It should have been The tournament for the likes of Ronaldo, Lukaku, Bale and Lewandowski, but the Euros were not very kind to them. Ronaldo scored three goals (208 minutes per goal), Lukaku scored two goals (201 minutes per goal), Bale scored three (178 minutes per goal), and Lewandowski scored just one goal. Nothing to write home about.
Football is changing once again and the super central forward may become a thing of the past. Defending has become an applicable science it seems; weaker teams successfully frustrated (on paper) stronger teams by building a mobile fortress around their goal keepers during this year’s Euros. Ronaldo’s Portugal of course won the borefest, but he did not have the much desired hero role in this. In fact, some have argued that the Portuguese started to play better as a team in the final once the man with the enormous laryngeal prominence (Adam’s apple) – the lump that perhaps bottles up all his frustrations – was withdrawn due to injury.
The way to crack the solid, PTB defences is through a combination of quick, clever passing and running AND having a strong central presence to link up with and create space for fellow attackers. I reckon Wenger realised this years ago and that is why he made Giroud such a central part in his style of play. The beautifully named Didier Deschamps also understood the need for a strong central attacker in the team who can play with his back towards goal, and selected both Giroud and Gignac for his squad. If and when Giroud was substituted, no doubt to make sure he got enough rest, Deschamp brought on a like for like player (in style, but not quality) with Gignac. The French have so many quality attackers that they did not have to opt for Giroud as CF, but DD was keen to build his attack around him.
Giroud was not the hero though, that role goes to the super-talented and ultra-passionate Greizman. The six-goal Golden Boot winner said he loved to play with Giroud, and he certainly knew how to benefit from Ollie’s general presence, link up play and the space he created for him and others. France were by far the better team but, as a Dutchman, I can tell you the best team does not always win a major final.
The Germans had Gomez as a Giroudesque CF, and once he got injured their attacking football became significantly less effective. The Italians used Pelle as a strong, holding presence and were perhaps the surprise of the tournament (and a tat unlucky to go out on penalties).
Gomez, Giroud and Pelle are not great CFs as the once we came to love over the years, but they are essential in the modern game nevertheless. Without them attacking teams will quickly look and play like the Germans did against the Portuguese, or the Spanish national team in general: lots of passes and attempts to crack the parked buses with fast passes and runs with and without the ball, but very often all to little effect.
I am also convinced that if Wenger wanted a typical/traditional super CF in his team, like Aguero, or indeed Griezman as deployed by Atletico, he would have moved Alexis in there ages ago. Ultimately though, we would become too dependent and one dimensional if we were to play the Chilean fire-cracker as our CF, and we would also struggle to crack the parked buses due to Alexis’ lack of physical presence and continuous threat in the air.
There is no doubt in my mind that Wenger will play Giroud as our main CF again next season, but he will be looking for one or two players who can take on the ‘Griezman’ role. That is where we went wrong last season imo.
Alexis is the obvious player for this but I am not sure whether he really clicks with the handsome Frenchman. Iwobi showed very promising signs and could be developed into a ‘Griezman’. The likes of Ox and Campbell also have potential. Or maybe…. Wenger is looking for his ideal ‘Griezman’ in the transfer market?