Euro 2016

The European Championships start on Friday and I am going to take a closer look at the group stages and give my thoughts on who I think will qualify from each group.

Group A - France, Romania, Switzerland and Albania

The hosts France are the overall favourites for the competition and they should have little trouble qualifying in first place in this group. They have got a very strong overall squad with a lot of goals in them so I expect a couple of high scoring games early on and can see them putting three or four past a couple of these teams. Romania have been playing pretty well recently including when drawing with Spain, however they are not a great side. Switzerland have been in horrible form for a long time now and I think they will really struggle. Albania are the lowest ranked team in the whole competition however I think they have enough about them to cause a bit of an upset and qualify from the group in second place.

Selection - Straight forecast -  France/Albania @ 7/1

Group B - England, Wales, Russia and Slovakia

I feel that this is quite a friendly group for England and as long as Roy gets them set up correctly then I think they will win the group. Wales are obviously heavily reliant on Madrid star Gareth Bale, but in Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen they have two very capable midfielders to back him up so have a good chance of making it to the knockout stages. Russia and Slovakia are both very average sides who I feel will be battling it out with Wales for the second spot.

Selection - Straight forecast - England/Wales @ 5/1

Group C - Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland

Although they have had a few strange results recently this should be as straightforward as it comes for the reigning world champions Germany. Northern Ireland have done brilliantly to qualify for these finals but I am sure they will struggle and fancy them to finish bottom of the group. Both Ukraine and Poland are sides I think would get knocked straight out if they make it to the qualifying stage and I think Ukraine will just edge it, despite Poland having the fantastic Robert Lewandowski up front.

Selection - Straight forecast - Germany/Ukraine @ 5/2

Group D - Spain, Turkey, Croatia and Czech Republic

On paper this looks the toughest group with all four teams fancying their chances of qualifying for the knock out stages. Although Spain aren't the force of old they still have some brilliant players and should be good enough to top the group. Turkey have a good strong squad and will be competitive, as will the Czech's, however the midfield of Croatia is top drawer and I think that will be enough to see them snatch second place in this group.

Selection - Straight forecast -  Spain/Croatia @ 11/4

Group E - Belgium, Italy, Rep of Ireland and Sweden

If Belgium can find a way of playing together they have an excellent chance of going deep into this tournament given the excellent squad of players they have. Their qualifying campaign saw them stutter and not look a cohesive unit which must be a worry for their fans. They still have enough match winners to top this group join my opinion though. Italy don't look a particularly strong team at the moment with goals hard to come by, they usually use their experience well in tournaments though and find a way. Sweden really heavily on Ibrahimovic and he will need to be at his brilliant best for them to have a chance. The Irish try and rely on defensive solidity and breakaway football as they are limited but they have been given a group which gives them a chance and I am going with them to sneak second place and reach the knock out stages.

Selection - Straight forecast - Belgium/Rep of Ireland @ 10/1

Group F - Portugal, Austria, Hungary and Iceland

This is a wide open group and finding the two to qualify for the knock out stages is no easy task. Portugal are reasonably solid and they of course have one of the best players in the world in Ronaldo, however he doesn't always shine for his country and I think they may struggle. Austria have an incredibly impressive qualifying campaign and if they can continue that good form they will be tough to beat. Hungary are another strong team and are ranked 18th in the world. Their game against Portugal could be crucial and I am backing them to get the better of the Portuguese and qualify in second place. Iceland are no pushovers but I still think they will finish bottom of this group.

Selection - Straight forecast - Austria/Hungary @ 20/1

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