FEATURE | EURO CUP: PLAYERS TO WATCH

EURO CUP PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR VIA SNAPD

By Raven Benwait

Mesut Özil (Germany) – This year, the Arsenal star was voted Germany’s National Team Player of the Year for the fourth time in his career. 27-year- old, Özil is known to be the best playmaker in team Germany and one of the best in the world. Recently, the midfielder produced a magnificent assist for Max Kruse to lead Germany into the Euro Cup. Using his vision and playmaking ability, he was able to pick out a perfect through ball to the edge of the box. During the qualifiers, Germany came on top with seven wins, one draw and only two losses. After winning the 2014 World Cup, Germany has a high chance of making it far in the 2016 Euro Cup with Özil and his playmaking skills.

Gareth Bale (Wales) – Wales lost just once during the qualifiers to Bosnia-Herzegovina and conceded four goals – only Romania, England and Spain let in fewer.The 26-year- old Real Madrid star scored a strong seven of eleven goals during the qualifying round. The Welsh winger is known for his ball striking from distance, his swerving free kicks as well as crosses and his speedy ability to pass by opposing players. We’ve yet to see what the Real Madrid star can do against some of the best international football teams. Bale successfully scored seven goals in qualifiers – can he do it again?

Andres Iniesta (Spain) – Try not to be fooled by Spain’s World Cup exit in the previous World Cup. The 2012 Euro Cup was an intense competition for Spain as they came out on top, breaking a record of winning three major tournaments in a row – Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. With Xabi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso and David Villa gone, the team is not likely to play as they once did. Lucky for Spain, they still have 33-year- old Andres Iniesta, who has had a fantastic record of successes, including the 2012 Euro Cup Championship win against Italy. Iniesta impressed most, as his goals and assists benefited the team. Expect more of the same to continue.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) – It’s been nearly 19 years since Gianluigi Buffon came on as a substitute for Italy during the playoffs in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, when he made a fantastic save against Russia. The 2006 World Cup winner is now one of the most significant members in the Italian National team. The captain is one of the most respected players in the game and is a real leader, not only with Italy, but also his club Juventus. Buffon’s previous Euro Cup was definitely a bittersweet one; team Italy made it to the finals but suffered a tough 4-0 loss by Spain. The 38-year- old’s shining career will be nearing its conclusion soon, so let’s see if his leadership skills will take team Italy to the finals once again at Euro 2016.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – Arguably one of the greatest strikers in Europe, he has already played at three European Championship finals for Portugal and has a strong record including the finals of Euro 2004, the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup, quarter-finals of Euro 2008, the round of 16 in 2010 in South Africa and of course the semis in Euro 2012. Some believe Ronaldo’s glory with team Portugal has ended because of the previous 2014 World Cup which went downhill for the star. Ronaldo is a three-time world player of the year who scored five goals in six qualifying appearances. Portugal will go as far as Ronaldo takes them.

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