Le Rendez-Vous 2016
June 6, 2016 6:53 AM   Subscribe

After a grueling club season without major surprises or heartbreak, the best (well, close to half) national teams in Europe meet in France to know who will follow Spain in lifting the Henri Delaunay Trophy in Paris in July 10. This Friday, the Euro 2016 begins.

The 15th edition of competition that started in 1960, also in France and won by the Soviet Union led by Lev Yashin, marks the third increase of finalists, after the 1980 expansion, where it grew from a 4 team knockout to a 8 team tournament, and in 1996 to 16 (in part due to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union), this tournament will bring together 24 teams. New members Kosovo arrived too late to take part in a wild qualification round, and while it would be easy to dismiss the presence of five newcomers - Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and Wales - to the expansion, that would not to explain how former champions Netherlands (1988) Denmark (1992) and Greece (2004) missed the cut, or Scotland, the only of the Home Nations that will be watching the tournament at home. Also excluded from the 552 players called up, are those missing out on season-long or ill-timed injuries - Vincent Kompany (Belgium), Fábio Coentrão (Portugal), Dani Carvajal (Spain) Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti (Italy), Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus (Germany), Raphael Varane and Jérémy Mathieu (France) or Danny Welbeck (England) are just a few of them, while others like Jack Wilshere (England) João Moutinho (Portugal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) and Joe Ledley (Wales) were called up, but might not be fully match fit. A different case is Karim Benzema, who was suspended from Les Bleus after a bizarre blackmail scandal with team mate Mathieu Valbuena, although he has another theory. In Spain, Juan Mata, Diego Costa and Fernando Torres (who scored in the last two finals) were left out from the call-up, as Vicente Del Bosque continues to replace the ageing golden generation that won two European Championships and a World Cup. Another player who will go down in history but not to France is Andrea Pirlo, who reversed his decision to step away from international football after 2014, but was left out after moving to the MLS.
Euro 2016 might also become the last international stage for a number of stars and familiar faces of the past decade who are well past 30, such as UEFA cap recordist Iker Casillas (35, Spain), Gianluigi Buffon (38, Italy), Robbie Keane (almost 36, Ireland), Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (37, Ukraine), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (34, Sweden) Pepe and Ricardo Carvalho (33 and 38, Portugal), Gabor Kiraly (40, Hungary) or Tomás Rosicky and Petr Cech (35 and 34, Czechia). Overall, England has the youngest team, thanks to players such as Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford, while Ireland has the oldest.

Of the favourites, Germany with Thomas Müller, Meszut Özil and Manuel Neuer hope the repeat the success of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, despite poor form throughout the qualifiers and a number of key players retiring, while Spain will try to erase the poor performance in the same competition (eliminated in group stage finishing behind the Netherlands and Chile) and win their third consecutive title. Both are chasing a record fourth title, while France hopes to join them as three-times winners, repeating their home win in 1984, as the star of that tournament and UEFA president Michel Platini has recently resigned from UEFA leadership after a much discussed corruption scandal that just won't go away. England hope to finally see the 30 50 years of hurt end, and it will be up to 2016 revelation Vardy and new stars Kane and Alli to reach the heights the previous generations promised but failed to deliver. Belgium hopes to build on their quarter finals presence two years ago with a team filled with talent across the field, as Italy is still struggling to find a tactical identity, while in Portugal fans once again hold their breath expecting Cristiano Ronaldo is match fit after a long season capped off with the winning penalty in the shootout that gave Real Madrid the undécima, as the dismal performance in Brazil is still a fresh memory. But how fresh will their key players be on July is a question most teams hope to answer positively in order to accomplish their goals. For the favourites, progressing to the knock-out stage will be easier, without the usual "groups of death" and with only 8 of the 24 returning home after three matches.
If anyone needs conversation pieces, The Guardian has profiles on every player - did you know Austria's Marc Janko's mother Eva Janko was a bronze medallist in the Javelin at the 1968 Olympics, or that Iceland's Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was a Counter-Strike fan, but quit the game because the lag between London and his friends in Iceland was too much? Now you do.

As the 2020 tournament will be played across Europe to celebrate the 60th birthday of the competition, it's also uncertain if this will be the last tournament to be played in a single country or a joint bid in a foreseeable future, as fewer countries are willing to support the costs of the competition, particularly after the increase of finalists. A new tournament - The UEFA Nations League will also present a new gateway for teams to qualify. On a different playing field, along growing unrest in France that may affect transport and services during the competition, it will also take place under the shadow of the attacks on Paris (including a failed suicide bomb attack during a friendly match between France and Germany in the Stade de France, where the final will take place) and Brussels, with concerns ISIL (or other extremists) had or has plans to strike the venues or official fanzones, and while there are no plans to play games behind closed doors, UEFA has admitted having contingency plans for multiple scenarios. And hopefully, private security companies will be more mindful of their training material.

To get you started, a few highlights from previous competitions:
Gerd Muller scores four in just two games in a memorable performance. That Panenka moment in 1976. Jordão bounces one ball against the ground and into the back of the net against France in 1984 and Amoros bounces himself into Jesper Olsen. Van Basten hits a perfect volley against the Soviet Union in 1988, who had already seen another perfect volley get past Rinat Dasayev early in the competition. Paul Gascoigne shows top form against Scotland in 1996, while Davor Suker and Karel Poborsky show that there's more than one way around a goalkeeper. Stuart Pearce reacts to an English player scoring in a penalty shootout (because...), and everything ended as Germany finds an unlikely hero. Jaap Stam undergoes repair in 2000 (warning: player nonchalantly getting stitches in the underbrow), and days later kicking a penalty into low orbit. Showing better aim was Figo against England and Frank De Boer against France. Yugoslavia sees 21 goals scored in their 4 matches - 7 vs Spain, 1 vs Norway, 6 vs Slovenia, and 7 vs the Netherlands. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores a crucial back-heel goal against Italy, Maniche surprises Netherlands (and the broadcasters) from a corner and Angelos Charisteas describes his final winner against hosts Portugal in 2004. Highlights from England in 2008. Spain demolishes Italy, and wins their third major trophy in a row. Or just watch them in LEGO.

For game discussion, the newly formed MeFi Football Club will have a go at FanFare plus a Fantasy League. But if you are itching for some action and the final round of friendlies won't do, the Copa América Centenario is taking place right now.
posted by lmfsilva (24 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
My liver really appreciated that two-week break between the end of the league and the start of the Euros.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:03 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've got my UEFA EURO 2016™ Official Sticker Album! And I ALREADY have Iceland's Kolbeinn Sigthórsson!!! And If I put a few Disney Princesses in his team with him, that's MY CHOICE. That Under-the-Sea girl looks like she's be good up front, maybe playing the "False 9" role. She has better songs than Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, that's for sure. Or maybe not ... I've never heard him sing. But - yeah. Probably.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:10 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill gives a great interview.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:14 AM on June 6, 2016

'Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.' - Lineker
posted by PenDevil at 7:19 AM on June 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

That Under-the-Sea girl looks like she's be good up front

I was going to make some sort of joke about how "she's got no legs!", but it really hasn't stopped Wayne Rooney.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:40 AM on June 6, 2016 [7 favorites]

"she's got no legs!", but it really hasn't stopped Wayne Rooney

Ha ha! She has hair, too! Basically she's a superior footballer AND a superior mer-person, and why she isn't captain of England I'll never understand. I've heard that ol' Roy Hodgson hates the sea, because a white whale once nibbled his father.

Anyway, I think EVERY Euro 2016 squad should have at least one Disney film-song as their official anthem. Iceland probably should have something from Frozen. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" - I dunno. Working this out will be a feature of the MetaFilter Euro 2016 real-time commentary, however (now on FanFare™).
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:03 AM on June 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

France should have "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast, natch. Germany? Probably "I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”. Wales? - maybe "For the First Time in Forever". Like I say, there are important details here to be worked out.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:12 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Great post, imfsilva, great job.

As to football songs, is there a dirge in any Disney musicals that makes you want to tear your own teeth out and cut off your ears, because if so, that would be England's song. We are going to get shown up big-time, Hodgson has picked unfit players and taken bloody Rooney, and our defence is so weak, it will be like water through a sieve. Honestly, I usually look forward to these tournaments, but this time I just feel like it will be a complete let down.

France to win - strong team, great players, home advantage. Germany to come second - they are always strong at tournaments. After that, take your pick, but Italy will be in there somewhere, they seem to be able to progress through these things pretty well.

Sorry, imfsilva (and I know you are aware of this) but Portugal are going nowhere!

I know there are technically no groups of death, but groups C and D look tricky, depending on how things go.

Full Groups and Schedule on the BBC
posted by marienbad at 8:22 AM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

is there a dirge in any Disney musicals that makes you want to tear your own teeth out and cut off your ears

I just realised we've actually done this before! Sorry everyone, life is too short to circle back to that controversy ... hmm ... circle ... of life ... no wait, shut up quidnunc. Good post, lmfsilva!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2016

I'll just add the Denmark vs The Netherlands match from 1992.

Denmark was a wild card entry - Yugoslavia had qualified for the tournament but due to the break-up of the country, they pulled out. Denmark entered instead - without their big superstar, Michael Laudrup who had fallen out with the manager.

The country made it to the semi-finals on a wing and a prayer coming up against the Netherlands hotly tipped for the title.

The result was probably the most nail-biting match I recall watching. The match ended the career of stalwart Danish defender, Henrik Andersen (link warning for graphic injury), but also forged the Danish team into something special.

The match finished 2-2 and went to penalties. The deciding penalty was taken by Danish B-list striker Lars Elstrup with Denmark going through to the final against Germany. Elstrup struggled to cope with his newfound fame and joined a New Age cult.

Denmark won the title without even qualifying for the tournament. They crashed out of the 1996 tournament.
posted by kariebookish at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

marienbad, at least this time England has a proper defensive midfielder! (For the first time in, well, ever.) OTOH, Hodgson's insistence that Rooney is a guaranteed starter should cancel that out.
posted by asterix at 9:41 AM on June 6, 2016

marienbad, at least this time England has a proper defensive midfielder! (For the first time in, well, ever.) OTOH, Hodgson's insistence that Rooney is a guaranteed starter should cancel that out.

I don't know- I think journeyman centre-back Wayne Rooney could really provide some steel to the back line this year.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:02 AM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm a little sad that it has become a bloated 24-team mess, but I'll be watching some of all matches and all of some.
Best Euro memories: the amazing run of the Turks in 2008, with comeback after comeback, (the best was against the Czechs, with Tuncay everywhere and even playing in goal--one of my favorite matches all time), and a wild last effort against Germany with half their starters injured or suspended.
posted by librosegretti at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2016

Sorry, imfsilva (and I know you are aware of this) but Portugal are going nowhere!
As I've put up on FanFare, Portugal's best chance are a bunch of close games they win out by minimal advantages, like four years ago. I don't see that happening, but it would be shock to not even be one of the less bad thirds and advance to the knockouts. I see it as maybe winning the group and then facing Belgium or Italy... And curtains. (useful knockout predictor here).

England have a decent shot for once, but I have serious doubts if keeping Rooney in the 11 at the expense of having Kane, Vardy and Alli slightly out of position will pay off. It's like packing a perfectly good bag, and then trying to cram a fat pillow in there.

I'm a little sad that it has become a bloated 24-team mess
Yup. One thing I always like more about the Euros than the World Cup was there were always a couple of favourites or underdogs slipping out after conceding a late draw in the second game that messed up their plans.

Platini was rumoured to pitch a 48-team World Cup to clinch his coronation as FIFA Corrupt-in-charge. Odds are, this increase was his promise to win in 2007, because unlike the previous expansions (the first was a logic move as TV and advertising became a source on income, the second because UEFA, in just a few years, grew from 30-something to around 50 members - AFAIK, the decision to double the teams 20 years ago was taken just weeks before qualification started ), this one makes no sense from a sporting point of view. There is will be an over-representation of teams - 24 is 43% of all members next time around, and that would be like a World Cup with 90 teams.

Another link worth showing: map with birthplace of every player.

(also, that's LMFSilva)
posted by lmfsilva at 7:02 AM on June 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Worlds Worst Panini Style stickers made by UK couple (hilariously named Mr & Mrs Pratchett!)

BBC Pundits make their Euro predictions.

BBC - Euro 2016 - all you need to know

BBC: Can the beautiful game unite France?

More at the BBC's dedicated Euro 2016 page.

(I am not affiliated with nor do I work at the BBC; these links should not be seen as any form of endorsement of the BBC and its polices and practices.)
posted by marienbad at 7:58 AM on June 10, 2016

Approximately 4 hours until it all kicks off!! Good luck to all of you, whatever your team, and I hope to see people over in fanfare when the games are on (I am working for most of them but will try to be around for some of them.)
posted by marienbad at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2016

UEFA team sheets (Class, your homework tonight is to compare and contrast France and England. OMFG!! Look at that France team!!)

Daily Mirror's guide to the teams (no, wait, I said Mirror, not Mail! It's safe to click this link, honest guv!)
posted by marienbad at 8:15 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Congratulations to France on just about beating Romania.

Switzerland Albania is on in about an hour and a half, and then it's Wales Slovakia, and then the big one, England Russia (hahahaha - *cries* - oh god, please don't let us lose and play shit like we usually do.)
posted by marienbad at 5:37 AM on June 11, 2016

Congratulations to Wales on a job well done - good performance, deserved the victory. Slovakia were good though, and both will be difficult opponents for England.

As for England, Roy should have made the changes sooner, maybe, as Kane had a bad game, and we needed someone to put the ball in the net after some good build up play.

The England game totally marred by violence from the Russian hooligans - hopefully UEFA will take action against Russia for this.
posted by marienbad at 3:27 PM on June 11, 2016

As we come to the close of a decent if somewhat hit and miss first round, it is fairly safe to say that no team has really excelled. Ireland played well for a half, as did Sweden; Spain managed a one nil, Germany ground out a two nil, France struggled to a two one, England laboured to a draw, and Italy took advantage of Belgium's folding under pressure to win two nil. They have looked probably the best team as a "team" so far.

We are discussing the games (and other tournament issues) over on Fanfare, there was some liveblogging of the Italy Belgium game. There will hopefully be a round two post later today from lmfsilva, so come and join us!
posted by marienbad at 8:19 AM on June 14, 2016

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