With the summer to be dominated by Euro 2016, the question everyone is asking is, will this year’s competition follow the most exciting Premiership season for years by being just as unpredictable? If this were to happen, who are the nations that could upset the normal order of things and bring a completely new dimension to one of the most exciting football tournaments in the world?
When the Euros come around every four years it seems like the last few places are taken up by the usual suspects. With current holders Spain having won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2012, you might expect them to be a good bet for a historic third title in a row. The state of mind and fitness of Diego Costa as seen in his Chelsea colours every week might make anyone think twice, but even if it isn’t at the heights it was only a few short years ago the Spain side is still far from a one-man team.
The most recently defeated finalists, Germany and Italy, are sure to be in there for the long haul, although Italy might possibly be suffering from a lack of attacking options this time round. That isn’t the case for current world champions Germany who topped their group to qualify. Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller are just three of the dangers their side will offer further up the pitch.
Come on England!
Of course, perennial quarter finalists England finally really do have a ‘new generation’ of players, even if some of them are actually relatively long in the tooth. Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane could be the names to stake their claim on an international stage this time round, but the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott will also be looking to make career-defining appearances should the opportunity arise.
Jamie Vardy is possibly the most interesting name to be talking about, with many wondering if his “Roy Of The Rovers” style season can continue right through to national level in a major international competition. Whatever your thoughts, having a wager via one of the many reliable online operators adds an extra level of excitement to each match and the competition as a whole.
Of course, every tournament throws up some unexpected results and teams that perform far beyond expectations. This year most of the UK will have their own team to be cheering on and many England fans will be eyeing up Wales because they feature in the same group. With players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey certain to feature this is a very different Welsh side from previous years. It’s also the team’s first visit to a major tournament since 1958, so who knows what could happen?
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are certainly not going just to make up the numbers either, although the former’s lack of high profile players and the latter’s possible reliance on older experience may hinder them both. With the Czech Republic, Croatia and Ukraine as definite ‘ones to watch’, this summer looks set to have its fair share of thrills, spills and surprises as the eyes of football fans the world over fall on France.