Euro Cup 2016Tristan Kuehn - 3A Systems Design
Posted on: June 18, 2016
It’s June, and the Euro Cup is finally back and in full swing. This tournament, the opportunity for European soccer players to compete for the continent’s most prestigious trophy, is held every four years, two years after the world cup. This year, for the first time, 24 national teams are competing in the tournament. The teams have been divided into six groups of four teams for the first phase of the tournament, the group stage. Each team will play every other team in its group, and the winners and runners up of each group will move on to the knockout rounds, as well as the four third-place teams with the best record.
Group A contains host country France, Switzerland, Romania, and Albania. France, the only perennial contender of the bunch, has to be the favourite to win this group. Switzerland and Romania have both seen modest success in recent Euro Cups and the qualifiers for this current one, but I have to give the edge to Switzerland. Albania has never been to a major tournament before, and will face an uphill battle in France.
Group B contains England, Wales, Slovakia, and Russia. England, despite their recent frustrating exits from international tournaments, can be expected to win this group handily. Wales is competing in their first international tournament in decades and could be dangerous enough to take second place. Slovakia, in their first Euro Cup as an independent state, have a lot to prove. Russia has struggled in the opening week, and will fight hard for even a third place spot.
Group C contains world champs Germany, Poland, Northern Ireland, and Ukraine. Germany will win this group handily and be looking deep into the playoffs. Poland has a dangerous team including star striker Robert Lewandowski, so second place will be theirs to close. Northern Ireland, a first timer at the tournament, took their qualifying group by storm and could be a real contender to make it to the knockout rounds as a third-place group finisher. Ukraine’s team has a shot, but will struggle against the heavy hitters in this group.
Group D contains current European champs Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Turkey. Spain disappointed in the World Cup two years ago but remain a soccer power who will be expected to win this group. Croatia has played very well since they began competing independently, and will give Spain a run for their money. However, the Czech Republic should be expected to hang right there with them and could take the second spot. Turkey has been good in the past, but they are not expected to emerge from this hotly contested group.
Group E contains Italy, Ireland, Sweden, and Belgium. Italy is a great team that will very likely win this group, after going undefeated in the qualifiers. Also undefeated, however, is Belgium, who did a lot of damage in the last World Cup and should be expected to emerge from this group. Sweden’s star Zlatan Ibrahimović is a legitimate difference maker, but he might not be enough for them to do better than third place in the group. Ireland has never made it past the group stage in the Euro Cup, so it is doubtful that this will be their year.
Group F contains Portugal, Hungary, Iceland, and Austria. Cristiano Ronaldo, among the best in the world, should lead Portugal to the top of this group without much trouble. Austria performed very well in qualifiers and could very well continue that success through the group stage. Iceland has a young squad with a lot of momentum that could carry them through to the playoffs. This is the first time Hungary has qualified for the Euro Cup in decades, and will have to show that they can hang with the leaders of today.
Beyond the ultimate results of the tournament, another sought-after prize is the Golden Boot, given to the player with the most goals over the tournament. Portugal’s Ronaldo, Poland’s Lewandowski, and Sweden’s Ibrahimović are among the big names being talked about as the tournament begins. My money’s on Lewandowski. He tore up the German domestic league last season, led scoring in qualifiers for this Euro Cup, and Poland has the potential to go deep into the tournament.
No matter what happens, there is sure to be a lot of great action and drama to fill your off-time this spring term!