Germany forward Lukas Podolski hits out at 'stupid' Euro 2016 format
Germany’s Lukas Podolski has criticised Uefa’s organisation of the European Championships, describing the changes to the tournament’s format as “stupid”.
The decision to increase the number of teams at this Euros from 16 to 24 has drawn a mixed reaction within the game. While it has allowed many smaller nations to reach a major international tournament for the first time, the six-group format has been criticised by many countries for the uncertainty it has created, particularly relating to convoluted rules over the allocation of third-placed teams.
Albania were forced to wait three days after their final group game to find out that they had been eliminated. England and Croatia did not discover their last-16 opponents until the very last minute of the last group games. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland qualified for the knockout stages despite losing two out of their three matches.
“The group stage was a little bit strange, because Uefa did some stupid things with the system,” said Podolski, after Germany’s 3-0 win over Slovakia in Lille. “It’s not about the smaller teams, it’s about the decisions. Some teams waited three days in the camp for a decision.
“You lose the first two games and you still have a chance to get through to the next round. So it is a bit confused but for us, it doesn’t matter. Now the tournament starts.”
Podolski’s comments echoed those by his manager Joachim Löw earlier in the tournament. Löw said the 16-team format was “ideal” and the fact that a team could qualify by winning only one match was “not very fair”, even though this was technically still possible under the old system.
For now Germany have a quarter-final against Spain or Italy to look forward to on Saturday, and their win over Slovakia was an ominous return to form for the current world champions. But Podolski, the former Arsenal forward who now plays for Galatasaray, insisted that Germany would need to show more aggression in future matches.
“We have a lot of quality,” he said. “What we miss, and what we have to do in the next rounds, is to be more aggressive, more powerful and show the opponent we are Germany and we are strong. These are small things we need to do.
“Italy or Spain, it doesn’t matter. You have to beat everyone when you want to be the European champions. Maybe it’s better to play a big team. You have to focus.”