Mon, 18 Nov, 2019

Euro Cup 2016: Unexpected and Exciting as Ever

By Mahan Adhikari

Photo Courtesy::http://img.uefa.com

Euro Cup 2016 is the 15th edition of UEFA’s European Championships, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organized by UEFA. This is a European cup competition fought between 24 teams from Europe. Euro Cup 2016 is being organized by France this year and as always, Euro Cup this year has been a total blockbuster with twists and surprises all the way through so far.

The 24 teams were divided into 6 groups namely; Group A, B, C, D, E and F. Group A: France, Romania, Albania and Switzerland. Group B: England, Russia, Wales and Slovakia. Group C: Germany, Ukraine, Poland and Northern Ireland. Group D: Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia. Group E: Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Sweden. Group F: Portugal, Iceland, Austria and Hungary.

The teams qualified for the round of 16 were:  Belgium, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, and Wales

Best third placed teams to qualify: Northern Ireland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, and Slovakia

Eliminated: Albania, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine.

The round of 16 saw several surprises, and as usual, heartbreak and joy. Teams like England and Spain, who were taken as title contenders, were knocked out of the competition where as Wales, Iceland and Poland surprised everyone by taking their place in the quarterfinals. On the other hand, teams like the Czech Republic, Croatia and Hungary could not qualify despite of their best efforts.

Currently, the tournament has just finished its quarter-final stage. Four teams have reserved their places in the semis. Wales, the underdogs of the tournament so far, defeated Belgium by an astonishing 3-1 score line, showing the big boys of Europe that they are here to win. Ashley Williams equalizing for Wales after Radja Nainggolan had given Belgium the lead. Hal Robson Kanu and Sam Volkes scored the decisive goals for Wales. The fact that they did it without star man Gareth Bale getting on the scoresheet also proves that they are far from a one-man team. Portugal, on the other hand, sniffed victory away from Poland through the penalty shootouts after the game ended 1-1 after extra-time with Robert Lewandowski(POL) and Renato Sanchez(POR) on the scoresheet. Germany and Italy served up arguably the game of the tournament so far in a nail-biting encounter which also ended 1-1 after extra time. Mesut Ozil(GER) and Leonardo Bonucci(ITA) scoring for their respective teams. After 9 penalties each, Germany came out on top 6-5 despite missing 3 of their penalties. Meanwhile, France made easy work of another surprise package Iceland as they won with a 5-2 score-line setting up an amazing semi-final match with Germany. Antoine Griezmann stole the show with a Man-Of-The-Match performance for France.

Euro Cup 2016 has been a roller-coaster which has seen teams with high expectations being knocked out and teams with very less hope playing like champions. Although international tournaments have lost its fandom a little bit throughout the years, this year’s tournament has more than made up for a few disappointing ones before it. And long may it continue.