The football world is set of another interesting Euro Championship as the continent’s best playing countries converge in France to fight for the Euro trophies.
While, they are firm favourites in the mold of world champions Germany, hosts, France and defending champions, Spain, there are expectations that the old order may be altered as teams like Poland, England and the likes may steal the show.
366football.com takes a cursory look at the groups and how the tournament will pan out in France in the coming days.
As hosts, France will not only be expected to progress past the group stage, but will be under pressure to do well in the tournament, and maybe even win it. Les Bleus will certainly be considered favourites to top the group, considering their wealth of talent and relatively modest opposition.
The favourites to join them in the knock-out rounds will be Switzerland, with the Balkan duo of Albania and Romania both expected to fall at the first hurdle. The Romanians are more capable to causing an upset and stealing their way into the next round, while the Albanians are competing in their first major tournament, and are probably the least-fancied side in the finals.
While England and Russia will surely be the bookies’ favourites to progress as winners and runners-up in Group B, Wales and Slovakia will certainly be no pushovers.
England boast a squad laden with talent plying their trade in the English Premier League and, having breezed through the qualifying rounds, must be considered the favourites to top the group.
Russia, runner-up in Qualifying Group G, look the most likely of the remaining teams to finish second behind England, although the threat posed by Wales and Slovakia should not be underestimated.
Boasting several star names, Wales and Slovakia could well pip Russia to a second-place finish in the group stage.
Germany and Poland will be tussling for supremacy in Group C, and let’s hope it’s not too hideous for Northern Ireland.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
This is regarded as the group of death. Belgium manager Marc Wilmots has arguably the most talent group of players in the tournament and it’s no surprise they are tagged the ‘Golden Generation’.
Belgium won their last friendly game before the tournament as they beat Norway 3-2. Their mental strength will be put to great test when they play their first game against Italy.
The Italians have selected a youthful attack but manager Antonio Conte has retained the experience of Gianlungi Buffon, Georgio Chiellini, and Christian Bonucci. They will have their hands full against the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, and Yannick Carrasco.
Talking about players who will be handful, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, theSweden football god is sure to have a major say in the group as it may be his last tournament before he retires from the national team and will want to go out on a high.
Sweden are not favourite’s to qualify top of the group but with the third best team likely to make it to the next round they are tipped to finish at least ahead of Republic of Ireland who surprisingly manager Martin O’Neill picked Robbie Keane and 40-year-old Shay Given for the Euro 2016.
Portugal are undoubtedly the overwhelming favourite to qualify from this group and with faith kept on Cristaino Ronaldo, Nani, Joao Mourtinho, Pepe, Ricardo QUARESMA and 38-year-old Richardo Carvalho they are expected to make a major impact on the tournament.
New faces like Southampton’s José Fonte and Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches are also looked upon for inspired performances when called upon.
However, Ronaldo can easily be the biggest player at the Euros but must be at his best if he wants to help Portugal win the tourney starting from their first game against Iceland on June 14.
Eidur GUDJOHNSEN will carry the light for Iceland as he leads new generation heroes like Gylfi SIGURDSSON and Alfred FINNBOGASON to fight for glory at the Euro but we’ll have Hungary and Austria to contend with.
Like Gudjohansen, Bayern Munich wing-back David Alaba will carry the fight for the Austrians with Leicester’s left back Christian FUCHS providing cover at the back.