Euro Cup 2016 Preview
1 more sleep!
Euro Cup 2016 is nearly upon us. With 15 men’s and 7 women’s teams on display tomorrow it’s sure to be a jam-packed day of Aussie rules action.
This year’s Euro Cup sees the biggest turn out of women’s teams to date. Players from Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Sweden will be making their way to Lisbon this weekend with hopes of getting their hands on some silverware.
The reigning champions; the England Vixens, will be returning with a new three-man coaching team on board and with a few new faces in the line-up they will be looking to retain their title. Joining the Vixens in group A are the 2014 Champions, the Irish Banshees. After being absent at the 2015 Cup in Croatia and narrowly losing to the GB Swans in the European Championships this August, the Irish will be fired up and no doubt will be coming out in full force. The French Cockerelles face a tough competition in what is likely to be the tougher of the two groups, however; this season has seen the French being involved in a number of tournaments including the Champions League and ANZAC Cup so will be hoping their practice as a team will aid their chances. Finalising group A is another 2015 absentee in the Scottish Sirens. After struggling in the 2014 Euro Cup, the Sirens have been secretly strengthening and with the majority of the squad fresh from playing for the GB Swans this summer, they will be one to watch.
Unfortunately, due to a late drop out, there will only be 3 teams making up Group B. 2015 runners up, the Danish Valkyries, will be looking for an easy run through to the semi-finals however their neighbours, the Swedish Ravens, will surely have something to say about this. The Ravens displayed a strong performance at the Champions League tournament earlier this year and they look to have recruited well this season with a huge social media campaign displaying their many new faces. The battle of the Scandinavians is sure to be a tight contest and one not to be missed. Finally, the youngest team, in both years established and in average player age, are the Croatian Queens. The Queens debuted in their home country last year with a team made up of school students. Little has been heard from the team in the last year but considering the strength of their brothers, the Croatian Knights, they cannot be ruled out.
The men’s side of the draw is being contested by 15 teams each divided into four groups. We’ve taken a look at each team’s prospects leading into tomorrow’s tournament.
England – 2015 placing Runners-Up – The English return looking to go one step further in 2016 after losing in the final to Denmark in Croatia. A lot of the squad returns for 2016 with some new faces from previous Dragonslayers squads. After the GB side won EC16 expect a strong challenge from the Dragonslayers who boast 14 of their side being 18-a-side European champions. Expect a quick and physical game from the Dragonslayers in coach, Rob Fielders, last tour in charge. Can they do the double in 2016 and send Rob out on a high note?
Croatia – 2015 placing 3rd – The Croatians come into the tournament on the back of a strong Euro Cup 15 beating Ireland in the 3rd place playoff after losing to tournament winners Denmark in the semi-finals. Expect a bruising style of football from the Southern-Europeans looking to make the finals in 2016. Without Denmark, Ireland or England in their side of the draw they have to be considered strong contenders.
Ireland – 2015 placing 4th – The Irish have long been the powerhouse in European footy but 2015 and 2016 so far haven’t gone to script. Expect the Irish to come back hard at Euro Cup 16 and set the record straight. The Irish still consider themselves the best team outside of Australia and will be bringing their fast, running style to Portugal to right the wrongs of Euro Cup 15 and EC16. A mouth-watering potential semi-final between England and Ireland could make an interesting encounter.
Germany – 2015 placing 5th – The Germans have been gathering steam since finishing 5th in Croatia. A strong performance at EC16, where they finished 3rd, will look to be built on when the Germans return to their usual 9-a-side format. Expect the Germans to bring a powerful team full of industry who will be well drilled and ready to go come Saturday.
France – 2015 placing 6th – The French come into Euro Cup ’16 after a disappointing Euro Cup ’15 where they expected better. The French will be looking to improve on that performance with their free-flowing game. In a tough draw with Ireland expect them to be challenging for the title in that group and a showdown with the winners of Pool D.
Austria – 2015 placing 7th – The Austrians had a tough Euro Cup ’15 being drawn with eventual champions Denmark before a tough game against France but recovered well to beat the Scottish to 7th place. The Austrians will continue to bring serious fight and endeavour to the tournament and should go well in a group with returning sides Italy and Wales.
Scotland – 2015 placing 8th – The Scottish are coming they say. A belief from the north of the UK is that Scotland should be placing higher than 8th within Europe and they plan to use Euro Cup ’16 to prove this. With a number of GB hopefuls looking to push a claim towards the GB International Cup ’17 side expect them to come hard in a group they will look to win.
The Netherlands – 2015 placing 9th – The Dutch continue to improve and rise their standing within Europe. The boys from Holland have continued to improve their league and recently played their first full international against GB. The Dutch have plenty of skilled players and a return to the usual 9-a-side format should give them a good chance against England and the Crusaders.
The Crusaders – 2015 placing 10th – The Crusaders are something of an unknown entity. Made up of European players who don’t have a national team to play for, or weren’t selected, they could be anything. The biggest challenge for the Crusaders is always a mix of languages that have never played together before. Can they overcome this in 2016?
Norway – 2015 placing 11th – The Norwegians come into the tournament looking to replicate their neighbours in Sweden and Denmark and bring a stylish game to the field. A team looking to improve are in a tough group but don’t count them out now
Peace Team – 2015 placing 12th – The Jerusalem Peace Team Lions are back in for Euro Cup 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal. The Lions team manager, Avraham Benvenisty has provided us with an insight into their preparations leading up to this year’s tournament. The Jerusalem Peace Team Lions are taking part in their 2nd European Championship! The team was founded again a few months ago, with only 3 players that knew how to play the game (or that have even watched a game before), but recruitment brought us to the point of having 14 lads that know the rules, learned the game, and accomplished the goal of playing in the upcoming Euro Cup!
Wales – 2015 placing DNP – The Welsh return to the International fold to give us a full complement of the British Isles. An unknown entity with a lot of new faces, and some old, returning to the Euro Cup fold. The Welsh will be looking to create some upsets in their group and believe they have the team to be the story of the tournament.
Russia – 2015 placing DNP – The Russians are will relish the Portuguese sunshine although the heat could prove a factor for them. They play a tough and uncomprising style of football and could surprise a few early tomorrow.
Portugal – 2015 placing DNP – The host nation. They’ve managed to pull together side and will seriously consider themselves a chance to impress on their home turf. The recruitment of former Portugal Rugby champion, Antonio da Cunha, could prove a real coup. His 52 games of international rugby experience could see some sore bodies from the Roosters opponents.
Italy – 2015 placing DNP – the Italians are back and they’ll be putting everything they’ve got into jostling for a good finals place. With a total travelling party of 25 they’ll be sure to have the sidelines filled fans. Could really surprise a few tomorrow.
Tournament previews by Lisa Wilson and Jason Hill.
For those who can’t make it to Lisbon be sure to tune into our live stream of all Pitch 1 match’s