Euro Draw

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 17, 2015 20:50

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Euro Draw

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (December 12th 2015)

Tough

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Both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – the latter playing their first European Championships – are managed by O’Neills. Martin, assisted by Roy Keane, manages the Republic and Michael Northern Ireland. Both have been handed a tough draw. The Republic will play in Group E against FIFA’s number one ranked team in the world, Belgium, Antonio Conte’s Italy – beaten finalists four years ago and Sweden led by Zlatan Ibrahimović. They will open their campaign against Sweden at the Stade de France on June 13th 2016.

Meanwhile, despite impressively winning their qualifying group Northern Ireland have been rewarded, if that is the right word, with a place in Group C alongside World Champions Germany and their historic rivals Poland, led by the prolific record-equaling striker Robert Lewandowski, and Poland’s historic rivals the Ukraine. Northern Ireland open their maiden Euros tournament against Poland at the Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice on June 12th.

Defending

Four years ago Spain made history by defending their title in Kyiv. They dismantled Cesare Prandelli’s Italy 4-0. Vicente del Bosque remains at the helm despite a poor defence of the World Cup. Spain are the top seed in Group D. They open their campaign on June 13th at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse against the Czech Republic. Croatia and Turkey make up the group.

Portugal, one of Europe’s perennial under-achievers, have drawn Austria, Iceland and Hungary in Group F. Austria’s qualification record was second only to England’s perfect ten out of ten. Portugal play Iceland at the Geoffroy Guichard Stadium, the ground of Saint-Étienne, on June 14th. Cristiano Ronaldo will know that he is running out of tournaments to break his international duck – one of the few medals missing from his collection.

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Zinedine Zidane inspired France to glory in 2000. Sixteen years earlier the suspended President of UEFA, Michel Platini led les Bleus to glory. Platini missed the draw. In his absence Didier Deschamps’ team – the top seed in Group A – discovered that they will pit their wits against Switzerland, Romania and Euro debutants Albania. France begin Euro2016 against Romania at the Stade de France on June 10th.

The Unwanted Tie

Chris Coleman has steered Wales to the top ten in world football in just one qualification cycle – no mean feat. He has also ended 58 years of hurt, a task that ten previous managers could not manage. But in Euro terms Wales are minnows and found themselves in Pot 4. That ensured a tough draw.

Coleman hoped they would not draw England, believing it would be a distraction, but that is what happened. England will play Wales on June 16th at Lens’ Stade Bollaert-Delelis. Wales open their first European Championship finals against Slovakia at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux on June 11th, while England will play Russia on the same day at Marseilles’ Stade Vélodrome.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 17, 2015 20:50
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