The 2016 Eurovision Championships group stage are coming to an end. Finally. If you have made it this far in and are still interested, fair play to you. Myself, I finally gave up yesterday and watched the cricket. Liam Plunkett hit a last ball 6 to tie the game against Sri Lanka in case you were wondering.
It has been a snooze-fest. With 3 times going through, we have seen ultra defensive football and sides pretty much guaranteed of qualification after the first game.
There is clearly a crisis in Europe. A crisis of decent strikers. Just look at the list of top scorers so far:
Alvaro Morata – 3 goals
Gareth Bale – 3 goals
Dimitri Payet – 2 goals
Ivan Perisic – 2 goals
Romelu Lukaku – 2 goals
In the top 5 goal scorers, there are 3 midfielders.
Then look at the squads of the major nations, the dearth of strikers can be seen even more
France – France have two main central strikers in their squad. Olivier Giroud and André-Pierre Gignac. The first we all know and love, the second, Gignac, plays for a mid table side in Mexico. Like many sides, they have resorted to playing converted wingers such as Antoine Griezzman upfront.
England – It looks like England have a lot of strikers. Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge & Marcus Rashford are all in the squad. They have mustered 2 goals between them.
Wales – Leading the goal scoring charts is Gareth Bale. A midfielder. Hal Robson-Kanu of Reading tends to lead the line for them.
Germany – The fact there were calls for 38 year old Miroslav Klose to be recalled to the Germany squad shows just how few strikers there are in Deutschland. Germany resisted and instead went for Turkish based due Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski. Two players clearly past their best. Thomas Muller, the Germany Frank Lampard, leads the line for them, but has struggled playing upfront on his own rather than coming from deep or wide.
Poland – In Arkadiusz Milik and Robert Lewandowski, Poland actually have two half decent strikers. One potentially world class. Lewandowski has struggled and is yet to get off the mark.
Spain – If I were to ask you the name of Spain’s 3 strikers, you would not get them right. They are Alvaro Morata, Aritz Aduriz & Nolito. There is a lot of hype around the first. Morata is probably the most overrated striker in Europe, despite his 3 goals so far. Aduriz is 35 years old with 8 caps. Nolito 29 with just 12.
Croatia – Mario Mandžukić & Nikola Kalinić. The former is a solid, Giroud style (and quality) centre forward. The Latter spent 2 years at Blackburn.
Belgium – On paper, Belgium have a lot of options upfront. Household names such as Romelu Lukaku, Cristian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi & Divock Origi. Bar Lukaku, are any of the others actually any good?
Italy – When you have Graziano Pellè leading the line, you know you do not have many options.
Sweden – Zlatan.
Portugal – Cristano Ronaldo.
Going through the squads, there are a few big names with big reputations who are clearly on the decline, but other than that there does not seem to be very much. No world class talents with plenty still left in the tank. No young talents about to make a break through.
The well is dry.
And to bring this round to Arsenal, it is a worry. We need a striker. But when our striker is currently the main man for the tournament favourites, you can kind of understand when Arsene Wenger says “there is nobody better” as the reality is, there is not.