Thursday, 9 June 2016

Euro 2016 - My Preview

Hello to all who have missed my blog that ceased to exist for a couple of years, and to others who may be reading what I write for the first time. Apologies for the lack of activity, I'd like to make a good excuse but I don't have one.
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.

 Euro 2016

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) 
Çalhanoğlu is one of the big talents currently playing in the Bundesliga, and possibly gained a bit more attention with his goal in the recent friendly against England. At 22, the Leverkusen attacking midfielder has a big future, and I think this Euros is a chance for him to show he is one of the most promising players in Europe, and earn himself a big move. His dead ball skills are second to none. His free kicks are incredible and his corners are almost always causing trouble. Added to that he has good pace, great technical ability and an eye for goal. Turkey are in a hard group with Spain, Czech Republic and Croatia, but they have a good recent Euros record and with players like Çalhanoğlu, progression is definitely possible.

Radja Nainggolan (Belgium - 19 caps 4 goals)
Nainggolan is one of many Belgium players that have come through together and look set to have a serious go at winning this Euros. He currently plays for Roma and he is a regular for Marc Wilmots in the Belgium starting team. He is a great foil for the creative players that Belgium have, like Hazard, De Bruyne and Mertens. He is very combative in midfield, but like most players brought up playing in Italy, is exceptional on the ball with and very comfortable taking it in tight areas. He is hugely important for Belgium, and I expect him to have an important role to play breaking up attacks and also being crucial to starting attacks for a team that other teams will allow to have possession of the ball. He has been linked to the Premier League, most noticeably with Chelsea, and if he has a good tournament his price tag will go up again and I;m sure more teams will come calling for his signature. He will be hard to miss with his distinctive hair, which makes it easy to keep an eye on what he does for his team against the ball and appreciate how hard he works for his team.

Anthony Martial (France - caps 9 goals 0)
Martial has burst onto the scene this year, and yes he cost the best part of £50million, but he is only 20 years old and I like what I have seen. I can see him having a huge tournament for France with his pace and directness. It's something that is quite unusual in the modern game to see players being as direct as him while dribbling, and it is great to watch. I think away from the Man United scene he will be more free to do what he is good at, and not have so many defensive duties demanded of him. His finishing is strong inside the box, and he makes good quick runs in between defenders. I can see him scoring 3 or 4 goals this year and taking France deep into the tournament.

Dele Alli (England - caps 8 goals 1)
Dele Alli has been in great form for Tottenham this season, and I expect it to continue into the Euros. He has great timing of runs into the box which is quite similar to Lampard when he was young. However he has more pace than Lampard and also links up very well with Harry Kane which should be utilised by England. Alli is perfect for the role behind Kane if he is allowed to play it instead of Rooney. One weakness is his willingness to get involved with other players when the wind him up. It's an issue that could easily come to bite him in this tournament, so he could potentially become another Rooney or Beckham. But I think if he can get into advanced positions with the ball, keep his composure and link up with Kane, he should be one of England's best players this Summer.

David Alaba (Austria - caps 46 goals 11)
Alaba is a regular for Bayern Munich, but he mostly plays in defence, or in a deeper role. However when he plays with Austria he has a bit more license to get forward, where he chipped in with 4 goals in qualification. His left foot is one of the best in the game, and he regularly tries his luck from long range, usually with a lot of power. Austria qualified really well, winning 9 and drawing 1 of their 10 games and Alaba is their main man. In a group with Iceland, Hungary and Portugal, they should be able to get through, if not even top the group. Alaba can be the catalyst for what could be a strong tournament for the Austrians, and he seems to relish playing more advanced where can show off his passing, shooting and dribbling in the final third.

Golden Boot

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.


  1. All the best in Norway, David! Hope the move works out well for you and you get fixed up with a club. Looking forward to reading about how you get on.

    1. Thanks, looking forward to trying something different.

  2. Interesting read David, actually haven't heard of Çalhanoğlu, Nainggolan or Alaba, so will definitely keep an eye on them. I think it's hard to look past Germany to win, but like you, I think France have a great chance (although surprised they're the bookies favourites). As for topscorer, really can't see Kane doing it, would probably go Griezmann. Can't wait for it to get started!

    Also all the best for the move to Norway, if you and Karen Anna happen to be in or around Stavanger in early August, let me know as me and Victoria will be there! And if you're still here on the 16th July let me know as may be looking for a ringer for a 5s tournament :-)

  3. Great read David, good to hear from you and best of luck in Norway! I quite fancy the 14/1 odds with Kane now you've mentioned it. Hope to see you post more.

  4. Yes my favourite blogger is back! Nice one mate, all the best out there. Be interesting to see how it compares. Will be following your progress and might make a cheeky visit! Let me know if you hit up London


  5. Thanks guys, will be keeping you all up to date on norway activity.

    Good start for France tonight, off to a winning start for my tip.