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Since 2016, the Euro football championship has been played by 24 teams, and not 16, as was the case until 2012. We have thus gone from 31 to 51 matches. But the Euro has lost its prestige with this format. Even if we have the opportunity to see more matches and nations, this is to the detriment of sporting consideration where performance, risk-taking and excellence must prevail.

The expansion of the Euro football tournament is primarily intended to generate more matches, and therefore more revenue for UEFA through ticketing, TV rights, merchandising and sponsorship. Of course, the 24-team Euro has given a chance to some 'small' football nations like Georgia, which are not used to this type of event. Introduced by Platini when he was UEFA president, this reform was also (or above all!) an electoral calculation to ensure the support of the federations of these small nations for future elections!

From a strictly footballing point of view, this Euro 2024 has been, so far, distressingly poor but perhaps not surprisingly. Euro 2024 suffers from football impoverished by the increase in matches and the reduction in the time allowed to prepare for them. A group stage where winning matches and qualifying for the last 16 took precedence over the quality of play.

Tactically, we saw low blocks closed in the Mourinho style while waiting for weaknesses in the opposing team to proceed on the counterattack. The best way for small teams to shake up, or even overthrow the European giants. The most deplorable thing is not only the small teams who deployed this game plan but also some big names. Knowing that with the current format, three draws in the group stage can be enough to reach the last 16. Some teams, like Denmark with three draws or Slovakia with a win, a draw and a defeat were able to benefit from this formula.

Let us note in passing that the 2026 World Cup will increase from 32 to 48 teams! Once again, the economic argument prevails with the revenue generated in this direction.

But if it was disappointing at this stage, we expect more exciting matches from this Saturday. First of all because the calculations and diagrams of the group stage are useless in the round of 16. Secondly because football is, fortunately, not only about the game but also about passion, turnarounds and emotions. The legendary Sir Alex Ferguson once summed it up: “Football, bloody hell”.

Osman Badat

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