So Euro 2016 is over, with Portugal beating France 1-0 in Sunday night’s final. It was the longest European Championships ever, and sometimes felt like it. In keeping with the tournament the final offered less than it should have; Euro 2016 has been a mixed bag when it comes to quality. Seldom has the tournament set the pulses racing, though at least it was rarely predictable. Not least the final. The exception: England bombed out early, ’twas ever thus, although the Welsh made the semi-final in spectacular style. And what of the Manchester United players (current, former and future) that missed a summer on the beaches of Ayia Napa? There were, on balance, more flops than successes…
Despite enjoying a spectacular season for United Anthony Martial featured little on Les Bleus journey to the final. Martial made a low-key 20-minute cameo in France’s opening Group A game, then started the second against Albania only to be dragged off at half-time. Criminally, Didier Deschamps only brought the youngster on with 10 minutes to play in the final. Just 69 minutes played, no goals, no assists and just three shots at goal. There’ll be much more to come from the youngster in the coming season. 2/10
Still, Martial featured more than Morgan Schneiderlin, who is one of five Frenchmen to not play in the tournament. Schneiderlin began as France’s fourth-choice central midfielder after a poor first season at Old Trafford. Indeed, Schneiderlin only made the squad due to Lassana Diara’s late injury. n/a
Former and perhaps soon-to-be Red Paul Pogba was quiet for most of the tournament, including the final. That said he was superb in France’s semi-final win over Germany, and much better overall than some pundits in France might have the public believe – especially given Deschamps reluctance to let Pogba loose in more attacking areas. 7/10
Elsewhere, Patrice Evra enjoyed what is likely to be his final international tournament, featuring and performing well in all seven of France’s games. Evra may be 35, and long the subject of derision from the French terraces, but emerged, in spectacular style, as France’s leader this summer. Evra won his 80th and (probably) final cap in Sunday’s final. How is he is still missed at Old Trafford. 7/10
In Group B Wayne Rooney’s England made it to the knock-out stages, but only just. Rooney performed well against Russia and Wales from a central midfield role, although the praise is relative – the Scouser was truly dreadful as England crashed out to Iceland in the round of 16. Rooney’s first-touch-failures against Iceland become an internet meme, prompting José Mourinho to promise that the former Evertonian will “never be an eight or a six” under the Portuguese coach. The pity in that is that Rooney will start the new season at 10 – a position in which he has also regularly failed. 5/10
Chris Smalling started all four of England’s games, and was probably one of Roy Hodgson’s better performers. The defender enjoyed a superb start to last season, only for his form to drop off after the New Year. Although solid in France, the defender’s performances mirrored those his last few months at Old Trafford – reliable, but with moments of self-doubt. Smalling will start the new season alongside new signing Eric Bailly. 6/10
Up front England bombed in France, scoring just four in four games against largely mediocre opposition. It was particularly strange that Marcus Rashford was afforded so little time on the pitch. In two outings – against Wales and Iceland – Rashford enjoyed 21 minutes of action, but showed to question why Hodgson refused to draw on perhaps his most explosive talent. n/a
Group C finished as expected, with Germany and Poland heading through in first and second place, but Northern Ireland’s win over Ukraine was enough to take Johnny Evans’ team through to the last 16. The former Red enjoyed a superb tournament, not only as part of a collective that performed well in all four matches, but with a strong set of individual performances.
In the same team Paddy McNair was on the losing side as Northern Ireland went down 1-0 to Poland having started the match in a bizarre role on the right side of a midfield three. He made just one further appearance in the tournament – as a very late substitute in Norn Iron’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine. 1/10
Bastian Schweinsteiger appeared in five of the Germans’ six games in France, albeit as a substitute in all bar one. The 31-year-old scored with the crispest of half-volleys against Ukraine, although rarely had much of an impact on the tournament overall. He even missed in Germany’s shoot-out victory over Italy in the quarter-final. Schweinsteiger’s experience was held important to the national team, and he looked in far better physical shape than for much of his début season with United, but it is hard to foresee the veteran enjoying much game-time in Mourinho’s high-intensity team. 4/10
Group D featured Spain’s David de Gea. The 25-year-old was the subject of much debate prior to the tournament, with some pundits still hankering for Iker Casillas’ retention as Spain’s number one stopper. It made little sense given the relative form of the two players over the past three years. Yet, de Gea enjoyed a mixed tournament, making a string of spectacular saves as the last man protecting a mediocre Spanish defence, but also seemingly at fault as Ivan Perisic scored a late winner for Croatia in the group stages. de Gea was then unable to do more than push Eder’s free kick into the path of Giorgio Chiellini as Italy opened the scoring the round of 16 clash. 6/10
Matteo Darmian and Marouane Fellaini met as Italy pulled off a surprise to beat a much-fancied Belgium side in the opening match of Group E. Neither enjoyed a strong tournament though. Damian played just 129 minutes, making three substitute appearances and one start for the Azzuri, including an hour against Belgium, and 30 minutes in Italy’s defeat to Ireland. A summer to forget. 4/10
Fellaini was also a disappointing performer in a underwhelming Belgium side. The Red Devils boast individual talent on par with most sides in the tournament, but Marc Wilmots has been unable to fashion a side equal to the sum of its parts for the second tournament in succession. Fellaini’s inability to contribute defensively, in possession or in attack stood out, although the midfielder did fashion a number of chances against Italy, with knock-downs from late, direct balls. Still, no goals scored, no assists made, two yellow cards gained tells a story. Par for the course. 5/10
On the other side of the group, former Red John O’Shea kept new recruit Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet for most of the 90 as Republic of Ireland drew with Sweden in Paris. Zlatan skipped around the 35-year-old defender to create Sweden’s second-half equaliser – it was the Swede’s best moment of the summer. O’Shea suffered a humiliating time as Belgium thrashed Ireland in the second group game, with the former Red featuring only as a substitute in Ireland’s round of 16 defeat to France. 4/10
Former United youth teamer Robbie Brady also featured in the tournament, scoring twice as one of the Republic’s better attacking players. 7/10 Meanwhile, Zlatan suffered an ignominious end to an outstanding international career. No goals, one shot on target, and an early end to the tournament. There should be much better times ahead. 4/10
Then there was Group F – home to eventual champions Portugal, the most unlikely winners of a major tournament since Greece at Euro 2004. Former United wingers Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani featured throughout as Portugal sneaked out of a mediocre group, edged past an off-key Croatia, and beat Poland on penalties. At no point did the Seleção raise its game above the average. That changed little in the semi-final against Wales, where a professional, if unspectacular performance was enough to see off the Welsh.
The final? Well, it went absolutely to script for the Portuguese save for Ronaldo’s early injury. His Euro 2004 ended in tears too – this time they were of joy. In the lead up to the final Ronaldo took, on average, 7.5 shots-per-game in scoring three goals. The narrative was that he suffered a poor tournament, but he played the perfect game for a limited squad. 7/10 Nani also scored three and was superb in a central role for most of Sunday’s final. 7/10
Bravo a Seleção. Tchau and au revoir!