On June 10th, in the Stade De France, just outside of Paris, France will kick off the Euro 2016 tournament against Romania. Going into the tournament are the 24 nations, who all believe they can win it all. The question is, will it be the hosts France, World Cup winners Germany or defending European Champions Spain who wins? Or could it be one of 5 teams making their European Championship debut, Northern Ireland, Wales, Slovakia, Albania or Iceland? Or any of the other Nations on show in France?
With some of the world’s best players on show, like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the tournament is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable and exciting tournaments ever. And right here, we will help you understand the 24 teams better by giving you a complete run through of each team, and their star players.
France – Qualified as hosts but that doesn’t mean France got lucky. They are expected by the home crowds as well as pundits and experts alike, to do big things in the tournament. With a bunch of talent in the squad, such as Antoine Griezmann, Laurent Koscielny, and Paul Pogba, this is a France team that is determined to make their country proud again, as the last time they hosted a major football tournament, they won the whole thing (World Cup 1998).
Star Player – Paul Pogba. The Juventus midfielder is often regarded as one of the World’s best and it’s easy to see why he often scores magical goals and runs the show for his team.
Romania – Runners up in their qualification group, Romania are always a tricky test for any team competing against them. They have a good base group of players, including Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu, who is the current Romanian footballer of the year.
Star Player – Vlad Chiricheș. The Romania captain has a very important job to do making sure the defence doesn’t concede any sloppy goals, and his experience with big sides like Tottenham and Napoli will be invaluable.
Albania – The first of the European Championship debutants, Albania qualified as runners-up in their group. They will be looking to make an instant impact on the big stage in their first ever major tournament.
Star Player – Shkelzen Gashi. The tireless midfielder is currently playing for Colorado Rapids in the MLS, but he has a good scoring record for Basel and Grasshopper.
Switzerland – Comfortable runners-up to England in the qualification group, Switzerland, have a selection of good players, like Xhaka, Shaqiri, and Lichtsteiner who will be wanting to deliver at a Championship finals.
Star Player – Xherdan Shaqiri. The Stoke midfielder has been on the verge of becoming an elite player for a few seasons, maybe this is the tournament he finally takes the next step in.
England – One of only 6 teams to ever record a perfect qualification record, England finished as winners of their group and were placed as a top seed for this tournament. There’s always pressure for England to perform in big tournaments and with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and Joe Hart in the squad it’s possible this could be their year.
Star Player – Harry Kane. 20+ goals in each of his last 2 seasons have cemented Kane as a clinical finisher, and England will need that if they are to progress far in the tournament.
Wales – The second European Debutants, their last major tournament was the World Cup back in 1958. In recent years, and during qualification, the team has matured and assembled arguably their best ever side.
Star Player – Gareth Bale. The world’s most expensive player was on hot form for Wales during qualification and will need to be again if Wales are to do well.
Russia – 4 wins in their final 4 games meant Russia qualified as runners-up in their group. Can be a test for any team if they play to their best standards. They will need to carry on their qualification form if they are to get out of the group.
Star Player – Artem Dzyuba. The Russian striker has scored 23 goals for his club this season and could lead his team through the competition.
Slovakia – In qualifications, Slovakia were the only team to defeat defending champions Spain, en route to a runners-up position to qualify. Their keeper Matus Kozacik was excellent during qualifications and will be wanting to be just as effective in the tournament proper.
Star Player – Marek Hamsik. A standout player for both club and country, Hamsik’s vision, control, and pace will be important to Slovakia’s chances.
Germany – The World Champions go into the tournament as one of the hot favourites, with good reason, since winning the World Cup Germany’s form has been as good as ever, and with a roster of world-class players, like Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Mario Gotze they will be hard to beat.
Star Player – Thomas Muller. A proven goalscorer at club level and international level, if he’s scoring, Germany have every chance to win the tournament.
Ukraine – Qualified after winning a play-off game against Slovenia. Ukraine will feel the need to prove themselves after a disappointing qualification campaign. They have a good mix of experience and youth in the squad.
Star Player – Andriy Yarmolenko. A goalscoring threat from either wing, Yarmolenko offers pace, height and skills to this Ukrainian side.
Poland – 2nd place in their qualification group meant Poland qualified for this tournament. They’ll be looking to build on that qualification with a solid tournament, and they have a team of good players like Lewandowski, Milik, and Krychowiak.
Star Player – Robert Lewandowski. A real goalscoring threat, and if Poland is to have a chance, they’ll need their top player at his goalscoring best.
Northern Ireland – Another nation making its debut in this tournament. Northern Ireland and its squad of ambitious players such as Steven Davis and Paddy McNair will be looking to cause an upset against the bigger teams.
Star Player – Kyle Lafferty. Struggled this season at club level but the striker has always had an eye for goal for the national side.
Spain – The defending champions endured a disappointing World Cup, and they will be gunning to make that up to their devoted fans. They still possess a very strong team, with world class players like Ramos, Fabregas, and Pique. They will still be a force to be reckoned with.
Star Player – Andrés Iniesta. The creative midfielder can be used across the entire midfield and still be as effective, and he’s got lots of trophy winning experience.
Czech Republic – The once feared Czech team used to have some of the best players of the last generation, now with a new group of talent the Czech Republic will be looking to make an impact.
Star Player – Petr Cech. The Arsenal stopper may be 34 but he proved this season he is still one of the world’s very best goalkeepers.
Croatia – Qualified from a tough qualification group. Croatia’s core group of talented players, Modric, Rakitic, Perisic, and Mandzukic can cause any team issues if they play to their best standard.
Star Player – Luka Modric. Real Madrid’s playmaker is capable of creating chances against any team and they’ll need him to do so if they are to do well.
Turkey – The best third-placed team in qualifying, Turkey will need to be playing at their absolute best to proceed further, a real goalscorer needs to emerge from the squad and they could upset a few teams.
Star Player – Arda Turan. The Barcelona midfielder is key to the success of this Turkish team, who see him as the inspiration for the squad.
Belgium – Going into the tournament as the World ranked number 2 team, there are huge expectations for Belgium to finally reach their long talked about potential. Loaded with top quality players such as Hazard, Lukaku and Fellaini, Belgium are one of the favourites at the start of the tournament.
Star Player – Thibaut Courtois. The Chelsea goalkeeper is only 24 but is already considered one of the best in the world and this tournament could be a showcase for him.
Sweden – Qualified through the play-off round, Sweden will be looking to navigate the tricky group they’ve been placed in and progress well in the tournament, and with one of the world’s best players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they could do anything.
Star Player – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As of this writing, we still don’t know where Zlatan will be playing club football next year, but he’s still one of the world’s best players and capable of doing almost anything with a football.
Italy – Top of their qualification group, and with a rejuvenated squad. Italy will look to go one step further this tournament as they were runners up in 2012. There’s no Pirlo this time to steer the ship but there’s still some quality in the team that could guide them far.
Star Player – Gianluigi Buffon. Still playing and still one of the best. Won the World Cup in 2006 and would love to add a European Championship to his cabinet.
Republic of Ireland – Another play-off winner, the Republic of Ireland would like to avenge their disappointing 2012 campaign where they lost all 3 of their group games and went out. They’ve been landed a tough group but they could pull a surprise off.
Star Player – Robbie Keane. 143 appearances for his country, Keane will be the main goalscoring threat for his team.
Portugal – Winner of their qualification group, Portugal come into the tournament knowing they potentially have the best player there, Cristiano Ronaldo. They are not a one-man team, however, and players like Nani and Moutinho will want to show that.
Star Player – Cristiano Ronaldo. Even if Portugal aren’t a one man team. There’s no denying that Ronaldo will be the key to whether Portugal does well.
Austria – Austria will be looking to make a big impact at this year’s tournament and they have a hungry squad with some impressive players like Janko, Alaba and Harnik who can all perform on the big stage.
Star Player – David Alaba. The Bayern Munich player is a 1st choice for club and country and will be the key player for Austria.
Iceland – Making their European Championship debut, Iceland will want to make sure it’s a memorable one. Runners up in their qualification group, teams will be foolish to take them lightly.
Star Player – Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Swansea midfielder will be the creative spark in this team and will be the key man.
Hungary – The once powerful Hungary team isn’t the team it once was, but that doesn’t mean they are pushovers, they have a strong team with quality players such as Dzsudzsák and Gera they could do well.
Star Player – Balázs Dzsudzsák. The star man for this team, scores and creates and will have to do so if Hungary is to go far.
So there you have it, a brief team-by-team guide to the European Championships. Who knows who will be lifting that trophy on July 10th when the tournament ends. We here at Yamgo will be watching very closely to see who! Let us know in the comments who you think will lift the trophy, or get involved on our social media pages, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ where we will be discussing the tournament as it progresses.