Unless you are an avid soccer fan or read the sports headlines on your chosen internet browsers newsfeed, you probably had zero idea that two of the biggest sports events are happening this month.
If I already have you racking your brain, I will give you a hint – they’re international events, and no, it’s no the Olympics. For a great portion of the world the Olympics are on the back burner.
Last week the Copa America kicked off and Friday is the 2016 European Championship. Who will be crowned the Americas and Europe’s finest?
Not as well known as the Union of European Football Associations’ Euro, the Copa America is soccer’s oldest international competition. Americans should tune in because the United States men’s national team is playing in it. Also, for the first time in the tournament’s 100-year history, it’s being hosted outside of South America and on U.S. soil.
The U.S. men’s team has much riding on its performance. After losing its tournament opener to Columbia, the Americans faced a must-win situation against Costa Rica on Tuesday. Fortunately the team figured out how to make it work despite the doubts and won 4-0. Now just a win against Paraguay on Saturday stands in the way of the United States making the quarterfinals. Advancement to the quarterfinals is necessary for this U.S. team that has time and time again failed to impress.
But will making the quarterfinals be good enough? Prior to the win against the Ticos, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati suggested that U.S. men’s head coach Jurgen Klinsmann could be out of a job if the team didn’t start winning.
The U.S. doesn’t stand a chance to win it all, but considering we won’t be seeing the U.S. men’s team in the Olympics, a strong Copa performance is a must.
Brazil would have been my favorite if it wasn’t playing without half of its starting lineup. The team is saving its weapons in hopes of earning an Olympic win at home in August.
Lia’s Prediction: Columbia. The Columbians impressed me so much during the 2014 World Cup they became my favorite to win it all. At that point in time that may have been eager considering how young the team was, but not they are older and more experienced. Columbia’s dominance in the group stage is a definite indication it has what it takes to compete with favorites Argentina and Uruguay.
The sports elite lay claim to the Euro. As much as I am beyond excited for the tournament opener Friday afternoon, I am also wary of potential disaster. The tournament is on French soil, and since last year’s Paris attacks, security levels have been at an all-time high.
With French Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying Europe is at war following the attacks in Paris and Brussels, many have pushed for the cancellation of the tournament. With thousands of rowdy fans packing into stadiums day after day for the next month, let’s hope nothing can get past security.
Lia’s prediction: Germany. The French are one of the favorites to win it all. Normally they blow it at world tournaments, but they are incredibly successful at home having won every contest on home soil in the last century. Spain is the reigning champion, but after a 2014 World Cup performance the Spaniards would like to forget and a rocky qualifying road, I don’t have faith in them to take Euro for a third time in a row.
The Germans are the kings of major tournaments and they have only gotten stronger following their 2014 World Cup dominance. The only part of their lineup that draws questions for me is their front line, but I know they have the personnel who will rise to the occasion.