The UEFA Euro 2016 group stage came to an end in dramatic fashion as Portugal, Iceland, Belgium and Republic of Ireland secured their places in the knockout phase. It brought us a number of extraordinary performances with a host of players stepping up for their nations. However, we also had the opportunity to see experienced footballers ruining their countries’ hopes of advancing with their below-par and even dreadful performances. 

What follows is the combined lineup of the players who let down their nations in the Euro 2016 group stage.

Goalkeeper: David de Gea (Spain)

David de Gea beats Salvatore Sirigu for the goalkeeping position in our flop XI.

The Spaniard had little problems in the first two matches as he watched his team dominate proceedings against the lowly Turkey and the Czech Republic. It was Croatia that put his abilities to a proper test for the first time in the tournament – and he failed miserably.

His needless dribbling left Rakitic with a glorious chance to score early on, but the Croatian could only find the crossbar. Went on to concede two goals at the near post, both of which could have been easily avoided.

Right-back: Aleksandar Dragovic (Austria)

Dragovic may just be the worst flop of the tournament. The Austrian defender was sent off in the first game which Austria promptly lost to Hungary and then had to sit out the stalemate with Portugal. He returned to the starting lineup in the Austria’s final Euro 2016 match, but he once again played a huge part in his team’s demise, missing a crucial penalty against Iceland.

Center-back: Lorik Cana (Albania)

Similar to Dragovic, Lorik Cana will want to forget this tournament as soon as possible. The Albanian captain started eagerly, perhaps too eagerly, since he was sent off after he picked up two yellow cards in the opening 30 minutes. He had to sit out the second match and was left out of the starting XI in the third-round game against Romania that his team dully won 1-0.

Center-back: Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)

Considering the fact that Ricardo Carvalho turned 38 recently, it is hardly surprising to see him included in the worst XI. Portugal may have had the luck to avoid tougher opponents in the group stage and their defence was rarely tested, but once the knockout stage starts, they may be in serious trouble. If Hungary found a way to exploit Carvalho’s shortcomings, you can bet others will do the same.

Left-back: Viacheslav Shevchuk (Ukraine)

The Shakhtar left-back embodies Ukraine’s failure to adapt amidst a generational switch in the national team. His reluctance to go forward and inability to deal with opposing attackers left the Ukraine unable to compete on either front on the left side of the pitch. A tournament to forget not only for Shevchuk, but the entire Ukraine.

Right midfielder: Arda Turan (Turkey)

Arda Turan came into the tournament as the biggest name in the Turkey squad, but delivered very little.  His performance against Croatia was particularly troubling – not only did he struggle to create chances for his teammates, but he was also unable to get himself into dangerous spaces. In the end, he simply passed the ball around until the agony was over. Although his next performances were somewhat better, he was still far from his usual best.

Central midfielder: Roman Neustadter (Russia)

Roman Neustadter famously received his Russian passport merely months before the tournament as Russia tried to prepare itself for the UEFA Euro 2016. However, Neustadter was virtually invisible on the pitch, much like the rest of the Russian midfield. We could perhaps forgive his inability to create chances for his teammates – he is a defensive midfielder after all – but the fact that he even failed to provide any sort of cover for his center-backs is simply unforgivable.

Left midfielder: Raheem Sterling (England)

Once again, Sterling produced a few dazzling performances, but failed to deliver. Frustratingly, his quick footwork regularly put him in good positions, but his final balls left a lot to be desired. Considering the wealth of talent available to Roy Hodgson, this tournament may already be over for the 21-year-old winger.

Right forward: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

Lewandowski came into Euro 2016 as the focal point of the Polish attack, but he has so far failed his country. He was subdued throughout the tournament, but he even managed to miss the few good chances he was given. Unless he rediscovers his goalscoring form soon, Poland are as good as gone.

Center forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

Similar to Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic came into the tournament as his team’s star player, but he failed to produce virtually anything. He has decided to retire from international duty after Euro 2016, but considering his performances, one may as well assume he had given up even before the tournament started.

Left forward: Mario Gotze (Germany)

Despite rumors that he was unwanted in Bayern Munich, Gotze retained his starting spot in Die Mannschaft. However, the lack of playing time in Bayern appears to have left a devastating impact on Gotze, who practically acted as a passer-by in all three games so far.

About the author – Dusan Lucic

Dusan has been writing sports related articles for 5 years and has a keen interest in the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serbian SuperLiga. He has previously written for Bleacher Report, Arena Sport, Sportal and The News Hub. He is currently studying Serbian language and literature at the university of Belgrade.


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World Champions, a team in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the seventh consecutive season, and some of the best young players in Europe. It is pretty hard to argue that German football is anything other than beautifully healthy right now. However, the news today is that Mats Hummels will join Bayern for €32M at the end of the season. Some will argue that this casts a dark shadow over German football as Bayern continue to sign the best talent from their domestic rivals.

Hummels, particularly after his comments about former team-mate Mario Götze, has upset a lot of people by moving to Bayern. Borussia Dortmund are the closest they have been to Bayern since the last time they won the title – in 2011/12. The lynchpin of their defence has been linked with a transfer away from Dortmund for years, but the Dortmund fans, understandably, expected that move to be to Barcelona or another non-German club. The confirmation that Mats Hummels will follow former team-mates Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze to the Allianz Arena is concerning for German football.

Whenever Dortmund begin to look like they could really threaten Bayern the 2013 Champions League winners nab one of their best players. It is like when a father allows his son to feel like he’ll win and then finally pips him to defeat the very end. Its cruel, it’s the hope that makes it so much harder for Dortmund fans. This time its worse than before, too. Hummels is the club captain and had been seen as a player that would not cross that footballing divide, but he now looks set to make the leap from yellow to red.

Three Bundesliga titles in a row is not just a reflection of how good Bayern are, it shows the weaknesses within the Bundesliga, too. Simply look at the performances of Bayer Leverkusen or Schalke in Europe and you can understand why some think the Bundesliga is one dimensional and why Bayern have a walk in the park. It is not beneficial to Bayern to dominate the league so heavily, nor is it good for German football as a whole.

Rivals will look to poach one another’s players in any league or country, but the regularity with which it is happening in Germany is a huge concern. The once in a blue moon transfer between Barcelona and Real Madrid is shocking, not the status quo, and that helps the football to continue to be so competitive at the top. The desire to take the best players off of your rivals is understandable, but what does it say for the Bundesliga? Why can’t the second best team in the country keep the interests of their players from the best side? It is not as if the players that are pushing for the move from Dortmund to Munich can say they want to win a Bundesliga, there is nothing to say that Borussia Dortmund can’t win it next year. Perhaps it is about potential European success. Whatever it is, it is imperative that something happens in Germany to address the balance and avoid Bayern dominance.

Although it is closer this season, Bayern won the Bundesliga by 10 points in 2014/15 and 19 points in 2013/14. Those sort of landslide victories do not make for a healthy competition, nor do they keep people interested in German domestic football. The health of the national team is not in question, but the more that the league slides towards one-team dominance, the weaker the national team will become. Mats Hummels’ transfer to Bayern Munich – should it go through – could be the start of a worrying period for the Bundesliga.

Modern day football is a business as much as it is entertainment. Businesses need competition and sport needs there to be a sense of unpredictability to keep the fans intrigued. Bayern Munich’s tactic of picking the best from their rivals, albeit sensible, is at risk of decimating the interest around the league. If Bayern continue to waltz to league title after league title the fans will quickly look elsewhere. It could even be as simple as finding a way for the other clubs to become more attractive. It is hard to understand, other than the reputation of Bayern, why a move from Dortmund to Munich makes a huge amount of sense from a footballing perspective right now. Although Ancelotti is a magnificent manager, the change coming at Bayern brings with it question marks around their 2016/17 campaign whilst Dortmund look set to compete at the pinnacle of European football once more.

About the author- Sam Cox

Sam is a writer who is a regular with Football FanCast and has featured on uMAXit, Collossus bets and Late Tackle.

twitter: @10InTheHole



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A quarter of the way through the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, the destination of the title already looks to have been decided. Bayern Munich’s 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Saturday afternoon was their ninth in nine top-flight encounters – another Bundesliga record set by the Bavarians – with Pep Guardiola’s outfit already seven points clear of closest challengers Borussia Dortmund. The team that has won the last three German championships by margins of 10, 19 and 25 points look to have wrapped up another crown in mid-October.

It is an incredible spell of dominance that does not look like ending any time soon. The Bundesliga, which remains one of Europe’s most competitive divisions from second place downwards, has become monopolised by Bayern, whose combination of status and financial might dwarfs all of their domestic rivals.

The gap between the league leaders and Dortmund was showcased in the pair’s meeting before the international break: Bayern ran out 5-1 winners at the Allianz Arena, simply proving too strong for Thomas Tuchel’s charges, who themselves had begun the campaign extremely well.

Bayern took the lead in the 26th minute through Thomas Muller, who soon added a second from the penalty spot. BVB threatened a comeback with an immediate response from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Bayern found another gear after the break, a brace from Robert Lewandowski and strike from Mario Gotze sealing an emphatic triumph.

It was a similar story in the weekend’s clash with Werder, even if the narrow scoreline suggested a closely-fought encounter. Muller’s winning goal was the 29th Guardiola’s men have scored this term; with just five conceded, Bayern have an extraordinary goal difference of 25 after nine matches.

There is a debate to be had about whether Bayern’s imperiousness is a positive or negative thing for the Bundesliga. The 25-time German champions’ strength has allowed them to assemble a squad of truly world-class talent – from

between the sticks, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm and David Alaba in the backline, Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara and Arturo Vidal in midfield, Arjen Robben on the flanks and Lewandowski and Muller up top – that can compete with anything the rest of Europe has to offer.

Sport, though, is about competition; as German football writer Raphael Honigstein noted recently, the sheer brilliance of many of the side’s performances may attract overseas interest in the league, but the lack of a genuine title race at the top is likely to eventually lead to those viewers switching off. While Bayern’s quality will always make them worth watching, many consumers are likely to prefer watching games involving the likes of Barcelona or Manchester City if the points at stake are likely to be pivotal to their chances of finishing the season top of the pile.

The issue could accelerate calls for a European superleague involving the continent’s biggest clubs, something that many believe is bound to happen at some point in the coming decades. If Bayern – and, indeed, the rest of the Bundesliga – no longer believe the current arrangement is working for them, it is not too difficult to foresee a situation whereby they push for more regular games against other elite outfits.

For now, the Champions League probably sates that desire; if Bayern continue to dominate German football for years to come, however, a breaking point may not be too far away.

About the Author – Greg Lea

Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.

Twitter @GregLeaFootball


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Sunday’s German Klassiker—or German Clasico if you want to follow the silly trend of the German media to use the Spanish term—between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund has dominated the football media in Germany this week. In fact, you could almost forget that both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund had other important European games this weekend.

Bayern Munich played Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday in what would be the continuation of Robert Lewandowski’s goal scoring show as he scored three goals in Munich’s 5-0 win over the Croatians—Lewandowski has now scored ten goals in 8 days (five against Wolfsburg, two against FSV Mainz, and three against Zagreb).

Lewandowski has been instrumental for Bayern’s recent run of good form, and the importance of the Polish striker was especially evident against VfL Wolfsburg and Mainz. Bayern’s first half against Wolfsburg was especially disappointing, and Wolfsburg could have easily been up by two points going into the break, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola added Lewandowski at half time after which Bayern quickly dismantled the Volkswagen club. Bayern’s first half against Mainz appeared equally lethargic, and it was not until Lewandowski’s goal in the 51st minute that Bayern woke up, and quickly tallied up another two goals for a final score 3-0.

Meanwhile in Dortmund the recent euphoria has been dampened as Borussia dropped points against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Darmstadt 98 in the last two games. Borussia’s results in fact have meant that many journalists in Germany already fear that Bayern could once again dominate the league, and easily win the title. Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung for example already declared Sunday’s encounter as the final for the German championship as a Bayern victory would see the Bavarians seven points ahead of Borussia.

It seems premature to declare the eighth round of the Bundesliga as the decisive round in the race for the German championship, and with 26 games remaining after this Sunday’s Klassiker, a Bayern victory would indeed not herald the traditional championship parade to Munich’s city hall.

Despite their first two slipups since Thomas Tuchel took over as a coach, Borussia will provide a strong challenge for Bayern at the Allianz Arena on Sunday—Tuchel now holds the starting record of any coach in Borussia history with five wins and two ties in the first seven matches. Furthermore, Dortmund easily dominated both games against Hoffenheim and Darmstadt, and under normal circumstances should have won either match easily.

Also Borussia Dortmund have their own goal scoring sensation in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Before the season kicked off Aubameyang promised that he would score 20 goals this season, he currently sits second in the goal scoring chart behind Lewandowski (ten goals) with nine goals in eight matches—his current pace means that he will easily surpass his promise of 20 goals.

Despite Aubameyang’s goal scoring progress, and Thomas Tuchel’s start record, the mood appeared sober in Dortmund. Hummels openly criticized the fact that Dortmund’s play was not clever enough to defeat Darmstadt on Sunday. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote that while both Dortmund and Bayern appear on the same level, Bayern still has that cleverness ahead of Borussia. Had Bayern been in the same situation as Dortmund they would have played on to add a third goal and put the game to rest—the Sueddeutsche Zeitung argued.

Indeed the Sueddeutsche Zeitung has a point. Last season for example Bayern had a perfect record against teams from the lower end of the table. In fact it was that perfect record that secured the Bavarians the championship as Bayern had a poor record against the top four in the Bundesliga. In the six games against Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen, and Borussia Mönchengladbach last season Bayern only managed two wins, one tie, and lost three with a goal differential of 4:9—making them last in that mini-table, in what is a wonderful argument against Premier League fans who believe that the Bundesliga is not competitive. Furthermore, Bayern also lost last year’s DFB-Pokal (German Cup) semi-final to Borussia Dortmund.

With Bayern’s recent fantastic form, and Borussia Dortmund appearing once again as the closest challenger to Bayern’s hegemony Sunday’s Klassiker should be one of the best, and is certainly a must watch for football fans around the world.

About the author – Manuel Veth

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and Editor in Chief @FutbolgradLive and writes about the economics and politics of Soviet and post-Soviet football. You can find his work at

twitter: @homosovieticus


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It has been a tough week for Wolfsburg. The story that Volkswagen had equipped 11 million of its diesel cars with manipulation software that could be used to cheat on emissions tests in the United States and the European Union has dominated recent news in Germany. In football there were also bad news for Volkswagen as their Werksteam (German for factory team) VfL Wolfsburg was trashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich.

With Wolfsburg’s dismal performance in Munich in mind perhaps it was just coincidence that Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down just the day after VfL Wolfsburg’s nine minute meltdown in the Bavarian capital.

But while most of Germany’s press focused on Bayern’s striker Robert Lewandowski, whose five goals in nine minutes broke several Bundesliga records, the dismantling of VfL Wolfsburg at the hands of Bayern Munich’s striker Lewandowski was only worth page 2 coverage in Wolfsburg’s press digest. Even in the sport sections the crisis at Volkswagen dominated the news with some voices raising concerns on what impact Volkswagen’s current crisis could have on football.

After all Volkswagen’s former CEO Winterkorn was considered an avid football supporter, and the company sponsors several football projects not only in Germany but also around the world. In Germany aside from owning VfL Wolfsburg outright, Volkswagen’s daughter company Audi holds 8% per cent of Bayern Munich’s shares. Furthermore, Audi also owns 20% of the shares of the newly promoted FC Ingolstadt. In the Bundesliga Volkswagen is also an important sponsor at Schalke 04, and Werder Bremen, and furthermore the company also sponsors the second Bundesliga club Eintracht Braunschwieg, and lastly Volkswagen’s Think Blue initiative is the shirt sponsor of Munich’s second Bundesliga club TSV 1860. Lastly Volkswagen also sponsors the DFB Pokal (German Cup).

VfL Wolfsburg’s manager Klaus Allofs, however, does not believe that CEO Winterkorn’s departure will have a big effect on VfL’s ambition to become Germany’s new football power. “I am in constant contact with the management circle at Volkswagen, and we haven’t even discussed the current crisis at Volkswagen, and I don’t think we need to.” Allofs told Germany’s Kicker Magazine. Allofs further added that, “Volkswagen’s believes in the commitment to VfL Wolfsburg, and a crisis doesn’t mean that this commitment is questioned. We know the value that VfL has for Volkswagen [as a marketing vehicle], and I don’t think that value has changed now.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Dr. Hans-Gerhard Seeba a specialist on Germany’s car industry, and a former VW manager told 11Freunde that, “the current events will not affect VW football sponsoring commitments. After all Football sponsoring is an important part of the company’s corporate communication and marketing strategy. … VW is Germany’s largest company, and they will easily survive this current crisis. Therefore the company’s financial engagement in football will remain unquestioned. For the clubs the money from Volkswagen is important, but for Volkswagen the sums are merely peanuts — Volkswagen’s profit last year was €10 billion.” In fact the Volkswagen’s image “would be even further damaged if the company decided to end its sport sponsorship program.”

Financially Seeba’s assessment of the situation is good news for VfL Wolfsburg, but for Wolfsburg’s Brazilian dominated defence consisting of Naldo, Dante, and Luiz Gustavo — the last two were also involved Brazil’s 7-1 meltdown against Germany at the 2014 World Cup — the fact that Wolfsburg’s press may switch their attention back to events on the field could also mean uncomfortable days ahead, as the trio may soon be asked how to avoid Brazilian style debacles in the future.

About the author – Manuel Veth

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and Editor in Chief @FutbolgradLive and writes about the economics and politics of Soviet and post-Soviet football. You can find his work at

twitter: @homosovieticus


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