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Contenders for the Euro 2016 Crown

Craig DaviesContributor IIIJune 25, 2016

Contenders for the Euro 2016 Crown

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    Another international tournament gone and another Spanish victory.

    They have now outscored teams 14-0 in ten knockout stages, spanning this year's Euros and that of 2008 plus the World Cup sandwiched in the middle.

    Not surprisingly, they have also been installed as favourites for the next European showpiece in France in four year's time.

    There is, however, a lot of football to be played before then, surely plenty of time for the rest to catch up.

    Expect the best to get better, while some could see re-strengthening jobs handsomely pay off.

    So, who are the contenders for the crown in four year's time?

Germany

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    One of the surprises of the year’s tournament occurred when Italy knocked Germany out at the semi-final stage.

    Their squad is full of world-class talent and seems to have been together for an age; it is though easy to forget the relative youth it contains.

    Three of the regular back four, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng, are only 23, whilst eight of the 11 midfielders taken to Poland and Ukraine are also of that age or younger.

    For this reason alone, it is clear to see they will be massive contenders next time round, as well as in Brazil in two year's time.

    They have been nearly men in the past two European Championships; can they go one step further in 2016?

France

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    Laurent Blanc worked wonders turning this side round from their South African implosion two years ago.

    There is a blend of ages throughout a squad that came second in their group, before being eliminated by the eventual champions at the quarter final stage.

    It is widely expected that Didier Deschamps will fill the managerial void after he left his post at Marseille, and he will have to carry on the good work carried out by Blanc.

    Their fast and fluid game hinges on their attacking midfield trio of Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery and another, while it also helps if your strikers arrive at a tournament with their goal-scoring boots.

    Added to the mix in four year's time is the crucial home advantage, something that worked particularly well at the World Cup in 1998.

    Can France emerge and relive their former glories of the not too distant past?

England

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    A potentially controversial inclusion; it is possible that the perennial quarter-finalists will go at least one step further in the near future.

    Poland and Ukraine were the first step of a building process being carried out by Roy Hodgson, which it is hoped will bring some pride and success back into the national side.

    There are youthful faces in the squad and many more that can be blended in, so reasons for optimism are there.

    However, whilst also being rather dull the brand of football offered doesn’t seem like it will be effective.

    Against the better sides, France and Italy, England were bossed.

    Something that will have to change in order to improve.

Spain

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    They serve up footballing lessons on a game by game basis, and when they don’t even seem at their best, they breeze through a tournament.

    Their possession football is simply breathtaking, and the boring talk was simply ridiculous.

    Many of the faces we have seen this summer could also still feature in France—could they make it a triple?

    As the saying goes, success breeds success, and many of the names in the Spain lineup are used to that at both levels.

    Behind this, it would be surprising if we didn’t see a new generation ready to take up the mantle.

    The greatest side ever?  Quite possibly.

The Rest

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    So there we have it.

    Four predictions of sides to look out for next time around.

    It won’t be that simply of course, many sides will head into the tournament, which will contain 24 teams for the first time, harbouring hopes of success.

    Italy now have a platform from which they can build, their largely surprising run to the final highlighting the talent possessed in the ranks.

    The mercurial Balotelli should be the spearhead, but in other position younger faces will have to be bled in soon.

    Holland will also want to come back fighting, they have four years to stew on their very poor performance this year.

    It also wouldn’t be too surprising to see on the eastern block step up and progress deep into the tournament.

    Russia and Croatia are the most likely to make such improvements, whilst Ukraine now have a base after surprising many.

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