From June 10 to July 10, football fans across the world will have their eyes on France, as the country plays host to the UEFA Euro 2016 in ten stadiums across the country. Held once every four years, 2016 marks the 15th tournament since being introduced in 1960, and the first in which 24 teams will be battling for a shot to compete at the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup in Russia. Under the new format, the tournament will be divided into six groups of four teams, followed by a knockout stage including three rounds and the final.
With 8 more teams taking part in what has traditionally been a 16-squad contest, Euro 2016 will see the French nation welcoming an estimated 1 million visitors, with as many as 2.5 million spectators will be packed in to see the action at one of the tournament’s multiple venues.
Returning to defend their title are two-time back-to-back champions Spain, football fandom is rife with speculation on how team manager Vicente del Bosque’s intends to navigate the tournament with a lineup quite different from the winning 2012 squad.
This isn’t to say that the team is going in half-cocked, as they are hungry to prove themselves after their spectacularly embarrassing World Cup dethroning in Brazil two years ago. Now, with veterans like Xavi Hernández, Fernando Torres, and Xabi Alonso making way for a new lineup, this could be the chance for the tournament to reveal a new generation of superstars.
Speaking with The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jun/01/spain-football-euro-2016-favourites-russia-beaten-czech-republic ), saying, “We are the favorites [for Euro 2016] because we come into it having won four years ago…There are other national teams, but it’s our dream to be champions again. We’re in a good moment. We have had a tough season, very intense, but we are ready to go into the Euro in the best conditions.”
With teams ready to go, and the host country’s preparations in place, the world’s football community will hold its breath as, one way or another, history will be made at the Euro 2016.