However, this is a perfect platform to tell all who read, that I am planning a move to Norway in July, and that the blog is a perfect place to keep people up to date with my football which I hope to continue doing out there. I figure that if you are interested enough to read this, a small update about football in Norway could be a nice way to introduce most of you to Norwegian lower league football and also let you know how I am doing.
First though, since it is tomorrow that France kick off Euro 2016 against Romania, I thought I'd do a personal preview just for myself to gain information on all the teams, and also so I can share my opinion on potential winners, surprise packages and players I expect to light up France this Summer.
Another major tournament has come upon us without Scotland, so it is time to get supporting someone else again, or just enjoying the football. I always find it difficult to support the other home nations in football, probably because they are our close rivals, and also because I have no real ties to the other countries. However with my old driving partner and teammate Mikey McGovern likely to be playing for Northern Ireland I'll definitely be rooting for him to keep some clean sheets and have a great tournament.
I think I should start with some players that I am excited to watch, and my tips for Golden Boot and Player of the tournament.
5 players to watch
Trying to avoid the obvious world stars, here are my 5 players to look out for to have big tournaments.
|Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Turkey - 18 caps 6 goals)|
|Radja Nainggolan (Belgium - 19 caps 4 goals)|
|Anthony Martial (France - caps 9 goals 0)|
|Dele Alli (England - caps 8 goals 1)|
|David Alaba (Austria - caps 46 goals 11)|
The Top Goalscorer for the Euro 2012 only scored 3 goals, that was shared with 6 different players. This year with the extra game, it should be more likely to be 5 or 6 goals that wins it. Only Platini in 1984 when he scored 9, has scored more than 5 in a European Championships. With the extension of the competition to 24 teams, it does look noticeably weaker, so I think it gives potential for someone to get a hat-trick in the group stages and push on from there. With the trend towards 1 striker it means not many players are in with a big shout, however there are a few midfielders that could score plenty goals for their countries. Looking at the groups, I think that Ronaldo and Griezmann both have big chances to score 3 or 4 goals in the groups before adding to them in the knockouts. However my pick for top scorer, is Harry Kane. He had a great season again for Spurs, and he is definitely the first choice striker for England. I think they have a good group that they should be able to score goals in, and that they could go quite deep in this tournament. At around 14/1 I think he is a good bet to at least get close.
Spain went into Euro 2012 as big favourites, and rightfully so, they were by far the strongest team. This year however it appears to be much more open. Germany appear to be in a bit of transition despite only winning the World Cup 2 years ago, and Spain are not as good as they were 4 years ago. Italy look as weak as they have done for many years, so they shouldn't be challenging. I think Austria will be a big surprise to most this year. They come in on great form, they have a strong team, and should get through their group no problem. A place in the Quarter Final is very likely in my opinion. But the winners I think are going to be France. They seem to be coming to their home tournament with the strongest squad they have had since 2000 when they won it. Pogba and Matuidi are a great central midfield partnership, they provide the more defensive cover to let players like Griezmann, Martial and Payet play further forward. One potential issue is Benzema not being there, But Giroud can score goals and I really like his movement, plus there will be goals from midfield. Lloris is one of the top 3 goalkeepers in the world, and they have some pace in defensive and good experience. It looks like a team that can win a tournament, and with the backing of the home support, I fancy them to do it.
All that is left to say is, enjoy the tournament, it should be a belter. See you next time when I will be in Norway, hopefully playing football and keeping you up to date with my life. Please comment and let me know what you think of my opinions, and if anyone wants to visit me in Norway, I'm pretty sure we can arrange that. It will be interesting leaving Scottish football for something else, but it is really exciting and I am looking forward to not only starting a new chapter in my life, but starting a new part of my career.