Commentary

Copa vs. Euro: The USA is hosting the better tournament

By Mike Woitalla
@MikeWoitalla

In the start of this soccer-crazy summer with simultaneous continental national team tournaments, the Western Hemisphere has been delivering the most entertaining soccer, by a good stretch, compared to the European Championship.

The USA-hosted Copa America Centenario has hands down provided more attacking, more skillful, more delightful soccer than Euro 2016. It'd be unfair to include the drama factor in the equation because the Euro hasn’t had must-win games yet.

After 24 games, the Copa Centenario is averaging 2.87 goals per game. Euro 2016, after 14 games, is averaging 1.92 (that’s a goal only every 47 minutes).

Yes, of course, it’s very early to judge the Euro and the Copa scoring jumped after the opening games. But the Euro format is one that doesn't promise more attack-minded soccer soon. With the field of teams expanded to 24 teams this year, four of the third-place group finishers advance to the knockout stage. That delays do-or-die match-ups and encourages cautious play.

For its part, the Copa America’s expansion created the perfect number of 16 teams. With half the teams facing group-stage elimination, the value of a tie diminishes quickly.

The larger Euro has also diluted the quality of the field and created a greater proportion of snooze-inducing “survival soccer” teams that are happy to defend all game in hopes of a lucky counterattack.

FIFA World Rankings Top 10 teams represent nearly one third of the Copa field but only a fifth of the Euro lineup. Eight -- exactly half of the teams at the Copa -- reached the second round of the 2014 World Cup. Only four teams at Euro 2016 reached the round of 16 at the last World Cup.

The Copa also serves a spicy buffet, thanks to a great diversity of styles of play from its teams, which have an array of Latin, Caribbean and European influences.

On Thursday, the Copa enters the quarterfinal stage, which includes Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Colombia, teams that have been dazzling unlike anything we’ve yet to see at the Euro. After the Copa final on June 27, the action in France continues for another two weeks.

And then we’ll see if the European Championship can reach the high bar for soccer entertainment set by the Copa Centenario.

19 comments about "Copa vs. Euro: The USA is hosting the better tournament ".
  1. Alex Stroessner, June 15, 2016 at 6:36 p.m.

    you're right. it is too early.

  2. VIC Aguilera, June 15, 2016 at 7:09 p.m.

    If you mean the Copa America is more entertaining, you are right. It is full of clowns that dive and fall as if they have been shot and the the ringmasters(referees) are part of the show and go along with the charade. From what I have noticed the matches in the Eurocopa, although maybe not as exciting as C.A. at least the players have more respect for each other and the referees do not put up with any of the nonsense that we have seen in the Centenario.

  3. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis replied, June 18, 2016 at 6:51 a.m.

    The CA100 has a lot more graduates of the Cafe School of Soccer Acting showing their stuff, with oblivious referees.

  4. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis replied, June 18, 2016 at 6:53 a.m.

    Damn spellcheck: that's the Cafu School....

  5. Al Gebra, June 15, 2016 at 9:12 p.m.

    Woitalla is so provincial to a point of being childish

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, June 15, 2016 at 9:55 p.m.

    Do you understand the meaning of provincial, because you are misusing the term, unless you are intending some obtuse metaphorical insult to all of the Americas?

  7. Bob Ashpole, June 15, 2016 at 9:50 p.m.

    The only soccer I am watching right now is the Copa Centenario. Lots of great soccer and surprises. Between the Olympics and the Copa, I won't be watching any European matches for quite some time.

  8. Bob Kessler, June 15, 2016 at 9:59 p.m.

    I agree Al. Being retired I've seen most of the games in both events and have found none of the stalling, let's pass it around football the writer refers to, and I, frankly expected to see. I've found many of the America's games pretty boring football. The lesser ranked Europeans have really put up some sterling performances, fighting to the final whistle.

  9. Mark Landefeld, June 15, 2016 at 11:27 p.m.

    Being old enough to remember what he 24-team field did for the World Cup (remembering four awkward 2nd phase groups of three leading to semifinalists in 1982) and the third place advancing really hurting the '86 - '94 Cups. This tournament will just help the push for a 32-team Euro -- which isn't a bad thing if you can reduce the international calendar in the 2-year qualifying process.

  10. Dan Eckert, June 16, 2016 at 7:17 a.m.

    I've watched (speed watched?) almost all games for both tournaments. I would argue it is game to game. Some are way better than others and others are such a snooze fest that I thank god I can skip forward to watch the last 15 minutes (or at least get a good nap in for the day.

    One thing I will state as truth: The Euro's have MUCH BETTER FIELDS than the US. Come on guys - putting grass over turf is somehow going to make the game more realistic? Why all the MONSTER stadiums - why not put them in soccer specific stadiums?

    When will we learn?

  11. Lou vulovich, June 16, 2016 at 7:49 a.m.

    I could not agree more. Euro games are standard
    one team trying to win while taking some mild risk,
    while the other team tries not to loose taking 0 risk. It is boring, robotic and mostly disgusting tactical soccer. Copa Centenario has mostly been free flowing soccer, less about tactics and more about the quality of players. There have been exceptions, but for the most part no comparison particularly SA teams and European teams. Whatever you say about Klinsmann give him credit he is willing to have a go with any team that wants to open up and play.

  12. Gus Keri, June 16, 2016 at 8:54 a.m.

    You are wrong, Mike. You can't compare orange with apple. The scoring rate is notoriously low in the first round. In the Euro, the first round saw 22 goals in 12 game (1.83 GPG) and the Copa saw 14 goals in 8 games (1.75). The difference is not significant. Secondly, there will be a lot of do-or-die games in the Euro too. No teams will be eliminated before the third round of the group stage. It means all teams will have something to play for and 8 teams will fight hard to stay alive. Thirdly, style is a subjective issue. personally, I like the European style more than the Latin style that is slow and full of acting and time-wasting. Saying that, I am enjoying both tournaments so far.

  13. Albert Harris, June 16, 2016 at 8:54 a.m.

    Opinions differ...shocking...lol.

  14. Gus Keri, June 16, 2016 at 9:06 a.m.

    One more point. The disparity between the best teams and the worst teams in the Copa is huge, allowing for a blow-out results like 7-1 and 4-0. I don't think this disparity exists in the Euro.

  15. Al Gebra, June 16, 2016 at 3:02 p.m.

    To Ashpole:
    "Provincial" definition from Merriam Webster - "a person of local or restricted interests or outlook". That term was ubiquitous in the sixties and seventies. Do you want the def for "ubiquitous"?

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, June 16, 2016 at 8:47 p.m.

    I don't think anyone else would consider someone comparing soccer on three continents as having "local or restricted interests." Maybe you meant that he was prejudiced.

  17. Fire Paul Gardner Now, June 16, 2016 at 3:29 p.m.

    Too early to say really. I don't have a problem with 24 teams in the Euros but I wish there was a format that wouldn't have 16 going through. Makes the first-round far less interesting.

  18. R2 Dad, June 17, 2016 at 8:56 p.m.

    So far it's hard to say, but I appreciate the comparison and the chance to post about it. Here's an interesting thought--would it have been smart to send all the CONCACAF and COMNEBOL referees to the Euros and the Euro crews to the US this summer? BTW, this is actually better than a WC as far as high level matches on every day for 6 weeks, with MLS filling in the gaps.

  19. Ivan Ivanov, June 21, 2016 at 4:55 p.m.

    The fact that the USA is at semifinals speaks for the low level of C.A.

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