For many soccer fans around the world, the Euro Cup is a close second to the World Cup. The excitement, passion and patriotism involved; combined with the determination, motivation and will to win exhibited by the best players makes it one of the most exciting tournaments to watch in the world.
During these kinds of tournaments often times young players decide to make a statement. I think a few of the following will do just that in Poland/Ukraine during the next few weeks:
1) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (England):
A pure English winger. This guy can beat you down the line, cut inside, slice you up, make the pass, or score the goal. At just 17 years old he was bought by Arsenal from Southampton.
Now 18, Oxlade-Chamberlain did not play a big role this year for Arsenal - but Arsene Wenger is well known for gently nurturing youth. The time that he did play for the Gunners, he showed an excellent ability to see the game and distribute the ball while going for goal. Keep an eye on him. Lord knows Iceland couldn't.
2) Javi Martinez (Spain):
Honestly, I have seen this guy play only three or four games live, but I have seen PLENTY of highlights. He is the man in the middle. He can make the pass or the tackle. There have been rumors of him leaving Athletic Bilbao this summer but only time will tell. Don' t expect him to start for Spain, but he will play a role.
Javi (pictured right, next to Mata) has a boot, so don't be surprised if he nails one from the parking lot.
3) Mario Gotze (Germany):
Gotze has literally exploded onto the scene. Over the last two seasons he has played a key role for Borussia Dortmund as they won back to back championships. He has the techical ability and passing technique that could make him one of the best players of our time.
Gotze will be a key factor for the Germans.
4) Robert Lewandowski (Poland):
I wish I could say that this guy would make an impact on the tournament, but, frankly, he plays for Poland. Even though my family is from Poland I can't say that we are going to do well. Lewandowski will be the best striker at this tournament who will go nowhere.
He was the star striker for Borussia Dortmund this season and could be the difference between humilation and honor for the Poles.
5) Mario Balotelli (Italy):
Yes, I'm for real. Super Mario could be the superstar of the tournament. He could be the superstar of the world. If you have ever seen him play (coming from a United fan) you can tell that this dude has got skill. The only problem is that he is a head case. He psychs himself out. He thinks too much about everything else. He is literally a wild card.
If Balotelli can focus and get down to business then Italy could win some serious games. Everyone has been looking for a moment that he could mature, now could be that time.
There you have it. Five young guns to wach out for this month. Enjoy Euro 2012!