Euro 2016 draw: France and Portugal to profit from easy groups
Matt Haynes | December 12, 2015
Talented squad plus comfortable group means France progression
The French have perhaps, one of the most talented squads on paper and if manager Didier Deschamps can find his best team and manage to fit everyone in, they could cause big problems at Euro 2016.
They can set a benchmark in their first match against minnows Romania and with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud included in a forward line their could easily be goals galore.
With Albania and Switzerland also making up the group, France can expect to be finishing first with minimal fuss and they can then push on to win the competition.
It isn’t just in their first XI that they are strong though. One of the advantages for Deschamps is that there is great strength-in-depth, especially in central midfield where the former captain can pick from Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Yohan Cabaye and Morgan Schneiderlin, to name just a few.
Finally the time for Ronaldo and Portugal?
While it remains to be seen whether Cristiano Ronaldo will ever win the World Cup, his chances of international continental glory will have been strengthened after the draw. A group which contains Austria, Iceland and Hungary, finishing top should be a priority and if Ronaldo is on form he can fire them to glory.
Despite having arguably the easiest group though, their odds have drifted from 16/1 to 20/1 so could definitely be worth a punt. However, their progression comes hand-in-hand with how Ronaldo performs after a long season.
He struggled at the World Cup, though he had just won the Champions League with Real Madrid. If this is a sign to go by, similar success for Los Blancos this season could result in the forward under-performing in France.
And then there is the point of whether his head will be on his football, with recent speculation linking him with a move to another club this summer, with the player himself even stating a desire to depart.
Mixed feelings for both Irish nations
There is no doubt that both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland have two of the hardest group at the tournament.
The former is joined by European heavyweights and World champions Germany, plus Poland and Ukraine, so chance of progression is slim.
Republic of Ireland meanwhile, are joined by world number one team Belgium who have drifted from 11/1 to 12/1 to win the tournament, plus Italy and Sweden. However, they do have a chance to get through.
Sweden have been heavily reliant on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and after a long season, it is questionable whether he will be able to deliver, while Belgium are yet to really click as a team and noone ever knows what Italy team is going to turn up.
However the tournament pans out though, it certainly promises plenty of intrigue in the coming months.
Check out our Euro 2016 archive.