By: Marta A.
Slowly but surely the 2016 UEFA European Championship is approaching. The first kickoff is scheduled to take place on the 10th of June at 21:00 as the first match of the championship between France, the country that will host the Euro 2016, and Romania in the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The final will be on the 10th of July at 21:00. This year the championship will be quite different.
From a format stand point there will be 51 matches instead of the usual 31. This is because 24 teams will be going playing the final tournament instead of 16. First of all there will be a group stage with 6 groups instead of 4. Then the first two teams of every group will go on to the next stage. Additionally, the four best-third teams will also go on to the next stage. These 16 teams will go to the round of 16, which consist of one game sudden death rounds where the winner will go to the next round and the loser is out of the competition. The 8 winning teams will go to the quarter-finals, after which the winning 4 teams will play the semi-finals. The two winning teams will then be the finalists who will play the last match in Saint-Denis.
In addition to this change in format, this Championship is different because of the safety concerns. During the November Paris attacks there were three suicide bombers who targeted the Stade de France, while a friendly match between France and Germany was taking place. To respond to this, the UEFA officials have said that security will be heightened.
After winning a European championship, a World cup, and a European championship in a row for the first time in history, Spain is the defending champion, but Germany, after winning the World Cup in 2014, is one of the favorites to take the title. Other strong teams at first glance are the host nation, France, even though two of there strongest players, Frank Ribéry and Karim Benzema will not be playing, as well as the 2012 finalist and four time world champion, Italy. Teams to watch out for as they could be shock winners are Belgium, England, Portugal, and Poland.
The 2016 European Championship will also be different because two previous Euro champions, Netherlands and Denmark, will not participate because they did not qualify. On the other hand, newbies Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and Wales will make their debut in a European championship, as this will be their first tournament ever.
In the next few days teams will start submitting their lists of 23 players, of whom three must be goalkeepers, and after that, the final preparations will be made and the ball will start rolling.