It’s finally here! Euro 2016 begins later tonight, with the hosts France kicking things off against Romania. Just like many people, you’d have to bring up a pretty good argument to convince me that France won’t win this come July 10th. Their squad depth is impressive and they’ve got a couple of very good players in Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet, just to name a few. Having been drawn with Romania, Albania and Switzerland, it’s hard seeing any upset as far as Didier Deschamp’s men are concerned.
The other giants in this tournament are Belgium, Germany and Spain (don’t ask me why England isn’t included. You already know). Even though my money is on the hosts, I wouldn’t be too surprised if any one of these sides came through and caused an upset. I’m a little bit concerned about Germany’s situation as yet another defender dropped out due to injury and that could be the cause of their undoing. They are looking a little bit light at the back. However, with Ukraine, Poland and Northern Ireland in their group, you’d expect them to ease past the group stages with little difficulty.
Despite also boasting of highly-rated players, I’m not too convinced about Belgium winning it either. Their squad looks okay but they don’t look like they’ve gelled as a unit. This was well evidenced in their friendlies. Some moments of individual moments could be the decisive key for them rather than intricate teamwork but at the end of the day if they do manage to win, nobody will care how they did it.
Spain, on the other hand, seem to be suffering from a general lack of pressure. Don’t get me wrong. Spain have got the personnel to get the job done but the display they put up against Georgia makes me question their will to pick up a third consecutive European Championship crown. Yes, the match was incredibly one sided and Georgia sat deep, but that’s what a majority of teams at the tournament will do and Spain have to adapt and find ways to break them down otherwise it could be a quick goodbye at the Quarter-Final stage.
Finally, as you all know, every competition has a dark horse. For me, Croatia look the most likely to cause a major upset. They’ve got a lot of quality in that midfield with Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric all set and ready to go. They all play for ‘monster clubs’ in Spain and have got European pedigree and so it will be a matter of getting the balance right for the manager. Up front, they’ve got Mario Mandzukic who’s had a great campaign at Juventus and if he gets the supply he needs then there’s no reason for them not to go far in this tournament. Spain are the only opponents you’d really expect to give them a good fight in their group.
Note: I will not be covering the Euros as I’ll be incredibly caught up this summer. Work, school and travel schedules will make it impossible to keep track with everything that will be going on in France. However, Euro Blog and Real Football Man, two sites that I highly recommend for the quality and consistency of their material as well as their real-time updates will be there to take you through it all. They are fantastic blogs in my opinion so you can head over to their pages for everything Euro and football in general. Don’t forget to follow/subscribe/share them if you enjoy.
Also, there will be major changes to this blog as I’ll be looking to improve it before the new season begins in August. I will keep you all posted. Cheers!