Euro 2016 is set to start on June 10 with the host French facing Romania. Given how many of the world’s top soccer nations reside in Europe, emerging as the UEFA champ is arguably harder than winning the World Cup.
Recognizing how many legitimate contenders are sprinkled across the continent, UEFA expanded the field from 16 teams to 24 this year. Spain have won back to back tournaments (2008 and 2012), but the current World Cup champs from Germany are the favorites to hoist the trophy this year, followed by the home side.
Will Germany continue to dominate the international soccer landscape or will another country emerge from the talented fray? Below, I take a look at the odds to win the title and predict the group and tournament winner. No spoilers!
Odds to win Euro 2016
Euro 2016 Group Winner Odds
Group winner prediction: France
Playing at home, France should ease through Group A. They have a solid roster, similar to the one that reached the quarters at the 2014 World Cup before losing to eventual champions Germany. The last time France hosted an international tournament, ended up winning it all.
Group winner prediction: England
No team had a better run through the qualifiers than England. The Three Lions were perfect, winning all their games to get to this point. With a set of fresh faces leading the charge (Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, etc.), England should advance first in Group B. Whatever happens after that will depend on the mental strength of their youthful core.
Group winner prediction: Germany
The Germans are the favorites not only to win Group C, but to win the whole tournament. This team plays beautiful football and will be hard to stop in June. Led by a combination of reliable veterans and sprightly youngsters, betting Germany to win a middling Group C is the only sensible play.
Group winner prediction: Spain
Spain needs to step up and reassert their status as the world’s top team, relegating their disastrous 2014 to an anomalous footnote. The Spaniards dominated the last two Euros, but if they don’t regain that form, Croatia will give them a run for top spot in Group D. That said, they’re looking better of late and should still be your play.
Group winner prediction: Belgium
If you don’t pay close attention to international soccer, you’d probably expect traditional power Italy to top Group E, which doubles as this year’s “group of death.” But the Azzurri are going through a bit of a transition and their current roster doesn’t give me any confidence.
Belgium have been exceptional for three years now, though they haven’t showed it in a major tournament. And then there’s Sweden and Zlatan Ibrahimovic; “Ibra” is getting on in years, but never underestimate the dynamic goal scorer.
This is the most complex group to predict, and the outcome will be fascinating. Belgium, however, seems like the safe play; if the team avoids injuries, they’ll be the most talented team on the field in every match.
Group winner prediction: Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo has always played better for his club than his country, but it’s hard to see any other team winning Group F; they got a remarkably favorable draw, facing three inexperienced nations. Austria hasn’t been in a European competition since 2008, and this is only their second appearance. Hungary comes back to a major European tournament for the first time since 1972; and Iceland is a first timer. Portugal should advance unbeaten.
Tournament Winner Prediction:
In the past, teams like France and Spain have parlayed World Cup glory into a subsequent Euro title. I see the same happening with Germany. The team is loaded with talent at all positions are are ready to take Euro 2016 by storm.
Keep an eye on playmaker Marco Reus, who missed the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a last minute injury. Reus will lead perhaps the most talented roster in German history.
Picking anyone else at this point offers very little value. Take Germany to be crowned Euro champs for the first time since 1996.
(Photo Credit: UEFA Euro 2016 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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