ever win a PK shootout?
-Avoid the Greeks. They manage to shock the world with their ‘never say die’ attitude. Although they play some of the most boring soccer to date, they always play their plan perfectly: park the bus!
-Bad officiating and non-penalty calls. I’ll leave it at that.
-Euro 2012 is the last tournament to play 16 teams. In 2016, it will grow to 24. More watered
-What happened to the Dutch? Some say too much talent, others say there was a cancer in the team. Arjen Robben has been the biggest football bust in recent years, but still doesn’t receive as much criticism as Fernando Torres. Robben’s forgetful résumé includes: a missed breakaway in the 2010 World Cup final, a missed penalty in extra time in the 2012 Champions League Final, multiple misses against Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga/DFB Pokal Final, which helped Dortmund win the double, and an apparent attitude flare-up during Euro 2012, leaving the field on the far side after being substituted, then taking his time walking around the pitch.
–CROATIA: This group of players left Euro 2012 in the group stage. Most years, this would be a disappointment, but this time it left fans with hope. They not only played with the two tournament finalists, but they held each team to only one goal and executed the game plan perfectly, minus first half versus Italy. They were one Ivan Rakitić header away from rewriting European football history. The squad should be full of confidence entering World Cup 2014 qualifying against Serbia, Belgium, Wales, Scotland and Macedonia. Will Brazil be the place that the Vatreni break through?
(Please add your own comments below on what you learned from Euro 2012.)