The Summer of 2016 is going to be a good one. Why? Because soccer, that’s why. The European championship, Copa Centenario America, and Olympic games all take place over the next couple months. Thank goodness, because we need some soccer in our lives until club competition resumes in August.
Contrary to what Jurgen Klinsmann has to say, the most enticing of these international tournaments is Euro 2016. Sure, Messi, Suarez, and Neymar will all be playing in the Americas. While that trio of talent will surely be missed in France, most other modern icons will be starring at the Euros.
Ronaldo, Pogba, Griezmann, Bale, Iniesta. Not enough for you? Throw in De Bruyne, Kane, Hazard, Özil and Kroos. The list could go on and on.
Some say that the Euro 2016 expansion to twenty-four teams is a bit excessive. Sure, there are a handful of teams that no one is excited to see play. Sorry, Albania and Northern Ireland.
But almost every country represented at the tournament has some serious talent to display. Even minnows Iceland boast one of the Premier League’s best playmakers in Gylfi Sigurdsson. And who wouldn’t like to see Eidur Gudjohnsen (yes, he’s still at it at age 37) play on the brightest stage one last time?
Even when an opponent is overmatched, star power will help keep matches interesting.
Six groups of four will make up the first stage of the final. Progression is earned by the top two teams in each group, along with the four best third-placed teams. This sets up a knockout tournament of 16 teams. If that doesn’t make your mouth water then I don’t know what will.
However, five teams are the dominant favorites to lift the Henry Delaunay Trophy and be crowned champions of Euro 2016. France, Germany, Spain, England and Belgium have the highest betting odds to win the competition. Given their abundant talent and depth, this makes a great deal of sense.
Yet, there have been nine different winners of the Euro in the past. That’s more countries than have won the World Cup. This means that the Euro is a far less predictable tournament than the World Cup. Greece (yes, Greece) won the tournament as recently as 2004.
If that can happen, then dark horses can run wild and shock the world in 2016. Sides like Austria, Croatia, Portugal, and Switzerland all have more than enough ability to come out on top.
We at The First Eleven simply can’t wait for the tournament to start. We might not have Team USA to root for, but there will be soccer galore to enjoy!
Keep an eye out for our preview of some of the tournament favorites. More soccer is coming your way.