Euro 2016: Ultimate Team-by-Team Guide, Predictions and Stars to Watch

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Unless you’ve been spent the last month or so living in a cave, you would have realised by now that Euro 2016 is firmly on the horizon.

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On June 10, twenty-four teams will battle it out for European supremacy, and the chance to claim a place in the history books.

Whilst there are many opinions as to who is likely to win the tournament in France this summer, there are bound to be some surprising moments, and unexpected results.

In the build up to kick-off, we at Free Bets, take a closer look at all teams competing in the France showpiece, including how they qualified, their key players and how well we think they will do over the course of the tournament.

Pogba France

Group A:


Manager: Didier Deschamps

Star man: Paul Pogba

Tournament best: Winners (1984 &2000)

Verdict: The hosts are the pre-tournament favourites with the bookies and it’s easy to see why. France can boast some of Europe’s most coveted players, in the form of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial, just to name a few.

France have previous in winning tournaments on home soil after their World Cup success in 1998, and big things are expected once more this summer.


Manager: Gianni de Biasi

Star man: Lorik Cana

Tournament best: Never previously qualified

Verdict: Euro 2016 marks Albania’s first ever appearance at a major tournament after the minnows finished runners up in Group I, ahead of Denmark and Serbia.

Albania may even fancy their chances of causing yet another upset by qualifying for the knockout stages ahead of Switzerland and Romania, but must improve their attacking mind-set, having recorded the fewest amount of goals (seven) of any team to have qualified for Euro 2016.


Manager: Vladimir Petkovic

Star man: Xherdan Shaqiri

Tournament best: Group stage

Verdict: Switzerland finished as Group E runners up behind England during qualification, and will fancy their chances of finishing second in their group once more.

Despite never reaching the knockout stages of the competition, the Swiss will fancy their chances of finishing ahead of Albania and Romania, but must be mindful of some potential banana skins.

Switzerland can boast some highly talented individuals in the form of Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, and Josip Drmic, and could spring a surprise this summer.


Manager:  Anghel Iordanescu

Star man: Vlad Chiriches

Tournament best: Quarter-finals (2000)

Verdict: Romania are another side that could fancy their chances of getting out of Group A. Unbeaten in qualifying, Romania had the best defensive record of any side in qualification, conceding just two goals in 10 games.

They kick-off the tournament against hosts France on June 10, and any result in that match would be a huge bonus for Anghel Iordanescu’s side, as they’ll back themselves to beat Switzerland and Albania.

Group A prediction:

1) France

2) Switzerland

3) Romania

4) Albania

Harry Kane Euro 2016

Group B:


Manager: Roy Hodgson

Star man: Harry Kane

Tournament best: Semi-finals (1968 & 1996)

Verdict: A 100% record in qualifying has given Roy Hodgson’s side real momentum heading in to the tournament.

Whilst expectancy levels seem to be unusually low, compared to tournaments of years gone by, England supporters are rather optimistic about the future of the national team, with many fans claiming that this current core group of players is the most exciting squad the country has had at its disposal for a decade.

Although on paper they should easily qualify top of Group B, things are never easy with England, and a massive encounter with Wales on June 16, will prove to be a stern test of their credentials.


Manager: Leonid Slutsky

Star man: Artem Dzyuba

Tournament best: Semi-finals (2008)

Verdict: Russia qualified for Euro 2016 as Group G runners up after Leonid Slutsky replaced former England boss Fabio Capello and guided them to four wins in their final four games.

They will want to impress ahead of the 2018 World Cup and will have a place in the knockouts on their agenda.


Manager: Chris Coleman

Star man: Gareth Bale

Tournament best: Never previously qualified

Verdict: Euro 2016 will be only the second major tournament that Wales have appeared in, but many are convinced that they can reach the knockout stages of the competition.

The Welsh can boast one of the best footballers in the world in Gareth Bale and with a supporting cast of Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams, there is a chance that the Welsh could surprise many in France this summer.  


Manager: Jan Kozak

Star man: Marek Hamsik

Tournament best: Never previously qualified

Verdict: Slovakia have a habit of beating big teams and England should be wary. Jan Kozak’s side won their opening six games in qualification, including a shock victory over Spain back in October 2014.

Despite the fact they’ve been tipped to finish bottom of the group, they have enough talent in their side to cause an upset.

Group B prediction:

1) England

2) Wales

3) Russia

4) Slovakia

Thomas Muller Germany

Group C:


Manager: Joachim Low

Star man: Thomas Muller

Tournament best: Winners (1972,1980,1996)

Verdict: The Current World Cup holders come into the tournament as second favourites behind France, but they are beatable. In qualifying, they lost 1-0 to the Republic of Ireland and more recently lost 3-2 to England in an international friendly.

Having said that, the Germans always save their best form for Tournament football, and they are expected to easily top Group C, which consists of Northern Ireland, Poland and the Ukraine.

Expect Germany to be there or thereabouts, come the closing stages of the tournament.

Northern Ireland

Manager: Michael O’Neil

Star man: Kyle Lafferty

Tournament best: Never previously qualified

Verdict: For many years Northern Ireland were seen as minnows in world football, but that is slowly starting to change. They topped their qualifying group, and have embarked on a record-breaking 10-match unbeaten run heading into France this summer.

Northern Ireland will also be very dangerous on set-pieces having scored the most goals from set-plays in qualifying (nine).


Manager: Adam Nawalka

Star man: Robert Lewandowski

Tournament best: Group stage (2008 & 2012)

Verdict: Despite being drawn in Group C with Germany, Poland will be heavy favourites to qualify ahead of Northern Ireland and the Ukraine, and secure a place in the knockout stages for the first time.

Poland possess one of the best strikers in Europe right now in Robert Lewandowski, who’s 13 goals in qualifying equalled the record set by David Healy in 2008.


Manager: Mykhaylo Fomenko

Star man: Andriy Yarmolenko

Tournament best: Group stage (2012)

Verdict: Ukraine Finally made it through the play-offs at the sixth time of asking, having lost every one of their five previous play-offs to qualify for major competitions.

Their greatest threats lie in Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko, who represent Sevilla and Dynamo Kyiv, respectively.

Group C prediction:

1) Germany

2) Poland

3) Northern Ireland

4) Ukraine

Andres Iniesta Spain

Group D:


Manager: Vicente del Bosque

Star man: Andres Iniesta

Tournament best: Winners (1964, 2008, 2012)

Verdict: Spain are aiming for a third consecutive European Championship triumph, but must ensure that the ghost of World Cup 2014 has been put to bed, after a shocking display in Brazil two years ago.

Spain certainly have the talent to go all the way in France, but could the decision to leave out the likes of Diego Costa, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres come back to haunt Vicente Del Bosque?

With the options at their disposal, expect Spain to easily reach the last 16.


Manager: Ante Cacic

Star man: Luka Modric

Tournament best: Quarter-finals (1996 & 2008)

Verdict: Croatia finished as runners up to Italy in Group H during qualifying, but face a tough task of qualifying for the knockout stages in France, having been drawn with Czech Republic, Spain and Turkey.

Their squad is filled with an array of talent, including Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, so anything is possible.

Czech Republic

Manager: Pavel Vrba

Star man: Petr Cech

Tournament best: Runners-up (1996)

Verdict: Having reached the quarter-finals of this tournament only four years ago, Czech Republic will be looking to achieve a similar feat this time around.

Whilst the Czechs may fancy their chances of qualifying from their group, they must sort out their leaky defence, which conceded 14 goals in qualifying, more than any other side to qualify for Euro 2016.


Manager: Fatih Terim

Star man: Arda Turan

Tournament best: Semi-finals (2008)

Verdict: Faith Terim’s side booked their place in France this summer by qualifying as the best third-placed side in qualification, and finishing as the best third placed team once more may be Turkey’s best chance of reaching the knockout stages as they prepare to take on Spain, Czech Republic and Croatia.

Group D prediction:

1) Spain

2) Croatia

3) Turkey

4) Czech Republic

Kevin de Bruyne Belgium

Group E:


Manager: Marc Wilmots

Star man: Kevin de Bruyne

Tournament best: Runners-up (1980)

Verdict: Big things are expected of Marc Wilmots’ side this summer and it’s easy to see why. Belgium are the highest ranked European team in FIFA’s world rankings, and possess a wealth of Premier League talent in their squad, including Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.

They’ve been drawn into what many are calling the group of death, but it would be a huge disappointment if they don’t reach the knockout stages.


Manager: Antonio Conte

Star man: Graziano Pelle

Tournament best: Winners (1968)

Verdict: Despite going unbeaten in qualifying, this is perhaps one of the weakest Italy squads we have seen at a major tournament for a long time, and it will be interesting to see whether the Italian’s defensive solidity will be enough to see them through to the knockouts, in a group consisting of Belgium, Sweden, and Republic of Ireland.

Whenever you think Italy are a spent force, they always find a way to prove you wrong.


Manager: Erik Hamren

Star man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Tournament best: Semi-finals (1992)

Verdict: Sweden qualified for Euro 2016 at the expense of their neighbours Denmark after a thrilling 4-3 win on aggregate. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored three of the Swede’s four and will be the man they look to for inspiration as they attempt to get out of an extremely tricky group.

A positive result in their opening match against Belgium is crucial.

Republic of Ireland

Manager: Martin O’Neil

Star man: Robbie Keane

Tournament best: Group stage (1988 & 2012)

Verdict: Martin O’Neil’s side may have needed to secure qualification through the play-offs, but there 1-0 victory over Germany in qualifying, proved that they have enough quality to trouble the world’s best teams.

It’s a rather unfavourable draw for the Irish, but they will hope to spring a major surprise.

Group E prediction:

1) Belgium

2) Italy

3) Republic of Ireland

4) Sweden

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal

Group F:


Manager: Fernando Santos

Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo

Tournament best: Runners-up (2004)

Verdict: Portugal have made it past the first round in all six European Championships, and will be confident of comfortably progressing to the knockout stages this summer after a favourable draw.

As has been the case in recent years, Portugal will heavily lean on the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Real Madrid superstar will thrive under the spotlight.

Could Ronaldo lead his team to glory?


Manager: Lars Lagerback

Star man: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Tournament best: Never previously qualified

Verdict: Euro 2016 will be Iceland’s first major tournament in their history, and Lars Lagerback will hope that it proves to be a memorable one.

Iceland finished second of their qualifying group ahead of the Netherlands, and their favourable draw means that anything is possible.

Can they upset the odds and progress to the knockouts?


Manager: Marcel Koller

Star man: David Alaba

Tournament best: Group stage (2008)

Verdict: Austria had the second highest points tally from the qualifying groups, winning nine out of 10 games, and Marcel Koller’s side will be looking to go further in this competition than they’ve ever previously managed.

With Premier League winner Christian Fuchs captaining the side and other familiar names such as Marko Arnautovic and David Alaba available, a place in the top two of their group is there for the taking.


Manager: Bernd Storck

Star man: Balazs Dzsudzsak

Tournament best: Semi-finals (1964 & 1972)

Verdict: Hungary are finally back in the finals of a major tournament after a remarkable thirty-year absence, but it’s likely that their stay in the competition this summer will be short.

Captain Balazs Dzsudzsak will be the one to watch out for, whilst former Premier League players Gabor Kiraly and Zoltan Gera will also feature.

Group F prediction:

1) Portugal

2) Austria

3) Iceland

4) Hungary

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