EUROS 2016: Football, Fashion, Culture.
The theme: Le Rendezvous;
The assembly point: France.
24 teams, 6 groups, 1 winner.
The teams converge at the birthplace of the EURO Championship for the third time. In 1960, France hosted the first ever EURO Championship and the legend of Lev ‘Black Spider’ Yashin was born. 1984 was particularly memorable as the flamboyant trio of Michel Platini, Jean Tigana and Alain Giresse ran riot to win the competition. 32 years on, another revolution is complete and we return to the home of love and romance for the third time.
“Le rendezvous is much more than a reminder of dates… and venues (but rather) UEFA is sending out an invitation to football fans throughout the world and to lovers of major events, an invitation to meet up and share the emotions of an elite-level tournament” – Jacques Lambert, Chairman of the EURO 2016 organizing committee.
Glance into the past
Henri Delaunay, French Football Federation’s secretary-general, was the major proponent for a pan-European football tournament. In 1960 the maiden edition of the tournament was held in France with four teams competing in the finals. Other European countries began to show interest and the numbers grew. Spain and Germany are the teams with the highest number of EURO cups. Both countries have won it 3 times with Spain being0 the only country to win it consecutively (2008 and 2012). EURO 2016 hosts France have won it 2 times.
French legend Michel Platini is unarguably the most successful player of EURO Cup history. He holds the record of scoring the highest number of goals in a tournament (9) as well as most hat-tricks (2). Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for the highest number of goals including qualifying rounds (26). Iker Casillas and van der Saar hold a joint record for the most clean sheets (9) while Manchester United and Denmark legend, Peter Schmeichel holds the unwanted record of most goals conceded with a total of 20 goals.
2010: France was announced as hosts of the European championship. Anxiety, nervous excitement and ultimately celebrations ruled as they edged Turkey by a single vote to win the bidding process.
“It is a moment of intense emotion to know that in 2016 France will welcome European football and will fulfill its promises.” said Jean-Pierre Escalettes, president of the French Football Federation. France legend Zinedine ‘Zizou’ Zidane and former France president Nicolas Sarkozy were key figures in presentation of the bid.
2013: the identity of the event is unveiled. “Celebrating the Art of Football”, a nod to both the quality of football and France’s celebrated cultural attractions. Sensuous cuisine, first-rate fashion and more art and history than you can shake a stick at – France, the number one tourist destination in the world. Highlights of France will have you experiencing what the locals call ‘coup de foudre’ – or as we understand it ‘love at first sight’.
In the beginning was Lucian Laurent remembered for scoring the first goal in World Cup history, a 19th-minute volley! Then came Just Fontaine. Les Bleus came of age in the era of the three musketeers; Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana. The chill still grips as we remember the spectacular performance of Zidane and his peers at the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home soil. This was quickly followed by FIFA Confederations Cup titles in 2001 and 2003. With great expectation comes disappointment. France has not come close to such heights since.
“Aux Armes, nous sommes les Français” (“To your weapons! We are the French…”) – This song is a typical supporter chant with some warrior spirit.
2015: the draws were made. Old rivalries reignited. New enemies? Unavoidable. It’s one of the best features of any international football tournament. It is a spectacle that makes the veterans of the sport frantically rub their thighs with in delirious excitement.
“This is obviously a tough draw. A group of death? No, those do not exist –- it’s a tough draw, nothing more.” – Belgium coach Marc Wilmots on being pitted against Italy, Ireland and Sweden. Perhaps, a man that fancies his chances.
“It is more difficult than I thought it would be.” — Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque on facing the Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia in Group D.
2016: show time. Auditions are done, time to face the judges. The 2016 event will feature 24 countries for the first time, up from 16 in 2012. Proceedings are penned to begin at the Saint Denis. The hosts play Romania in the Group A fixture. World champions, Germany face Ukraine two days later and defending champions, Spain, take on Czech Republic at the Stadium de Toulouse a day after.
The final match of the tournament is set to hold at Saint Denis. It promises to be a beauty. The atmosphere, electric! The football, captivating!! The stars shall align for the show. After all, only the best get this far.
Pundits tip Germany to pick up their fourth EURO trophy. After winning the trophy in 2012, Spain became the first nation to be crowned European champions twice in row. Winning it for a third consecutive time is farfetched. France has also been touted to continue the tradition of home soil wins.
The Leicester fairytale gives the English team a glimmer of hope. Perhaps they could pick up their first trophy since 1960. Belgium, major underdogs, have also been tipped to get as far as the semis at least.
Mesut Özil returns to the international fold on the back of a great season with Arsenal. Although sometimes anonymous, he keeps the German engine oiled and ticking. Will this be another golden boot winning tournament for Thomas Mueller?
Eden Hazard had a season to forget. He gets a nod in the Belgium squad as his form began to peak towards the end of the season. The Belgium team will also need big performances from Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.
France, regardless of the scandals, has a plethora of young players vying to make a point at the international stage. A nice blend with the old dogs will give any country a run for their money. Will Paul Pogba make a case for world class status?
England is known as a team of perennial bottlers. They always find a way to disappoint at international tournaments even at the peak of the class of ’92. However, there’s an unusual air of nervous hope around this squad. How far can this team go?
EURO 2016 Facts
- The 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship will take place in France.
- This year EURO Cup will be the first EURO Cup to have 24 teams which are divided into 6 groups.
- The Euro 2016 song was written and produced by David Guetta and he will perform at the opening ceremony. He is French.
- The Tournament will take place at 10 Cities and 10 Stadium’s Across France.
- The official mascot for the event is ‘Super Victor’.
Abd’kareem: “seize the day, trust as little as possible in tomorrow”
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