Saturday, 12 December 2015

Euro 2016 Draw

Overall, it's a weak draw and you can already hear the moaning from the established nations that expanding the tournament "will water down the competition" – Group F being a case in point. They won't know what it means for those of us from the smaller nations. Iceland v Hungary will hardly get hearts racing true, but that won't matter to anyone from those countries.

The major nations (France, Germany, Portugal, Spain etc.) should get through with no troubles on paper, but it means the knockout stages are going to be much stronger if there are fewer "shocks".

Well, it had to happen didn't it? England and Wales in the same group.

What will arguably be the biggest game in Welsh football history will take place in Lens on 16th June - a proper old-school ground. I'm looking forward to completely unbiased commentary from the British press.

Wales' other group games will take place in Bordeaux (v Slovakia on 11th June) and Toulouse (v Russia on 20th June).

As the best four third place teams qualify for the last 16, you're looking at a minimum of 4-5 points to get out of the group. If Wales get out, it looks like either Lens or Nice in the next round. A central or south-western base would be best for the Welsh team.

Slovakia are beatable, Russia not so much, but they didn't have a brilliant qualifying campaign and they're not the dark horses they were 8 years ago – plus we owe them for their cheating in 2004. 5 points is a realistic goal for Wales. It's a tougher group than I would've otherwise liked, but could've been much worse.

It's too early to make predictions because we have no idea of squads and fitness levels, but Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland got much worse draws than Wales, with both making a strong claim for being in the "Group of Death".

Otherwise, only Iceland stand a real chance of getting out of their group from amongst the "mighty minnows".