Caleb Pereira ’23
Excitement, suspense, and upsets. This summer, the European Soccer Championship will include these all. It’s one of soccer’s most prestigious tournaments five years in the making since the last time in 2016. 24 of Europe’s top international teams face off in a group stage and a knockout stage until one team is crowned champion. This year’s tournament is set to be one of the most exciting yet with many parts to pay attention to.
The first part of the tournament to look out for this year is the most intense group, the ‘Group of Death’. Three powerhouses of international soccer are all included in this group, and Hungary (sorry guys, maybe next time). There is Germany—the 2014 World Cup victors, France—the 2018 World Cup victors, and Portugal—reigning European Championship victors. France is regarded as the favourites to win the tournament, led by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain striker, Kylian Mbappé, and Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema. Germany is looking to rebound after an embarrassing exit in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup. However, the next generation of German soccer looks threatening, including the Bayern Munich trio of Leon Goretzka, Joshua Kimmich, and Serge Gnabry. Portugal looks to defend their championship from 2016. Without a doubt, Cristiano Ronaldo, the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner, will be the main man of their team. However, others have been in great form this season, including the trio of Bernardo Silva, Rúben Dias, and João Cancelo from Manchester City, as well as Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United. Overall, it will be exciting to see who tops this group with three powerhouse countries.
Other countries will be entering this year’s tournament looking to claim overdue success or make up for past embarrassments. England and its fans have been touting that “football’s coming home” for a while now, having not won a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup. They came close in the 2018 World Cup, finishing in fourth, but now with a squad led by Tottenham striker, Harry Kane and Chelsea midfielder, Mason Mount, England has a strong chance to challenge for this year’s championship. Italy will be looking to make up for past embarrassment too after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. A squad led by young stars in Nicolò Barella and Federico Chiesa could start off a new generation on the right foot.
Rounding out some of the strongest teams are The Netherlands and Poland. The Netherlands will be a threatening side despite losing Virgil Van Dijk to injury. Poland will be led by striker Robert Lewandowski after scoring an incredible 40 goals in the German Bundesliga this season.
This year’s tournament could go any way, whether it is the top favourites or perhaps an underdog causing an upset. Supporting any team is sure to be incredibly exciting. There is never a dull moment in the European Championship, and this summer’s tournament could be the best yet.
Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency/Fatih Erel