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UEFA Euro 2016: Group C Preview
By Drew Farmer - June 06, 2016
Defending World Cup 2014 winners Germany head the list in Group C at the UEFA Euros 2016. Group C will kick-off on June 12th in Nice as Poland play Northern Ireland followed by Germany battling Ukraine in Lille, in the late game.
After finishing first in qualifying, Germany headline the group, one point ahead of fellow group C opponent Poland. Both teams will be familiar with one another, and the two rivals will play in the second group match of the tournament. The Polish should be Germany’s most difficult test in the European Championships group stage. Poland defeated Germany in qualifying in Poland before Germany returned the favour on home soil thanks to goals from Thomas Muller and a brace from Mario Gotze.
Thomas Muller led Germany through qualification finishing with nine goals. Germany’s lack of in form strikers is a worry and the team may rely heavily on midfield to score most of their goals. Muller tallied 20 goals in the Bundesliga this season playing as support to Robert Lewandowski. He will be key in Germany’s attack, especially when others fail to bag goals for the Germans.
Germany should have little trouble in topping the group. Poland will be their main competition for top spot. It is worrying, however, that Germany have included the likes of Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski. It does show that Germany lack the next wave of players ready to make the step up into the senior national side, currently.
However, it also shows that coach Joachim Low has mixed veterans with some younger talent like Leroy Sane. Germany should top group C, but winning it all will be a tough task for the 2014 world champions. Have you sorted through your online betting bonus options? Current odds to win tournament: 5.50.
Finishing second to Germany in qualifiers, Poland's Euro team have the opportunity to crash the party at the Euro 2016 tournament, and make a name for one of the country’s best generations of players in years. Led by Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowksi and Torino’s Kamil Glik, Poland should perform well in the group stage. From there, the Polish will be able to throw a fright into any of the big names they may come up against. The Polish beat Germany in Poland, before losing to the Germans away from home. At a neutral venue, Poland has every chance at beating Germany and sealing top spot in group C.
Robert Lewandowski is, hands down, Poland’s best player and arguably the best striker in playing in Europe today. His 13 goals led all goal scorers in Euro 2016 qualification. The striker is reported to be moving to Real Madrid this summer, and a big tournament will seal that move – if it hasn’t been sealed already. He will be heavily relied upon to lead the team from the front. If Poland are to go deep into the Euro 2016 tournament, Lewandowski must get his teammates involved early and often.
Poland are the second best team to Germany in the group, at least on paper. The Polish can definitely top this group, however. Topping the group may come down to goal difference, and compared to Germany, Lewandowski trumps the strike corp. being brought by the Germans. Current odds to win tournament: 51.00
Ukraine made the Euro 2016 tournament after winning a two-legged playoff against Slovenia. A 2-0 home win was followed up three days later with a 1-1 draw after being pushed hard by the Slovenians. Despite losing three times in the group stage, Ukraine was defensively stout. The team only gave up four goals in qualifying, two to Spain and one a piece to Belarus and Slovakia. Ukraine is highly capable of advancing, and could sneak into second place. However, the team should be nailed on for third in group C.
Attacking midfielder Andriy Yarmolenko led Ukraine in goals during qualifying with four. The Ukrainian No. 10 is more of a scorer than provider, and will be tasked with getting the goals for the team. Yarmolenko can lead the side through to the knockout stages. Anything further maybe a stretch, if the team are too reliant on Yarmolenko.
Ukraine will finish ahead of Northern Ireland, if they can continue the rigid defensive displays they showed in qualifying. Goals may be hard to come by, and Ukraine’s midfield will need to provide service to the strikers. Converting that service could be a big ask, however. Current odds to win tournament: 101.00
The Northern Irish surprised many by finishing at the top of their qualifying group winning six, drawing three and losing a mere one time. Northern Ireland’s one loss came at the hands of Romania in Ploiesti, yet Michael O’Neill’s team still pipped the Romanians to the top of the group.
Amazingly, it is Northern Ireland’s first time to qualify for the European Championships, and the country will be out in force to support their team. It won’t be easy for Northern Ireland, though. Their opener against Poland will immediately test them. It won’t get any easier from there as the Northern Irish will battle Ukraine before ending the tournament against Germany.
Despite a lack of well-known names, O’Neill has put together a side that is difficult to beat. In Northern Ireland’s last six friendlies, they have lost just once, that came against Scotland. However, the talent they play at the Euro 2016 tournament will be far greater than that of their recent friendlies.
Kyle Lafferty scored seven goals in qualifying, leading all goal scorers in group F. Lafferty may have had difficulty finding the back of the net, or playing time for that matter, during the club season; but his international form has been top-notch.
The biggest question will be, can Lafferty score against the bigger countries in Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 group? If he can, Northern Ireland will do well. If he can’t, it will be a long three match days for the Northern Irish.
Despite Northern Ireland’s play in qualifying, they are up against the heavy hitters in group C. The team will have to play even better and limit mistakes in France. In addition, playing against better quality should prevent Lafferty from having the impact he did in qualifying. Bottom of the group is realistic and Northern Ireland should take solace in the fact they are at their first European Championship. Current odds to win tournament: 501.00