Paris: With the European Championship coming to a close, here are five stars who failed to live up to expectations at the tournament in France:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Fresh from scoring 50 goals for Paris Saint-Germain last season, Ibrahimovic looked ready to terrorise opposition defences at the Euros. On the eve of Sweden’s first game against the Republic of Ireland, Ibrahimovic — who has never done modesty — declared: “The legend can still deliver.”
He left France — definitively after signing for Manchester United — having failed in his quest to score at a fourth consecutive European Championship finals. He forced the own goal which brought Sweden’s equaliser in their opening draw with Ireland but did not manage a single shot on target in that match or in the 1-0 defeat to Italy that followed. It was an inauspicious end to his international career, with Ibrahimovic retiring from Sweden duty after the 1-0 loss to Belgium that eliminated them in the group stage.
Thomas Mueller (Germany)
Curiously Mueller was once again unable to reproduce his superb World Cup form at a European Championship finals. The 26-year-old Bayern Munich forward won the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup with five goals and scored five more as Germany became world champions in Brazil two years ago. And yet, after failing to find the net at Euro 2012 he was again unable to hit the target in France as Germany lost to France in the semi-finals.
Joe Hart (England)
It was another major tournament to forget for England as they bowed out in the last 16 after a humiliating 2-1 defeat to Iceland. And it was another awful tournament for English goalkeepers. After David Seaman at the 2002 World Cup, David James at Euro 2004 and Robert Green in 2010, Hart got in on the act in France with not one, but two, major gaffes. The Manchester City ‘keeper was widely criticised for not getting to Gareth Bale’s free-kick that put Wales ahead during their group game in Lens. At least England came back to win that match 2-1, but they did not recover from seeing Hart let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot squirm under his body for Iceland’s crucial second goal in Nice.
Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Spain were a disappointment in France as they bowed out in the last 16 having won the last two Euro titles. Ramos is a survivor of Spain’s three successive international triumphs, at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. But in France, after Vicente del Bosque’s side began promisingly with wins over the Czech Republic and Turkey, things did not go to plan. Ramos missed a penalty before La Roja succumbed to a 2-1 loss to Croatia in their final group match. That condemned them to second place in their section and so a last-16 meeting with Italy. In that game, Ramos endured a torrid time up against the Azzurri’s strike pairing of Graziano Pelle and Eder as Spain lost 2-0 and made an early exit.
Arda Turan (Turkey)
Barcelona midfielder Turan’s status as an icon in his home country of Turkey meant fans were largely pinning their hopes on him to drive Fatih Terim’s team on in France. But after a difficult season at club level Turan toiled at the Euros, struggling to influence games from a position wide on the left. The 29-year-old issued a public apology for his display in Turkey’s opening 1-0 loss to Croatia, but he then had to endure the ignominy of being booed by Turkish fans during the 3-0 defeat to Spain in Nice. “Whatever happens that shouldn’t happen,” Terim said before Turkey bowed out.