Group A: France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland
The hosts couldn’t have dreamt of a better draw as they seek to replicate their 1984 European success. Switzerland could be the only threat to France in the group stage but their form off-late is not something they can boast of. Romania and Albania should not be major worries, although the magnitude of the occasion and home pressure could get to France.
Group B: England, Russia, Wales, Slovakia
An interesting and royal Britain battle on the cards in this group. England is the perennial underachievers having flattered to deceive in many tournaments – in Europe and World stage. For Wales, the presence of Gareth Bale is a boost and will look to him for inspiration. Russia would like to settle under their new coach by the time the tournament starts but it is difficult to see them posing a major threat
Group C: Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Northern Ireland
World Champions Germany will be in a slightly challenging group. Robert Lewandowski and Poland will be eager to continue their good form from qualification into the tournament. Ukraine will be a tough nut to crack and has some exciting young talent to talk about. They could challenge for one of the best third-place spots. Northern Ireland could count itself unlucky to have been drawn in this group.
Group D: Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia
Two time defending champions Spain will look for a memorable hat-trick. The current squad is not as intimidating as the last tournament team but still should be counted as one of the favorites. Czech Republic came out top of their qualifying campaign and should count their chances. Do not count out the tenacity of Turkey in what could be one of the competitive groups of the tournament.
Group E: Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Sweden
Easily the ‘group of death’ in the tournament. Belgium squad comprises of the best talent from the top European leagues. Their golden generation would be eager to prove their mettle on the big stage. Italy may not possess the same doughty squad of the yester year but is always a favorite. Republic of Ireland have already defeated Germany in qualification and should be ready for the group challenge. Sweden will depend on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Group F: Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Hungary
Austria went through the qualification undefeated and made everyone notice of its progress. Portugal would always want to believe that they have a chance – especially with Cristiano Ronaldo in the ranks. Hungary is back on the major stage for the first time in 30 years but that could end there. And Iceland is another surprise package, though this would be their first major tourney. Another tricky group!
On paper, as things stand today, Germany, Belgium, Spain and England should start as favorites. And the underdogs to watch out for will include Portugal, Italy, France and Wales. There are a lot of other teams too which could spring a surprise or two. All in all, we are all set for the next year European extravaganza.