Another major international tournament is upon us, with Euro 2016 kicking off next Friday for a month of delightful football to-be in France.
This year boasts the 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship, and no less than twenty-four nations will be on show, with six groups of four teams each initiating the event. Spain are on a roll, having won the last two iterations of the competition… But who will be crowned Champions come the 10th July 2016 at Saint-Denis?
Here are the Top 8 teams in Europe according to the Bartolo Bros:
Euro 2016: Sam’s Predictions
Euro 2016: Quarter-final Eliminations
Croatia finished second in their qualifying group, and face a tough start to Euro 2016 having been drawn in the same group as Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey. Despite this, I believe that they will make it out of their group in second place, and I also have them down to eliminate a really strong Belgium side on the 27th June 2016 in the Round of 16! Unfortunately, their wonderful midfield composed of Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mateo Kovačić, besides other stars, will not be enough to match Germany in the Quarters.
Poland will prove to be a tough nut to crack, with stars such as Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jakub Blaszczykowski and, of course, Robert Lewandowski to help them build on a fantastic qualifying campaign which saw them finish just one point behind Germany. Poland are up against Germany once again, alongside Ukraine and Northern Ireland, and I have them down to finish in second position in their group, also eliminating Romania at the following stage. Poland’s stay will come to an end in the Quarter-finals when they lose out to Spain on penalties.
Italy, the four-time World Champions, have one of the weakest sides I can remember heading into a major tournament. Even though they topped their qualifying group, they just don’t have the creativity within them to go all the way. Conte will do his best to motivate his players, who will undoubtedly not stop running for 90 minutes. An impeccable back-line alone will not win them the tournament, though – and I am expecting an elimination for the Italians in the Quarter-final stage on the 1st July 2016 against… England!
Portugal will provide the usual disappointments when looking at their team on paper. They will end their group on equal points with Iceland, but qualify in second place. I have a feeling they will also make it past Russia in the Round of 16, but their honeymoon will end when they take on host-nation France in the Quarters. Ronaldo will have to be at his brilliant best, so recent niggling injuries to both himself and Moutinho are not the best of situations to be in.
Euro 2016: The Top 4
England (4th) – The Three Lions enjoyed the only perfect campaign in the Euro 2016 qualifying stages, having won all ten of their matches in a rather easy group. This tournament, in my opinion, will be one of England’s most successful. Managed by the fantastic Hodgson, England seem to have found a great balance between young talent (mainly thanks to Tottenham Hotspur…) and experience in the likes of Rooney and Milner. England will top their group, eliminate Switzerland and eliminate Italy, until they meet their end in the Semi-finals as they will be unable to keep up with the Spanish style of football.
France (3rd) – Injuries and suspensions. What a pity. I’d have had France down to win on home soil hadn’t it been for star defenders Raphaél Varane and Jérémy Mathieu being ruled out with injury. To make matters worse, possible replacement Mamadou Sakho is also suspended due to failing a drugs test, while we all know that Benzema has also been left out by Didier Deschamps. Nonetheless, France boast the best midfielder in the tournament, a certain Paul Pogba; while the energy and pace of Martial and Payet, together with the classy Griezmann, will have France finish in third place following an elimination by Germany in the Semi-final stage on the 7th July 2016.
Spain (2nd) – Spain don’t score many goals – though this rarely seems to matter. Despite a downturn in form in the 2014 World Cup, Spain’s unique tiki-taka-esque style makes Vicente del Bosque’s side difficult to play against. With a strong defence, good midfield and doubtful attack, Spain will dominate possession and will go far in the tournament. They have a tough group, but I believe they’ll dominate that. Eventually, I believe that Germany will be too strong for The Red Fury in the Euro 2016 Final on the 10th July 2016, and will lose that match 2-0.
Euro 2016: The Champions
Germany are my favourites to win Euro 2016! *Champagne Celebrations* On the back of a sensational World Cup performance, Joachim Löw should make it two out of two with a Final victory over Spain come the 10th of July. Germany’s spine is incredibly strong, with Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller – although I’m not so sure of Reus’s dropping from the squad (apparently he wasn’t fit enough…). Injuries to Ilkay Gündogan and Bastian Schweinsteiger do not affect a midfield as strong as Germany’s. This is, in my eyes, the strongest team in the competition, and with a rather straightforward group to get them warmed up, Die Mannschaft will go all the way!
Dark Horse: Austria (very strong in qualifications and can go far!)
Underachiever: Italy (they will work very hard, but are nowhere close to as good as they are used to being!)
Best Player: Paul Pogba (what a player… he should impress in front of the home crowd!)
Euro 2016: Max’s Predictions
Euro 2016: Quarter-final Eliminations
Poland‘s fate will be decided by whether or not Grzegorz Krychowiak manages to recover in time for the start of the tournament. They’ll finish a close 2nd to Germany in their group, see off Switzerland in the Round of 16, helped of course by their goal-machine and top scorer of the Euro 2016 Qualifying Rounds, Robert Lewandowski. Their style of play and manager Nawalka’s decision to play with a less traditional striking pair will see them get this far as opponents will have difficulty adapting to their style of play. In the Quarter-finals, they’ll face the masters of tactical football, Spain. Poland will find themselves outplayed and outnumbered in defence and a consolation goal by Lewandowski as the Spanish tire is all they’ll get out of this game.
Russia‘s solid defensive line, with the fantastic Akinfeev in goal will see them through to the Quarters with just 1 goal conceded along the way. They’ll face Portugal in the Quarters were the in-form Cristiano will send them crashing right out of the tournament.
Italy will surprisingly top their qualifying group composed of strong, but rather inexperienced sides. They’ll glide into the Quarter-finals off the back of the Czech’s were they’ll face Germany. The German’s will be looking to make up for their defeat to Italy in the Euro 2012 semis. The Italians won’t stand a chance.
Austria will continue their recent run of fantastic form to get to the Quarter-finals where they’ll face a weakened French team. Austria’s solid defence will make it difficult for the French but with stars such as Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial in their squad, they’ll finally break through Austria’s ranks to see them through to the Semi-finals on home soil.
Euro 2016: The Top 4
France (4th) – After seeing off Austria, France will face the ever-consistent Germany. In what will be another Evra vs Muller stand-off, reminiscent of the exhilarating Champion’s League encounter between Juventus and Bayern Munich, Patrice won’t have the defensive stability of Giorgio Chiellini or Leonardo Bonucci to back him up with Varane out of the picture due to injury. Germany will have a field day and will run riot over a weak French back-line.
Spain (3rd) – Spain will face Portugal in the Semi-final and while the in-form Alvaro Morata will grab an early goal for the Spanish, the scintillating Cristiano Ronaldo will quickly ensure that the Portugal go through to the final at the expense of their neighbours. Morata will be on the scoresheet again as the Spanish take 3rd place from France.
Portugal (2nd) – This is probably Cristiano’s last real chance to win anything on an international level, and unlike previously, he has a better than average team to help him get there. Fantastic performances by arguably the World’s best will get his team to the final where they’ll face a strong and organised German side. The Germans will double-mark Cristiano making it incredibly difficult for him to get on the ball. He’ll have to overcome exasperation and niggling injuries to make any impact on the game and attain true legendary status, and honestly, I don’t think he’s good enough to make it.
Euro 2016: The Champions
Germany have an unparalleled combination of quality, depth and experience. The 3 factors required to win a major tournament, and the Germans have it all. While they will probably have one of the toughest challenges, facing England in the Round of 16, Italy in the Quarter-finals, France in the Semi-finals and Portugal in the Final, the Germans will push through to the very end to end up Champions of Euro 2016!
Dark Horse: Portugal
Underachiever: England (as always – but if you compare them to their FIFA rankings…)
Best Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
What do YOU think? Leave your vote and comment below! 🙂