Euro 2016: Time for new stars to emerge

Spain, still revamping its squad after the World Cup debacle, will find it hard to defend its title. Strikers Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz, previously untested in international competition, will need to find their scoring boots for Vicente del Bosque to end his reign on a winning note.

Paul Pogba will have his moment in EURO 2016.   -  AP

It’s time for the European Championship again and France will host the 15th edition of the event. Playing at home, Didier Deschamps’ team will have a great advantage and an up and coming team, led by Juventus’ Paul Pogba, is expected to put up a grand show. The manager, however, will worry about the team’s lack of competitive games over the last two years.

 

Despite tall talks from Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema — who was left out of the squad — Les Blues are stocked with marksmen in Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann and Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud. The EURO also provides Pogba with his real chance to show his skills on the international stage. He’s had a great season with Juve — 10 goals and 16 assists in 49 games — and will be the midfield engine of the host nation.

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France is expected to sail through Group A with Romania and Switzerland fighting for the second spot.

England manager Roy Hodgson has the enviable job of finding a way to accommodate the likes of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, while finding a space for skipper Wayne Rooney. Rooney, a little slower these days, is still vital to the team and will play in a deeper role, operating behind the strikers. The inclusion of Arsenal’s injury-prone Jack Wilshere was never in doubt for me. Although a gamble, Hodgson stands firm when it comes to favouring Wilshire, and to give him the credit, Wilshere is outstanding when in form and fit.

 

The English defence, however, still looks shaky and the team, blessed with a great strike force, will concentrate on scoring more than its opponent.

Wales, making its foray in an international competition for the first time since the 1958 World Cup, will look to cause a few upsets. I have been working with the Welsh FA for many years now and our system is at its best at the moment. The team can be strong on any given day and unbeatable when playing with heart. I believe, Wales will go to France and enjoy its game.

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Gareth Bale, being the most expensive player in the world, will be the driving star of the team. Other strong players such as Aaron Ramsey and captain Ashley Williams are sure to play their part as well.

World champion, Germany, masters at performing in big tournaments, is expected to have a strong run again and another last four spot looks assured for Jaochim Loew and his men. Despite Philip Lahm’s retirement and injury issues of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany still has a team of leaders.

Spain, still revamping its squad after the World Cup debacle, will find it hard to defend its title. Strikers Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz, previously untested in international competition, will need to find their scoring boots for Vicente del Bosque to end his reign on a winning note.

Belgium, individually — with the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Cristian Benteke, Divock Origi — has possibly the best squad on paper and this once in a generation team has the perfect chance to prove its worth. Italy, drawn in the same group, will need to deal with negativity surrounding the departure of manager Antonio Conte to Chelsea at the end of the meet.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo will also try to stamp their authority in France. The duo, with highly individualistic traits, is always clamouring for the limelight and the continental championship provide them with the right platform to shine for their country.

Poland, brimming with talented players like Robert Lewandowski, Lukasz Piszczek and Arkadiusz Milik, will be my dark horse for the tournament.

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