EURO 2016: Group B Preview

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 14.49.51 by MACAULAY DALEY 

Here is a quick look at Group B at Euro 2016, which includes two of the home nations taking part in the competition.

England 

Manager: Roy Hodgson

England football manager Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson took over as England manager just before the last edition of the European Championships back in 2012. (Image Credit: theguardian.com)

Manager Roy Hodgson was appointed six months prior to the last European Championships where England reached the quarter-finals before they lost to eventual finalists Italy. The 68-year-old led Switzerland to Euro 1996, before resigning to take charge of Internazionale when qualification was secured. His Finland side missed out on Euro 2008 qualification by just three points.

Road to Euro 2016

The Three Lions finished top of qualifying Group E and were the only team to qualify for the tournament with a 100%-win ratio. During which they scored 31 goals, with only Poland (33) scoring more. Defensively they were solid as well, conceding just three goals in ten matches.

Tournament History

England’s record at the Euro’s is average at best, they’ve never reached the final of the tournament, and reached the semi-finals on only two occasions, in 1968 and 1996 on home soil. They failed to reach the tournament in 2008, losing 3-2 at home to Croatia in the final game of Steve McClaren’s tenure.

Key Players

Harry Kane is England’s main goal scoring threat going into the tournament, after scoring 25 goals in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur, more than anyone else. He is likely to start as the main striker for England against Russia and will be looking to add to his five goals at international level.

Wayne Rooney is the all-time leading goal scorer for the Three Lions and will be captaining them in a major tournament for the first time. The Manchester United captain scored seven goals during qualifying, and due to his versatility, it will be interesting to see which position he starts in, on June 11th.

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Harry Kane won the golden boot after a lethal season in front of goal for Tottenham Hotspur. (Image Credit: telegraph.co.uk)

Wales 

Manager: Chris Coleman

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Chris Coleman took over from the late Gary Speed in 2012. (Image Credit: walesonline.co.uk)

Chris Coleman took charge of the national team in 2012 and has guided Wales to their first major tournament since 1958. During Coleman’s tenure, Wales reached their highest ever FIFA ranking of eight, in October 2015.

Road to Euro 2016

The Dragons shocked the footballing world by qualifying for their first ever European Championships. They finished runners-up in Group B behind Belgium, in a campaign that saw them lose just once, to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Of all the teams competing in the Championships, only Albania (10) scored less goals in qualifying than Wales (11).

Tournament History

Wales have never qualified for the European Championships.

Key Player

Gareth Bale is undoubtedly Wales’ key player going into their maiden championships. During qualifying, the Real Madrid winger was involved in nine of their 11 goals, scoring seven. He travels to France after winning the Champions League with Madrid, for whom he scored 19 goals in La Liga this season.

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Gareth Bale had a solid season at Real Madrid, winning the Champions League with the Spanish giants last month. (Image Credit: goal.com)

Russia 

Manager: Leonid Slutsky

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Slutsky has an impressive CV as manager of CSKA. (Image Credit: outside90.com)

Leonid Slutsky took charge of the national team in August 2015, replacing former England manager Fabio Capello. He won all of the remaining qualifiers as Russia cemented a fourth consecutive appearance at the Euros. The 45-year-old is also manager of CSKA Moscow, and this year, led them to their third league title in four seasons.

Road to Euro 2016

Slutsky’s men came second to Austria in Group G , scoring 21 goals and conceding just five. They won six of their ten matches, including a 7-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein in Vaduz. Russia lost just twice in the group, both 1-0 defeats to the Austrians.

Tournament History

Russia have reached four previous European Championships and only got out of the group stages once. In 2008, they beat the Netherlands 3-1 after extra-time to reach the semi-finals, but lost 3-0 to eventual winners Spain. However, as the natural successors to the Soviet Union, they are partly credited with the first ever tournament win, back in 1960.

Key Player

Artem Dzyuba was Russia’s top goal scorer in qualifying with eight goals, including four in the 7-0 win over Liechtenstein. This season saw him score 23 goals in all competitions for Zenit St Petersburg, with 15 in the league and five in the Champions League.

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Artem Dzyuba could surprise people at the Euros. (Image Credit: uefa.com)

Slovakia 

Manager: Jan Kozak

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Jan Kozak guided the Slovaks through an impressive qualifying campaign. (image credit: espnfc.com)

Manager Jan Kozak took over in July 2013 following four spells as manager of Kosice in the Slovakian league. During his spell in charge of the national team he has only lost five matches and has guided Slovakia to their maiden European Championships. The 62-year-old also oversaw their highest ever FIFA ranking of 14, back in August 2015.

Road to Euro 2016

They qualified for the tournament second in Group C, behind reigning European champions Spain. They only lost two of their ten qualifying matches, a run which included a 2-1 victory over the Spanish back in 2014.

Tournament History

Slovakia have never qualified for the European Championships.

Key Player

Marek Hamsik is the main player to watch out for in the Slovakian ranks. The Napoli playmaker was extremely influential in qualifying scoring five goals to finish as the team’s top goal scorer. The 28-year-old is only five goals off of the all-time Slovakian goal scoring record and will be hoping to close that gap this summer.

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The Napoli midfielder celebrating against World Champions Germany in their 3-1 win last month. (Image Credit: dailymail.co.uk)
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