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Euro 2016: Carlo Ancelotti picks his favourites and explains how teams can win

Ancelotti believes the trend in club football this season could repeat at Euro

Carlo Ancelotti Emirates Arsenal Leicester City
Carlo Ancelotti beieves counter-attacking football is the way to go in Euro 2016

Euro 2016 is one week away with the quadrennial tournament kicking off in France as the hosts take on Romania in the first game of the group stages. And new Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti gave his thoughts on the tournament in a column in The Telegraph.

24 teams will battle it out in an all-new format that will now see a new Round of 16 before the quarter-finals. Previous tournaments saw the top 16 teams in Europe and Ancelotti believes that although the previous editions had top quality teams from the start, the extra teams did have players who could make a huge difference; such as Gareth Bale for Wales, Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Sweden – all players he had managed before.

Ancelotti’s favourites for Euro 2016

“My favourites for the tournament are Germany and then France, the world champions and the hosts,” Ancelotti wrote in his column.

“After them, you cannot ignore Spain and one tier down you have Belgium and England, two nations with a high quality of young players for whom the challenge is to build a really good team.”

Spain are the defending champions having won Euro in both 2008 and 2012. While they lost their chance to defend the World Cup title in 2014, Vicente Del Bosque has picked a refreshed squad that does not have half the players from the team that exited the group stage in Brazil.

Ancelotti gave specific insight on England and how manager Roy Hodgson was very “thorough and well-organised” the English coach is, remembering how Hodgson’s Switzerland reached the second round in the World Cup under his tenure. 

However, the Italian boss said there was only one team he was supporting and that was the Azzurri themselves. “When next Sunday comes around for Italy’s first game against Belgium in Lyon, I will have my Azzurri shirt on, and there will be only one team I want to win.”

Counter-attacking teams have a better chance at Euro 2016: Ancelotti

The 56-year-old manager, who has found success in Italy, England, Spain and France, feels that since international managers have little time to prepare their teams, it would be best if they tried counter-attacking football unless their squads were well versed in building from the back. 

“I believe that Euro 2016 could be a tournament suited to one style above all,” Ancelotti says. “This could be the tournament of counter-attacking football.

“Just look at how Leicester City have won the Premier League this season by counter-attacking against teams with pace and aggression. The same could be said of Atletico Madrid, who reached the final of the Champions League again with that approach of allowing opposition teams to have the ball and then attacking them quickly when possession was turned over.”

Ancelotti spoke of how players such as Jamie Vardy had been “stretching defences all season” with Leicester City on their way to the Premier League title. He also believed the Three Lions “could be a surprise success” in the tournament. 

“I like Vardy and given the right circumstances I believe he could cause some big problems to opposition teams on the counter-attack,” Ancelotti explains. “Harry Kane is able to play this way as well. England have many quick forward players to counter-attack teams.”

He also hoped none of the players from his new club would be injured in the summer tournament before the 2016/17 season. 10 Bayern Munich players will feature at Euro 2016.

“I am hoping that none of my Bayern Munich players get injured,” Ancelotti says. “There are 10 of them at the tournament, including five with Germany, and I wish them all well.”

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