Competition of Euro 2016 Football – One of the most glorified sports tournaments in the world, this year’s edition promised more action along with diverse representation, with this being the first time ever that 24 teams are competing for the Euro trophy, a step up from the 16 slots that were the norm until the last year.
There would be a total of 6 groups this year, all in order to accommodate the 8 new teams. The first and second ranked sides from each group would then advance to the knockout round, in addition to four of the best performing third ranked teams. There are a few disadvantages to this, as pointed out by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantine due to the need for accepting the third placed teams, as it might result in the prior knowledge of qualification results, potentially eliminating any possible suspense for the fans.
Even more undesirable would be collaboration between teams to influence outcomes. The uncertainty of the format has also caused some concerns. Even the decision of the final games having to be played simultaneously since this did not include all the groups at the similar time. As a result of this teams like Northern Ireland as well as Portugal were able to use this to their advantage, lessening pressure on them.
Featuring for the first time, Albania, regular drama queen France (and this year’s host), a very structured as well as disciplined Switzerland and dark horse Romania this group promises a lot of action both on and off the field. Current standings hold France along with Switzerland at 1 win each, inspite of a shaky performance from the hosts.
Consists of a very unthreatening Russian side devoid of its key attackers, a hopeful English team, who for once have a better chance of making this opportunity count, potential underdogs Slovakia on the back of a surprise 2-1 win over Spain in their qualifiers as well as another first time in any major football tournament, the Wales.
Tournament favorites and current World Champions Die Mannschaft (Germany) with three other minnows in Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland. Enough said.
Two time defending champions Spain will seek to reclaim their lost pride after their poor showing at Brazil. But it has to contend with a slew of potent threats from the slippery Croatian Midfield, the gifted dribblers of The Czech Republic and Turkey, who holds an impressive record of just one loss since November.
The much feared Group of death. Facing off against each other will be your veteran superpower Italy, versus star studded Belgium, Sweden and Ireland.
Austria has been impressive in its qualifying stages but their performance on the big stage is still untested. Hungary has been unimpressive to say the least. And then there are record breakers Iceland, who became the smallest country to qualify for the Euro this year.
While the quality of football is yet to match the standards with previous editions, the extreme levels of controversy surrounding it have certainly taken the cake. Starting off with the federation’s decision to disallow Karim Benzema from participating over his alleged involvement in a blackmail scandal, it has progressed to outright hooliganism between locals and English and Russian fans in Marseilles. Many are being currently deported while Russia has already been handed a suspended disqualification sentence by UEFA.
This is not the kind of outcome any football fan would hope for, but tough decisions have to be taken so that we can enjoy quality football the next few weeks.