OPINION: Bigger is better at expanded European Championships
FIFA and UEFA get pretty much everything wrong. Somehow, however, the festering carcass of Michel Platini and the curd-filled balloons composing the UEFA executive committee managed to do something right - the expansion of the European Championship tournament from 16 to 24 teams.
Aaah, I hear you naysayers. But what about the reduction in quality? And the terrible imbalance between the powerful, successful nations like Germany and Spain, and those who are tactically inept, destined to win nothing, such as England?
Regarding the quality of the squads: no game has been won by more than you two goals, and of those winners so far, one is the World Cup holder, one is the host nation, and one is the might of Northern Ireland.
The increase in teams also brings new hope and spectacle to what can sometimes be a harsh and unforgiving tournament - under the previous format, an opening game loss meant almost certain doom, and two rubber matches to endure. Now, small nations like Iceland have the platform to send their heroes to the European stage, and with the hope of real progression - three meaningful games and the ever-present hope of a knockout game.
The brighter hope of this expanded tournament was exemplified in today’s barnstormer between England and Wales. In previous tournaments, this game was spectacularly unlikely. Now, it is a showpiece game, settled in injury time by an England formation containing four strikers, fighting back after a magical goal from one of the top-10 players in the word.
So far, for the new European Championship, bigger is better.