By Ezenwa Obinna Stephen
CoNnect Media House
The 2016 UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2016 or Euro 2016 will be the 15th edition, the quadrennial championship will be held in france from 10th june to 10th july by 24 teams from Europe.
Having expanded to 24 teams in 1996, and under this new format, the finalists will compete in a group stage consisting of six groups of four teams, followed by the knockout stage including three rounds and the final 19 teams (top from each of the nine qualifying group and the best third place team) join France who qualified automatically as hosts, a series of two legged play off ties between the remaining third placed teams in November 2015 decided the last four spots at the final tournament.
We bring to you, the group by group analysis of the 24 team at the 2016 UEFA European Championship.
FRANCE: The hosts are strong favourites to win this years euros, one major set back for the French national team would be the banishment of Benzema for an undeterminable time. France would lose their attack firepower as Giroud isn’t as good as a striker and Martial is too young, the team would likely be relying on Paul Pogba.
The French are favourites to win the competition though a lot of questions have been asked concerning if their mental state would cause a problem on the pitch. France is arguably the most talented side in the competition.
ROMANIA: coming through with the best defensive record in the qualifiers, the Romanian defence line have definitely proven that they would be a force to reckon with, not so much could be said about their attack as the team endured a lot of goal less draws. Their present squad no where resembles the talented team of the 90’s, but they hope to prove bookmakers wrong at the euros.
The teams opening match is against host team France and they might fancy their chances if they are able to pick up atleast a draw against the talented French side.
ALBANIA: This Albanian team looks to be one of the worst if not the worst team in the competition, but a lot has been said about the young side who eliminated Denmark, beat Portugal and also defeated France. Their strength seem to be in their fancy defence and fast counter attacking style.
Their first match against Switzerland will probably make or mar the team.
SWITZERLAND: The swiss team is one of the favourites to qualify from Group A, they might try to upset the hosts and finish top of the group which will earn them a spot in the second round. We should cast our mind back to Brazil, where France trashed Switzerland 5-2, they might want to see the tape of the match and devise means on how to readily curb this speedy French team.
MY VERDICT: With an average world ranking of 22.75, this group is the second easiest group in the competition and I see FRANCE topping the group, closely followed by SWITZERLAND.
CoNnect Media House