By Devin Healy
The moment soccer fans around the world have been waiting the last four years for is finally here. When it comes to major tournaments within the footy community, the World Cup takes the cake, but coming in at a close second is the Euro Cup. This tournament features 24 European national teams that advanced through the qualification stage. The tourney began in the group stages below:
Group A: France, Switzerland, Romania, Albania
Group B: Wales, England, Slovakia, Russia
Group C: Germany, Northern Ireland, Poland, Ukraine
Group D: Croatia, Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey
Group E: Italy, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Belgium
Group F: Iceland, Portugal, Hungary, Austria
The games have been played across 10 French cities: Bordeaux, Lens, Lille Metropole, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Saint-Denis, Saint-Étienne, and Toulouse. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stages of the tournament. At the current stage a few teams have already emerged as viable contenders for the championship.
The most surprising team in the tournament so far has been Wales who managed to win their group thanks to star player Gareth Bale. Bale has had 3 goals in his last 3 matches and currently sits as the tournament’s top goal scorer. The Italian squad, lovingly referred to as Azzurri, have had a great tournament so far, most notably after their 2-0 win against Belgium, the top ranked team. Swedish fans will be heavy hearted to see one of their nation’s futbol legends play for the last time as Zlatan Ibrahimovic has announced his retirement from national soccer. Another key player is France’s Dimitri Payet who has had his most brilliant season thus far with West Ham United. Payet has scored two incredible goals, one of which came in the dire last minutes of a match and secured a victory for the French over Romania.
If you happen to be in Europe at the moment consider yourself lucky. You get to witness a month of absolute insanity and a sense of national pride that flows throughout the competing countries from start to finish. There is still plenty of action ahead on this journey for a new soccer champion of Europe so pull up a stool at your favorite local pub, grab a pint and enjoy the show. The Euro Cup ends on July 10th and you can find us rooting for Azzurri in Florence at Uncle Jimmy’s or Beer House Club. We hope to see you there!