Euro 2016 Day 3- Players to Watch Out

With EURO 2016 having kicked off with a pulsating, nervy 2–1 win for the home side against a resilient Romanian side, football fans are in for a month-long feast of both the sublime & the ridiculous the beautiful game offers.

Day 2 provided more entertainment with Switzerland overcoming an extremely plucky 10-man Albania side-who could have got something out of the game had their strikers put their finishing boots on. In Group B, Wales, participating in their first major international tournament since 1958, began with an emotional 2–1 win against a Slovakian side which gave a very good account of itself.

In the last game of the day, England contrived to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory as they conceded a late, late equaliser against a really bad Russian side. England missed a host of chances to put the game beyond doubt -especially in the first half- and might come to rue this result, especially if things go wrong against Wales.

Day 3 promises us more entertainment with 3 more games as Group C and Group D kickoff in earnest.

Here’s a list of players who may take centre stage today. These players may not necessarily be the star men for their teams but, they are, vital cogs in how their teams function on that particular day.

Marcelo Brozovic(Croatia): In a team full of lithe, technical players who excel at keeping the ball and retaining possession, Brozovic provides the much needed steel at the heart of Croatia’s midfield. While the attention will be, rightly, focused on Modric and Rakitic, Brozovic provides the bustling, all-action presence with his aggressive ball winning capabilities. Capable of covering vast tracts of the pitch, he is crucial to the Croats, allowing Modric and Rakitic orchestrate matters in the final third.

Oguzhan Ozyakup(Turkey): The SuperLig player of the year, Ozyakup, was once on Arsenal’s books and was tipped to star for the first team by the then-captain Robin Van Persie. Things did not work out as expected in London and he moved to Besiktas in 2012. After a slow start to his career in Turkey, he experienced a breakthrough campaign in 2015–16 chalking up 10 goals and 8 assists in all competitions. Fatih Terim, the national team coach, trusts him so much that he is expected to push Bayer Leverkuesen’s Hakan Calhanoglu- an excellent play-maker and a dead ball specialist- to the left side to accommodate Ozyakup in the Number 10 role

Grzegorz Krychowiak(Poland): While all the attention will be on Robert Lewandowski, who scored a whopping 13 goals in the qualifying campaign for Poland, Krychowiak’s assuring presence at the base of the midfield is one of the reasons for Poland’s transformation from a counter attacking side to a more possession- based outfit under Adam Nawalka. Adept at setting the tempo and breaking up play, the Sevilla star man had a stellar campaign for the Europa-league winners. With Northern Ireland expected to attempt to overpower Poland physically, Kryochowiak’s technical assurance will be crucial to Poland

Steven Davis(Northern Ireland): A veteran, of sorts, with Northern Ireland, Davis is expected to be the player who provides the spark in the final third. Micheal O’ Neill’s team are built on physical power & a relentless ability to run, run and, ultimately, outrun the opposition. Steven Davis, who has performed well for Southampton, is extremely adept with the ball at his feat and has to conjure up some magic from set-pieces or open play against a well-organised Poland side.

Julian Draxler(Germany): Draxler has been the next big thing of German football for quite some time now. His initial years at Schalke saw the football world sit up and take notice and he was linked with several big European clubs. Things have not panned out as expected and the jury is still out on whether he has been an adequate replacement at Wolfsburg for Kevin De Bruyne. That said, he is expected to start on the left for Germany and his ability to cut inside and create space for others could prove beneficial to the likes of Thomas Muller.

Yevhen Konoplyanka(Ukraine): It is difficult to imagine what this Ukranian side can offer without Konoplyanka(and Yarmolenko). A pacy, direct winger Konoplyanka has had a mixed season with Sevilla. But he is one of first names on the team sheet for the national team. Given his team’s counter attacking approach, Konoplyanka is not loathe to tracking back and performing defensive duties as Ukraine will look to deny Germany space in the final third. Given Germany’s propensity for conceding goals on the counter attack, Konoplyanka could provide a crucial outlet on the break especially against Germany’s make-shift right back, Benedict Howedes.