Winners: France. With the array of young talent that they have, I can’t see anyone matching their quality all over the pitch. Their only weakness seems to be the lack of pace in their full backs but with the likes of Pogba, Payet, Martial and Coman in their attacking ranks.I think their defensive frailties won’t matter too much. When your attack is as good as France’s is, then you can afford to let in the odd sloppy goal here and there. We saw in the opening game of Euro 2016 that they have match winners throughout their squad, so for me it has to be the home nation.
Runners Up: Italy. Never have I seen such a perfect defensive unit as this Italian side. Chiellini, Barzagli, Bonucci and Buffon have played with each other for years and it looks like Italy are beginning to reap the rewards. Against Belgium they showed why having such a good understanding of each other’s play is important because they gave one of the greatest defensive performances I have ever seen against a team with a lot of individual talent. I think the one thing that will prevent them from winning the whole tournament is that they lack midfield generals. France have Pogba and Matudi, who will both demand the ball and also win it back when they need to, whereas Italy only have De Rossi who won’t be able to complete the job on his own.
Semi-Finalists: Germany and Croatia. Being world champions, there is a lot of pressure on the Germans in this tournament and I don’t think they can live up to the hype this time around. Despite a solid opening display against Ukraine, I think their lack of an out and out right back and a number 9 will cost them in the end. With Howedes at right-back, they are without someone with the pace to bomb up and down the flank for 90 minutes and against Ukraine that meant that Muller had to track back far too much and he is someone that Germany need in the heart of their attacks. Also, Gotze seems to be completely ineffective in the false 9 role and Gomez isn’t good enough to cut through the very best defences which is why I see them only getting to the semi-finals.
As for Croatia, they are my dark horses in this tournament and I think they will surprise a lot of people this time round. In Modrić and Rakitić they have two of the best midfielders in world football and the whole team will have more of a desire to succeed than teams like Spain will and I think that will carry them. Mandžukić is also a very experienced striker and very street wise, you’ll often see him buying the odd free kick and deceiving the referee so perhaps that will give them a competitive edge.
Those are my picks for the top spots in the tournament, however as we’ve seen this season in the Barclay’s Premier League, football really is one of the most unpredictable things in the world. Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments, and for more articles like this check out the rest of The Football Forecast or visit my blog https://5minutesofaddedtime.com/ and enjoy the rest of Euro 2016!