Euro 2016 gets underway tonight in Paris with France vs Romania and the tournament is set to be action packed and full of drama with shock results and penalty shootout heartache along the way.
This year, 24 teams will compete all of whom will be vying for Euro glory. A handful of countries are making their first appearance at a European Championship and it would be difficult to write them all off as Albania, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Slovakia make their Euro debuts.
With superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney taking all the headlines, Football Ticket Pad has picked out three players who may be surprise packages for their country this summer.
Kingsley Coman (France): The on-loan Bayern Munich man is a mature head on young shoulders and at the slender age of 19, the forward has a trophy cabinet that most professionals can only dream of.
Coman is halfway through a two-year loan deal at Bayern Munich from Juventus and with eight trophies already to his name, the forward will be hoping to add a Euro Championship to his growing collection. The Frenchman already has four league titles in three different countries; Two Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain, Serie A with Juventus and Bundesliga with Bayern Munich.
Coman will be thriving under the big game pressure of appearing for France in his home country. Olivier Giroud continues to steal the headlines as the main attacking focal point in the absence of Karim Benzema. However, Coman might sneak under the radar with his fair share of goals and assists for Les Blues, hoping to add to his one goal in five appearances for Didier Deschamps side.
The forward possesses lightening pace which he will be looking to use to blistering effect when given the chance. The teenager might not be a regular starter for Les Blues, but he certainly carries a major impact in coming off the bench as we saw in the Champions League this season and the ability to play on either wing makes him a very useful addition to France.
Thiago Alcantara (Spain): The midfielder is relatively inexperienced at international level for Spain with only six senior caps. However, the Bayern Munich man has all of the attributes to be a success for his country this summer at Euro 2016.
Thiago spent a year out injured with a serious knee injury and will be keen to make up for lost time having missed the 2014 World Cup through injury. However, the central midfielder is back to his best and his range of passing, flair and creativity could help Los Rojos claim their third consecutive European Championship having already helped Bayern claim the Bundesliga title and German Cup this season.
Spain already have Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, Koke and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of midfield, but Thiago is a more than useful back-up option for Vicente Del Bosque and he could well prove to be a worth addition to a Spanish midfield that is already littered with quality.
Mateo Kovacic (Croatia): Kovacic often goes under the radar for both his club and country but there is no disputing his importance to both Croatia and Real Madrid.
For Croatia, Kovacic’s work often goes unnoticed with the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric drawing the plaudits. However, Kovacic has glaring quality and still only 22 years of age, the talented midfielder can make a huge impression at Euro 2016.
Kovacic’s versatility is one of his main attributes and during his 25 appearances this season for Real Madrid and 27 caps for Croatia, he has been deployed as a central midfielder, as well as a deep lying playmaker and as a wide man in a three-man midfield.
Many see Kovacic as more worthy his current bit-part role at the Bernabeu and the Croat will be keen to prove he can produce world-class performances which made Real Madrid splash €29 million to prize the youngster from Inter Milan in 2015.
Kovacic appeared in every game for Croatia during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil before they were eliminated at the Group Stage. However, at France Euro 2016, Kovacic and Croatia could be the surprise package and could set an early marker if they emerge from a testing group with the holders Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey.
Football Ticket Pad is a leading online ticketing platform with Euro 2016 tickets available for every match at the European Championships in France this summer. Book your seats today to see if your team can go all the way and lift the trophy in Paris in July.