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2 min

- di Adam Hayfield

UEFAS Biggest Surprises in 2016

The beauty of sports is that they are truly unpredictable. A scripted show becomes predictable once you're familiar with a writer's style (even if that style is merely "kill all of the characters" like in Game of Thrones), while reality TV stars are usually just being as wild as possible. Crazy things can and do happen in sports, from Leicester City taking home the Premiere League title to the Buffalo Bills reaching four Super Bowls and losing them all.

For football fans, UEFA has brought several surprises in 2016. The elephant in the room is, of course, Iceland's performance in Euro 2016. Nobody could have predicted Europe's smallest populated nation escaping the group stage, let alone eliminating England in the Round of 16. France dominated them on the way to a second place finish, but Iceland's achievement is still one of the most monumental surprises of the year. This list simply would not be complete without them.



Iceland's center back, Ragnar Sigurdsson, was also a major surprise of the year. He's always been a stout defender, but achieved newfound fame thanks to Iceland's run, as well as a contract with Fulham.

Emanuele Giaccherini also regained prominence thanks in part to his Euro 2016 performance. The winger was a flop in Sunderland, but has now signed with Napoli and has settled into his new role as a sub.

Another major surprise was Leicester City, although their real surprise was winning the 2015-2016 Premier League as opposed to some sort of UEFA success. However, they have gone on to win their group in the UEFA Champions League this year with the berth they earned, and have a real shot at beating Sevilla and reaching the quarterfinals. Continued success in the Champions League would make a great continuation of their success in the Premier League.

Everyone Goes Nuts...

Of course, it's difficult to fit every surprise into a single list. There's a number of smaller surprises every year. Some honorable mentions from this year:

  • Legia recently forced a draw against Real Madrid after being down 2-0 (and almost stole a 3-2 win in the process), although it did not impact the group standings.
  • Hungary managed to win their group with a 3-3 draw against Portugal, the eventual winners, in their final group match. This relegated Portugal to third in the group behind Hungary and Iceland.
  • Wales won their Euro 2016 group over England by beating Russia 3-0. Russia normally ranks in the top 25 in the world, but is currently ranked 56th by FIFA thanks to their poor showing at Euro 2016.

With a little luck, 2017 will hold more surprises for soccer fans. Maybe Leicester imitates Nottingham Forest and wins the Champions League, or Iceland fights through UEFA qualifying and reaches the World Cup in 2018. There's no way to know until the matches have been played.



Born in ’92, Adam grew up in Washington D.C. where he also attended University. Upon graduation, he moved to New York City where he works as a marketing associate. Adam is a huge football fan (American and “soccer”) and plays in a league with friends. He covered local sports team throughout college and has now started his own blog with a friend where they will cover the teams and sports they love. Collaboratore


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