International soccer: To some, it's an exciting summer excursion, a chance to root for country instead of club, and a chance to see how elite players work together in different configurations than we're normally used to. And for others, it's PLEASE GOD DON'T GET HURT WE NEED YOU COME KICKOFF IN AUGUST.
This Friday, the Copa America Centenario kicks off in Santa Clara with the hosting Americans taking on David Ospina's Colombia, and then next Friday, Euro 2016 kicks off with Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny's France facing Romania and welcoming Europe's best international teams to what could be their World Cup favorite status coronation. (Though Germany will certainly have something to say about that).
We looked at the Copa and Euro tournaments through an Arsenal filter, since a dozen different players are involved. Specifically, we ask:
Which Arsenal player do you think will have the best Copa America/Euro 2016 experience?
What do we mean by that? Well, it could mean going deep into the tournament, raising one's personal stock and transfer fee, and/or erasing doubts about one's ability after a less-than-stellar Arsenal season. What do you think it means? Before you answer, here's what we think.
Ramsey. Leader of Wales, haver of dumb but televisable blond hair, he who gets a lot of stick. If he bosses for Wales, Arsenal supporters who have lost the faith may regain some. The player whose importance to the team is largest out of all those who can gain the most at the Euros.
Alexis has had a question-mark-filled season, and some suspect that his Arsenal 15-16 performance might have been affected by his exertions as he was quite involved in Chile winning the 2015 Copa America championship at home. As you know by now, there's another Copa this year, and Alexis will be leaned on by Chile once again. (Hooray!) The best-case scenario, from an Arsenal perspective, is that Alexis plays well, stays healthy, and leads Chile into the quarterfinals where they can then be bounced by a hungry Mexico or Uruguay team. I'd like a confident but not overworked Alexis emerging from this tournament. (On the other side of the Copa bracket, Colombia could make a deep run, which could boost wayward goalie David Ospina's confidence and possibly even, with some luck, his transfer fee. Or he could fold against the goal machine that is the USA on Friday. Either scenario's entirely possible.)
I have a feeling Jack Wilshere will shine with the national team after his lengthy layoff from club play. He's fresh (in theory) and looked spry in the qualifying campaign, not to mention that the offense is likely to run through him. A strong Euro campaign devoid of injuries could serve as a springboard for his Arsenal return and could see him stake a claim for a starting spot in an increasingly packed midfield. I still don't think he should be a regular starter next season but I could see how Wenger would disagree should Wilshere look efficient and threatening this summer.
Also Named Phil:
Mesut Ozil will have the best European Vacation simply because he's best situated to win something. With respects to Alexis' Chile, Koscielny's France, Bellerin's Spain or Wilshere's - sorry, laughing too hard... Germany come into Euros reigning World Cup Champions and one of the few favourites the fashionable thing of adding a European trophy to that honour. As a key man to Germany's attack, Ozil is going to get lots of time to pass to players who can actually score. Another massive boost to his form to help him build on a spectacular club season. Furthermore, for all that is said about his play and demeanor, Germany and Ozil are winners. I expect that to continue (and not just because I married into German heritage or anything, helping to replace years of English disappointment). YA DIE MANNSCHAFT
What say you? Let us know in the comments!