Predictions EuroCup 2016


With the start of UEFA Euro fast approaching on June 10, here’s what to expect in Europe’s biggest soccer competition. The 24 teams have been divided up into six groups, with the top two teams from each group advancing into the knockout stage, as well as the four best teams ranked third in their respective groups. The competition is held every four years, and this year’s is taking place in France.

Group A: This group is made up of teams from host-nation France, Romania, Albania and Switzerland. France is the only team with a chance to make a run out of this group, and it’s quite likely that, with players such as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, they’ll go on to win the entire competition.

Group B: England, Russia, Wales and Slovakia make up this next group, with the member nations of the United Kingdom being the two teams likely to advance.  This year’s team has the potential to be one of England’s strongest in recent years, led by young players such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy, as well as aging Manchester United star Wayne Rooney, who will most likely play in a deeper role. Wales will be led by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey.

Group C: The next group is made up of Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland. The defending World Cup champions of Germany are nearly certain to advance, and the Polish team – led by prolific Bayern Munich goal scorer Robert Lewandowski – are likely to advance as well.  Although they are a quality team, Poland is unlikely to make it into the later rounds due to a dearth of experienced international players.  It will be interesting to see how Germany fares in the knockout stages due to their difference in play style compared to the other nations, as Germany’s team is relatively slow and more team oriented than those of their competition, such as England who relies on an upbeat offensive tempo.  

Group D: The teams from Spain, Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic make up group D.

Spain, with its extremely strong midfield and defense, will almost certainly win the group, with Croatia moving on as well.  Spain’s strength in the back stems from Manchester United Goalkeeper David De Gea – arguably the world’s best goalie – and Barcelona players Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.  Croatia also features star players from both of the Spanish giants, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, with Luka Modric coming from los blancos and Ivan Rakitic coming from the Catalan powerhouse.

Group E: Belgium and Italy will be moving on from this group, with Ireland and Sweden going home. If anyone was asked about Belgium a few weeks ago, they would have certainly said that the team – with players such as Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany – would definitely be contending to win it.  Now, injuries to key players such as Kompany have dampened expectations for this team, but don’t count them out yet. At the end of the English Premier League season, Hazard found his form again, and the nation still has extremely talented players, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.  Italy will also be moving on due to their strong defense, composed of Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon and defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

Group F: The final group is composed of Portugal, Iceland, Hungary and Austria, with Portugal and Austria moving on.  That being said, neither of these two teams will have a shot at winning the competition as they lack the depth necessary to challenge a deep with strong players at every position, such as Germany.  Portugal is led by Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the two best players in the world, and his teammate Pepe, who shined at center back this season. Besides these two stars, however, the team is mediocre at best, and two players won’t be enough to overcome teams of 11 with talented players at every position.  Austria will be rallying around Bayern Munich star back David Alaba, although not much is to be expected out of this team.  

Once out of the group stage, the tournament becomes do or die for all of the teams.  After some easy competition in the knockout stages, I expect the semifinals to be made up of France, Germany, Spain and England.  Although Belgium has a very talented squad, their injuries will be too much to overcome for them to experience success late in the tournament.  

The finals are likely to be a matchup between France and Germany (assuming the two teams don’t meet in the knockout stage), with Germany emerging as the victors.  Germany has one of the strongest defenses in soccer with potentially the best goalie in Manuel Neuer, while the French team lacks a true offensive threat with Olivier Giroud at the top (rather than Karim Benzema).  When all is said and done, this tournament should turn out to be an exciting one full of upsets and heartbreak for devoted soccer fans all around the world.