EURO 2016 – GROUP C: GERMANY
Is there a global tournament that doesn’t rank the Germans as favorites? Philipp Lahm may have retired and Bastian Schweinsteiger is looking older by the day but the Germans have an exceptional array of youngsters to boast.
Coach Joachim Low should be confident of his team’s chances even though they were beaten by Poland and the Republic of Ireland in the qualifiers. It would be a surprise if the plucky Germans don’t find themselves in the last four. Beyond that will depend on how and who they play, from then on.
Qualification: Top of Group
Key player: Thomas Muller
Key match: vs Poland
Best result: Winners (thrice)
EURO 2016 – GROUP C: POLAND
The whole euphoria around Poland is on their striker Robert Lewandowski, who should arguably be the best centre-forward in the world circuit now.
But don’t be fooled by any such theory of ‘one-man team’ because their midfield spine is one of the best too, with Kuba Blaszczykowski and Grzegorz Krychowiak forming a tough duo.
Any hopes of advancement will depend on how they tackle Ukraine and stamp their authority on Northern Ireland. A win against the Germans will be a bonus!
Key player: Robert Lewandowski
Prediction: Second Round
Key match: vs Ukraine
Best Result: Group stage
EURO 2016 – GROUP C: UKRAINE
Making their first European Championships through qualifiers, Ukraine will look to take inspiration from their play-off win against Slovenia. Never a team of stars, leaving the only time when they had Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine nevertheless aren’t a team to be underestimated.
With players like Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko hot properties of clubs around in Europe, the national team would do well to rally around them to progress to the second round.
Qualification: Play-off win over Slovenia
Key player: Yevhen Konoplyanka
Prediction: Third place in the group
Key match: vs Northern Ireland
Best Result: First round
EURO 2016 – GROUP C: NORTHERN IRELAND
A fairy tale run, if ever there is one! Northern Ireland have never been to European Championships but defied all odds to top their group and qualify.
Something which their greatest player George Best couldn’t do, the current crop of players under Michael O’Neill achieved. They were the lowest-seeded side to top their group in the qualifiers and would definitely be eyeing more scalps in France.
Qualification: Finished 1st in Group F
Key player: Kyle Lafferty
Prediction: First round exit
Key match: vs Ukraine
Best Result: Never previously qualified
Germany may be the heavy weight of the group but Group ‘C’ would be one of the most followed groups in France, without a doubt. The presence of Lewandowski and the romantics’ favorite Northern Ireland will be the cornerstone of that interest.