#UEFA2016: The Three Dark Horses of Europe this year
Image Credits: thesun.co.uk
Everyone talks about the favorites to win the tournament, Germany Spain, the hosts France England but what football has taught me over the years is there are no favorites and anyone on his day can produce an upset and clinch to glory. How can one justify the 2004 triumph of Greece. Let’s look at the teams which have the potential to replicate Greece’s feat at this year Euros.
Wales for the first time will be participating in the Euros and have the players in the teams which can take it the distance.
Gareth Bale, the Welish Wizard the most expensive player in the world is ably supported by Ashley Williams in defense and Aaron Ramsey in the midfield to make a formidable team.
And their form in the qualifiers has been quite good building the team heavy on defense, scoring against them will be very tough and the pace and strength of bale provides them a good counter attacking opportunity.
The other three teams in their Group B are England, Russia and Slovakia and given their past records it should not be a surprise if Wales manage to go through. It would then be only 3 matches between them and the trophy and there cannot be a better story where a first time qualifier goes home with the trophy.
Ante Cacic side have always been there about kind, this Euro could be there best opportunity to go for the kill. It was in 1998 in France in the FIFA World Cup when Croatia surprised many by finishing third they could very well have a déjà vu moment.
The midfield pairing of El- Classico rivals Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric is like a dream pairing for any team in the world and supported by Mario Mandzukic up front the team has the potential to go all the way.
Their form in qualifiers has been good even though they finished second but they still held Italy to draw in both the fixtures.
Their Group D features Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey along, if Croatia was to top the group at the expense of others it should be not be a shocker.
This will be Austria’s second appearance in The Euros- they last made it in the 2008 edition and did not go beyond the group stages. But Marcel Koller’s side presents a potent threat among all teams. This comes on the backdrop of the way they qualified to the tournament. While Europe was engulfed into celebrating the unbeaten run of England in the qualifiers winning all ten matches, Austria too remained unbeaten, they won nine and drew one.
The star power of the team may not be like that of Croatia or Wales but they have Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, Benfica’s Marc Janko ably supported by Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic.
They unlike Croatia have a relatively easy group with Portugal, Hungary and Iceland in contention so they should qualify for the knock out stages, something they have not achieved.
The actual reality though is there are no favorites or dark horses in football, on a given day even the best of teams with the most dominating style of play may fail to score, be denied by an inspirational goal keeping or even the post and the team which has been shadows could very well produce a goal the most scrappy of its kind and take home the spoils. This uncertainty is what makes football the beautiful game.