If you haven’t been paying attention, the 2016 EuroCup is well underway. For us North Americans, the EuroCup demonstrates just how big of a deal the sport of soccer—or football—is for the rest of the world. Each year we build and maintain more and more soccer bubbles, so we can see the sport growing here, but it still hasn’t reached the level of the European countries!
The European Cup happens every 4 years and highlights the best European players. As opposed to FIFA’s World Cup—which also happens every 4 years—the Euro Cup is strictly a European affair, but despite this, fans around the world still pay attention. Many of us have roots or ties to at least one of Europe’s countries, after all.
If you’re new to the sport of soccer and don’t know much about international football, Euro 2016 is the perfect opportunity to join in. Here are a few things to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.
Changes to the Euro 2016
This is the 15th UEFA European Championship, but that doesn’t mean that the format of the tournament is set in stone. Each tournament, there are slight variations to the rules as the game, teams, and location changes.
One of the big changes for this year is that there are more teams playing—24 as opposed to the 16. This means more games, more action, and a longer tournament than many teams are used to. This means that teams need to pace themselves and make sure that their training doesn’t burn out players before the tournament is done.
Europe’s Top Teams
The strongest teams are usually teams like Spain, Germany, or France, so expect them to go far. This year, England are a definite team to keep your eye on. A younger, fresher England team managed a flawless record during qualifying, having won all 10 of their matches—this is only the sixth time it’s ever happened for any team. England have a knack for doing well in qualifying but failing to perform during crunch time, though, so it’s tough to be optimistic.
Although there are favourites, the great thing about soccer is that any team has a shot at winning. It’s all a matter of teamwork, hard work, and the right kind of training. So regardless of the top teams going in, it’s anyone’s tournament.
Europe’s Top Players
Great players come from all countries—pick any team and they have a star player (or players!) Here are some of the players to watch.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo may be one of the most famous players in the sport right now. At 30 years old, he has the experience and he’s been a consistent powerhouse scoring goals for Real Madrid.
Harry Kane plays for England and is a rapidly rising star on their roster. The 22-year old has a knack for scoring goals and is expected to do so during some exciting matches.
If you’re into goalkeeping, keep an eye on Italy’s Gigi Buffon. After 19 years playing for Italy, he’s a seasoned pro and an impressive superstar.
For any fan of soccer, massive tournaments like the EuroCup and the World Cup are can’t-miss events. Pros that spend their whole lives training and perfecting their skills put it all on the line and amaze as well as inspire. Pay close attention and bring some of that passion back to the soccer dome for some indoor soccer!