U19 European Championships 2016

A comprehension based on semis and the final.

… because lately always the same poor coverage.

Of course there is a much wider interest in the mens U19 EC with up to 50000 in the stadium. And when the public demand is not there so that TV broadcasters are not interested you have to accept that. However with all the investments of FIFA and UEFA in womens football it is paramount to target and invest in the youth audience and give especially the young girls their role models to try to emulate. At least internet streams for such events for example over youtube seem to be world wide used in other continents but only on an alibi level by the wealthy European UEFA. That is even more pityful because there seem to be video teams from UEFA already filming for their technical staff to make their official reports. A pity for the participating girls and missed chance for the development of the sport.

But nevertheless yet again a further development was evident compared to the last U19 EC and the average skill level of the players were yet once again improved. The interesting question is how long this can and will continue.

Unfortunately the final was interrupted for 2+ hrs due to torrential rain and the standing water on the pitch played a role in the second half but again it was interesting to see how good the girls managed to play under these extreme conditions.

There was no difference anymore to see to male players in the degree of influence of the conditions. Or in other words. When mens games suffer 10% loss of quality from these conditions womens also suffer only 10%. Some time ago these conditions would have exploited weaknesses in womens football much more. Not in this final. That is even more astonishing in regards to the fact that here sheer power was a big factor to master the conditions.

But it was really good to see how well the girls managed that despite of course there were actions where the girls should have avoided running with the ball at their feet or passing flat through splashes of water. But that wasnt more of a problem than in mens games under such conditions who could also act smarter there.

So this time it was understandable that like usually the team won who had the better luck. That shouldnt take away anything from the french who deserved the victory. But especially looking at the shot against the bar and the missed penalty and the missed chance in overtime it could have gone either way between two teams where no one had a huge advantage and both were looking much more aiming to have enough players back to deny the opponents than to risk to be open for counter attacks.

That was in contrast to the semis where first France and then Spain were favourites against Switzerland and the Netherlands respectively. Same pattern. Both favourites started way too cautious trying to avoid to concede goals what gave them only a slight advantage and they couldnt threaten consistently. Both times once they were down and thus forced to invest more in their attacking play they were able to turn the game around in their semis.

Players to watch out for

It is not easy to find reasons for the stark contrast to the last tournaments. These were very much overshadowed by the dominant performances of forwards Stina Blackstenius and Vivianne Miedema. This year no player was even close to being that outstanding. Simply a lack of that one big talent? More difficult to stand out because the average level has risen and the tactical ability from the teams to make it harder for outstanding players from the opponents to shine?
When we are speaking of outstanding players eyes of expectation were on Cinzia Zehnder because she was the player who already played in the A-team of Switzerland and is a regular starter for Bundesliga side SC Freiburg. In the semi final game she could proof her talent in positional play and experience at levels where faster movement of the ball is required. However she could not dominate midfield in any way and didnt look better than a handful of her french opponents. Only a little bit more eye catching Jill Roard for the Netherlands in the other semi who was the other player who could make a name for herself already at senior level mainly by playing a good part and scoring the deciding goal when Twente ousted Bayern in the champions league. Maybe she appeared to be the best midfielder in that match but not at all dominating.

Spain had a whole bunch of very talented players but much on a similar level who should all become good players at senior level but whoever wants to be outstanding at senior level has to put in some additional work. France had much more difference in talent within their squad. Perle Morroni (18yo) and Delphine Cascarino (19yo) could already earn some merits at senior level and proofed why so. Morroni might be in line for a starter place at PSG whereas Cascarinos move to Juvisy was the right thing to do to get her more minutes on the pitch which is key for a player of that age.
But we have to have a look at the age here and see 17yo Marie-Antoinette Katoto already about on level with the other top players who are 19 already which makes her also very promising. Further to mention Géraldine Reuteler from Switzerland who has just turned 17 and showed a lot of talent in her semi final game.

All back players were embedded in a compact defense so it was not enough to see to differentiate whose individual skills might have been significantly better.

Additionally to the evident class in the matches also the fact that the Champions of the U17 from 2 years ago, Germany, where eliminated in the group phase already shows the talent of nearly all involved players. Germany had a very good year with in contrast to the others lots of players already starters for their team in the Bundesliga. However as we couldnt see them play and compare them to the final round it is rather likely they were not used to their best abilities in which case we would expect they should have won the tournament.


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