Euro 2016 – Group B Preview

Written by Jack Beane

The European Championships are just around the corner and it should be a cracking tournament in France. Each nation will be hopeful to exceed expectations and first and foremost get out of the Group Stage. All Out Football look at each team in each group and make our predictions for how it will all pan out.

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                                                                                   credit Mick Baker

England

With an incredible 100% win record during qualifying, the Three Lions are full of confidence going into the Euro 2016 finals and hope to shake of the disappointment of the World Cup two years ago. This will be England’s ninth appearance in the European Championships, where they have failed to get out of the group stages on four occasions. There has been mixed reaction among England supporters following Roy Hodgson’s squad announcement. The biggest shock came when it was announced that Premier League winner Danny Drinkwater would not be on the plane to France with Roy favouring the out of form Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshire who had only started one game all season. One exciting prospect for England is Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli. The 20 year old has had an outstanding season for Spurs and has the potential to give England success at this year’s championships. There are more problems in the attacking third for Hodgson, as he has to choose who will be his first choice centre forwards. Personally, skipper Wayne Rooney is more suited to a midfield role rather than being an out and out striker. Meanwhile, Spurs forward Harry Kane and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy have tallied an impressive 49 Premier League goals between them last season, so it would be no surprise if they were the two men to lead the line for the three lions. Finally I feel that the inclusion of teenager Marcus Rashford is an excellent decision, as the Manchester United man has had an impressive start to his young career and also has nothing to fear going into this year’s Championships. My overall prediction for England providing we get no new injury concerns and everyone stays fit; I feel that we could reach the Semi-Finals, if not progress to the final of the tournament. Tournament Odds: (17/2) – £10 returns £95 with Bet365.

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Wales

When the news broke out that Wales would be joining England in group B; there has been added excitement to the European Championships as both sides hope to get one over their British neighbours. Boss Chris Coleman has done a fantastic job since taking charge, with just a single loss throughout qualifying and only 4 goals conceded, it could prove to be a very exciting first appearance for Coleman’s men. Skipper Ashley Williams has had a solid season at centre half for Swansea, and will be looking to continue his solidarity this summer. Partnered alongside West Ham’s James Collins, these two make a solid duo and this was evident throughout the qualifying stage. The poster boy for the Welsh squad is without a doubt Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, he is the driving force behind the success of the team. Coleman will be hopeful that his star man can stay fit and deliver on one of the biggest stages of world football. When fit, Wales have a fairly underrated midfield partnership in Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, Liverpool’s Joe Allen and Leicester’s Andy King. Personally on their day I feel these three could be both solid and a real threat going forward and they could cause an upset at the tournament. Besides Bale, Wales do not really have any out and out goal scorers in their ranks, with Sam Vokes and Simon Church only scoring 9 international goals between them in over 70 caps, Coleman will be hopinh the pair can step up to the stage and deliver the goods. Personally I feel Wales could struggle in Group B, and I can’t see them progressing any further than the group stages. Although due to it being their first tournament, they could cause an upset! Tournament Odds: (80/1) £10 returns £810 with Bet365

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Russia

After being knocked out of the group stages during Euro 2012, Russia will be hoping for a better tournament this time round. Boss Leonid Slutsky is the only manager taking charge at the European Championships which manages 2 teams, the other being CSKA Moscow. Slutsky has recently guided CSKA to the Russian league title so is no rookie to success. There is no surprise that 7 members of the squad have come from his title winning side, more than any other club. The stand out member in the Russia defence for me is Schalke defender Roman Neustadter; he’s part of a very strong back line which conceded only 5 times during qualifying. How well Russia perform at this year’s tournament will depend on how their experienced members of the squad perform, with experienced duo Roman Shirokov, and Igor Denisov in their ranks, they are a no strangers to the big stage so this experience could be key to the rest of the squad. The one to watch out for, for Russia this summer is Zenit St Petersburg winger Oleg Shatov, the wide man is very quick and skilful, and he will be hoping to make a real impact this tournament. Attacking wise, boss Slutsky will be hoping he can rely on Aleksandr Kokorin and Artyom Dzyuba to be consistent throughout the group stage as they have 19 goals between them at international level. Personally, I feel Russia can be the surprise package of group B, and they have what it takes to progress past the group stage and do one better than they did back in 2012. Tournament Odds: (66/1) £10 returns £660 with Bet365

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                                                                                credit Nazionale Calcio

Slovakia

Slovakia have pulled off a few shock results during the qualifying round, one of which being victorious over current European Champions Spain. This lead the path to a second place finish in what was a very tough group with the likes of Ukraine and Macedonia missing out on the finals. Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel will be one of the more noticeable names in the Slovakian squad. With over 80 caps under his belt already, his experience will be a key factor in the side. The fact that Slovakia only conceded 8 times during qualifying is down to the solid performances of Tomas Hubocan and Jan Durica who will both be looking to continue their solid run of form and shut out the opposition this summer. Napoli’s Marek Hamsik is no stranger to the big stage, having performing week in week out in Italy; he will be hoping to be an influential figure in the Slovakian midfield. One to watch for me in the Slovakian midfield will be Robert Mak, the attacking midfielder performs anywhere in the attacking line and with 7 goals for his country, he will be hoping to add to that tally in France. Expecting to lead the line for the Slovakians will be Stanislav Sestak, with 13 goals to his name he will hoping to be consistent throughout the group stage and his presence will be vital if they are wanting to progress through the Group Stage. My overall prediction for Slovakia is that they will be looked at being the underdogs of the group, and they will struggle to progress. But stranger things have happened, and they have nothing to lose so they could raise a few eyebrows during the tournament. Tournament Odds: (150/1) £10 Returns £1510 with Bet365.

Table Predication

1. England

2. Russia

3. Wales

4. Slovakia

Do you agree with these predictions? Let us know in the comments below!

featured image by Nazionale Calcio