Euro 2016 Round-Up

Shaqiri Bicycle

Let’s face it, the Euros were a failure as far as England were concerned.

Much has been said of Monday’s woeful display against Iceland, but what about the performances of Stoke’s lads in France?

Switzerland and Ireland progressed to the knockout stages, where Xherdan Shaqiri lit up the competition with an acrobatic goal.

That stunner wasn’t enough to prevent Switzerland bowing out on penalties though- despite Shaqiri tucking away his spot kick.

Shaqiri created three chances in that match and nine in total throughout the tournament- including an assist in the win over Albania.

His impressive displays have led to former Swiss coach Ottmar Hitzfield to challenge Shaqiri to improve his performances in a Stoke shirt and Stokies will be hoping that he can.

As for the Irish, it was a mixed tournament for Stoke’s lads.

Shay Given spent the campaign sitting on the bench, whilst Jonathan Walters only appeared in the first and final matches due to injury.

Glenn Whelan, so often the heartbeat of the Irish midfield, was dropped for the final two matches. Ireland were successful without Whelan in the centre- beating Italy and pushing France all the way in Paris.

That’s not to say Whelan had a bad tournament though. He completed the most interceptions against Sweden and made the second highest number of passes against Belgium.

Now 32, there will be fears that Whelan’s demotion from the starting line-up could be permanent though, particularly with the emergence of Jeff Hendrick as a regular in an Irish shirt- a player Stoke should be keeping an eye on, may I add.

Whatever happens with Whelan, he remains Stoke’s most capped player in history and hopefully he will add to those caps in the coming years.

Finally, Marko Arnautovic had a tournament to forget. Austria were hotly tipped ahead of the big kick-off but failed miserably, picking up just one point from their three matches.

Arnie, together with David Alaba, was the man Austria hoped would guide them to some sort of success, but neither were able to shine sufficiently. Alaba was not utilised correctly whilst you got the impression Arnautovic was probably trying a little too hard, thus making too many errors.

Perhaps the main error lies at the feet of the coach though. This was particularly highlighted in Austria’s final match when they won a penalty against Iceland.

Arnautovic was overlooked to take the penalty, which was subsequently missed.

It summed up Austria’s tournament, and we now hope that Arnautovic’s next football match will be in a Stoke shirt.

Roll on the return of domestic football!

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