As excited as soccer fans can be for the Copa America Centenario, the UEFA Euro should provide even more excitement.
Just like Copa America expanded from 12 to 16 teams, the Euro for the first time will have 24 nations competing for the title.
Here’s a quick overview of the first two groups which include title contenders France and England.
For many the host nation is the big favorite to lift the trophy. The have great players in their roster including Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann.
Due to the absence of Karim Benzema, Griezmann now has to evolve into being the man upfront for the team.
With plenty of youth and play-makers all around France is one of the prime contenders for this years title
Key Player: Paul Pogba, midfielder.
Possible Breakout Star: Kingsley Coman, forward.
Nothing about this team stands out. Romania who will not count with one of its players in Alexandru Maxim has not left a good impression during its warm-up games.
The team lack ability to create chances in attack and its defense has proven to be very fragile expect an early exit from the tournament from Romania.
Key Player: Vlad Chiriches, defender.
Possible Breakout Star: None.
In recent years the Swiss have steadily developed a quietly strong squad. Switzerland has options at goal with Yann Sommer the most likely starter but also Roman Burki from Borussia Dortmund.
At the back Switzerland has a solid center back in Fabian Schar and one of the best right backs in the world with Stephan Lichsteiner and one of the best left backs in the making in Ricardo Rodriguez. The midfield also has promise with Xherdan Shaqiri out wide on the right and the Arsenal bound center midfielder Granit Xhaka are the backbone of the team.
The only question for the team is the form of their strikers.
Key Player: Xherdan Shaqiri, midfielder.
Possible Breakout Star: Breel Embolo, forward.
It’s hard to do a proper assessment of the Albanian team. The only certain thing is that they cannot be taken lightly. Although recent results don’t impress anyone in the last two years Albania played France twice and didn’t lose getting a draw in the road and a win at home.
Albania also defeated Portugal on the road during qualifying and had a 1-0 loss on the road to Italy in another friendly.
Key Player: Etrit Berisha, goalkeeper.
Possible Breakout Star: Elseid Hysaj, right back.
1) France, 2) Switzerland, 3) Albania 4) Romania
After its awful performance at the past World Cup a new crop of players and is now of the main contenders for this year Euro.
England’s attack looks particular promising as the Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy duo combined for 49 goals during the premier league season. In addition to Kane and Vardy also Rooney is back for the team along with Daniel Sturridge.
Key Player: Harry Kane, forward
Possible Breakout Star: Delle Alli, midfielder
The team is in a transitional period, most of its more important players are over the age of 30 and not enough youngsters breaking through.
22 of their 23 players currently play in the local league, the Russian league is fairly competitive but without players in top leagues seems hard to make a mark in the tournament.
Also if you add the injury of attacking midfielder Alan Dzagoev who is one of their best players, the chances of having good tournament take a significant blow.
Key Player: Artem Dzyuba, forward
Possible Breakout Star: Aleksandr Golovin, midfielder
Like most teams in the tournament Slovakia has good players all around in addition to their main stars.
The biggest question for this team is their depth in the attack and how much they’ll rely on Stanislav Sestak to score for them, but as a whole this is a dangerous team.
Key Player: Marek Hamsik, midfielder.
Possible Breakout Star: Norbert Gyömbér, defender.
Although they are led by players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, the Welsh team seem to have significant voids to fill throughout their roster.
Most of their players play in the Premier League but only a few of them are undisputed starters. Wales will only go as far as Bale and Ramsey can take them.
Key Player: Gareth Bale, midfielder
Possible Breakout Star: Ben Davis, defender.
1) England 2) Slovakia 3) Wales 4) Russia