Blog Written by Felipe Pachon (@Felipesoccerboi):
The Euro 2016 tournament begins today with France hosting the tournament for the first time since they won it in 1984. That being said, France is amongst the favorites to win it all, along with the likes of World Cup winners, Germany, the defending European champions, Spain, and the very popular England. With a 34.1% chance of winning it, France is the most favorable to win. Having star players such as Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet, Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Greizmann, it seems reasonable that they are favored, especially with having the advantage of playing at home.
France kicks off the tournament against Romania at the Stade de France, in Paris. On paper, this match looks like an easy win for the French side, but Romania will try to make it difficult for the hosts. Romania finished second in their qualifying group, behind Northern Ireland, with a 5-5-0 (W-D-L) record. Not only were they undefeated in the qualifying stage, they also only conceded two goals in 10 games! An impressive record at that, this match will not be a walk in the park for France and they will have to play at their best to ensure a victory.
The World Champions will also be looking to win the European tournament, hoping to go one step further than they did in Euro 2008 when they lost to Spain in the final. Germany’s debut in the tournament is on Sunday versus Ukraine in Group C, while the other group members are Poland and Northern Ireland. Big names on the roster include the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, and Toni Kroos. Although Germany’s recent record is not the best, having won two and lost two, they are still a force to reckon with.
Defending champions, Spain, look to better their performance on the international stage after a disappointing group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup. Vicente Del Bosque’s side is full of talent and experience. Not only that, they’re looking to win their third consecutive Euro tournament, an impressive feat that no country has ever accomplished. With both World Cup winners and youngsters hungry for success, this squad has the perfect mixture of players that know how to win, and players that will do anything to win.
England are likely the underdogs amongst the favorites to win it. In every major tournament England participates in, they present a very strong team to compete but usually fall short of expectations. Unfortunately, they just haven’t done enough to win a major tournament since their World Cup triumph in 1966. This year their squad includes players from major clubs such as Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United, City, Leicester, and Liverpool. England is on a three game winning streak, so they are coming into the tournament in good form. The Three Lions have a chance to redeem their past performances by taking advantage of the quality they have in their team and performing at their best.