Some of the lower ranked nations weren’t impressed with the on-going centerpiece ahead of their elimination, but could Africa’s best have done better?
Before you start, this is basically a fancy piece to lighten up the mood, so best not to take it too seriously!
In light of Senegal’s inclusion as a guest of the upcoming Cosafa Cup, and with teams such as Japan, Qatar and Panama having all competed in the Copa America, Goal ask the question: how would the best African teams behave as guests at the European Championships?
The European Championship has been extended to 24 teams entering the 2016 competition and the modified format has been retained for Euro 2020. The argument against the redesigned configuration was the presence of teams considered to be of inferior quality than the usual ones. saying best and means. teams.
It feels like the countries that progressed to the last 16 – perhaps with the exception of Robert Lewandowski’s Poland – are roughly the 16 nations that were likely to do a 16-nation tournament if l The old format was not avoided.
The result of the change saw North Macedonia and Finland debut at the Euro, Scotland were in the centerpiece of the quadrennial after a 25-year wait, while Wales and Slovakia made back-to-back appearances after making their debut in the 2016 Finals.
Only Wales have advanced from the aforementioned teams’ group stage after beating a below par Turkish side before drawing to Switzerland and narrowly losing to Italy, and were comfortably eliminated by Denmark in a one-way meeting on Saturday.
Although Scotland generally impressed, the lack of match winners resulted in an early exit from Group D where they faced rivals England, Croatia and Czechia.
Finland scored a huge win in their first game against a broken Danish side, but failed to hit the net against an average Russia and one of the pre-tournament favorites Belgium.
North Macedonia and Slovakia scored more than one goal, but suffered losses to the Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria, while the Slovaks suffered losses to Sweden (1-0) and Spain (5-0) after beating 10 men. Poland 2-1.
Could any of the major African countries have done better than those aforementioned teams that withdrew early?
In truth, the countries that stand out immediately are the champions of Africa, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco. Interestingly, all of them are in the top 50 of Fifa’s world rankings and Tunisia (26th in the world) and Ghana (49th) should not be left out either.
The sports governing body often receives criticism for its flawed assessment, and it may surprise many people that only Finland (54) and North Macedonia (62) do not make the top 50 in the rankings. Poland, which has lost all of its matches during the current Euro, is 21st in the world… incredibly higher than all the nations of Africa.
Indeed, European nations represent the highest percentage of teams in the top 50 and it remains to be seen how the top ranked countries of the second largest continent would fare against them.
Will Algeria be out of Group B at the expense of Belgium and Denmark?
Will a Teranga Lions team led by Sadio Mane thrive in a relatively weak Group C or will the Super Eagles have won against England, Croatia or the Czech Republic?
On their own, perhaps neither of these teams will have finished in the top two, but they would likely have supported each other to finish in the top-ranked third teams. Although they finished with three points each, Finland and Slovakia missed out on the last 16 places against Ukraine due to their lower goal difference.
That said, a combined African XI definitely thrives at the Euro… on paper, at least.
With an alignment probably counting Edouard Mendy between the sticks, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Edmond Tapsoba at the center-back, with Achraf Hakimi and Reinildo Mandava at the back, the continent should have enough balance in defense while carrying a threat on the flanks.
A midfield pairing will be tricky due to the plethora of quality options available: Wilfred Ndidi, Thomas Partey, Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie, Yves Bissouma and Boubakary Soumare, to name a few.
How about leaving with Ndidi and Bennacer?
In attack, the first three of Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will disturb any defense and the fact that Mohamed Salah replaces Mahrez when the defense of the opponents is tiring will scare any opposition.
Many will even have the Egyptian superstar in their favorite XI.
Enough with the fantasy, because neither scenario will ever be a reality.
Still, the prospect of seeing Africa’s best take on some of the European teams may excite some observers, and it is tempting to imagine how the continent’s best teams would perform as guests at the European Championships.