Feature: Euro 2016 Preview

There is plenty to look forward to ahead of the European Championships in France this summer.

I will be previewing everything going on in France including England’s hopes, who the overall winner will be and potential dark horses to keep an eye on.

We start with Group A which contains the hosts France as well as Albania, Romania and Switzerland.

I firmly believe that the hosts, France will win the competition to emulate the past glory of the 1998 World Cup which they won on their home soil.

On paper, France have the best 23-man squad with quality players in each position and solid cover too.

As hosts, home advantage will also work in their favour.

They will be without Karim Benzema after his alleged involvement in the blackmailing of Mathieu Valbuena but they have ample cover.

The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette should provide enough firepower to make up for the Real Madrid striker’s absence.

Moving onto Group B which features England, Russia, Slovakia and Wales.

England’s hopes all depend on Roy Hodgson’s selection – if he pairs Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane upfront with Dele Alli behind them then they will do well.

However, if he chooses players who have been out of form all season such as Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott then England could be set for another disappointing tournament.

The biggest match of the group stage will be against Wales on the 16th of June not only because of the rivalry, but also because Wales have the potential to do well in France.

They might have Gareth Bale, but Wales aren’t just a one-man team as they have a solid spine with the likes of Ashley Williams, Aaron Ramsey not forgetting Joe Allen who seems to do well in a Wales shirt.

Group C contains Germany, who are the current world champions, as well as Poland, Northern Ireland and Ukraine.

Despite being the World Cup holders, I think Germany will struggle this summer because the crux of the team have since retired.

They will be without Phillip Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Miroslav Klose who all retired after the success in Brazil and have only won seven out of their ten qualifying games.

Poland who were in the same qualifying group as Germany finished just one point behind them and beat the Germans 2-0 in October 2014.

The White Eagles will push Germany all the way at the Euros too with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Arkadiusz Milik.

Northern Ireland also go into the European Championships full of hope, topping their qualification group and losing just once.

After a disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil, Spain will be looking to defend their European Championship title in France this summer.

The defending champions will be Group D alongside Croatia, Czech Republic and Turkey.

Spain have attempted to revitalise their ageing squad with some success and will do well in France but they have too many technical central midfielders and lack quality wingers.

Croatia have some good players with the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic and could pose a few problems for Spain and the rest of the group.

Group E is a very exciting group featuring Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Sweden.

Belgium and Italy are two very strong sides but progression won’t be easy against a Sweden side led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Belgium boast many Premier League footballers including Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Vincent Kompany but this “Golden Generation” is yet to shine.

Despite a lack of quality full-backs, the Red Devils have good players in every other position and have good back-ups too.

Italy are another team that could be considered as “dark horses” as they have some good players and with Antonio Conte at the helm, he could mastermind them to something special.

The final group is Group F which contains Austria, Hungary, Iceland and Portugal.

Portugal will gain the most attention due to having Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks but one man teams do not win tournaments.

Iceland will also prove dangerous after qualifying for the tournament ahead of the Netherlands and have Premier League regular Gylfi Sigurdsson in their ranks.

Who do you think will win the tournament? Tweet us @SportPluto to let us know!

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