Euro 2016 Predictions: Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba Among Players To Watch

by NESN Staff

June 10, 2016

Euro 2016 starts Friday with host nation France taking on Romania, and the tournament features some of the best talent the sport of soccer has to offer.

Here are five players to watch at the European Championships over the next month.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Forward, Portugal
Portugal won’t come close to reaching the final if Ronaldo doesn’t have a great tournament. His pace, playmaking and goal scoring puts so much pressure on opposing defenders. He’s arguably the best player in the world, and his teammates need him to play like it.

Paul Pogba, Midfielder, France

Pogba is a physical, imposing player in the central midfield, but he’s also capable of going forward and scoring goals. He’s an underrated set piece taker, too. This is the perfect stage, on home soil, for Pogba to show the world why he’s one of the very best players at any position.

Harry Kane, Forward, England
Kane had a brilliant season in Tottenham’s third-place Premier League finish. He led England’s top division with 25 goals on 158 shots, and he’s likely to start at striker for Roy Hodgson’s squad in France. Kane has been in good form for England with five goals in 11 career national team appearances. If he doesn’t perform, expect the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy to get an opportunity in the No. 9 role.

Gareth Bale, Forward, Wales
Bale is the engine that drives Wales. His excellent pace, accurate free kicks, clinical finishing in the penalty box and international experience all are vital to Wales’ chances of reaching the knockout stages. He has scored 19 goals in 55 career games for Wales, seven of which came during his insanely good Euro 2016 qualifying run.

Manuel Neuer, Goalkeeper, Germany

The world’s best goalkeeper once again will be the backbone of a young, but talented German defense. Neuer has played at a high level in the UEFA Champions League for German club Bayern Munich, and his performance at the 2014 World Cup was equally as good. Neuer’s clutch saves, quick and accurate throws out of the box and ability to convert penalty kicks (as a taker) give his German teammates a ton of confidence each match.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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