Raiders Talk Copa América and European Championship

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]( "Linebacker Malcolm Smith")Linebacker Malcolm Smith

For the next month, many of the world's sporting eyes will be locked in on the soccer pitch, as two of the world's largest soccer tournaments – Copa América and the UEFA European Championship – take place in the United States and France respectively.

Jürgen Klinsmann and the United States Men's National Team kick off their Copa América run Friday at 6:30 p.m. against Columbia, but before the starting 11 take the pitch, we asked our three resident soccer experts their thoughts on the upcoming tournaments.

Linebacker Malcolm Smith is a big fan of the beautiful game, and both kicker Giorgio Tavecchio and tackle Menelik Watson grew up in countries where soccer received top billing.

Here's what they had to say about the tournaments and which member of the Silver and Black would have the best shot at making a career out of playing soccer.

Linebacker Malcolm Smith

Who will win the Copa América?

Smith:"I'm going to go with the home team, USA, winning it all. Definitely making a final four appearance, but I'm rooting for them to win it all."

Who will win the European Championship?

Smith:"In the Euro Cup, I'm going with [Romelo] Lukaku and Belgium. I think they have too much talent."

Who on the team would make the best soccer player?

Smith:"I'm going to say Coop. He's fast, man. He's fast and he's quick."

What position would you play if you were a soccer player?

Smith:"I'm definitely going to play defense. I'm going to be center back."

Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio

Who will win the Copa América?

Tavecchio:I'm rooting obviously, for the United States. My heart says Argentina will win because they're half Italian and they have a lot of good flavor down there. We'll see what happens with [Lionel] Messi, but I think for me, they're the favorites."

Who will win the European Championship?

Tavecchio:"I have to go for Italia. We'll see what happens. We have a very difficult group, but we'll see if some of the young players that [Italian National Team Manager Antonio] Conte brought up will be able to make some magic, and if they bring some good food and a little bit of cheese. You know, something that will make a little bit of magic in France."

Who on the team would make the best soccer player?

Tavecchio:"I saw Menelik when he was doing rehab, he was kicking the ball around, wasn't bad, but I have to say myself. Sure, everyone else has NFL size, speed, talent, power, height – everything you might need – but in soccer, you need good touch. You need good touch and I always had good vision growing up. I was a very good one touch player. It's kind of fitting that I'm a kicker now, because I know where I'm going to go with the football hours before I get to the stadium. I have that predisposition to knowing what I want to do with the ball. I have to vote for myself."

What position would you play if you were a soccer player?

Tavecchio:"Center mid, attacking mid, like a [Francesco] Totti. Those guys, they were magical with the soccer ball."

Tackle Menelik Watson

Who will win the Copa América?

Watson:"I really think the USA have a great chance to win this year. I don't think Brazil are the powerhouse they used to be. Argentina is looking good but we don't know what's going on with Messi. I'm putting my money on USA."

Who will win the European Championship?

Watson:"England all the way. England. We should see what happens, but I always go with the home team. [Goalkeeper] Joe [Hart] is the anchor, you know what I mean? I think with the new style of play we're playing, and the younger guys we got in there, I think we should make some noise this year, hopefully. I'm praying."

Who on the team would make the best soccer player?

Watson:"Who would make the best soccer player? I'd probably say Crab. I don't know, man, I feel like Crab would have some nice, sweet footwork. I feel like Crab would be crafty out there. He has the speed. He has the footwork. He's a competitor. I think he'd make a good midfielder."

What position would you play if you were a soccer player?

Watson:"I'd be a defensive midfielder, like I used to play. Shout out to everyone back home in England, Manchester."

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