All valid cases, and all worthy of consideration. I would, though, suggest that the suggestions from 1954 and 1970 fall short for one reason alone: All of those games were played simultaneously. It would not have been possible to watch, and to savor, them both (even, in the case of 1954, on the radio). They may well have been the greatest afternoons in tournament history, but they did not stretch out to occupy most of the day.
Which leaves 1994, and those sweltering, exciting days in Dallas and Foxborough, Mass., and East Rutherford, N.J., and Stanford, Calif. Whether one of those edges it for you over what happened on Monday may well be less to do with the quality of the drama on offer and more to do with how your mind works, whether the freshness of the recent outweighs the power of nostalgia. And that is entirely your call.
Plenty of thoughts on last week’s idea that it may be time for the European Championship to expand. It is fair to say, I think, that it split opinion (both in my inbox and on Twitter), with the balance edging toward a polite but firm no.
Dunstan Kesseler finds it hard to “get behind a tournament in which half of the teams in UEFA would qualify.” Mark Brophy pointed out, quite rightly, that awarding slots to Russia and the Czech Republic based on victories for the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia is problematic. Fayzan Bakhtiar believes that expanding the tournament would only “compound” the issue of players’ daunting workload.
There were plenty, too, who offered alternative ideas. Harry Richards wants to see the abolition of the round-robin format in the groups, instituting instead a hybrid group/knockout system. Stephen Gessner would cut the number of teams that progress from the groups, but then make them play a two-of-three series for qualification. Most convincingly, Tony Culotta thinks things might be improved by a 28-team tournament in which only two of the teams finishing third in their group reach the knockouts.