Outside of the FIFA World Cup, there is no other football championship that can produce as much excitement as the UEFA European Championship. Yes, not even the Olympics brings as much excitement and media attention to the sport as the Euro does. And we will see this direct comparison in a span of months with #Euro2016 underway now and #Rio2016 beginning in August.
The #Euro2016 field is one of a kind...namely the first time 24 teams have qualified for the event. UEFA is taking a page out of the FIFA event handbook in increasing the number of nations competing in this continental championship. Can you believe that as recent as 1992 this event only invited 8 teams to compete? Luckily 1996 saw the expansion to 16 teams and, twenty years later, we see another expansion upping the field to the current 24 team format.
Before we dive into the preview and predictions for Euro 2016, here a few quick facts about the championships:
- 53 nations entered Euro 2016 qualification, with Gibraltar competing for the first time.
- The expanded field for 2016 will welcome the debut of 5 nations: Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Wales.
- Spain enter the event as the first-ever back-to-back champions, claiming the title in 2008 and 2012.
- Spain and Germany lead the way with championship performances, each hoisting the trophy 3 times.
- 2016 will mark the 3rd time France has hosted the European Championship. They hosted the first ever event in 1960 and again in 1984.
- Only 3 nations have hosted the tournament and gone on to win: Spain (1964), Italy (1968), France (1984).
- The 2020 Euro Championship will not have a host nation, nor automatic host qualifier. Instead the event will be hosted by 13 cities throughout the continent. Major European cities like London, Munich, Rome, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg have won hosting rights. Non-traditional host cities will include Baku, Brussels, Copenhagen, Budapest, Dublin, Bucharest, Glasgow and Bilbao.
Let's head to the pitch for a full group by group preview and playoff predictions:
Projected Standings: 1. France 2. Switzerland 3. Romania 4. Albania
Projected Standings: 1. England 2. Russia 3. Wales 4. Slovakia
Projected Standings: 1. Germany 2. Poland 3. Ukraine 4. Northern Ireland
Projected Standings: 1. Spain 2. Turkey 3. Croatia 4. Czech Republic
Projected Standings: 1. Belgium 2. Sweden 3. Italy 4. Ireland
Projected Standings: 1. Portugal 2. Austria 3. Iceland 4. Hungary
Round of 16
Poland def. Switzerland
Iceland def. Spain
England def. Croatia
Portugal def. Sweden
Germany def. Wales
Belgium def. Turkey
France def. Italy
Austria def. Russia
Poland def. Iceland
England def. Portugal
Germany def. Belgium
Austria def. France
England def. Poland
Germany def. Austria
EURO 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP: Germany def. England - The World Cup champions continue their run of football supremacy and claim another title. This team is just too strong and too good not to win this title. I feel for England though who will finally reach a Euro final only to be denied the championship.
What do you think? Agree with the #TwineTime predictions? Disagree? Who do you have winning #Euro2016? Who are your upset or dark horse teams competing? As you can see above, I think our Group F nations of Portugal, Austria and Iceland will all go far...with Iceland coming through with the biggest Round of 16 upset only to see Austria boast the biggest upset of the tournament in eliminating home nation France in the Quarterfinals. Maybe I am crazy? Maybe not? Let's see how it plays out on the pitch.
Enjoy the action everyone....