Friday, June 10, 2016

UEFA Euro 2016 - Some Bold Predictions!

The Euro 2016, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organized by UEFA, is here and it time to make some bold predictions again.

Team to go all the way: England

It has long been storied how England are the consistent under performers for a long time now.
This means, even though people agree they have a strong team this time, no one is explicitly willing to bet on them!

But it's time to go bold!

A crisp analysis of what makes them stand out this time round:

   A line up that matches something Germany were able to put up in 2014 for the Brazil World Cup: A bench as strong as the first team!
England may have had star players every time they marched into a championship, but hardly have they ever managed to build a team that has a world class substitute for each and every position, literally!

   Take a look at this post -Englands Best Starting XI- to know how strong is their bench in comparison to their starting 11!
   So strong it would put the starting 11 of some top teams to shame!

   This factor in itself can be the single biggest factor to get them what they've been waiting for the last 50 years - a major international trophy!
The collective strength of a teams always stands out, be it in sports or businesses!

    But that by no means is to belittle any individual in the Star studded English team going into the Euros this year.

   Lets take a look at the strong individuals in each position:

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart - The now long standing English keeper is Man City's no.1 and ranks amongst the top keepers in the world

Full backs: In Walker and Clyne, the English team have players who can not only cut out star wingers of the opposition team, they can also create havoc with their range of crossing!

Central defense: John Stones is currently one of the most sought after defenders by the topmost clubs in the world, and Smalling has been the bed rock of a rather shaky Manchester United team in the recent seasons.

Defensive midfield: Eric Dier has shown he can not only win games by cutting out threats but also scoring an occasional important match winner - definitely an important cog in the wheel of the trophy challenging Spurs team. If he & the likes of Wilshere, Henderson and Drinkwater can maintain their top form, the likes of Spain and Germany, known for their creative midfielders, may have a difficult time playing their strengths!

Attacking midfield: Dele Alli has single handedly changed games for Spurs and the suprises that he can spring up with can leave even the hardest of defences dumbstruck in awe! (You may want to google his wonder goal in 2015-16 to know what I mean!
And now with Rooney adopting superbly into an attacking midfield role the partnership between Sterling, Wazza and Alli is definitely one of the most fearsome ccurrently in th world.

Strike Force: Kane and Vardy, enough said!

But did I not mention they have a strong bench too?
To measure it up in short - try to make two teams out of the final 23 squad and you can easily make two strong teams!

Also, it is noteworthy that England bring the youngest squad to the Euro 2016!
The blend of youth in Kane, Rashford, Alli, Rose, etc. and the blend of experience in Rooney, Milner, Hart and Cahill makes this team sharp, unpredictable and at the same time strong!

The strengths of each individual and an even stronger team make the perfect recipe, but aren't there enough challengers?

Yes, there are. Germany, France, Belgium and Spain have envious teams too.

So then why England over them?

The answer varies from team to team.
Lets take a look:

A great team, but with the mix of ageing stars like Lahm, Shweinsteiger & Gomez and the relatively unproven crop of youngsters like Can, Weigl, Kimmich and Sane, the team has lesser balance than they did in 2014!

With the advantage of being the host nation, France have a real chance. But some positions, like the defense and wings, are not covered as well as other top teams, and this could show up as they progress in the competition!

Belgium have enough star power in most positions, which makes them serious contenders. The likes Curtoiss, Vertonghen, Witsel, Hazard, De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are currently the one of best in their class. But it seems the relative lack of seasoned players may prove the difference in big games for the relatively effervescent youth!

With proven winners like Iniesta, Fabregas, Ramos, Pique and De Gea to name a few, they have a strong line up too. But finding the right mix, especially for some positions like the striker and wingers has proven difficult for Del Bosque in the run up to Euros. So if they cannot find it now, they risk even progressing too well!

Amidst all the talk of the teams and star players, what about the coaches?
All the above top teams and some others too have brilliant coachs - Joachim Low, Vincent Del Bosque and Antonio Conte have proven that they can cook up a special recipe at the big stage. Roy Hodgson of England does not seem to fit into that club and poses the most significant risk to England.

But then the smart money still remains on England!

So, do not be surprised to read on July 11th if the news papers are emblazoned with headings like - England lift the trophy, Or, England are Champions of Europe!

If not Euro 2016, World Cup 2018 can surely come to England! They need to keep up the tempo.
Relive World Cup 1966!