Euro Nations Cup Begins Today | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Euro Nations Cup Begins Today

Posted: Jun 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Today Friday June 10 Euro 2016 finally kicks off with host country, France taking on Romania in Saint Denis, four years after Spain’s 4-0 thrashing of Italy in Kiev saw it secures its second successive European championship.
The Red Fury, Vincent del Bosque’s talented, but unpredictable Spanish team, will be on the hunt for a third win on the trot in this tournament, which this year features a radically different format.
Gone are the days of 16 teams sensibly divided into four groups, with two countries from each making up a simple quarter- finals.
With 51 games to be played, Euro 2016 will be the biggest in history, with 24 teams across six groups, and a third placed qualifier set up designed to infuriate anyone who reckons they can plot their team’s path to the final.
Ten stadiums across France will host matches, with the final at the 81,000 capacity Stade de France in Saint Denis on July 10, and the semis being held in Lyon and Marseille on July 6 and 7.
With six groups, third place finishers with a chance of progressing, and the guarantee of an upset, there is no clear favourite, but France will be confident of a first victory since the Zidane and Henry inspired glory days of 2000.
Despite a friendly loss to Georgia earlier in the week, Spain will also be favourites although it has lost something of its impregnable luster since their massively disappointing showing at World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
Current World Champions Germany will be another team to watch, although stalwarts Italy seems a little weaker than normal, and has suffered a string of injuries to important players.
A surprisingly young and fresh England squad will fancy their chances and, with an attacking philosophy, will surely stand out from the dourer teams of the past. They kick off their campaign with an evening fixture against Russia on June 11, before tackling geographical neighbours Wales in an intriguing domestic dust-up on June 16, which is sure to have local bars packed to the rafters.
The Republic of Ireland face a tough group including Belgium, Sweden and Italy, while Northern Ireland will do well to emerge from battles against Germany, Ukraine and Poland.
With French security in overdrive ahead of terrorism fears, the possibility of teams colluding over the third place spots, serious national rivalries to be played out, no clear favourite and a pack of hungry underdogs, it’s finally time to kick back and enjoy the ride.