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For Those Crying About Portugal’s Euro Victory, I Got Some More Bad News For You

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As a Portuguese supporter, I was more than excited to see Cristiano Ronaldo raise the trophy for his country, something that Lionel Messi has failed to do for his native Argentina. Even though people look at championships as the barometer of greatness in other sports (America mostly), it doesn’t seem to matter for Lionel Messi as many will still say he’s the best player in the world despite coming up short NUMEROUS times for Argentina.

For many Lionel Messi honks and homers, they probably saw yesterday as their version of death because let’s face it, there’s nothing a Messi honk hates more than Cristiano Ronaldo. But let’s not forget that Portugal had a great showing from their young core when it was needed. Portugal had two comeback stories with Eder and Quaresma scoring the biggest goals of their lives. Let’s not forget Pepe and Rui Patricio were Portugal’s most consistent duo when they needed a huge stop.

But no, let’s all pretend that Portugal didn’t deserve to win, let’s pretend that ESPN wasn’t openly rooting against Portugal when they played Wales and France. Let’s just pretend as if the name of the game isn’t to win, but to try to tickle the fancy of the media so the court of public opinion doesn’t deem you unworthy.

If you’re going to say Portugal is an unworthy champion then go blame Dider Deschamps for blowing the biggest game as a manager and for France to totally take their foot of the pedal after Ronaldo left. But don’t blame Portugal who simply just played by the rules that UEFA laid down before the tournament and NOBODY COMPLAINED ABOUT IT THEN!!!

So I’m going to pick apart ESPN’s biased garbage piece by piece…

“This was the first European Championship to feature 24 teams. It won’t be the last, but it should be. It pains me to say that. Allowing more of Europe to participate in the continent’s grandest tournament seems like a good and inclusive thing at first glance, especially in divisive times like these. If we want to spread the joy of the game we love, we need to be the opposite of football’s dismissive snobs. We need to make room for more accents and more styles; we need to sow the seeds for bigger dreams.” Chris Jones ESPN FC

First of all, WTF is this? This is a typical statement that ESPN would condone. They were hyping up the 24-team format before the tournament and during the group stage and I thought the group stage brought twists and turns that wouldn’t have happened before in the prior tournaments.

Having Iceland, Hungary, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Poland advance to the knockout round, especially when in most years they wouldn’t have, this is nothing but great for the sport. People always bitch about wanting to see the worlds best and in this tournament we saw the biggest stars from all across Europe, that many new or casual fans wouldn’t see outside of the FIFA video game.

These names include Austria’s David Alaba, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, Welsh stars Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, and Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who retired from international competition after Sweden’s elimination. How is it bad to see the continent’s best? Oh I’m sorry ESPN, you guys don’t care about that, you just care about TV ratings and advertising.

Overall, it wasn’t a tournament for those people who enjoy the scoring that happens more in the club level due to the drop-off of talent that can happen in certain leagues (cough, cough La Liga), but at the end of it all, be happy that in a tournament with such star power, that the biggest European star (Cristiano Ronaldo) raised the trophy last night.

“Portugal the side — not the country, not the people, but the 23 men who represented them — were awful. I don’t think I’ve ever loathed watching a football team as much as I do them. (You’re off the hook, Paraguay.) They were cynical and unsporting and suffocating and the flat-out bottom of international football. They were Greece in 2004 without the underdog’s spirit. Greece had to play the way they did. Portugal didn’t. Given a choice between beauty and brute tactics, between victory and doing just enough to get by, they chose the lesser option every single time.” Chris Jones ESPN FC

Ok Mr. Jones, you really had to compare us to the worst champions of any sport, EVER. Portuguese manager Fernando Santos ironically once managed Greece and he led Greece to an unlikely knockout stage spot in 2012. Greece has always been known to play that “park the bus” mentality that Jones has condemned. But I’m not going to pick on Greece because that’s unfair.

But I will point to Spain’s 2008 and 2012 squads, who were very possession based and I HATED the way they played. To be honest, Spain was the most boring champion I’ve ever seen. The difference between Spain and Portugal is rather simple, many members of that Spanish team played for Barcelona, this includes David Villa, Jordi Alba, Carlos Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Girard Pique and Pedro. Add Messi in there and you have the core of the 2009 Champions League winners! That’s a great side with alot of talent, but they were just as boring as this Portugal team was.

Spain got away with playing their slow and boring style (which has HEAVILY INFLUENCED the sport especially with Leicester winning the EPL. Look at Pep Guardiola’s hire at Manchester City) because they had the greatest group of midfielders I’ve ever seen on the world level. But even those Spanish teams could barely beat Ronaldo, and they needed Fernando Torres to save them in clutch situations. But luck happens in sports, as a Bostonian, I’m a witness to a few of sports biggest miracles, this Portugal team just pads the resume.

“I still can’t believe you can win Euro by winning once in 90 minutes. I have a friend who somehow likes Portugal and said, “They didn’t lose, either.” But we did. So did football. My great fear is that other teams will see what Portugal did here and seek to emulate them, that their “style” of play will become as insidious as pollution. I’ve written before that one way to counter that tendency is to bring back the Golden Goal while also removing the coward’s out of penalties. Another way is to make tournaments harder, not softer. Yes, Greece did what Greece did but that tournament has always been considered an anomaly, an unfortunate fluke. Now, with a second such win in 12 years, it’s becoming more like the frightening norm.
This tournament should give permanent pause to FIFA’s recent talk of a 40-team World Cup. (We’re already going to have Qatar playing three lucky somebodies in 2022.) And UEFA’s continent-wide iteration of its championship in 2020 should be the last of the 24-team Euros. Reversion is an ugly word with often ugly connotations, but it’s not nearly as ugly as football played at its watered-down, hopeless worst.
Congratulations, Portugal. Enjoy your title. The rest of us will be over here, putting an asterisk next to it and doing everything we can to make sure it will never happen again.”

This gentleman just showed his true colors, then again this is the same network that broke every single ethical rule of journalism to frame the New England Patriots as cheaters for slightly under-inflated footballs just to push Greg Auello’s anti-Boston NFL agenda.

Jones putting an asterisk next to this championship is almost as dumb as saying that Leicester City didn’t deserve the Barclays Premiership title. It’s like saying that the 2000 Ravens didn’t score enough so they can’t be champions. I mean he sounds like the spoiled rich kid who didn’t win Homecoming King, when in theory no one is going to give a shit about that useless accolade.

Basically, this is total and complete smug and arrogance, Portugal won, fair and square. As I mentioned before, it was far from the most talented or the most exciting Portuguese squad but to slant the 2004 Greece squad and the 2016 Portugal squad for winning a style that “football loses.” Greece didn’t have the horses to compete with Europe’s best, why should they (or anybody) be faulting for winning games? It’s just laughable especially from a writer publishing under the world-wide leader of sports.

But Jones didn’t mention ONCE that 2008 Spanish team (Barcelona Super Team) that I used to take naps watching until Fernando Torres did something magical. Of course not, just like how your network gives Messi a pass for basically pulling a Pete Carroll in the Copa America Final. Ronaldo delivered for his country when he was needed and he didn’t run away from the spotlight of failure like Messi JUST FREAKING DID!!!!

I will agree that the golden goal SHOULD come back, because that’s what makes the Stanley Cup Finals fantastic! It’ll keep the fans on the edge of their seat. I mean people already hate penalty kicks, especially now because Messi missed one in the clutch… The double standard is just childish.

The whole Messi vs. Ronaldo argument is basically Clinton vs. Trump on steroids. Messi gets the golden pass to soccer fans on many occasions. That’s because the majority of the soccer world speaks his language and quite frankly, he’s been the best or second best La Liga player for the better part of the last decade. But let’s not pretend as if Messi is the Wayne Gretzky of soccer, cause judging by their international resumes, Messi doesn’t have a single advantage. A Euro is better than any Champions League title Messi wins with the Catalonian Empire.

As for the Qatar World Cup in 2022, it should be moved, Qatar isn’t a soccer country and it was proven corruption got it there. I would love it if Portugal/Spain or the U.S. were able to host the event. Those would be prime locations and great alternatves to Qatar.

As for the 24-team format in this tournament, I loved it! As I said before, you’re not diluting the competition when you can get exposure for the stars of the sport, never a bad thing for the sport, but I wouldn’t be opposed to changing the wild-card system, maybe a play-in game like the NCAA tournament has, but that would be an extra game for some teams. Or perhaps adopt an NFL-like bye week, giving an incentive to finish first in the group, this would add to the competition especially on that final game, cause it did suck to see Albania have to sit and wait for their tournament fate.

As for “Congratulations, Portugal. Enjoy your title. The rest of us will be over here, putting an asterisk next to it and doing everything we can to make sure it will never happen again.” A boring Iberian team won the last two times too, the only difference was that people happened to enjoy the final more cause the media LOVES Italy, Spain, and Germany in the final? Right Mr. Jones? Right Steve McManaman? Right Michael Ballack? It’s funny, because you guys have the same chance as I do of holding up the European Trophy… Zero! Savage?? Yes indeed, but with this level of disrespect, it’s more than merited… Especially when legends like Luis Figo and Eusebio couldn’t bring their country the ever elusive prize.

No wonder ESPN loves the NBA so much, they love knowing who wins before the season even starts.

The Final Verdict:

This European Trophy won by Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal should’ve done two things. It should put Ronaldo slightly ahead of Lionel Messi for the time being, especially with Messi walking out on the Argentine Football Federation. This can’t be a good look for the Catalonia’s adopted God.

For the record, I have no club allegiance, I don’t hate Messi, and I’ve been critical of Cristiano Ronaldo in the past. But Ronaldo broke just about EVERY single false narrative said about his character. People need to start holding Messi to the same standard they hold the Portuguese super star.

Why ESPN FC would endorse and give the ok to this piece seems like a PR stunt to protect McManaman and Ballack from their overbearing and disrespectful comments about the Portugal side. Especially with the way they rallied after Ronaldo went down. I mean that’s the equivalent of Willis Reed to the New York Knicks, they rallied around their wounded leader? How can you hate on that… France also HAD PLENTY OF CHANCES to win that game, but Disney Sports may censor that part of the story too.

I also want to make it clear that I believe Dmitri Payet when he said he wasn’t trying to injure Ronaldo. It definitely doesn’t seem like the Payet I watched step up for France throughout the tournament.

I’m going to quote David Squires of the Guardian “this tournament got the winner it deserved.” Messi fans, it’s okay, if Messi gets the Diego Costa type exception to play Spain, he would have a chance to win something, history shows that it may be his Kevin Durant type option. Especially if he feels disrespected by Maradona (who is the greatest Argentine of all time.)

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com