With the Copa America Centenario (South America) and Euro 2016 (Europe) both being played in 2016, it is time to address an important issue: which aspects of each tournament are better than its counterpart, and to compare both tournaments. Both are unique in their own way, and have certain aspects that they can be proud of.
Firstly, the regularity and prestige of the tournaments. The Euros are held every 4 years, meaning when they come around, they are highly anticipated, and the nations place far greater importance on performing well at the tournament. This makes for very entertaining and pulsating football. The Copa America is held every 2 years (with the exception of this year, as it is the centenary of the tournament, it was held in 2015 and 2016, with the next in 2019). Many people argue that this diminishes the prestige of the tournament, as it is not as highly coveted as the Euros. The European Championships occur at the same frequency as a World Cup, making them feel more special, not only to players but to fans.
Secondly, the number of participants in each tournament must be addressed. The Euros in 2016 increased the number of nations participating from 16 to 24, meaning more countries will get a taste of what it is like to play at a major tournament. It is argued however that this will decrease the quality of the Euros, as some teams will only be there to ‘make up the numbers.’ This will devalue the Euros, as claims are made that excitement is artificial, because all the major teams will qualify, as nearly half of Europe will participate in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Copa America has only 12 teams, (with the exclusion of 2016, as it is the centenary year, 16 teams were allowed in). The South American confederation only has 10 teams, so 2 guest teams are invited to fill in the gaps. This is usually Mexico, and another nation. Having half as many teams, the quality of the tournament is not hurt, and it allows for much more excitement and drama.
It would be remiss not to mention the fans. South Americans are known for their ultra-passionate following of their teams, with extremely hostile conditions created on numerous occasions. Europeans also heavily support their sides, home and away, and create incredible atmospheres. The tournaments are always remembered for the incredible fans, and neither can claim to have better fans than the other. Of course, each tournament has its troubles with fans. I do not believe one is worse than the other, however here in Australia the European fan violence is reported on more, so it appears worse. The South Americans also have fans issues, however we are not aware of them as the news and media stations do not inform us of them.
What each tournament can claim to have is the better players. Each continent is littered with talent. From Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale of Europe, to Lionel Messi, Neymar and James Rodriguez of South America, there are truly world class talents in each tournament. Each can excite and divide opinion, but what cannot be argued is the quality of player on display. In my opinion, I think the Euros are marginally better for player quality, purely based on the depth that each nation possesses. For me, whilst South American teams are filled with a few of the world’s best players, if you look deeper into their squads, they don’t possess the same caliber as European sides. But, it is all just a matter of opinion.
This now brings me on to the All-Time best XI’s of each continent: