As Euro 2016 is due to begin with all the relevant hype and excitement you would seemingly expect from a major international tournament this Friday, we’ve decided to move beyond the most recognisable and well-established outfits operating at the summer competition – with a closer look at just some of the hopeful ‘underdog’ nations looking to stake their claim at the upcoming tournament…
Despite successfully seeing off Portugal during a somewhat unforeseen qualification victory for Gianni de Biasi’s workman-like outfit, Albania clearly represent one of the major underdogs operating at Euro 2016 this summer.
Their overall style has become somewhat robust and uncompromising under their Italian head-coach, but whilst Albania’s desire to frustrate the opposition into making crucial errors can theoretically work out well on paper, the gulf in class between this specific outfit and the rest of their summer European opposition remains somewhat strained to say the very least.
Whilst de Biasi’s first choice starting XI will likely include the older brother of recently acquired Arsenal man Granit Xhaka – Basel’s very own Taulant Xhaka – Albania’s general chances of success ultimately look pretty slim within the grand scheme of things.
Despite admittedly arriving at Euro 2016 with very little international pedigree whatsoever, this particular Northern Ireland outfit nonetheless remain largely pragmatic and efficient in their approach – especially when it comes to delivering the ball from set-pieces and watching it fly into the back of the net as a result.
Michael O’Neill’s side ultimately fails to include a few world class names who could seemingly serve to set the international scene alight this summer however. Although Kyle Lafferty has certainly helped his nation out considerably when it comes to his goals scored during qualification, it remains to be seen whether or not the 28-year-old striker really has what it takes to transfer his previous form onto one of the grandest stages of all.
Even though Northern Irish confidence will rightly find itself in full swing sooner rather than later, it would seemingly have to take a very brave punter to really put their neck on the line for Michael O’Neill’s determined outfit at Euro 2016.
But whilst the likes of Albania and Northern Ireland will most likely provide the rest of their European competition with the relevant ‘whipping-boys’ of their respective groups, the same simply can’t be said of Iceland after a truly wonderful qualification campaign not so long ago.
The tournament debutants include several impressive and relatively well-established stars among their first team ranks of course, with Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson clearly arriving as the most threatening name out of the entire bunch.
Although very few will ultimately issue Iceland much of a second glance when all is said and done this summer – make no mistake about it – this is one team who certainly have enough about them to cause one or two major upsets when Euro 2016 finally gets underway in the not too distant future.
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