With Euro 2016 starting on June 10, the extended football season this year promises a lot of action
It seems shunning the tradition is the flavour of this quarter. Right from Leicester City rewriting the power rules in English game to the upcoming European Championship expanding its hallowed field from 16 to 24 teams, the game is just getting better and bigger. And, come June 10 the biggest showdown in football after the World Cup would be adding the much-loved sleepless nights to every fan’s life.
France would be looking to make the most of their revered position as hosts. With the final scheduled to be held at Stade de France, where Les Bleus beat Brazil 3-0 to lift the World Cup in 1998, even a team that looks a mere shadow of its glorious past would get the required kick. To stand true to the tag of one of the favourites by the virtue of being hosts, France, however, would need to up their game and grit by notches to beat the other favourites — two-time defending champions Spain and reigning World Cup champions Germany.
Despite falling hard at the 2014 World Cup, Spanish clubs’ domination at the club level doesn’t let anyone write them off. Even without a midfield maestro in Xavi they have enough able legs to take control of the all-important midfield. Add to that the recent Champions League trophy finding its way to Spain with Real Madrid, La Roja would set themselves on an easy course to the final if they top their group. The only problem seems to be the goal. While David De Gea, who wears the of Manchester United shirt when not donning the country’s red, seems to be the top choice, but Iker Casillas international record has made Vicente del Bosque keep him too.
Germany, meanwhile, boast of the most balanced and in-form squad. Always meticulous and almost error-proof at such stages, the team looks lethal in every department. Though their world cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has hanged his boots, leadership change has never bothered the Germans much. With Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and glovesman Manuel Neuer coming fresh off a fantastic season like many of their teammates, Germany look best-equipped to win their fourth Euro title, just like Spain.
The likes of England, Italy and Portugal look like the ones with outside chances. While you can be assured of England loosing their footing, like always, on big occasions, Italy would be depending on their famed defence as they don’t have a single player in the mix under 29 with 25 caps. Still, Azzurri have a knack for catching their opponents off-guard. Meanwhile, it doesn’t look like Portugal would be scripting an outstanding story with their usual over-dependency on Cristiano Ronaldo. Russia, who cut short the dream run of the Dutch in 2008 semis, the latter failing to qualify this time, lead the bunch of longshots who could ruin the run of some big forces. And, who would not like that? After all is it not the underdogs who make the battles interesting?
Words :- Garima Verma