Euro 2016: Top Five Teams to Watch Out For

Updated: 02 June 2016 13:04 IST

With Euro 2016 set to kick off on June 10, NDTV.com takes a look at the top five title contenders

Euro 2016: Top Five Teams to Watch Out For
Germany have won the European Championships thrice, and will be one of the favourites for Euro 2016 title. © AP

The UEFA Euros - a scouting tournament for some, the epitome of quality international football for others. With tournament wins for Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004, few dare to predict which team will eventually lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy at the end of this summer spectacle of football.

With Euro 2016 set to kick off on June 10, NDTV.com takes a look at the Top Five title contenders, along with the dark horses who may etch their name in the fairytale of Euro shocks.

1. Germany

Manager: Joachim Loew

Captain: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Key Player: Thomas Muller

Last 5 fixtures: LWLLW

World Rank: 5

Defending world champions and 4/1 to win the tournament, Germany edge hosts France as tournament favourites. Despite having lost four of their last six fixtures, including a shock loss to Slovakia, the German squad blends youth with experience, retaining much of their 2014 World Cup-winning team.

Joachim Loew's side would look to follow France and Spain, by becoming the third team to hold the World Cup and European Championship simultaneously. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is recovering from a knee injury, looks set to recover in time to captain his first major tournament, following the retirement of Philipp Lahm. With a side featuring Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels, it would be a truly disappointing outing if Germany fail to make the semi-finals.

Injuries: Germany will be without Borussia Dortmund midfielders Ilkay Gundogan, who injured himself playing basketball and his teammate Marco Reus, who misses out on a major tournament yet again through injury.

Paul Pogba will be one of the key players for France at the Euro 2016.

© AP



2. France

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Captain: Hugo Lloris

Key Player: Paul Pogba

Last 5 fixtures: WWWLW

World Rank: 21

Hosts and the bookmakers' favourites to at 7/2 to win the tournament, Les Bleus have frightening talent but lose top spot to Germany, owing to one notable exclusion from their squad - Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

Leading up to the tournament, France have registered wins against Russia, the Netherlands and Germany. Coach Didier Deschamps has the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Manchester United wonder boy Anthony Martial. Captained by Hugo Lloris, France are heavily fancied owing to their solid spine and pace up front.

Injuries: France will be without Barcelona centre-back Jeremy Mathieu, after he sustained a calf injury. FA Cup winner Anthony Martial limped out of a France training session leading up to the tournament, raising questions over his fitness. Perhaps the most notable exclusion, however, is not through injury but suspension - as Karim Benzema has been overlooked following his alleged involvement in blackmailing teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Belgium reached the quarter-finals of 2014 FIFA World Cup.

© AP



3. Belgium

Manager: Marc Wilmots

Captain: Eden Hazard

Key Player: Kevin de Bruyne

Last 5 fixtures: WLWWW

World Rank: 2

With a plethora of attacking talent, Euro 2016 may well be the stage Belgium's golden generation craves to showcases its ability. Stand-in captain Eden Hazard is poised to become the youngest man to skipper the Belgian Red Devils in a major tournament, in the absence of the sidelined Vincent Kompany.

Despite a disappointing campaign with Chelsea, Hazard showed glimpses of the player fans admire and adore. With the emergence of Kevin de Bruyne as the talisman, Belgium have a mouthwatering attack, with the imposing Romelu Lukaka leading the line. Throw into the mix a back five featuring Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen and an in-form Toby Alderweireld, and one wonders if it's a question of when, rather than if.

Injuries: The Red Devils have been plagued with defensive injuries leading up to the Euros -- with Nicolas Lombaerts, Dedryck Boyata and captain Vincent Kompany -- all sidelined.

Euro 2016 Spain Football
Spain are the defending Euro champions, but have suffered from poor form of late.

© AFP

4. Spain

Manager: Vicente del Bosque

Captain: Iker Casillas

Key Player: David Silva

Last 5 fixtures: WDDWW

World Rank: 6

It is easy to forget at times, that Spain enter the tournament as defending champions. The 2014 World Cup debacle may have severely dented their aura of invincibility but teams will write Spain off at their own peril.

La Furia Roja have irresistible young talent in Koke and Alvaro Morata, both of whom have played a Champions League final by age 24. What remains to be seen, however, is if Vicente del Bosque will play reigning Manchester United player of the year David de Gea over favourite son, Iker Casillas.

Injuries: Real Madrid fullback Dani Carvajal sustained a hip injury in the Champions League final versus Atletico Madrid, while Diego Costa has been overlooked because of a hamstring injury.

Wayne Rooney 1009
Wayne Rooney is England's top-most scorer going into Euro 2016.

© AFP



5. England

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Captain: Wayne Rooney

Key Player: Harry Kane

Last 5 fixtures: WWLWW

World Rank: 10

"Will this be their year?" - fans, pundits and former players have posed this question time and again - to no avail though. The Three Lions have unsuccessfully managed expectations over the years, resulting in an almost predictable pattern of showing promise leading up to the tournament, before a dreadful run culminates into an early exit.

This time around, however, there is something different about England. A strike partnership of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, along with the emergence of Dele Alli and Ross Barkley have given Roy Hodgson reason to rejoice before his likely swansong. Whether England turn a corner this time round may be anyone's guess but this squad can beat any team on its day. Look out for Marcus Rashford.

Injuries: Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph looks set to miss the tournament through a groin injury, while striker Daniel Sturridge could be a major doubt.

Gareth Bale Wales Andorra
Gareth Bale scored seven of Wales' 11 goals in Euro qualifying.

© AFP



Dark Horses: Wales

Manager: Chris Coleman

Captain: Ashley Williams

Key Player: Gareth Bale

Last 5 fixtures: LDLWL

World Rank: 24

Who is to say that Euro 2016 will not end in another Denmark or Greece? With their first-ever appearance at the UEFA Euros, and first in a major tournament in 58 years, one can only imagine what the tournament means to the Welsh, and to Gareth Bale.

The Real Madrid winger was the force behind their successful qualification campaign, scoring seven goals and assisting two. Bale looks set to play at the highest-level, something his idol Ryan Giggs could never do.

The Wales side has genuine quality with Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, Swansea captain Ashley Williams and Liverpool's Joe Allen among their ranks. Could we be set for another mighty Euro shock? Surely there's a chance. Bookmakers suggest it's 80/1.

Injuries: Crystal Palace midfielder Joe Ledley suffered a broken leg on May 7 and is unlikely to return for the Euros.

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Topics : Euro 2016 Germany Spain Wales France Belgium Football
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