Belgium Euro Rank Winner #2
One of the best teams in this year’s Tournament is Belgium after making it to the last 8 in Brazil in 2014 they have only have gotten better this season. Finished at top of their qualification group went unbeaten in all games expect one loss to Wales. I have often referred to them as the younger version of Germany. What I mean by that is this Germany is super stack at every position so is Belgium the difference is Belgium is a very young team that will only get better as time goes on. The talent of this team is breathtaking this team possibly has the deepest midfield in all of Europe this team features Eden Hazard (Chelsea) who won player of the season for the Premier League a season ago and despite struggling this season finished the season strong including scoring a goal that completed Leicester’s Cinderella title winning captain. Than you have Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) who since arriving in the England his was one of the Premier leagues very best since coming from Germany he was greatly impactful scoring and assisting. His goal against PSG sent Man City to their 1st champions league semifinal in club history he was a great investment for City before arriving to City he was Europe’s top passer and was the German player of the season playing for Wolfsburg before making the move to England. Than you have one of the most underrated players on the squad Raja Naingglan (Roma) who was one of Serie A’s best players this season was one of Roma’s most impactful players helping the Romans get a 3rd place finish his best moment of the season was scoring a very late goal against Rivals Napoli was great for roma and is poised for a big tournament. The team also has Axel Witsel (Zenit), Kevin Mirallas (Everton) & Dembele (Spurs) as well as many more this team’s midfield is knees deep in talent there’s a reason they are the #2 team in the world. They can beat you in so many ways Hazard and De Bruyne being the catalyst of the offence they have the ability to feed their strikers good balls putting them in the great positions to score. The Belgium’s have several proven goal scoring strikers such as Romelu Lukaku and the Liverpool duo of Christian Benteke and Divori Orgi this team going into the summer must be the favorites to lift the cup along with their deep Midfield and proven strikers but they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world the Belgium Giant Thibaut Courtois who standing at 6’6 makes it incredibly difficult to score on him his size makes him close to unbeatable. I’ve talked about the mids and the strikers and the keeper but a vastly underrated part of their game is there stone wall defense Lead by Manchester City’s captain Vincent Kompany who’s leadership will lead the Belgium defense to battle alongside him are Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen and Spur’s Toby Alderwiereld they are a very formidable bunch. From top to bottom this is the best team in Europe they have a great chance to win it all They should fly though the group winning ever game. They won’t be threatened by any team in this group they look poised for a deep run.
Italy Euro Rank Runner Up #9
The Italians come into this tournament looking to improve on their major disappointments having shown poor performances in 2010 World Cup and the 2014 World Cup where they failed to make it beyond the group stage as well as the major embarrassment of losing in the 2012 Euro’s getting ripped apart by Spain 4-0. This in Antione Conte’s last chance to prove something and put in an inspiring performance for Italy as he leaves beyond the Euro’s to become Chelsea’s new manager. This isn’t one of the legendary Italian teams of the past but it has some quality to possibly make a run I don’t really believe that they will be this teams to make the deep run but they have a chance to if they perform well and if they do well in the group it’s a possibility. 2nd should be a lock for Italy I think they are much better than the competition they have a far better team than Sweden and Ireland. When I look at their team it’s not the most talented squad but it looks fairly strong with several strong players such as some as players from my side the likes of Stephen El Shaarawy versatile defender Alessandro Florenzi who were brilliant for the Serie A’s 3rd place team in addition they have Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne both quality players and potentially the fuel of this team that lacking creative players. Insigne played very well had an important role all season was one of the best players on Napoli this season really stepped up for them when Higuaín wasn’t performing or wasn’t playing. But there’s not a lot there it’s not a team that I whole heartedly believe in but they are good enough to get through to the knockout stage beyond that I think they will be going straight out they still do have Buffon who I consider the greatest goalkeeper to ever play football he will make it difficult to score but eventually teams will find a way to score and when that happens it will create problems unfortunately Conte’s tenure as Italy Manager will be trophyless but getting out of the group will be a solid result for a team that has lost its wa
Sweden Euro Rank #24
Sweden has made the euros pretty much every year since its involvement. It recent memory it’s not been kind to the Swedes failing to get out of the group in the last two tournaments it seems the same story once again with a fairly difficult group with Italy and Belgium looking like the favorites it will prove to be difficult for Sweden. In all likelihood this will be Zlatan Ibrahimović’s last run in international football. The Success of this team is largely depend on how well Zlatan performs the 34-year-old found the net 50 times this season for PSG even at his age he is a proven scorer was the 2nd highest scorer among qualifying. His Free kick against Denmark sent them through after it was unclear whether they would make the trip to France. He will be one of the stars of the tournament that’s a given but whether they can get out of the rut and get to the knockout stage is a different story. It could be quite difficult to do that but I believe if they can string together some good performances they could possibly challenge the Italians for 2nd in the group. To me this is a very once dimensional team outside of Zlatan the god they don’t have much else however Zlatan may be enough players like CR7 Messi & Zlatan has the ability to completely take over a game and team is one of those players that could single handily be the reason for Sweden advancing. But much like Italy I have little faith beyond the Round of 16 that they could do anything if they advance they will go straight out I don’t see a very deep run here as much as I wish that were the case. This is the last Zlatan international football moments we may get to see so weather or not they go on I’m just grateful we get to see this incredible man one last time.
Republic of Ireland Euro #21
The Republic a quality side that also could chase 2nd in the group the most exciting thing about the Irish are their fans I have never seen more passionate fans anywhere it’s like a sea of green they have never been a really talented side but their fans add that passion to the game. Beyond the fans they could do something in this tournament they have shown their quality beating the World champions Germany several months ago in qualifying they finished 3rd in qualification while getting a very respectable amount of points considering they were in a group with powerhouse sides Poland and Germany. They went into the playoff with a lot of faith in their chances and the Ultimately punched their ticket to France. Much like Sweden they don’t have a lot of big time players the man leading the Irish attack will be Southampton’s Shane Long who scored the game winning goal against Germany as he found the net three times in qualifying against Germany Poland and Gibraltar in addition to that he netting 13 goals for the Saints this season as he led them to a 6th place finish. He is the key to success in France they also have Captain Robbie Keane who at an older age still can provide brilliance and add quality to the squad despite playing in the MLs he could be one of the key players in this Irish team. The way they have played has proved that they can possibly advance again a very difficult group indeed its really unfortunate that been drawn into a group like this. There are many possibilities for this team they could surprise everyone and get 2nd or they could end up in 4th with no points there is a large range of possibilities which is what makes this group so difficult but I would say this don’t count out the Irish but my gut feeling is they probably will finish bottom. If they are able to advance much like Italy and Sweden, I think it would be an immediate exit whether or not they advance their fans will add excitement to this group and this tournament.