Your Quick & Dirty Guide to 2016's Big Summer of Soccer

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Your Quick & Dirty Guide to 2016's Big Summer of Soccer

Domestic seasons are now at an end across Europe, with champions having been crowned in every league worth caring about. Leicester City completed the impossible dream in England, Bayern Munich won their 6,000th title in Germany, PSG triumphed in France at a walk, Juventus captured a fifth scudetto in a row, and MSN made sure Atleti couldn’t do the double with another La Liga championship.

But, believe it or not, there’s still more soccer to be played. A handful of club trophies still have to be awarded, plus there’s the super-exciting, potentially relationship-demolishing summer orgy of international soccer happening on two different continents.

Let’s dive straight in, shall we, and lay out the coming months with all the soccer they have to offer.

The FA Cup Final

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Who: Manchester United v. Crystal Palace
When: Saturday, May 21 12:30 PM ET
Where: Wembley Stadium, London

The FA Cup is the oldest knockout cup competition in the world, with its origins going back to the 1871-72 season. 736 teams entered the competition in the 135th edition this year. Manchester United and Crystal Palace will play for the trophy at Wembley Stadium in London, the traditional home of the FA Cup Final since 1923. On one side is United and Louis van Gaal, trying to salvage a very disappointing season with one piece of silverware. On the other side is…well, Crystal Palace. Root for Palace, they never win anything.

The UEFA Champions League Final

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Who: Real Madrid v. Atletico Madrid
When: Saturday, May 28 2:45 PM ET
Where: San Siro, Milan

There’s not a bigger game in all of soccer, barring maybe (and it’s a strong maybe) the World Cup final. There certainly isn’t a richer spectacle of the best the sport has to offer. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meet for the second time in three seasons for the right to call themselves champions of Europe in Milan. The last time, Real Madrid thrashed their city rivals 4-1 and won their tenth European title, though Atleti enters this final riding high after dispatching both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Copa America Centenario

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Who: 16 teams, comprised of the 12 members of CONMEBOL and four qualifiers from CONCACAF
When: June 3 – June 25
Where: United States

A very special edition of the century-old Copa America tournament is happening in U.S. in June, specifically to make a few people a lot of money commemorate celebrate the centennial. It will be the first time Copa America is ever held away from the continent of South America, and very nearly didn’t happen due to the ongoing FIFA corruption scandal. Some of the stars won’t appear (notably Neymar), but there should be enough talent to make it an exciting competition. Argentina and Brazil are naturally the favorites.

Copa Libertadores Knockout Rounds

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Who: Seven remaining teams, including two Argentine, on Brazilians, one Ecuadorians, one Colombian, one Uruguayan, and one Mexican
When: Now (2nd Leg of the Quarterfinals run from May 18 to May 24), Semifinals (two legs, TBD), and Final (two legs, July 20 & 27
Where: South America and Mexico

The Copa Lib, as it is known to its closest friends, is South America’s premier international club competition. This year’s edition, the 57th in its history, is currently in the quarterfinal phase after beginning with 38 teams back in February. Though the tournament has been dominated by Argentine and Brazilian sides in recent years, the Copa Lib has a tradition of being much more unpredictable than its European counterpart. South American soccer is crazy (mostly in a good way) and Copa Lib quite often the craziest expression of all that crazy.

2016 UEFA European Championship

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Who: 24 (up from 16 in the previous edition)
When: June 10 – July 10
Where: France

The newly expanded Euros (thanks, Michel Platini!) kick off at the Stade de France on June 10th with host France—one of the favorites—facing Romania. Not everyone is onboard with letting more of the Continent’s lesser soccer nations into the competition, but the Euros have never failed to be enthralling before. It’s worth mentioning of course that the tournament will be played under tight security conditions with an anxious world watching due to the terrorists attacks in Paris (and at the Stade de France itself) back in November. Of all the soccer coming this summer, the Euros are probably the most anticipated. There’s even hope that England won’t embarrass themselves this time.

Football at the Summer Olympics

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Who: 16 teams from 6 confederations on the men’s side; 12 teams from 6 confederations on the women’s side
When: August 4 – August 20 (men); August 3 – August 19 (women)
Where: Brazil

For the men, the Olympic tournament is a U23 tournament, though each qualifying team is allowed to bring three overage players. This is almost entirely the case because FIFA doesn’t want the IOC treading on its turf with a major tournament that could rival the World Cup (FIFA are weird like that). For the women, the Olympics are a much bigger deal and rival the World Cup for attention and prestige. On the men’s side, home nation Brazil will put everything they’ve got into winning the tournament, including national treasure Neymar—it’s the one major men’s tournament they’ve never one. On the women’s side, it’s hard to see anyone stopping the Americans.

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