A Home Nations Guide to Euro 2016. WARNING: Scotland Fans Look Away…
It’s been one of the most successful qualifying campaigns to a major tournament for the Home Nations (sorry Scotland) and like most of you we can’t wait to see the likes of Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney go head-to-head in the summer. We’ll be cheering on all three of the nations, not to mention the Republic of Ireland who have also made the grade via the play offs.
And with only a matter of months to go, here’s our guide to the three Home Nations and what we think they can do come kick off on June 10.
England go into Euro 2016 on the back of a perfect record, one only five teams to ever do so, which will no doubt get the tabloids excited come kick off. The cruised past the likes of Switzerland and Slovenia conceding only three goals, all against the latter.
Wayne Rooney led the way with an impressive seven goals, breaking the England scoring record in the process. The captain has had the support of Harry Kane and Danny Welbeck who smashed home six, although injury has hampered his domestic campaign this term.
It’s going to be an interesting tournament for England and in particular, Roy Hodgson who has some big decisions to make ahead of France. There are plenty of players in great form for their clubs, including Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Ross Barkley, and Dele Alli whose form is quite staggering to say he’s only a handful of games into his top-flight career.
All are knocking on the door and if Hodgson gets his selection right England will be a real threat. First up for our Euro 2020 tips is Russia on June 11 in Marseille. Over the past few tournaments, the Three Lions haven’t enjoyed the best of starts with a draw to France in the last Euros and defeat to Italy in the World Cup, so Rooney and co. will be desperate to begin with a win.
It should be a straight forward group for England, with Wales and Slovakia to follow. Naturally, up against their Welsh neighbours will be the toughest task, but really England should be qualifying for the next round. And from there, well, they’ll be just hoping they steer clear of penalties.
It’s been a remarkable run for the Welsh, kick-started by the late, great Gary Speed back in 2010, and finally the nation has made it to a major tournament. They navigated their way through a difficult group which included Bosnia & Herzegovina, Israel, and number one ranked side Belgium, beating them in Cardiff thanks to star man Gareth Bale.
Bale led the goalscoring charts with seven and was integral to their campaign under Chris Coleman.
The former Fulham manager has continued the good work of Speed and built a solid squad with the likes of Bale, Aaron Ramsey, and Ashley Williams.
Much of Wales’ Euro 2016 will be dependent on the performances of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey. The pair can produce moments of sheer magic and it’s those moments which will see their country into the latter stages.
There’s no doubt about it though, Wales will play with no pressure. They will be there to enjoy it in what will be their debut European Championship. And teams under zero pressure are dangerous…
Another nation to excel themselves is Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland who will make their European Championship debut in June. They haven’t reached a major tournament in 30 years, so the Green and White Army will be out in full force in France. Just as they were throughout qualifying.
The team topped their group, losing just once in 10 games, seeing off both Romania and Hungary to seal their place in the competition. Kyle Lafferty was their star man, netting seven with inspired performances from the Norwich man carrying them over many a line.
Lafferty will likely play a big part again in the tournament alongside captain Steven Davis, but effectively there will be few upsets in what is an extremely tough Group C. First up is Robert Lewandowski’s Poland, followed by the Ukraine and then Germany. It’ll be a successful campaign if they even come out of the tournament with a point.
However, nobody expected Greece to do anything in 2004, and look what happened to them…
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