It’s a solid month of soccer: 51 games, 24 countries and millions of fans.
Euro 2016, the second-biggest soccer tournament in the world behind the World Cup – is upon us.
Where can I watch?
On the various ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). You can also stream it live on the WatchESPN app. Watching outside the United States? Games are probably on a national broadcaster, like ITV and BBC in the U.K., beIN Sports in Australia, TSN in Canada, Sony Six in India, Al Jazeera Sport in the Mideast and North Africa or Globo TV in Brazil.
Who should I root for?
Germany for sure. It’s the current World Cup champ. And Belgium, the top-ranked FIFA squad in the tournament. Talented host team France may lack experience, but will get a jolt from the home crowds.
Who is likely to make news?
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t the world’s highest-paid athlete for nothing. There’s massive expectation on him to score. Also, don’t lose track of Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who’s looking for a new club team; he’ll use Euro 2016 as a showcase for his considerable skills. France’s Antoine Griezmann can light up the field too.
What’s the most basic thing I should know to appear smart?
Nothing really. Soccer’s pretty simple to follow. Except for the offside rule. A player’s considered offside if he’s closer to the opponent’s goal than the ball and the second-last opposing player. Offside calls (or non-calls) get argued for years after some matches.
How is the tournament set up?
Six groups of four teams will duke it out in round-robin play. Twenty four is whittled down to 16. Then it’s on to the “knockout” rounds: quarter finals, semis and the final. (Psst, here’s an insider’s tip: Group B is the toughest)
Since this is soccer, I assume there’s a mascot?
But of course. His name is Super Victor, and he’s young, energetic and blessed with magic football boots!
Since this is a soccer tournament, I assume there’s an official song?
Yes. And it’s a pretty catchy David Guetta ditty.
These questions are all fine and good for the newbies. What have you got for hardcore soccer fans?
How about a chance to put together your dream team. Choose your lineup using and then challenge your friends to do better. (Mobile users, click here)
Let’s get serious for a second. Will the games be safe?
France vows it will be, despite threats from ISIS and others. France is deploying a security force of nearly 100,000 to blanket the tournament, set up a no-fly zone over stadiums and even launched an app to alert users to any possible terror attacks nearby.
Now will we be safe from seeing players tumble to the pitch faking injuries?