Euro 2024: The East Wind, the Big Teams Are Not Convincing, Italy Saved Only Thanks to Zaccagni. Spain and Then…


By John

An Italy that is saved only at the last second thanks to Zaccagni’s goal, the Eastern European teams that raise their heads on those of the West shifting the balance, a Spain that flies on the wings of Yamal and Williams, the spies, the chaos and the myth of German efficiency debunked. The group stage of the European Football Championship in Germany is over it’s time for first assessments for a competition that continues between broken dreams, the desire to amaze, real organizational problems; and simply looking at the technical side, there remains the gleam left in the eyes by the flames of the very young Red Furies – Yamal and Nico Williams in the lead – who have exposed all the weaknesses of the reigning champions. Here, point by point, what the group stage of Euro 2024 leaves behind.


Starting from Georgia of Kvaratskhelia who thrashed Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal – the real surprise of the first phase – until the Slovenia who risks beating England, passing through Romania and Slovakia. All in the eighth finals with a great desire to continue their journey, and increasingly shifting the continental football balance to the east, probably to the delight of the UEFA president, the Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin. Going even further there is then the exploit of Türkiye by Vincenzo Montella who also increased the enthusiasm of the large Turkish community in Germany, who poured into the streets to celebrate with flag-draped cars and blaring horns even in Iserlohn, the headquarters of the Azzurri.


With the groups over, a clear fact emerges about the “blue star”. Italy is in the eighth finals thanks to Zaccagni’s goal in Leipzig in the 98th minute, without which Donnarumma and his teammates would already be out given the placings of the best third-placed teams in the groups, which in the event of a defeat they would not have returned to. In addition, Italy, expected in Berlin in the eighth finals by Switzerland, now finds itself in the lower part of the draw where the only real threat is represented by the possible clash in the quarter-finals with England, which has certainly not impressed so far. In the upper part, however, there are all the big teams, in addition to Spain, the hosts Germany, France, Portugal and Lukaku’s Belgium.


Up to now the only team that has made an impression by showing something new thanks to its young tightrope walkers is the Roja of the various Yamal, Nico Williams and Pedri. For the rest, the other teams, including Germany playing at home, have not left their mark, with France held back by the nose injury of their star Kylian Mbappé and Portugal at the end of the cycle with a “Last Dance” version of Cristiano Ronaldo .


We see spies in football again, those who reveal the secrets of the locker room and tell the lineup first. Ironically, the one who broke the case, which was also widely reported in German newspapers, was the Italian coach Luciano Spalletti in the belly of the Leipzig stadium in East Germany, where the Stasi, a feared internal security and espionage body, once stood. A drama well told in the Oscar-winning film “The Lives of Others”. But it’s not just Spalletti: there are drones to spy on the closed-door training sessions of others, as happened to Switzerland before the match with Scotland.


At Euro 2024, the myth of German efficiency in every type of service and the perfect organization of sporting and non-sporting events was debunked, with a special eye on public order in and outside the stadiums. A country, from East to West, which from what we saw during the European Football Championships seems the distant relative of the precision that has become emblematic. Now, according to what we saw at Euro 2024 and also according to many German media – all this is no longer there: delayed trains, confusion inside the train stations and fans crowded outside the stadium without knowing which entrance to enter. Problems from the first day, that of Germany-Scotland, a start that left fans and journalists present dumbfounded, in disbelief of what was happening.

There are many stories of fans arriving late due to problems with Deutsche Bahn (DB), the German railways. The competition’s organizing director, Philipp Lahm, also paid the price by missing the kick-off of the match Ukraine-Slovakia last Friday. Social networks went wild against one of the host cities, Gelsenkirchen, a former mining town of 265,000 inhabitants, in the Ruhr basin (west) where many fans reported being blocked for several hours, in the absence of trams and trains, in the evening before England-Serbia. Then, speaking of inefficient controls, there was the case of the intruder hidden in the costume of the Albärt mascot and in possession of a false accreditation who snuck into the Allianz Arena in Munich on the occasion of the opening match of Euro 2024 won 5-1 by Germany against Scotland.

Not to mention the UEFA volunteers who don’t know English to explain the most basic information to the fans and the journalists who are watered in the press gallery by beer from the most rowdy fans without anyone intervening. Among the major issues being discussed are the costs of the European Championships and the use of German taxpayers’ money. The European football championship, according to Christoph Breuer, of the Institute of Sport Economics and Management of the Sporthochschule in Cologne, is an event that creates profit above all for the organisers, namely for UEFA. Despite the economic return in sectors such as catering and hotels, thanks to the arrival of thousands of foreign fans, according to some calculations, the German cities hosting the European Championships are spending at least 66 million euros more than initially expected . This is demonstrated by research conducted by the German non-profit investigative journalism editorial team Correctiv.

Lokal together with FragDenStaat, which speaks of 295 million costs for the ten cities hosting the event. The total cost would be around 650 million euros, according to research by the weekly “Der Spiegel” and the second German TV channel Zdf. From the German to the English press it has been underlined that rail transport in Germany “is a complete disaster and the fans are paying the price”. Incredible, for the “locomotive” of Europe.