Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The name of the 24 classified teams for the finals of the 2016 European Cup is already on the table. This European tournament is going for its 15th edition, and everything indicates that this one will be as exciting as the previous ones.
On December 12 we will find out which matches will open the group phase.
Spain, the reigning champion, shares the pot with the host France, Germany, England, Portugal and Belgium
This year, the UEFA Euro 2016, for the first time, has more participants; the number of teams that will face each other in the final phase has increased from 16 to 24.
There are barely two weeks left to find out all the details of the future development of the competition. The draw for the finals will take place on 12 December in Paris, at 18:00 (CET). There, the 24 classified teams will be divided in four different pots, according to the coefficient ranking obtained in the previous phase. The draw will put them into six groups of four teams in each one.
The coefficient ranking that places the selections in one pot or another has been obtained considering the classifying phases and the finals at the end of the European cup in 2012, the World Cup in 2014 and the classification of the European cup for 2016 , with a weight of 20%, 40% and 40% respectively.
Being the reigning champion Spain has a seeded place assured. It will be in pot 1 together with Germany, England, Portugal and Belgium. In pot 2, we find Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and Ukraine. The Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Hungary make up pot 3. Pot 4 consists of Turkey, Ireland, Iceland, Wales, Albania and Northern Ireland. France, as the host, will be included in Group A which comes out after the draw.
Are there difficult groups? Everyone thinks so, and this year points to it being the one formed by Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Czech Republic. The easiest, the one where all selections would want to end up to accumulate easy victories, would have - ideally - Ukraine, Belgium, Northern Ireland and Hungary.
The opening match will be on June 10 at the Stade de France in Paris. The group phase will take place from 10 to 22 June; the second round, from 25 to 27 June; the quarter-finals, from 30 June to 3 July; the semi-finals will be played on 6 and 7 July; and the final, 10 July at Stade de France, like the opening match. Tickets for all Euro 2016 matches are already on sale.
Other stadiums of the 2016 European cup will be the Parc des Princes in Paris; the Grand Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille; the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, in Lens; the Stade de Nice, Nice; Stade des Lumières, Lyon; the Stade de Bordeaux Atlantique, Bordeaux; Stade Geoffrey Guichard, Saint Etienne; Stade Vélodrome in Marseille; and the Toulouse Stadium in Toulouse.
With the distribution of pots Spain avoids having rivals such as Germany, France, England, Belgium and Portugal. Italy, runner-up and seeded in pot 2, has not been problem for the “la Roja” (the red team, the name the Spanish team is known by) lately. In the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland in 2008 Spain beat them on penalties; and in 2012, in the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, a 4-0 gave the title to our guys.
Russia is presented as a possible opponent to consider, although Switzerland brings worse memories from that initial setback in South Africa in 2010. Austria is appealing for what la Roja did to them in Vienna in the 2008 European Championship. The meetings with Croatia and Ukraine were a victory for Spain, two of them against Ukraine in the group stage of the UEFA Euro 2016.
Thinking about the pot 3 teams, only one defeat has been registered against Romania, in a friendly in 2006. The Czech Republic beat us in 2011, Ibrahimovic’s Sweden won in 2008 and Poland thrashed us in 2010. Victory against Slovakia last September gave a la Roja a “little push” for this European Cup classification. As regards Hungary, his last encounter ended in a draw.
In pot 4 we find Wales, Gareth Bale, star of Real Madrid and someone who can make la Roja suffer. In the final matches played against Turkey, the Spanish just scraped in a victory. Ireland takes us closer to the World Cup of Korea and Japan, in which Iker Casillas shone in the penalty shootout to advance to the second round. Iceland is a selection with which Spain has only come up against in qualifying stages and in which they went on to lose in 1991. Albania has always been an easy opponent and Northern Ireland is kept as a bitter memory for a defeat in 2006 in what would be Raul’s last match with the selection.
In the ideal eleven for qualifying for the European Championship in France published by UEFA we didn’t have to wait for the surprises. What's new? The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and the fact that only one Spaniard appears to be included: Jordi Alba (Barcelona FC).
The dream team would be formed by Courtois (Belgium) in goal; Darmian (Italy), Cahill (England), Williams (Wales) and Rat (Romania) in defensive positions; Sigurdsson (Iceland), Alaba (Austria) and Davis (Northern Ireland) in the centre of the field; and Bale (Wales), Müller (Germany), and Lewandowski (Poland) as a forwards. Jordi Alba would be on the bench, along with Tatarusanu (Romania), Glik (Poland), Perisic (Croatia), Hamsik (Slovakia), Dziuba (Russia) and De Bruyne (Belgium).
Just a few days ago the Spanish selection presented the kit in which they will play in the 2016 European cup. Again, they have betted on similar designs in which the team made an impression when it won the World Cup and two consecutive European Cups.
A vintage style reminiscent of the 1984 European Cup shirts, keeping the red and going back to blue shorts and dark socks. In the second kit, Adidas revives white, accompanied by a pattern of yellow and red triangles, reminding us in this case of the t-shirt with which Spain played the 1984 World Cup in the United States.
The 2016 European cup will no doubt be next summer’s main event, an event that will bring together, as we did in previous years, a wave of red fans in the squares and bars of Spain. The Website Trasfermarkt, specializing in market values, has taken advantage of the demand of this competition to present a study that shows the price that each of the selections squads would have.
Spain leads this ranking, with a value of €541 million, followed by Belgium and France. In other words, La Roja is the most valuable selection of the UEFA Euro 2016. Cristiano Ronaldo added 120 million to the 303 that his selection is worth, occupying the seventh place on the list. The least valued are Northern Ireland, Iceland, Albania and Hungary, whose squads do not exceed 40 million put together.
Sadly the last qualifying matches for the 2016 European cup will not be remembered for the football, but rather by the terror that flooded them on a black day for Paris. The stadiums have taken protective safety measures following attacks and the same thing will happen with the draw, which will feature an unprecedented safety device.
Jacques Lambert, who chairs the Organising Committee of UEFA Euro 2016, announced that cancelling this competition would make the terrorists proud and giving them that victory is something that cannot be allowed. The rivalries between fans have phased into the background in these encounters, in which followers of different countries have come to sing together the Marseillaise as a sign of union against the barbarity of Saint Denis.