Football: Copa America and Euro 2016 - Differences 

Football: Copa America and Euro 2016 - Differences 
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PARIS: (APP) For the first time the European Championship finals and the Copa America are taking place simultaneously, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both facing crucial matches this weekend.

Ronaldo's Portugal face a Euro 2016 last-16 tie against Croatia in France on Saturday, before Messi's Argentina take on defending champions Chile in the Copa final on Sunday night in the United States.

The two tournaments could yet combine in some manner one day, after the Confederation of South American football (CONMEBOL) suggested a match between the winners of the continental competitions.

With that possibility on the horizon, AFP looks at five key differences between the two events this summer.

 

The new format for Euro 2016, with 24 teams qualifying for the finals, was expected to favour the traditional powerhouses.

All of the pre-tournament favourites have qualified for the knockout stages, with Portugal saved by a Ronaldo double that helped them through by the skin of their teeth courtesy of a 3-3 draw with Hungary.

But in the 100th anniversary edition of the Copa, Brazil suffered a humiliating exit in the group stages that brought back painful memories of the 2014 World Cup debacle, and saw head coach Dunga replaced by Tite.

Record 15-time winners Uruguay also failed to reach the quarter-finals of international football's oldest competition, giving Argentina the perfect chance to claim a first title since 1993.

 

 

 

The new expanded finals have thrown up plenty of surprise packages in Euro 2016, with Wales, Northern Ireland and Iceland all reaching the knockout stages in their first appearances in the finals.

In the US though the rank outsiders struggled, with Haiti Jamaica and Bolivia all dropping out at the first hurdle with three defeats from three matches.

 

Traditionally the Copa America is known for its passionate fanbase and packed stadiums. But the centennial edition in the States, where football is not a major sport, has failed to live up to that hype.

Except for the curtain-raiser between the US and Colombia, and the expectations for a big crowd for the repeat of the 2015 final between Argentina and Chile, the average attendance has only been 46,000.

At the Euros, the stadiums have been full for almost every match, as supporters flock to France to cheer on their teams.

The atmosphere has been boosted by the smaller nations' participations, with Welsh, Northern Irish and Republic of Ireland fans all out in great numbers.

Iceland, making their maiden appearance at a major tournament, have brought up to 30,000 supporters to France, which is almost 10% of the country's entire population.

 

Apart from Neymar, who prioristised the Rio Olympics in August, and an injured Luis Suarez, the most well-known players have come to the party in the USA.

Lionel Messi , Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain have all been amongst the goals during Argentina's run to the final.

Chileans Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal have also fired, while striker Eduardo Vargas scored four goals in the defending champions' 7-0 quarter-final hammering of Mexico.

On the other hand, the top scorers of the main European leagues have struggled.

Premier League Golden Boot winner Harry Kane has lost his place in the England team, and Bundesliga stars Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski have failed to find the net for Germany and Poland respectively.

Even Ronaldo was left frustrated in Portugal's first two outings, while Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic bowed out of international football without scoring a goal.

 

One similarity is that both tournaments will see final repeats in the coming days.

Argentina and five-time World Player of the Year Messi will have the opportunity to banish the memories of a penalty shoot-out loss to Chile last year at the Metlife Stadium on Sunday.

In Europe the rematch has been thrown up much earlier in the tournament, with Italy's reward for topping their group a last-16 tie against Spain, who thrashed them 4-0 in the final four years ago.

 

 

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