Preview: The best four of Euro 2016


There has always been a fuss among football fans when the club season is over. They don’t get to enjoy the same delight for a month or two but this year has been a treat for the fans.

Both Copa America and Euros began in the same month. While Copa America saw the repeat of last year’s final as the La Roja beat Argentina on penalties, the Euro on the other hand is down to it’s last four and it gets tougher as the four teams battle it out for a place in the finals. It has been an interesting journey and this is how the four teams have fared after the five matches played so far.

Team Portugal

The Selecao Das Quinas have always been impressive in the international stage but haven’t won a major trophy yet. A nation that has produced great players over the years came closest when the underdogs Greece beat them in the final of 2004.This year, viewers from all over the world, have their eyes on Portugal – led by the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo, along with the likes of Nani,Pepe and youngster Renato Sanches.

While Ronaldo scored a brace against Hungary and assisted twice in the tournament, he hasn’t found his mark in both the round of sixteen and the quarter finals. One positive factor for Portugal has been the impressive display of budding sensation Renato Sanches who scored against Poland to bring Portugal back on level terms. Nani has been impressive as well by assisting once and finding the back of the net twice in the group stage.

But what worries Ronaldo and co. is the absence of organisation at the back. While William Carvalho will be missing the semi final against Wales, Pepe has also suffered a thigh injury and could miss out as well. With two key players missing, the Selecao Das Quinas may have have some trouble against Wales.

Team Wales

Wales have been the hot topic among football fanatics when they stormed past a formidable Slovakia side registering their first points in the Euros. Led by the mercurial Gareth Bale, Wales won hearts when they beat the “golden generation” of Belgium three goals to one. Goals from skipper Ashley Williams,Hal Robson Kanu and Sam Vokes ensured that Wales cruised past Belgium.

Wales have a big problem in their midfield as Aaron Ramsey will miss out due to suspension.The suspension could affect the Welsh midfield heavily as Ramsey formed a formidable partnership with Joe Allen of Liverpool. A possible replacement for Ramsey could be Andy King who just won the Premier League title with the Foxes. Another problem with Chris Coleman’s side has been the absence of defender Ben Davies due to suspension. Davies could be replaced by veteran defender James Collins, who plays his club football with West Ham United.

Team France

The second semifinal is a delight for the viewers as hosts France take on world champions Germany. While France have a powerful strike force with the likes of Antoine Griezmann,Dimitri Payet and Olivier Giroud, however,the main problem for France has been at the back as they have kept only two clean sheets so far.

France welcome two of their players back from suspension. Both Adil Rami and N’golo Kante are back from suspension.France’s main strength has been ace forward Antoine Griezmann who is the top-scorer of Euro 2016.The Atletico Madrid forward burst into the limelight when he came on as a late substitute against Albania to head home the opener for France.Since then Griezmann has found the back of the net four times.

France also has a formidable midfield led by the young Paul Pogba.Pogba has been linked with several big clubs for a possible move next season.The French midfielder who didn’t have a good start in the Euro answered his critics with a goal against Iceland. Alongside Pogba is Leicester City’s N’golo Kante and PSG’s Blaise Matuidi who have also been linked with possible move.

Team Germany

The world champions Germany come into this tournament with high expectations after a triumphant display in the world cup.However, they haven’t been impressive so far in the Euros.The crisis has mainly been upfront with lack of goals.Forward Mario Gomez who often came to the rescue of Die Mannschaft has suffered a hamstring injury. Midfielder Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger have also suffered injury.

Mats Hummels is suspended from the semi finals.While Hummels could be replaced by Shkodran Mustafi,Benedikt Höwedes is also in contention to replace Hummels. But the main problem for German gaffer Joachim Löw has been replacing Mario Gomez. Löw might replace Gomez with Mario Götze or he could play a gamble by bringing in Leroy Sané.

Two players who could replace Khedira are Emre Can and Julian Weigl but the main problem is their lack of experience.But to counter France, Löw would need his main marksman Thomas Müller to fire. Müller,who has had a pretty ordinary tournament by his standards, has to step up to answer his critics.

In a space of two days the best two of Europe will be decided. A month of hardwork comes down to just one match. Will it be a second bite of the cherry for Ronaldo and co or will Wales be able to cause a major upset? Will France be able to mainrain their unbeaten run in home soil or will Jogi Löw’s tactics outwit France? Two places in the finals. One trophy. All to play for.

Photo by L’oeil et l’index