Thank you for Ruining the Euros, Monsieur Platini!

eurosJogi Löw has nominated 31 players to his preliminary squad for Euro 2016. Are there any surprises in the list of names? No, but the first match day of the Rückrunde gave room for some worries.

The defence of the German national team may be weakened for next summer’s European championship. In the winter break, Benedikt Höwedes (Schalke) was injured and will be out for at least a couple of months. On Friday, Bayern defender Jerome Boateng made a devastating sign that he needed to be substituted from his club’s win in Hamburg. It turns out that he tore a muscle bundle, costing him at least three months. Höwedes and Boateng belong to the core of the German defence.

Joachim Löw will have to be creative to fill the gap if those two players will not be ready in time. More worries are sure appear in the next month. Even if the BILD-Zeitung already has published a plan for how Jerome Boateng will be able to play in the summer, it is highly uncertain he will be.

I am almost sure that Germany will play a very decisive role in Euro 2016. It is commonly assumed by now that it will be almost impossible to not qualify for the round-of-16. Opinions are there to be published and spread, right?

Okay, here is my opinion about the deformed European competition of national teams that is Euro 2016 . . .

Why deformed?

Thank you, Monsieur Platini. You have ruined the best competition in the world! The former competitions of the European continent were a symbol of pure football. I say this with all due respect to the other continents, but the Euro is the best competition in the world. It was said in Spain, France, Italy, England, and Germany that it is harder to win the Euros than the World Cup. Why? Teams must be at 100% from the beginning. There is no warm-up and no cautious approach in the group stage.

For example, Germany is a Turniermannschaft. It means that they were always able to improve during a tournament. It is true, if you think back to the 80s or the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. They played poorly, but were successful. This was easier to achieve with opponents like Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.

The Euros are different. A start against Portugal and Holland? A group with Spain and Italy? Not this time, but let us now take a look at the groups of the Euro 2012.

Group A – Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Poland
Group B – Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Holland
Group C – Spain, Italy, Croatia, Ireland
Group D – England, France, Ukraine, Sweden

Three of four groups were absolutely stunning, which made great viewing for every fan of this beautiful sport.

This year, there is not one single group with such compelling fixtures. Even so, Platini wanted more teams. Sixteen teams are no longer enough? Now we need twenty-four?

But wait! Adding teams requires another system, and if you think about this new system for more than a minute, you realise that it is a joke. A sad joke.

They added two more groups and established a ’round of 16.’ Again, you have to ask the question: Why did you do it this way?

We have six groups in the group stages. We have the winner of each group and the runner up of each group who qualify for the round of 16. And we have four (I repeat, FOUR) third-place teams who also are able to qualify. With this modus, the group stage of the Euro 2016 is not only boring but useless. 16 of 24 teams qualify for the second stage. Let’s face itm the new modus will improve only one thing: the contracts of the broadcasting rights. More matches equals more money. That more matches also equals less excitement seems to be irrelevant.

Some words to those who may feel offended: I am not sad that Holland did not qualify (although I am one of the few German fans who think that Oranje is great). I am not disappointed that small countries like Northern Ireland or Albania are part of the Euro 2016. They qualified; they deserve it.

But let us be honest. Is quality not always better than quantity?

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Dennis Liedschulte

Dennis works as a journalist and author of fictional novels in Germany. He is a regular visitor of the German Bundesliga. He worked for several newspapers and online magazines and reports directly from Germany for Follow at @NummerSieben7